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Social and Relationship Intervention

There are many recognized experts in social and relationship development in the world of autism. Among the two most respected are Carol Gray, writer of the acclaimed Social Story™ books and Steven Gutstein, who has trademarked his therapy which is known as Relationship Development Intervention™ or RDI™. Dr. Gray's works, as well as a description of how to write a social story™ are found on her website The Gray Center. Information on Dr. Gutstein's work can be found at The Connection Center.

We have yet to officially use social stories™, so cannot offer any specific recommendations as to their efficacy. Carol Gray's reputation is strong and unblemished, and her center for autism education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Many have recommended her approach as a useful social tool, and we defer to their experience. RDI™ offers many testimonials as well, but the costs are prohibitive for most families. At 2005 prices, the introductory training DVD goes for $150, and the 4-day parent training seminar is nearly 2K! In addition, there are hefty penalties for cancellation, even if you give several months notice. At such high cost, we will look hard for alternatives to recommend. Happily, we are finding that many teaching tools and techniques we were already using are redundantly described in RDI™. Nonetheless, we feel that the description and techniques used in RDI™ are likely valuable, and are embarking on a thorough investigation of the RDI™ system of training seminars and consultants as an adjunct. If buying into a relationship "system" is worth the money, we will tell you. We like that Dr. Gutstein attempts to explain the development of social relationships in a developmental sequence, which is the basis for all good educational strategies. Another advantage of being able to use an education "system" is that Assessment tools, goals and supports are already in place. Many find it worth the money to have a full supported program at their disposal.

The Connections Center website offers many useful tips and information, as well as live free chats every Tuesday night at the The Connection Center chat room. In addition, there are three large online yahoo groups dedicated to RDI™. The first two are for RDI™ only, and don't welcome discussion of ABA methodology. Nevertheless, they are good places to cull information about teaching social skills, as well as to hear encouraging stories about RDI™ successes. There are several RDI™ families on these lists who have been doing it a while, and offer great assistance and advice to new families. Click below to join either group. The latter group, RDI-Mid-Atlantic, has a very extensive list of files located on the group web page that are very useful for finding ideas on how to implement RDI™.

Click here to join RDI_NC
Click to join RDI_NC
Click here to join RDI-Mid-Atlantic
Click to join RDI-Mid-Atlantic

The third group dedicated to discussing RDI was founded by Autism Teaching Tools website owner, Juliet Burk, to discuss how RDI might benefit current ABA programming. This list is called abaplusrdi, and is largely represented by parents and professionals who use ABA or Verbal Behavior techniques successfully and are looking to enhance social and relationship skill acquisition.

Click here to join abaplusrdi
Click to join abaplusrdi
Until we see what RDI™ has to offer, we present our experience with social and relationship intervention. I have chosen to trademark it, just so no one else can! So be it known that Social and Relationship Intervention™ (SRI™) is now taken and may be used by anyone, anywhere in the world for open discussion and not economic gain. In all fairness, we need parents and professionals to be able to describe social and relationship goals and ideas in their programs without fear of economic retribution . This list represents the best of tips we have found so far. The ideas have been taken from child development schedules, texts, journals, personal experiences and conversations with other parents. Any resemblance of these goals to other trademarked interventions, including RDI™ is unintentional and coincidental. Normal child social development can not be trademarked. God got there first. The rest of us try only to describe it.