Getting Started with RDI
While RDI professionals offer a wide range of training programs and products, they say you can start simply. A few suggestions:
- change your communication (eg, asking fewer questions);
- slow down the pace of daily activities and create more opportunities for "productive uncertainty;"
- spend time doing enjoyable Experience Sharing activities;
- use photos, journals or memory books every day to reflect on a few happy moments.
Gutstein has also published several books of RDI activities, all of which can be useful to parents.
Families interested in pursuing RDI further can explore the organization's website, and/or call for further information.
An Editorial Comment
In the process of learning more about RDI, I have heard from several very satisfied families who feel the approach is extremely effective. By the same token, however, I've had a very difficult time getting a clear answer to the question "what happens during an RDI session?." I'm also still uncertain as to why the RDI approach is likely to be more successful than other, similar approaches (Floortime, for example) in building "dynamic intelligence." As with virtually all other treatment approaches, research on RDI is spotty and generally undertaken under the leadership of the organization's founders. Thus, while RDI appears to have a positive impact, it's unclear why or whether it is superior to other techniques.
I am also concerned that Dr. Gutstein feels that, without RDI, no autistic people have the ability to share tender moments; reflect on and learn from experience; or share a joke. I, personally, know many autistic people who seem to have these abilities, even if in limited form. In fact, I've met many people on the autism spectrum who are funny, engaging, and loving. Perhaps these individuals are not "dynamically intelligent" in the manner that Gutstein describes, but as a lay person I can't see any clear, universal distinctions between autistic and typical love, warmth, or interest in sharing experiences or memories. Thus, while I can vouch for the effectiveness of RDI for at least some families, I am less convinced of the accuracy of the statements that form its conceptual basis.
"Going to the Heart: An Introductory Guide for Parents." Gutstein, Steven and Sheeley, Rachel. 2004 Gutstein, Sheely & Associates, P.C.
RDI Connect website (FAQ's, testimonials, etc.)
Interview with Dr. Steven Gutstein. June, 2006.