Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Therapy


RDI was developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein and is a parent-centered program that is intended to help lay missing pathways in the brains of children with autism. The approach involves addressing what Dr. Gustein refers to as the six core deficits of autism:

  • Emotional Referencing: The ability to use an emotional feedback system to learn from the subjective experiences of others.
  • Social Coordination: The ability to observe and continually regulate one’s behavior to participate in spontaneous relationships involving collaboration and exchange of emotions.
  • Declarative Language: Using language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings and coordinate your actions with others.
  • Flexible thinking: The ability to rapidly adapt, change strategies and alter plans based upon changing circumstances.
  • Relational Information Processing: The ability to obtain meaning based upon the larger context. Solving problems that have no right-and-wrong solutions.
  • Foresight and Hindsight: The ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios in a productive manner.

According to Gutstein, all of autism's core deficits have one thing in common: Instead of relying on "static intelligence" (that is, the ability to know information or memorize facts) they rely upon "dynamic intelligence" (the ability to flexibly and creatively respond to novel situations). Thus, the purpose of RDI is to build or remediate dynamic intelligence.


Learn more about RDI on Dr. Gustein’s website.

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