Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RDI: How to Get Started

A while ago I wrote about how we have started using a program called Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) with Ryne. I explained how we didn't really know what we were getting into when we started, and how it took a lot of parent education hours to really understand what RDI is about. I don't feel like I did the best job explaining the nuts and bolts of RDI, but apparently I'm not alone. Even the RDI folks are trying to find better ways of explaining the program. They are planning a redesign of the RDI Connect website and have been conducting a survey to find out how to make the website more informative and user-friendly. Right now there is a lot of information on the website, but you often end up leaving with more questions than answers.

We are approaching our first anniversary of doing RDI, and I think if I had to do it all over again I would pretty much do the same things, but in a different order. Instead of going into it blindly, I would try to learn more about the program first. The great thing is that you don't have to spend a fortune to do this. I hear the RDI workshops are a wonderful place to learn about the program, but they can be costly, especially if you have to travel far to get there. So how about starting right at home? If you want to learn more about RDI, I suggest the following resources:

  1. "Going to the Heart of Autism" DVD. The DVD is a 5+ hour explanation of the program, including clips of actual families doing RDI. The DVD costs $150, but before you shell out the money, ask around and see if you could borrow one from another RDI family. We had a local family let us borrow their DVD when we first started, and now just recently I was loaned a copy again from another friend.

  2. Jacob's Journey. This is a homeschool mother's blog whose son made tremendous progress through RDI. We had already been doing RDI for several months when I first started reading it, and I have yet to find anyone who explains RDI better than her. I recently had Marc read through her post on declarative language, and he agreed that she is easy to understand and gives practical information. Their family has "graduated" from RDI, meaning they have made RDI a part of their lifestyle and they no longer have to work with a consultant to progress in RDI. As a result she stopped writing in this blog and now documents her family's journey in her homeschool blog. In a way this is nice, because you can read their experience almost like you would a book from start to finish. Just go to the archives and start at the beginning (July 2006) and read a little every night for a week or so, and you will have a pretty good understanding of the RDI program.

  3. RDI Yahoo groups. I know -- just what you need, another Yahoo group. But this really is one of the best places to learn what RDI looks like in everyday life. Here are a couple I mostly lurk on: Autism-remediation-for-our-children@yahoogroups.com and HS-RDI@yahoogroups.com. Be sure to check out the Files sections for both groups.

  4. Visit with an RDI family. The same mom who lent me her DVD when we were starting invited me over and let me ask a million questions. She also gave me a quick tutorial of the RDIOS on her laptop. I was so grateful for that visit.

If you follow these 4 steps you will have a good understanding of RDI with out having to pay a lot of money. While lots of families rely on these steps and various books (available on the RDI website) alone and still make good progress, I think most agree that it is best to eventually work with a certified RDI consultant. But tackling some of the parent education beforehand enables you to determine if RDI is right for your family and makes the early steps with your consultant all the more productive. I don't regret the way we did things, because the important thing is we got here and we're doing RDI. But the autism adventure is tough enough as it is, so hopefully these tips will make the road a little smoother for anyone considering RDI.


  1. Thanks for the insight! I also wanted to mention that I have heard that this dvd can be found at some public libraries.

  2. Thanks, Carrie. I did not know that!