RDI®: Treating Autism through Everyday activities

RDI® is an autism treatment model that takes the power of remediation from the professionals and puts it in the hands of parents. Guided by certified RDI® consultants, parents are provided the tools to effectively teach Relationship Intelligence skills and motivation to their children.

RDI® is implemented in the home utilizing normal day to day activities and engagements with the ultimate goal of re-establishing the broken parent/child guiding relationship. Gradually as confidence and competence are shared and sustained RDI® becomes much more than an intervention, it becomes a fulfilling lifestyle.

Instead of teaching short term compensations, RDI® is centered on treating the core deficits of autism using parent child activities in the home. Here are some examples:

In The Car

  • Go a different route in the car
  • When choosing a CD to listen to in the car, shake your head “no” until he finds one you can both agree on, then shake “yes”( smiles and frowns fine too)
  • Make up silly songs while driving (or add new words to familiar songs!)
  • “Blow out” the red light together as you wait for it to turn green while driving and then celebrate, “we did it! we turned it green!”


  • Reading a book – but closing it between pages to spotlight the emotion sharing, adding in funny nonsense words every so often or changing the prosody in your voice
  • Brushing child’s nose instead of their teeth – very lightly
  • Acting like the teeth are so sparkly they are blinding
  • PJ’s on bottoms on arms, top on legs
  • When giving a bath, reference parts of body he/ she needs to wash
  • When putting your child to bed, lay quietly for a few minutes and a share gaze


  • Open your mouth wide and indicate you want a bite when child is having snack( like donut holes)
  • Ask your child to come stir while you pour something, while cooking
  • Blow bubbles in milk
  • Change seating at kitchen table


  • Pretend you are stuck to your chair / to the ground and can’t get up / can’t walk and need help
  • When your child is laying on the couch or floor (and you want him to do something but he doesn’t want to get up) take his hand and pull – hard enough to create tension but not hard enough to pull him off the couch or floor. When he takes that active role to “get up” you spotlight this – i.e. “I am so glad you are ready to join me!” You have just created an opportunity for learning about self regulation.
  • Pretend the door is stuck, lids on jars, dishwasher and washer doors are stuck
  • Walk backwards together from car to house (hold hands)
  • Wipe table and counters off using patterns (share towel and spray bottle)
  • Carry heavy bags in together from car to house (pretend they keep falling or are too heavy for you)
  • Swing arms together in a pattern as you walk hand in hand together to the car, into the store, to the next room, etc.
  • Create unexpected names / labels to familiar objects
  • Pause just before completing a sentence
  • While he is having a great time on tramp or swing, peek out and catch the eyes to share enjoyment
  • Tease that you are going to give him a “wet willy” ( lick finger tickle ear)
  • When he/she leaves the door open, reference the door that he/she needs to close it
  • Kisses -blow kisses, butterfly kisses, Eskimo kisses and a lick on the check instead of a kiss (yuck!)
  • Hugs – bear hugs, baby bear hugs, momma hugs, daddy bear hugs
  • High fives – up high, down low, oops – too slow.  behind the back, with both hands (high tens) with one, running high fives to meet in the middle
  • Funny handshakes

This list was compiled with ideas from consultants, parents and friends.

For more in-depth information about the RDI® Model and why we use framing activities, join the community!


  1. Rachelle Sheely

    Thnx for the information.

  2. Anu

    Thanks…. informative

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