This was written by RDI® Certified Consultant, Jenny Palmiotto and was originally published in 2012.

At the age of 10, “Bob” (as he said I could call him), taught himself how to do solve a Rubik’s Cube. Now, he can do it in less than 45 seconds. He asserts that “Its just a bunch of algorithms.” As amazing as it was to watch Bob dazzle a crowd in Carl’s Junior yesterday, what was most impressive was when Bob talked about his first girlfriend. Bob was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Bob, a very bright kid, was able to self-teach many things including the Rubik’s Cube but interacting in a meaningful way with others has not come so easily. In some aspects of his life, he is clearly a genius that has endless amounts of energy to master a complicated puzzle, read an 800-page novel in a few hours, or memorize scientific terms without effort. Yet, until a two years ago he seemed to have little energy left for simple conversation.

Of course, I would be lying to you if I said that Bob was anything but awkward when interacting with his girlfriend, per his mother. But, what 13-year-old isn’t? What Bob doesn’t know is that his mother secretly relishes in the satisfaction of seeing him text back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. She may act annoyed when that text dings again at the dinner table but that little sound that someone else wants to talk with her son over and over again is something that she hadn’t counted on.

So, what changed?

His mom, Julie started to work on their relationship. She realized that if her son was going to have the relationships that she envisioned for him in his future, she had to change what was happening between the two of them now. She used everyday moments such as loading the dishwasher and making dinner as opportunities to effectively connect. Through systematically slowing down and learning to thoughtfully engage, Bob’s mom found that she could help him develop better interpersonal and intra-personal skills. Soon Bob and his mother looked forward to these special moments. These interactions slightly challenged him while emotionally supporting him. Julie noticed that her son’s interest and concern for her emerged. Remarkably, she recounts how her son now shows affection through saying “I love you,” both spontaneous and routinely. These are words that she thought she’d never hear without a prompt. Bob and Julie got here by doing RDI (Relationship Development Intervention).

Julie recently sent me this note:
“Actually, I’m amazed at how RDI has chanced our family dynamics and the relationship between me and my children. It has been life changing for us. Bob has had success in handling obstacles as large as school and as small as trying new foods as a result of our work in RDI.”

This mother and her son now have discovered the relationship that they were meant to have.

If you are interested in learning more about how to change your everyday interactions into meaningful and authentic experiences that result in big changes for you and your child, RDI might be right for your family.

Join us at Love and Autism: A Conference with Heart to hear more from Kathy Darrow, Dr. Jessica Hobson, Jenny Palmiotto- all RDI consultants- and Paul Louden, an adult on the spectrum whom has used RDI. Don’t miss many other relationship experts including Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Peter Hobson and Dr. Josh Feder.

jenny palmiottoMore details on our website at
Jenny Palmiotto, LMFT
Host of Love and Autism
Owner/CEO of The Family Guidance & Therapy Center of Southern California

Love & Autism: A Conference with Heart
August 23 & 24, 2014 in San Diego, CA
Learn more at

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