This article was originally published and written in 2010 by RDI® Consultant Melissa Reiner

This week’s guest author, Melissa Reiner, shares her Jewish faith and how her beliefs parallel with the RDI® concept of providing space and opportunities for the process of allowing “Productive Uncertainty” and new discoveries to unfold.

“…good parenting involves making a space for the less-experienced child to understand the reasons for a rule or practice, with the goal of helping that child internalize those rules. The Jewish paradigm here is found in Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. According to the Lurianic account of Creation, G-d* is everywhere and pervades all. In order to create the cosmos, a space had to develop in which G-d did not exist, so that it could be filled with this new Creation. G-d’s self-contraction, restraint, withdrawal (tzimtzum, in Hebrew) created a hollow space in which matter, space and time – the material cosmos – could be formed.” -Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

Here we have this understanding that the Creator must remove himself so that Creation can begin. The true depth of this concept is actually almost unfathomable. Even as mere mortals, we too must remove ourselves, our ego and our eagerness toward results. Parents, as Guides to our children, must often get out of the way in order to make room for our children to manage the unknown. The more our children make these discoveries within uncertainty, the more competent they become, the more resilient they become, the closer they get to the remediation of ASD.

Utilizing Guided Participation intrinsic to RDI® yields an opportunity for the child to stay attuned to their parent’s mind. Once this Guide/Apprentice relationship has been developed, we can begin to recover a sense of trust for the child. Only once the child starts on this journey toward apprenticeship, trust and then toward competence, is the child able to forge ahead as a wonderfully connected member of this dynamic world.

When we create the space and the room for discovery, we allow for moments that create competence in what Deepak Chopra calls, “a field of pure potentiality.” Perhaps it is only in these moments of uncertainty that we are able to grow, learn, discover and integrate more fully than otherwise would have been possible.

In the aforementioned incredibly complex and supremely mystical understanding of Creation, we are able to see that even G-d himself has to step back and make room for that first spark of creation, of light, of learning, of potential. The ultimate Guide must slow down and back up to ensure that growth can continue. If we fill up all of our space (for example with instrumental communication such as “getting” our child to do something, the “right” thing, anything) we simply run over opportunities, squelch ideas and circumvent the unexpected. As Guides, we hope to find a way to allow ourselves to just wait, to not need anything from our child, but to instead sit in this sometimes scary field of pure potentiality. That is when your child might surprise you with an insight most assuredly born out of a moment rife with uncertainty, and so, possibility.

The tzimtzum for the Guide is to not make things better or easier, but rather to push the Apprentice to the edge of their potential (not over the edge, mind you) beyond their more static zone of comfort. We don’t give the answer, we simply point to the door behind which the answer might lay. In terms of RDI®, this is also where we focus on reducing compensations. All the Guide can and must do is to introduce this dynamic world to their Apprentice to foster the trust between them and then, to step back.

That is the tzimtzum.

Melissa Reiner Melissa Reiner is a Certified RDI® Consultant practicing in Los Angeles. She has been working with children diagnosed with ASD since 2003. At that time, she worked as a therapeutic companion in a classroom setting when one of her clients began making tremendous strides through the RDI® model. It was soon after that Melissa embarked upon her own journey toward becoming an RDI® Consultant.
Melissa Reiner, 818.613.1793,

*G-D- refers to the word “God”

Disclaimer: Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) is a trademarked proprietary treatment program for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), based on the belief that the development of dynamic intelligence is the key to improving the quality of life for individuals with autism. RDI®connect is not a religious organization or promotes any form of religion through treatment.

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