Friday, June 24, 2011

New Summary of the RDI Program

Dr. Gutstein has unveiled a brand new version of the RDI program for autism remediation. It contains a new on-line "platform" and a new "objective" system for both parents and students. We are all very excited about what promises to be an even better program than before! Below is a brief introduction he wrote explaining the basics of the RDI family consultation program. If you would like more information about RDI, contact me (at or on Facebook at Laura Barbuto DeAngelo) or one of the hundreds of other certified consultants worldwide. See the website for a list of certified consultants.

Introduction to the Family Consultation Program

The first step

The Family Consultation Program is for many families, the first step towards developing their child's ability to function as a mindful decision maker. FCP is a clinical program, specifically designed for those families where powerful obstacles have disrupted the formation of a natural mental guiding process. Parents work with trained RDI Family Consultants. The focus is on constructing essential foundations for mental development by harnessing the immense potential of the family.

Program Premises

Foundations of the adult mind are developed in the first years of life through the "Guiding Relationship". From the middle of the first year of life, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, in every culture on earth, children interact with parents and other important adults in deceptively simple encounters, with a very serious underlying agenda; constructing the architecture of the child’s mind and brain.

Some children are born with vulnerabilities that in early development serve as a “tipping point,” preventing them from developing foundations needed to participate in and benefit from the Guiding Relationship. The congenital problems of these children disrupt early parent-child communication, preventing even the most competent parent from providing the thousands of hours of safe, productive guidance needed to foster their child's dynamic development.

The Family Consultation Program seeks to provide a second opportunity for parents and children to develop this essential relationship. We have distilled the typically intuitive process into its central elements. Dr. Gutstein has spent over twenty years studying the intuitive guiding process as it is conducted over the entire world. He has systematically "de-constructed" the process - breaking it apart into its central components, so that any parent can learn to be an effective guide. He has developed a variety of methods to create optimal practice and learning environments that slow and amplify information so that children can experience trust in their guides and in themselves.

The Process

The program involves both parents and child learning new ways of thinking and perceiving in a carefully guided and personalized program. An individual plan is developed, focusing on first reducing those bio psycho social obstacles preventing apprenticeship from developing and then providing the tools needed for successful parent-child guiding engagements to occur.

Consultants train parents to provide a safe, but constantly varying framework. Children learn to use parents as a safe reference point for engaging with and mastering new mental challenges. Children learn to "upgrade" their personal understanding and competence through observing, sharing and comparing with the more expert mind of the parent. Parents learn to construct personalized modifications and remove obstacles, to provide an optimal learning environment.

Parents learn to add small pieces of uncertainty to predictable frameworks. Challenge is paired with success through self regulation balanced by just enough parental support. Parents make sure to capture critical episodes as "experience memories" and build a repository of similar memories in gradually more complex environments.


Until the RDI Family Consultation Program was initiated in 2001, the disruption, or failure of the natural Guiding Relationship meant that opportunities for dynamic mental and neural development were irrevocably lost. The program has provided a second chance for thousands of families worldwide to resume the critical functions that are the universal basis of family life and success in the 21st century world.

-Dr. Steven Gutstein


  1. Laura,
    I am passionate about parenting - especially about ' working with, constructivist , thinking approaches. I am pretty at home with Ross Greene's collaborative problem solving approach which indirectly teaches the lacking dynamic skills in the context of unsolved problems addressing both the child's and parent's concerns. I recommend parents to ' transcend' the day to day instructions and activities and turn them into learning experiences. I bought the new RDI book (yellow)in the hope that I would learn how to teach lacking skills not around unsolved problems.. I have not finished the book, but I am getting the feeling it is not what I am looking for - more examples of interactions , various scenarios. My learning takes place through books which I order ( the mailing costs 2x the book) and the internet. I support parents and teachers on various forums and have a parenting and educational blog focusing on non-behaviorist approaches - collaborative problem solving, self determination theory , constructivist principles
    I wondering if you have any advice for me


  2. Hi Allan, The book is intended to make parents and other professionals aware of the theory, research and approach to parent training used in the program. The core goal is to train parents to know how to approach engagements with their child with the right state of mind and approach so as to best promote autism remediation and relationship enhancement. It is NOT about "which activities" to do with your child. Indeed, ANY activity will do. It is all in the HOW. Parent self-evaluation and ability to both be emotionally available in the moment for your child, and at the same time have enough metacognition to be able to self evaluate and adjust in the moment are critical. The goal on the part of the child is increasingly mindful thought. The parent's role is to guide this. If we just suggested "activities" or "interactions" that would not accomplish this purpose. Some parents think they are doing "RDI activities" having gotten ideas from some books they have read. But these same parents are not guiding the "activity" well. Usually they are using a very static and instrumental approach which might teach the child skills and tasks but does nothing to promote mindful, creative, flexible communication, thought and problem solving. If you want to learn about RDI in more depth please contact Dr. Gutstein at He may refer you to research studies from which the program was derived; he also may suggest you getting the professional certification yourself if you are so inclined and invested in training parents how to be effective guides to their children in autism remediation. I hope this helped. Sorry for the long delay in responding to you! Take care and good luck, Laura

  3. The RDI® program is based on the latest research on the brain, developmental psychology and autism. The focus of the program is to promote and enhance the child’s social and emotional understanding rather than to teach discrete behaviours and skills. Children on the autism spectrum and with other neuro-developmental difficulties miss out on or fail to master many of the early developmental stages that typically-developing children learn effortlessly. RDI® teaches parents to provide treatment that offers their child a second opportunity to master these early developmental stages.

    Relationship Development Intervention