Relationship Development Intervention

Image of an autistic boy napping on couch with his father

The RDI® program is a diligently researched, evidence-based system for remediating autism and similar neuro-developmental conditions. It was developed, continues to be refined, and is supported by Steven Gutstein, Ph.D., Rachelle Sheely, Ph.D., the faculty and staff of the Connections Center in Houston, Texas.

“Children’s cognitive development is an apprenticeship – it occurs through guided participation in social activity with companions who support and stretch children’s understanding.” — Barbara Rogoff

The RDI® program is:

  • A parent consultation model that educates and empowers parents to better guide their child. This approach can significantly reduce the cost of treatment. Parents, rather than outside therapists, spend time guiding their child back onto the typical developmental pathway.
  • A developmental model that follows a series of parent and child objectives based on the most current research in the fields of autism, human development, and brain-based learning.
  • A remediation approach that becomes a part of your everyday life and addresses the core deficits of autism and similar neuro-developmental disabilities.
  • Focused on goals that are related to quality of life, such as meaningful relationships and the skills needed for rewarding employment.
  • A balanced treatment approach that takes into consideration the neuro-developmental disorder (such as autism), co-occurring conditions, and the family system.
  • Supported by the RDI-LC (RDI® Learning Community), a secure, web-based system that connects parents and consultants, allows for upload of video footage, provides program information and serves as an avenue to connect the world-wide RDI® community.

RDI® focuses on the core deficits of autism

RDI® addresses the core deficits of autism spectrum disorders, and other similar neuro-developmental conditions, by developing skills in cognition and social awareness:

  • Dynamic Analysis: The process of evaluating information in our environment on a moment-to-moment basis. Involves picking out the important features and placing less emphasis on peripheral aspects of the environment or interaction. “Good enough” thinking is a major focus of dynamic analysis and requires one to accept less than perfection.
  • Experience Sharing: The goal of most human communication is to share observations, ideas, thoughts, memories, plans, perspectives and predictions with another person. It calls for both people to have the desire to know something about, or share with, another person. Experience sharing communication does not require a specific response. Instead it encourages flexible thinking and invites another person to participate in the communication process.
  • Episodic Memory: The personal meaning we gain from an event in our lives, strongly anchored by an emotional appraisal of that episode, which we use to form a sense of ourselves and to anticipate the future. The critical component is that the event and meaning are organized around an emotional experience.
  • Creative, Flexible Problem-Solving: Calls for the ongoing monitoring of a problem and altering solutions based on current effectiveness. A person who can rapidly adjust to suddenly changing circumstances is able to think in a relative manner depending on the circumstance and is capable of managing uncertainty and the anxiety that accompanies it.
  • Self-Awareness: Developing a coherent sense of self that is unique and continues to grow. This self becomes the primary organizing principle for appraisal and evaluation. Self-awareness encompasses behavior regulation, self-evaluation and emotional regulation.

RDI® Certified Consultants

As RDI® Program Certified Consultants, Deb Berrang and Jennifer Lemke-Pawlak have gone through extensive training provided by Connections Center, including a year long supervision process. Like all RDI® Program Certified Consultants, Deb and Jennifer continue to meet the requirements for re-certification on a yearly basis.

For more information on the certification process, or to apply to become a Certified RDI® Program Consultant, please visit the RDI® Program for Professionals page at the Connections Center website.

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Autism Therapy, RDI Relationship Development Intervention, and Consulting