Implementing RDI® in School

by | Aug 5, 2014 | RDI®, School

This article was originally written and published in 2013 by RDI® Consultant-in-Training, Donna Hughes.

Working as a Kindergarten teacher, I have had the privilege to work with a family who does RDI® and I have seen firsthand the progress the child made.

I also noticed a change in the dynamics of my room, and Early Learning Centre as a whole, as we worked together to incorporate RDI® techniques in the classroom.

This experience has given me some insight into what a teacher needs from a family to help ensure success.

There is a lot of misinformation about autism in the education system, and teachers often tend to follow the “this is what we do with children with autism” stereotype.

It can sometimes be confrontational to approach teachers with something different.

As a teacher being approached by parents, I needed them to explain autism in their own terms – this helped me understand what I was seeing in the child.

This can be as simple as explaining the static pathways of the brain, and how they affect your child throughout the day.

I appreciated having RDI® explained to me, and knowing that the family was putting in so much work at home (I find teachers are much more willing to put in greater effort when they see it being put in at home).

I was also motivated knowing that implementing RDI® in the classroom benefits all the children – creating opportunities for dynamic thinking sees a group of children more prepared to enter a changing society – especially when you consider they will be entering jobs that don’t exist yet!

Helping Your Child’s Teacher Implement RDI® in the Classroom

Some tips you can give a teacher about implementing RDI® in the classroom are:

1. Avoid/Minimise Direct Instructions and Demands

This doesn’t mean that a teacher will never ask the child to do something, but that they can try to focus more on giving them time to figure out what to do on their own.

2. Minimise Questions

This does not mean minimising inquiry – questions are easily replaced by ‘I wonder…’ statements that eliminate the pressure of a ‘correct’ response.

3. Establish a Quiet Area in the Room

This ensures the child has somewhere they can retreat to if feeling overwhelmed.

4. Establish a Clear Routine and Expectations

This way, the child knows what to expect and what is expected of them.

5. Utilize Nonverbal Communication

Exaggerated body language/facial expressions are very effective

6. Be Aware That a Child with ASD Needs More Time to Process Information

Give them enough time to process and respond (45 seconds can seem like a lifetime to wait, but it gives the child a chance to be a participant in the room and not just an observer).

7. Create Opportunities for Thinking

Instead of telling children what to do, give them a clue (e.g. instead of ‘get your hat’ you could say ‘we’re going outside’ or ‘you’re missing something from your head’).

8. Remember That an Autistic Child Can Feel Overwhelmed By Things We Consider to be Standard

Concentrate on helping them feel safe. If they have a meltdown, help them come back down to a place of feeling competent, and try again next time.

RDI® Isn’t Just for Home – It Can Be Used Anywhere!

RDI® isn’t just for home – it can be used at school, at stores, at the park, at the zoo, when visiting family, anywhere!

The wonderful thing about the RDI® model is that you no longer have to rely on a team of specialists teaching you how to interact with your child!

With the guidance of a consultant, parents learn to re-think their daily lifestyle, restructure routine activities, and provide safe but challenging opportunities for mental growth.

If you’re interested in learning more, sign up here for a free consultation with an RDI® Certified Consultant.

Donna Hughes, B.Ed, is a Kindergarten teacher in Queensland, Australia and has recently entered our professional training program to become an RDI® certified consultant.

Email Donna


  1. Fatima Pimentel

    My son has autism he is four years old. We have been struggling for two years now with ocuppational therapy. Now we are going to start with RDI. His teacher is aleays complaining about him. She says that She doesnt know how to treat him and that he is been aggresive. I havent tell her yet that he has autism. I do not even know how to tell her about RDI.
    I believe there is a lot to do in my country Panamá to educate people about autism.

  2. Elizabeth

    Hello Fatima. I know it is difficult to navigate the things you are facing and how you will communicate and advocate for your child. I am excited that you found RDI and believe you will find the help you need. An RDI consultant will be able to guide you through many of these issues and help you regain a sense of competence as a parent. Please keep us updated on your progress!

  3. Bryant

    We are in the US. Are you aware of any schools with teachers as open and active as you that are using rdi. We have a therapist that my wife and I work with but if we could find a solution for school that knows and understands what we are doing and our goals where rdi could be more regular and not just with us during active sessions we would be open to relocating. Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thanks

  4. Rachelle Sheely

    I have emailed you privately. Dr. Sheely

  5. Rachelle Sheely

    Fatima, RDI actually allows you to work distance with a Spanish speaking consultant. If you will forward your email address I will email you privately

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