So what is RDI?
It's a program that aims to re-teach normal child development. It aims to build new pathways in the brain. It aims to teach the thinking skills required in our crazy, messy world.
It doesn't teach discrete 'skills'. It doesn't provide 'rewards' for 'behaviour'. It doesn't 'follow the child's lead'.
It distinguishes between the core deficits of autism and co-occurring conditions.
It's a program for children, teens and adults alike and it does not accept that once you reach a certain age, all brain development is finished.
I've pinched some quotes from a published interview with the founder Steve Gutstein below.
"Data show of adults with autism with normal IQ and language, only 3 percent can live normally. That's because we're not treating autism itself."
"Autism is not a speech, sensory or mental problem."
"With mental illness, you're fixing broken minds; with autism, you're creating a mind."
"While many characteristics of ASD seem to improve with time and/or instruction, the conventional wisdom has been that experience-sharing deficits are lifelong and resistant to treatment. We reject that notion."
"Rather than engaging in repetitive, rote-memory exercises typical of behavioral interventions, children in the RDI program rake leaves, prune trees, buy groceries, fix car engines and otherwise share the simple joys of everyday experiences with their parents."
"We focus on fostering loving relationships to enhance quality of life, rather than on behavior modification aimed at teaching children on the autism spectrum to perform scripted behaviors."