A Revolution in Autism Intervention

In every field of medicine, treatments have evolved over the years.
What if cancer treatment was the same as it was 30 years ago?
Why should autism treatment options stay the same as 30 years ago?


My son Mohit was diagnosed in 1992. The recommended treatment was speech therapy, Occupational Therapy and Special Education.


The same model is recommended even today.
It’s not that any of these are not valuable or needed.
However, the root cause of ASD needs to be addressed.


I found this revolutionary intervention 15 years ago. Today, I’d like to share it with you.


RDI (Relationship Development Intervention was founded by Dr. Steven Gutstein and his wife, Dr. Rachelle Sheely, in the late 1990s. (Houston, Texas)


RDI offers cognitive- developmental treatment programs for individuals and families that face developmental difficulties. It is often described as the ‘missing piece of the puzzle,’ in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, ADD and other developmental disorders.


Here are 4 important information points about RDI.


1. Based on the latest research on brain development


RDI is based on the latest research related to brain development and neural connectivity.


how autistic traits in children impact their brains

Image Credits: Dr Steven Gutstein, RDI Connect


This fMRI slide shows a lack of neural connectivity amongst different brain centers as compared to the control image.


RDI addresses this issue by working on building neural connectivity via creating a feedback loop between parents and child.


When parents engage with their child to build Guided participation, neural connectivity gets impacted positively.



2. It is a parent led intervention


In RDI, parents work directly with their child.


Parents work to build the feedback loop between themselves and their children under the supervision of an RDI Consultant.


An RDI Consultant customizes a program for the needs of the family. Each family gets a program based on their specific requirements, after a detailed assessment.


(Reference : Case Study presented by Kamini Lakhani)


3. It works on the core deficits of autism

Regardless of language abilities and IQ, individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulties in some core areas.


These are:
1. Declarative (Experience Sharing) Communication
They may be able to name items, ask questions, talk at length about their experiences, but they have an inabilityto share feelings and thoughts with you.
2. Social Referencing
They may be taught eye contact but they cannot borrow your perspective to solve problems facing them.
3. Regulating themselves
They may be able to follow instructions and procedures, but they cannot flow in an interaction with you, if it’s unpredictable or if you are being spontaneous.
4. Episodic Memory
They may have good procedural or rote memory but they lack the kind of memory that helps them reflect on their past actions or predict future events.
5. Flexible thinking and adaptability
They may follow rules but cannot adapt to sudden changes or deal with unexpected events. Their thinking is mostly black or white
These deficits reflect an inability to develop dynamic intelligence.


4. RDI focuses on dynamic intelligence


Dynamic intelligence is the ability to solve problems in everyday life. It is the ability to make good decisions when we don’t have the answers and need to find them.


The world is constantly in a state of flux. Dynamic intelligence provides children with tools to deal with these changes.



Image Credit: Dr Steven Gutstein, RDIConnect


On working on the above 4 points, we see a marked change. This is because we’ve addressed the ‘core issues.’
The co occurring problems of speech and sensory issues also get favorably impacted by RDI.


Expected Outcomes of the RDI Program
Parents who participate in the RDI program are reporting dramatic changes:
• Children are significantly more motivated to accept guidance
• Children value time interacting with parents over other activities and objects.
• Children are more interested in how parents and other family members feel.
• Couples report a significant reduction in conflicts and stresses related to the child
• They feel more hopeful and less fearful about what the future holds
• They feel a decreased need to act as a buffer and advocate for the child
• They perceive their children as engaging more in planned, thoughtful action and see a significant increase in their ability to generate productive creative ideas and responses
• Their children show a strong desire to take greater responsibility in their daily lives
I have seen these outcomes in my own life and in the lives of several families I work with.


I invite you to explore this revolutionary treatment option and favorably impact the lives of several families affected by ASD.


Kamini Lakhani

Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.


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