Relationship development integration (RDI) is a type of family-based behavioral therapy focused on building personal relationships. RDI fosters dynamic intelligence, described as the ability to think flexibly. RDI addresses the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by helping children learn how to cope with change, appreciate others’ perspectives, and integrate multiple stimuli. According to RDI, as children learn to form personal relationships, they are stimulated to learn and communicate.
What does it involve?
Relationship development integration was designed to be used at home by the families of children with ASD. However, it is being incorporated by some special education teachers and therapists. Multiple books and programs are available for training in RDI methods.
In early stages of RDI, the caregiver works one-on-one with the child. Later, another child is introduced to the group. Eventually, more children join the group and interact in a variety of settings. In this way, the children learn to maintain relationships over different contexts.
The goal of RDI is to build personal relationships and help reach the six objectives: Emotional referencing, social coordination, declarative language, flexible thinking, relational information processing, and foresight and hindsight.
As a newer treatment for autism, there have been few clinical studies on relationship development integration. A small study of 16 children in 2007 found positive results that indicated RDI could be an effective treatment.
In order to use RDI at home, you can seek training by reading a book or participating in online or face-to-face training sessions.
If you decide to consult a certified expert in RDI, you may have to travel a long way. There are approximately 150 qualified practitioners in the United States.
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