Personal story called Holland Schmolland, about Autism: a parent's perspective on applied behavior analysis


By Sandy R-P

I am the mother of a now almost 8-year-old son. My son, looking back, always had odd things going on from the time he was born, but by the time he was two, there was no denying something wasn't right. He received a diagnosis of severe autism at the age of three and he was non-verbal but for two known words. He also has other medical issues I believe not to be related to autism. At that same time we started early intervention and also private O.T and Speech. I was a single mom and didn't have a whole lot of money to spare, and insurance fully covered the O.T and Speech.


I had heard about RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) from someone and since my son never sleeps at night, I read a lot about it. It was very interesting and the concept seemed to me to make sense. A school district north of me actually provides RDI in early intervention. I am not here to promote RDI, simply express how it has worked for us and to let other parents know this is an option and a less expressive option. I didn't want to add more time to therapy hours away from home. I really wanted more knowledge of what I could be doing while at home with my child. RDI provided that tool.


what is Relationship Development Intervention?

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) teaches parents how to effectively guide their children to develop the desire and skill to share their experience with others and become motivated to learn about other’s feelings, perspectives and ideas. RDI is a remediation program that addresses the core deficits of autism. RDI allows parents to feel adequate and competent again. It enriches the entire family and allows them to experience joy.


Children involved with RDI become more flexible. RDI dramatically increases their desire and ability to interact with family and peers. After less than two years of the program, most children are able to function in typical classrooms independently. RDI is also extremely cost-effective. Therapists serve as educators and consultants, teaching parents to incorporate therapeutic involvement with their child into the course of their daily life. (I never had a therapist, I bought an RDI book).

As a result of the private therapies, the school intervention and RDI, my son has progressed greatly. The combination worked very well for him. To encourage my child to be more flexible, I did silly things to change his routine. By doing this at home and working him through it, this made it easier for him to deal with sudden change at school. The great thing about RDI, is it is parent-based and once the child is home, their learning doesn't have to stop once they walk through the door.


I only have one child, so to provide the opportunity for the social aspect in the home, I invited our two neighbor kids to play along with me, and also my nephew which is two year older than my son. Now my son still has autism, he still has sensory issues and isn't all that flexible (sometimes he is) but the improvement from what it was is enormous.

I would welcome anyone to look into RDI. It can compliment any treatment plan and other interventions all working at the same time. I only bought a book, and joined an on line group for RDI. Now my son hardly ever sleeps even with medication. I am chronically tired due to this and dealing with autism behaviors. If the book was easy enough for me under those circumstances, that should be proof RDI is easy for any parent to do.


Personal story about using RDI for a boy on the autism spectrum


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A mother talks about using RDI as early intervention for her son with Autism