This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blair Armstrong, who was my own family’s consultant when we first started RDI. blair armstrong pic

How did you first come to hear about RDI, and why did you decide to become an RDI consultant?

In 2005, I was working on the (Crisis) Behavioural Support Team for our Provincial Resource Program here in British Columbia. I attended a presentation by a colleague of mine about new approach that was being called the ‘missing link’ to autism treatment. After hearing about RDI, several of the consultants on the team decided to use our training allowance to go and hear Dr Gutstein speak.

All of us knew the limitations of behavioural approaches long term, having been in the field in various capacities for many years. We believed that RDI’s focus on parent training, affect-based relationships, regulation, and appropriate developmental foundations and milestones had what was needed to truly prepare a child to navigate our dynamic world. After attending two further RDI workshops, I decided to join the RDI Professional Certification program in 2007.

You were one of the first consultants to be certified in our area (Vancouver, BC). What has changed the most about your work since you began offering RDI services?

The research supporting relational and developmental approaches is catching up and surpassing the behavioural research in both quality and quantity. The provincial government is now beginning to recognize us and has made some strides in policy to include our approaches. It has been a long hard advocacy battle, but we are starting to move in the right direction.

The focus and evolution of the program towards the dynamic intelligence model as well as having the entire world of RDI parents and Consultants housed in one safe and secure place (the RDI Learning System) has been an amazing process to be part of over the years.

How has RDI influenced you as a parent?

I have five children aged 3-12. I have watched their development closely and seen the principles of RDI play out. It has been a wonderful grand experiment, which has helped me to see the norm of neurotypical child development and to understand the pathway that other forms of development such as ASD take. I have also learned to be a better guide to my children based on my RDI training.

Is there a moment you especially treasure about working with an RDI family?

When a parent has learned to understand how big a seemingly small gain is for them as a guide, as well as for their child as their cognitive apprentice. When they realize that there is hope for their child in so many capacities, at so many levels. Most of all, when they feel their child is attuned and relating to them on an emotional level.

What are you passionate about?

Most things I do. Whether coaching sports, helping other families, spending time with my own family, learning through RDI, advocating for parent choice in therapy for their children, and now my PhD work in Infant and Early Childhood Development specializing in early Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Blair Armstrong can be found at Curious Minds.

Vicki Parnell lives in Burnaby, British Columbia with her husband, Jeff, and their two marvelous children aged 14 and 20. She is an avid cook, a distance runner, a voracious reader, and she travels whenever she can. As an RDI consultant, Vicki wants to empower parents as the experts on their own children, and restore a sense of hope and confidence to families affected by ASD. To contact Vicki, visit

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