Ask A Consultant: Does RDI Help with Difficult Behaviors?
“My child does some things that really disrupt our family life, and I need some help quickly. Does RDI help with difficult behaviors? Or is it mostly just about learning life skills?”
RDI is a family-based intervention that addresses Autism’s core deficits. Autism is mainly a mental processing disorder, but it can come with a variety of secondary symptoms, usually behaviours, like stimming and scripting, (among many others!). It’s important to remember that although these behaviours are what we “see” when we recognize Autism, and they can really get in the way sometimes, they are not the whole picture.
With RDI, we work on strengthening the foundational thinking processes that lead to independent decision making, emotional understanding, stronger communication, and ultimately, more meaningful relationships. These skills are so important for development and for your child’s quality of life, which is why we focus much of our time on them. But of course we need to address difficult behaviours too, and RDI takes a very unique approach to doing just that.
With RDI, the real difference is in the way we understand behaviours. Ultimately, behaviour is communication! So instead of treating each one individually, RDI looks at the bigger picture in order to understand where the behaviour stems from. We might start by asking ourselves why the behaviour is occurring in the first place, or figuring out what is triggering it. We might also work to build up the mental processes your child needs to be able to change the behaviour, or replace it with something more effective for them. Or, if the behaviour is more of a coping mechanism, we might want to dig deeper to address whatever is making your child feel a need to cope to begin with. Then, drawing on what we learned, we would come up with a plan – your RDI program.
Each child and behaviour is different, and an RDI program reflects that! RDI is personalized to suit each individual family – what is right for one child might not be for another, even if their difficult behavior seem the same. We start by getting to know your child and your family, including everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, goals and challenges, and even your family schedule! We use everything we learn and collaborate with you in order to develop a plan that’s a true fit. Our main goal in RDI is for the skills and mental processes we teach to give your child independence and the ability to develop meaningful connections with others – for a quality of life that we know is possible for everyone!
Kira Matthes is an RDI Consultant in Training, and can be contacted at: