Frequently Asked Questions
How long have you been an Certified Consultant?
I became an RDI Program Certified Consultant in 2003 and have been re-certified every year since then, for a total of 13 years.
Where are you located? Do you take distance families?
My office is in Texas, USA, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where I see local families from all over the metro-plex for consultation. I also work with many families from all over the world, via Skype, supplemented by in-person visits as needed*. While I do recommend parents work with a consultant in their own local community, sometimes that's not possible for one reason or another, so I will serve any family who needs help. I've worked with families from as far away as Chile and Belgium.
*Note: Distance families must travel to Dallas/Fort Worth for any Child Assessments which are done in-person. Assessments are typically done once or twice a year, depending on the child's needs.
What ages do you work with?
I will work with families with children of any age. So far, I've worked with a family who had a child of just 18 months; and with a family who had a 25-year-old.
Why does the RDI Program focus on "Parent Goals" at the beginning?
Autism or other neurological conditions affect everyone in the family–not just the child–so we start by seeing how it has affected you as the parents and go from there. Once you complete some of the Parent Goals and get yourself on a firm foundation, we will shift our focus to Guiding Goals with your child. You will learn how to restore the missing "feedback loop": how to communicate effectively with your child, how to guide your child, and how you and your child can truly enjoy each other, and many activities together. It is a great program which will involve every member of your family–you'll even learn how to communicate better with your spouse! RDI was specifically designed to make the whole family stronger as a unit, so everyone grows.
What is a specific example of a Parent Goal?
One of the RDI Parent Goals is related to setting up a communicative environment to nurture experience-sharing, so one thing we would look at is how often you're asking your child questions. In order to set up an optimal guiding environment, we would ask you to reduce the number of questions you're asking, in favor of sharing experiences with your child in other ways. Through a step-by-step process, I will help you plan the environment and activities so you can learn how to be successful with your child (and so your child can feel successful being with you.)
What are some examples of early Student Goals?
Together, we'll look for any holes in your child's foundations–for example: imitation, referencing (eye contact), or being able to regulate or coordinate with another person (like walking together.) We'll start where ever we need to–with both you and your child–and then take little steps from there.
How much time does the RDI Program take every week?
As a ballpark figure, the "formal" Parent Training part of the RDI® Program can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes a week. This would include the educational components (for example, reading expert knowledge articles, reviewing audio or video clips), weekly or bi-weekly in-person or skype meetings, video-taping and uploading assignments, taking notes, following up on feedback, etc. However, it is the "informal" part of the RDI® Program–all the time you spend interacting with your child in your own natural family environments–that will determine his or her ultimate progress. The more time you spend being a guide and sharing experiences with your child the better, because the more progress you'll see. I have, though, seen families make progress even if they are very busy and can only spend an hour a day one-on-one with their child.
How long does it take to complete the RDI Family Consultation Program?
This can vary greatly between families because parents set their own pace, and because the children all start from different places. The Program can take from months to years, particularly if many co-occurring conditions are involved. However, no matter where each child starts, generally parents feel competent as guides anywhere from 6 to 12 months into the process.
As a Consultant I am here for parents as long as they need me. In the beginning, this can mean once a week or more and I try to be as available as I can be. "Veteran" parents may need me only once a month, or even just for intermittent meetings as things arise. The Program "ends" when you feel ready for it to end: when you feel confident as a guide and have a relationship with your child that works for both of you, and when your child has enough friends! My objective is always to empower you.
How much does the RDI® Family Consultation Program cost with you?
The cost can be broken down into 3 parts:
1. Training, Consulting and Supervision Costs (typically $200-400 per month)
While the cost very much depends on an individual family's pace at turning in assignments, typically the first 6 months cost between $200 and $400 per month (payable monthly). You and I will become collaborators, so the RDI Program will be individualized for your unique family; I will never ask you to do assignments or anything that isn't necessary for your own personal situation. Depending on the child, however, some families find they need to increase contact over the next 18 to 24 months; while others gradually decrease contact, especially if the child has few co-occurring conditions. My end goal of course, is for all families to need me less over time.
2. Fees for the RDIconnect® Online Parent Training System (OPTS) ($50 per month)
Every parent doing an RDI Program must be registered on the OPTS which costs $50 per month, (payable on a month-to-month basis.) The OPTS not only provides you access to the whole RDI® curriculum, expert resources, your personal online notebooks, live webinars, archived webinars and community forums, etc. but also provides you a level of quality assurance. By being registered on the OPTS, you know that you are working with a consultant who has kept up to the recent advances in the Program as shown by qualifying for formally re-certification within the past year and is also using the most current version of the RDI Program (which Dr Gutstein updates based on the latest research and clinical findings.)
3. Fees for Child Assessments ($400-$600, typically done once or twice a year)
An initial (baseline) assessment is typically done after the first 10 Assignments, which most parents complete within one to three months of starting. Assessments generally cost between $400 and $600 and include 2 in-person office visits, video clip reviews, etc. Follow-up assessments will then be done throughout your RDI Program, as needed (but never more than once every 6 months).
Is the RDI Program "evidence-based"?
The RDI Program is based on literally hundreds of the latest research studies from the fields of autism, neurology and developmental psychology. For a list of just a few of the research papers Dr. Gutstein has referenced lately, see the list on the Resources/Links page.
A study specifically evaluating the RDI Program was published in 2007, in the journal Autism:
Gutstein, S.E., Burgess, A.F., & Montfort, K. (2007). Evaluation of the Relationship Development Intervention Program. Autism, 11, 397-411.
A paper validating the RDI Program Assessment for clinical assessment will be published in the journal, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry:
Larkin F, Guerin S, Hobson JA, Gutstein SE. (2014). The Relationship Development Assessment - Research Version: Preliminary validation of a clinical tool and coding schemes to measure parent-child interaction in autism. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry , Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 24366957 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher])
And a Review was published in 2009 in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry:
Gutstein, S.E. (2009). Empowering families through Relationship Development Intervention: An important part of the biopsychosocial management of autism spectrum disorders. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry 2009;21(3):174-182.
Studies are also currently underway at the Institute of Child Health at University College of London (UCL) and the Tavistock Clinic in London, plus a 2-year study is being conducted in New Jersey (to be complete in June 2015).
In addition, in 2010, Amy Leventhal and Deborah Berrang in Wisconsin, wrote: RDI® as Evidence Based Practice for Autism Spectrum Disorders, which outlined related Intervention Studies.
As the RDI Program is relatively new, there are few published articles, however the following is a list of studies and presentations most specifically related to RDI:
Aldred, C., Green, J., & Adams, C. (2004). A new social communication intervention for children with autism: pilot randomized controlled treatment study suggesting effectiveness. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1420-1430.
Gutstein, S.E., Burgess, A.F., & Montfort, K. (2007). Evaluation of the Relationship Development Intervention® Program. Autism, 11, 397-411.
Hobson, J. A., Hobson, R. P., Gutstein, S., Ballarani, A., & Bargiota, K. (2008). Caregiver-child relatedness in autism: What changes with intervention? Presentation at 2nd International Conference: Communication – the Key to Success. Pontville School and Edge Hill University, May.
Hobson, J. A., Hobson, R. P., Gutstein, S., Ballarani, A., & Bargiota, K. (2008). Caregiver-child relatedness in autism: What changes with intervention? Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, London, UK, May.
Hobson, R.P., & Hobson, J.A. (2008). Interpersonal engagement: A focus for understanding and intervention in autism. In symposium on The understanding and treatment of autism: A revolution in the making? Organized by R.P. Hobson, Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, July.
Hobson, J. A. (2009). The guided participation relationship as a focus for change in children with autism and their parents. Presentation at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO USA, April.
Hobson, R.P., Hobson, J.A., Gutstein, S., (2009). Parent-child interaction and global assessment of functioning: measuring change and outcome in adolescents with autism. Presentation at International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Chicago, USA, May.
Hobson, J. A., & Gutstein, S. E. (2010) The Guided Participation Relationship as a vehicle for change in autism. Manuscript under review.
Hobson, R.P. (2002). The Cradle of Thought. London: Macmillan.
Sponder, D. (2011). Overview of RDI®: What it is and How it Works, Including brief comparison of Relationship-Based and Traditional ABA Methods for Treating Autism. Presentation at the 6th Annual "Back to School" Autism/Asperger's Conference, Pasadena, CA, USA, August.
For more information, please contact me.
Can I become my own Consultant ? Can I become a Certified Consultant myself?
The ultimate goals of the RDI Program are to empower you to be a great guide for your child and for you to feel confident making independent decisions. Having said that, even "veteran parents" find it helpful to have an objective set of eyes from time to time. Sometimes we can be blinded by things we need to see because we are too close to our own child and a fresh perspective can be enlightening.
If you are interested in formal Certification, RDIconnect has a fabulous training program. Please visit the RDIconnect® Professional Training page for more information.