Relationship Development Intervention


The Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Program was developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein and Dr. Rachelle Sheely. They have spent years studying and organizing the research literature in the areas of human development, neurology, and neuro-developmental disorders to develop a comprehensive, research-based approach to neuro-development. RDI utilizes a comprehensive set of developmentally sequenced objectives that represent all aspects of human development from birth through adolescence to address the child’s specific developmental deficits. RDI tries to help children interact positively with other people, even without language.

According to RDI, when children learn the value and joy of personal relationships, they will find it easier to learn language and social skills. RDI utilises remediation whereby therapists deliberately work on the child’s greatest areas of weakness. On a neural level, remediation for ASD means developing the brain’s capacity for integration and neural collaboration. Cognitive interventions have been successful in changing brain pathways of people with autism, dyslexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

In our Relationship Development Intervention programme, a thorough assessment process is conducted to identify the developmental gaps for each particular child. Subsequently, a plan is developed to address the objectives for the cognitive, self, communicative and relationship domains that requires attention. One of the many strengths of this programme is parent participation. RDI is a family-based programme, where trained consultants support families to alter their interaction and communication styles.

There is a period of parent education, followed by an assessment of both the child and the child-parent relationship. With the knowledge that parents are a child’s first teacher and the home is a natural learning environment for young children, the programme heavily involves parents, who receive training and tips on participating in their child’s treatment. The child’s progress is monitored in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings where the child, his/her parents, and the child’s team are present.

Early research of RDI’s effectiveness published in 2005 indicates that Relationship Development Intervention may be more effective than some other treatments. When compared to a control group with autism, children whose families participated in RDI showed greater improvement on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and more independence at school. However, more studies have to be conducted to further support this claim.

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