Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there one particular “type” of ASD child that will benefit most from the RDI® Program?
The RDI approach can help every child with ASD regardless of their level of functioning, age or diagnosis (verbal, nonverbal, autism, Asperger’s Syndrome).
2. Why do I need a Certified Consultant to participate in the RDI Program?
There are people who claim to offer RDI, but only Certified RDI Consultants (or Consultants in Training) are legally qualified to deliver the RDI Program. Certified Consultants must have a university degree, and must be accepted for training by the Connections Center in Houston, Texas. While in training, they spend an average of 18 months understanding the intricacies of learning to deliver the program. Each year, Consultants must undergo recertification in order to practice.
Finding the right Consultant will have a critical impact on your family’s success. Beginning an RDI Program marks the first step toward changing your child’s future – it is a journey for which you need a skilled guide as the primary agents of change for your child. Choose your Consultant based on experience, professionalism and rapport – not just location. While I work with some local families, being geographically close to your Consultant does not dictate your success! More important is your ability to relate in an honest and forthright fashion – to work together to manage obstacles, and to take a slow and steady approach to moving toward quality of life for youand your child. While face to face meetings are required at certain intervals, web conferencing, telephone and our online Learning System (LS) allow my families and me to make steady, lasting change.
3. How will RDI affect our lives?
Choosing the RDI program requires that you make a commitment to taking charge of your child’s development rather than relying on others to provide “therapy.” The effect the program has had on my son’s life is immeasurable. What you put in is exactly what you will get back. The first few months require parents to commit to learning about autism, and how their child’s autism presents. At the start of the program we also set the stage for progress and examine family dynamics, obstacles and resources that can be put into place to support you in your journey.
The RDI program will allow you to slow down the pace of life, and to create opportunities for you to incorporate your child into routine things that you typically do at home – to act as your “apprentice.” You will learn how to set up opportunities for your child to experience competence, and relate to your child in a way that was likely impossible previously. You will regain feelings of competence as a parent – power struggles will be reduced, and you will begin to feel in control of your life again.
We will work together to build your child’s ability to think flexibly, develop self awareness and learn how to relate to others – all through your day-to-day interactions at home. Your child will literally have the ability to learn how to think in a dynamic manner – to navigate successfully in our fast paced, dynamic world, and to enjoy the novel, unscripted “dance” of social interaction.
4. What does it “look like” to do RDI?
I strive to deliver the RDI Program in the most customized and flexible manner, while adhering to protocol as dictated by the Connections Center in Houston, TX. Typically, families purchase 6-month blocks of consultation time which include a certain number of “contact hours.” How families choose to use this time depends on their preferences and situation.
The Program is divided into “stages” of parent and child objectives. Initially, we work on education objectives – understanding how autism has affected your family and child, and the steps we will take to reduce the impact of your child’s autism. We will work on preparing you for the journey ahead – to identify areas of strength and challenge, and to enable you to bring the program into your lives, rather than creating a new set of tasks you must do.
Most families “meet” with me every two weeks, via in-person meetings, web conferencing or by phone. Meetings are designed to move parents ahead, to discuss ways to work on their current objective, and troubleshoot. In between meetings, video footage of work on parents’ objective is uploaded to our online “learning system (LS)” for my review. Parents learn to analyze their interactions with their child, and develop the skills needed to guide their child’s development – much in the same way that typical parents do without thought – only the RDI Program breaks this down into small, systematic, doable steps. Parents can work at their own pace, without feeling rushed or pressured. It is essential that the parent/Consultant team have a solid working rapport – that we understand each other, and can work through the ebb and flow of your life circumstances.
Parents work through these stages, toward milestones which provide empirical evidence of improved quality of life for you and your child. The online Learning System allows us to document your progress in a chronological fashion. Along the way, you can do “Ecourses” to further your learning, connect with other families through parent forums and watch online webinars from the convenience of your home.
Every few months assessments are done to allow me to document progress and view shifts in the parent/child dynamics. Time frames, location and duration of these assessments will depend on your preferences and circumstances.
5. Is the RDI Program only for autism?
No, the RDI program can be thought of as “good parenting” and can be utilized in situations such as attachment disorders, adoption and other related family challenges. It is important to note that RDI Consultants are not family or marital specialists. Circumstances outside of the scope of my expertise will be referred to an appropriate specialist.
6. How does the RDI Program dovetail with my child’s school environment?
I can become involved with your child’s school environment at your request. As your Consultant, my goal is to enable your child to experience competence at home, AND in the school setting as much as possible. Training can be provided for school staff, to incorporate the principles of the program into the classroom environment, which encourages all students to become more active learners.
7. Why isn’t RDI funded by government programs? Why do I have to pay out of pocket for the program?
RDI is funded by some Canadian provinces, but it is not yet funded in Ontario. The Minister of Child and Youth Services has vowed to offer Ontario families an alternative to ABA, and rest assured that RDI Consultants are hard at work to make this a reality.
Families pay out of pocket for the services of many different types of professionals. The RDI program costs a fraction of the currently funded government program. More importantly, it goes to the heart of your child’s autism, offering a second chance for quality of life, remediating the neurological weaknesses that prevent him or her from being able to navigate successfully through life. It overwhelmingly reduces stress for all family members, and allows parents to feel competent as guides to their child once again. It is important for you to consider what this is worth to you as a parent.
8. What is a parent-based program?
Parents are an essential component of the RDI program. The RDI program allows parents to re-establish the cognitive development and interpersonal abilities that were robbed of their child due to their autism. Parents that participate in the RDI program must be prepared to take charge of their lives and reclaim their role as guides to their ASD child. I act as a “guide to the guides” – so essentially, parents act as my apprentice, while they learn to develop the skills to become an effective guide to their child.
9. What about working parents?
I work with several families that work full time. As part of the program, I help families to examine how they spend their time away from work. We identify opportunities to bring the child into the day-to-day things that must be done at home. These “activities” serve as the vehicle for impacting your relationship with your child, and his or her cognitive development.
10. What does the RDI Program cost?
The RDI program is purchased in 6-month packages. A subscription to the online Learning System is paid separately by parents.
The RDI Program costs a fraction of current government funded programming, and takes a much deeper approach to autism, affecting your child’s ability to relate to the world in a dynamic approach, rather than teaching him/her rote, static skills.
For more information, please contact me directly.
11. Do I have to live in the same city as my Consultant?
No. With technology being what it is, bi-weekly “meetings” can be done via webcam, phone or through video conferencing on our online “learning system.” Many Equinox families are in the GTA. Regular trips to Toronto allow groups of families to enjoy home visits when my schedule permits.
12. Why is the Program called “Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)?”
The RDI program uses the relationship between parents and child to remediate the core deficits of autism. Typical children learn to relate to others through their relationship with their parents. The program gets its name from the fact that the core deficits of autism are corrected via their relationship with their parents – just as it occurs between typical children and their relationship with their parents.
RDI goes right to the heart of autism and remediates the actual “core deficits.” These are:
- Self Awareness – the ability to understand how one’s behavior impacts others; the ability to understand and appreciate others’ unique values, beliefs and perspectives
- Episodic Memory – the ability to use past experiences to guide future behaviour, and to learn from consequences
- Flexible Thinking – the ability to flexibly and successfully cope with life’s numerous unexpected situations; to think in shades of grey, and without rigidity
- Dynamic Appraisal – the ability to filter out superfluous information on a moment-to-moment basis, and to quickly determine how to respond to it
- Experience Sharing – the ability to participate in genuine, reciprocal communication, and to enjoy the “dance” of social interaction
The RDI Program can be considered a “parenting program for parents of children with all forms of autism.” If your child is on the spectrum, you know in your heart that you can’t parent your child the way other parents raise their typically developing children. It’s no wonder why as parents, we feel so perplexed, frustrated and incompetent. Due to your child’s neurological makeup and the subsequent downward spiral that prevents typical development, you have lost the ability for you and your child to relate emotionally, for your child to identify with you, and for him or her to develop resilience. I can help you to reclaim your child, and to regain your role as a competent guide to him or her.