Relationship Development Intervention and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Relationship Development Intervention

Relationship Development Intervention (also known as RDI) is a parent-led approach which focuses on a child's difficulties with flexibility of thought, emotional regulation and perspective-taking.

RDI is based on the idea that children on the autism spectrum have missed key developmental milestones (such as social referencing and joint attention) that enable them to think flexibly, regulate their emotions, and understand social situations.

RDI seeks to give children another chance to master these milestones in the same way that they are mastered by typically developing children: through their relationship with their parents.

An RDI consultant guides the parent to change their communication and interaction style so that they can support their child to fill in the developmental gaps they missed. This is done through everyday activities such as washing up, cooking, going for a walk, etc - some of which are video recorded and shared with the family's consultant who then provides feedback on progress.

Our Opinion

We have identified a single research study, of very limited scientific validity and reliability, into the effects of the RDI programme on children on the autism spectrum.

Because of the lack of scientific evidence in favour of the RDI programme, we are currently unable to recommend its use.

However, given the claims made for RDI and the level of the existing anecdotal evidence, we feel that further, objective research into the programme is justified.


Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions

31 Oct 2017
Last Review
24 Sep 2015
Next Review
01 Sep 2018