Relationship Development Intervention

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Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) is a program designed to empower and guide parents of children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders to function as facilitators for their children’s mental development. RDI® teaches parents to play an important role in improving critical emotional, social and cognitive abilities through carefully graduated, guided interaction in daily activities.

Under the guidance of an RDI® Program Certified Consultant, parents first learn to establish the parent-child “guided participation” relationship. In typical development, this relationship develops from infancy and throughout childhood and is the primary method through which children learn to understand the complex world around them. They learn to trust their parents as guides and to seek them out for guidance, support and feedback to navigate continually higher levels of challenge. In the process, parents learn to modify their communication, slow down their lifestyle, set appropriate behavioural limits, and restore their confidence and competence as guides.

Once the guided participation relationship is in place, parents and their children have the ability to “redo” the stages of development that were missed due to the child’s neurological challenges. Based on extensive research from the fields of child development and neurology, RDI® uses a comprehensive set of developmentally sequenced objectives that represent all aspects of human development from birth through adolescence. The objectives encompass abstract thinking, self-awareness, communication, behavioural and emotional regulation, friendships, problem solving, collaboration, academic learning, and many others.

RDI® Program Certified Consultants work closely with parents by providing education, strategies, and feedback as the guided participation relationship is developed and child objectives are addressed. They teach parents how to use lifestyle activities such as chores, daily routines and play to create opportunities for thinking, communicating, and relating in ways that promote optimal growth and development.

For more information on RDI, please watch this Changing the Couse of Autism Conference/Webcast presentation.


Autism Canada does not endorse treatments, interventions and therapies but lists them so people can make informed choice.  This site is for information purposes only and is a starting point for readers to look into options that may fit or resonate.  Remember, therapies for autism, like any condition, should be discussed with a trusted medical practitioner or certified therapist before use.

All information, data and material contained, presented or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of Autism Canada, or as providing legal or medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by the individual in consultation with a licensed health care provider.

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