The RDI Process

Re-choreographing the parent-child dance

The basic methods of RDI are those regularly employed by parents and their children in every culture since the dawn of mankind. Typically, children prompt the parent-child dance that guides them. However, children with ASD provide their parents with signals that change the parent-child dance, because the child’s nervous system is demanding sameness. For this reason, it is important to introduce the developmental steps that are needed to restore or strengthen the parent-child guiding relationship. The guidance which parents provide to their children has been called ‘Guided Participation’ and this is what we use as we work in RDI.

Individualised coaching

RDI Consultants serve as ‘guides to the guides’. That is, the consultants guide parents by helping them to blend the principles of RDI into their daily lives. The consultant helps customise the parents’ guiding to meet the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of their child. Through collaboration with the consultant, mothers and fathers gradually take more responsibility for carefully choreographing and unfolding developmental progression. They slowly but continuously raise the bar and present new challenges, while providing sufficient support for the child to safely voyage without fear into greater areas of uncertainty. Parents feel more competent to make effective decisions and trust that their child won’t feel overwhelmed in day to day family life.


It is never too early or too late to start Relationship Development Intervention. RDI can begin as soon as concerns about relating and flexibility emerge. Brain plasticity means change is always possible irrespective of when RDI begins. Many of our consultants work with adults as well as children.

How it happens

The consultant meets with parents regularly to develop and customise their program. Between meetings, parents use video to record specific interactions with their child and, with their consultant’s support, learn how to analyse their own role in the guiding relationship. Research shows video review as a very effective tool for changing how we parent. Thus the parents learn how to continuously improve their interactions with their child to provide ‘just right’ challenges, which facilitate his dynamic development. Over time, need for consultation reduces and RDI becomes a way of life, and the consultant is no longer needed.
Parents have access to a community of consultants and other families and a wealth of webinars, articles, videos and blogs to support their journey, as well as their consultant to guide them.