Description: Relationship Development Intervention is a treatment program proposed for autistic spectrum disorders. It was developed and trademarked by the husband/wife team of Steven Gutstein, Ph.D. and Rachelle K. Sheely, Ph.D., clinical psychologists. The focus of RDI is to teach parents and others how to motivate and enable those with autism to experience dynamic social relationships through "social and emotional development activities" such as passing a "hot potato" rapidly back and forth or duplicating facial expressions shown in pictures.
Research Summary: Preliminary data that may support this intervention are cited on the developers' website and in one published but uncontrolled study (Gutstein, Burgess, & Montfort, 2007). However, the intervention has not been evaluated in peer-reviewed studies with strong experimental designs.
Recommendations: Researchers may wish to conduct studies with strong scientific designs to evaluate Relationship Development Intervention. Professionals should present this intervention as untested and encourage families who are considering this intervention to evaluate it carefully.
Selected Scientific Study:
- Gutstein, S. E., Burgess, A. F., & Montfort, K. (2007). Evaluation of the relationship development intervention program. Autism, 11(5), 397-411.