This family story was written by an RDI parent

My journey since my child’s diagnosis has taken me along many paths and many agonizing moments.  Choosing how best to help and support my child was a struggle.  After a lot of research, I settled on two approaches – The Son-Rise Program and The RDI Program.  I wanted clear guidance on how they differed – but there just wasn’t enough clarity!  I had to take the plunge and find out for myself.  In case you are at the crossroads like I once was, here’s my experience.  I share my thoughts and reflections so that you can benefit from them. 

 First, I would like to tell you that I’ve attended the Son-Rise start up and the maximum impact trainings and I have been in direct contact with one of the top consultants in the Son-Rise program for a regular phone consultation and video feed back for 6 months.

 My Son-Rise Program Experience

The best advantage of the Son-Rise program is the opportunity for the parents to be involved and work with their child so that the bond between them will develop and grow. They are trying to focus on the social aspect of the relationship but they don’t provide the exact way to do that. It is all about being with your child in the Son-Rise specialized room with 3 or 4 goals to work on; with lots of joining, requesting and huge celebration.

They ask you first to join the child by doing exactly what he is doing, until s/he gives you the green light.  The Son-Rise green light refers to the moment the child looks at you. In an instant, you have to come up with a quick idea to share with the child and request something from him by asking a question or placing a demand. It is mentally exhausting! 

There is HUGE emphasis on eye contact. It is the first and the main fundamental of the Son-Rise Program.  You have to take every position to keep the child’s eyes fixed on yours!

They say: Don’t invade the child’s space…

I feel that continuously encouraging the child to look at you, following her/him around the room so that they will keep looking at you, invading and artificial! … And exhausting!!

Little tips, few ideas and a manual

Armed with little tips, few ideas and a manual after the training, you are supposed to work with your child 1:1 in the Son-Rise specialized room for a minimum of 20 hours per week!  That’s what they call Part Time Level 1 Son-Rise Program and the Full time is 56 hours per week!  I never felt satisfied during the Son-Rise Program because I couldn’t reach this 56 hours target.  

Over and above that, you have to look for volunteers and train them- then observe them while working with your child through the TV that is connected to a video camera inside the Son-Rise room! Also, it is mandatory to have a two hour meeting, every two weeks with the volunteers to discuss your child progress and where the volunteers need to improve.

I found it tough to concentrate with all that pressure on me.  I became overly focused on how to give my child more and more hours of therapy – and still I fell short!

Consider this: What happens to your family? Your other children? And, most important: How can your ASD child experience true family life being locked in a room for 6-8 hours/day away (even from siblings) because of possible overwhelm? And how would s/he learn anything about true life experience when they advise you to keep your child at home and you do not step out for months!

Isn’t it an artificial and fake environment?  I ended up feeling lost, hugely pressured and bored!

Related: The Road to Dynamic Thinking


Son-Rise will help your child develop the language if that is one of your main concerns, but it will be mindless –scripted speech.  You might not understand this point until you apply the RDI program with your child… you might even discover that the different songs your child sings every day is just scripting!!!

 The Son-Rise program fundamentals

The fundamentals and goals mainly concentrate on the problems that the child has because of autism and they don’t concentrate on autism itself.

The four fundamentals are:

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Language
  3. Interaction Attention Span
  4. Flexibility

Before I started the RDI program, I thought that there are lots of things in common between the Son-Rise and the RDI program – I could join them and apply them on my child. My RDI consultant suggested that we close the Son-Rise room for one week and give the RDI program a try. Since then, I haven’t opened it again!

 Why RDI?

The RDI Program provides the tools to individuals with ASD to have a quality of life and be independent.  It is logical and science-based.

What I now know

Typical children learn by observing their parents who are the experienced guides. They learn from struggling with uncertainty and challenges that are just a bit ahead of the current level of the child’s understanding.

By the beginning of the second year of life typically developing children start searching for meaning and the parent becomes the child’s primary reference point; This is called Guided Participation and this is how the child develops Dynamic Intelligence at first.

This type of relationship is either missing or severely impaired if the child has ASD (development does not follow the typical route). So the child may have problems with communication, language, thinking, understanding, etc.

The RDI Program concentrates on this Parent-Child Guided Participation. Their mission is to restore parents to their natural roles as the primary guides for their child. The RDI Program guides the parents to function in a simpler, slower and more mindful manner than had naturally been attempted earlier.

What’s missing?

10397823_1004039769624945_6567220456131251300_n-1I can’t point out things that are missing in the other programs and available in the RDI because I see that the RDI Program doesn’t belong to the same category that other programs fall in.  

All the programs, whatever the approach they take, focus on recognizing and treating co- occurring conditions and problems that happened as a consequence of autism.  RDI alone focuses on remediating the autism itself.

I remember during the Son-Rise training course they said that 30% of communication depends on language and that 70% depends on Non-verbal communication!!! This is absolutely true, but…going back to the Four Son-Rise fundamentals mentioned above… where is the 70% Non-Verbal communication!!!?

Also, in the Son-Rise Developmental Model that is attached to the Son-Rise manual…less than 30% of the goals concentrate on what they call “the Non-Verbal Communication”!!! This unfortunately, is mostly the static type of Non-verbal communication like nodding for yes/ No or waving etc. (which wouldn’t help your child if that was all he had)!

You then hope that your child will reach the final stage of non-verbal communication on the developmental model.  They call it: “Social referencing”. Here is how they define it: “In deciding which emotions and actions are appropriate in response to unfamiliar event, your child will take cues from the expressions & reactions of the other person”

And, if your child has reached that goal, Congratulations!!! Your child came out of autism!!! 

Reality check

  • Referencing, which is the final goal in Son-Rise, is among the first important and crucial things that the RDI Program works on?? 
  • The way that the Son-Rise program defined Referencing is very limited and deficient? And do you know that in the RDI program there are so many advanced fundamental stages to work on after referencing which the Son-Rise Program or even any other intervention program doesn’t mention at all?!
  • Non-verbal communication, which represents 70% of communication, depends on Dynamic Intelligence – which is what RDI is all about. The Son-Rise programs or even any other program doesn’t deal with it at all! Do you know that Dynamic intelligence is what truly differentiates children with Autism from typical children?

 “Dynamic intelligence is the ultimate product of our uniquely human minds. It is a gift that evolves throughout our life time. It allows us to adapt to an increasingly complex, continually changing world. Dynamic intelligence provides the tools to successfully solve complicated problems, prioritize multiple demands, carry on meaningful relationships and achieve long term goals. Jobs, friendship, marriages and most aspects of daily life are primarily dynamic in nature.”- DR.STEVEN GUTSTEIN

We are living in a world that is continually changing. For a child with ASD it is extremely overwhelming to deal with this Dynamic world. The Son-Rise program concentrates on Static intelligence, which was impaired because the ASD child didn’t develop the ability to build the Dynamic intelligence!!!

And guess what: with the Son-Rise program your child will develop the static intelligence so quickly, simply because it doesn’t require thinking!!!

Related: My Son is Thriving with RDI

How does the brain develop?

Do you know that the brain develops through thinking? And that the brain will not develop unless it is challenged and that “The brain learns best when it is trying to make sense? When it is building on what is already knows? When it is working in complex, situated circumstances? When it accepts the significance of what it is doing.? When it is exercising in highly challenging, but low threat environments.”?

Do you know that in the Son-Rise program they promise you that your child will reach a very high IQ level and maybe genius level. This is absolutely true and I assure you that as well. But that is true because IQ measures Static Intelligence. Researchers find that the majority (but not all) persons with ASD, retain intact and sometimes superior static functioning. People with ASD may or may not have deficits in static intelligence, yet they all have severe impairments in dynamic intelligence.

With the Son-Rise program you can teach your child so many things by redundancy. You can teach your child to play with others, deal with certain situations and react with people – after that, your child might act like a typical child. But do you think that the communication is going to be real? Do you think it is going to be true? Do you think s/he is going to experience the true joy of communication?

So what does RDI focus on?

In the RDI Program they don’t focus on language, they don’t focus on teaching the child how to play with peers etc. You don’t need a special room, it is more about an RDI life style and using the daily life opportunities.

The RDI Program focuses on restoring what was lost in the beginning (which is the parent-child guided participation) and then all the other problems will be solved without active work on each one- by the impact of your child’s developing dynamic intelligence.

Your child is going to experience the true connection with you. In everything he does, he will feel that it is true and you will feel that to. The child is going to perceive himself as voluntarily choosing to take an orienting action, rather than being requested or told to do so.

With RDI, the child will open up to the beauty of this life, and all the confusion that the child had before will start to fade away because simply – the child will understand how to make sense of everything.

 Impact of the RDI Program on you and your family

The beauty of  the RDI Program is that you will be a parent again for your child not a therapist! This is how the true relationship will develop.

In RDI, the most important thing for your child is being a part of a healthy family situation. Your child will be treated exactly like his/her typical siblings, with the same rules and limits and participating in the family daily routine. The only difference is that by mindful guiding your child to observe, process and think, s/he will understand and voluntarily choose an orienting action.

Quality of time that you spend with your child is more important than quantity…so you will feel relieved and you will have some peaceful time.

You will enjoy spending time and playing with your child and your other children because it will be true and not artificial like before.

 Simply… you will gain your true family life back!

Here is a summary …

The Son-Rise Program The RDI Program

Focuses on treating the problems that occur due to autism



Focuses on remediating autism itself


Experience Based



Science Based


You need to travel to the Option institute for the course



You can start immediately with the closest RDI consultant to you


You are a therapist to your child



You are a parent to your child


You need a specialized rooms



Natural true environment


Quantity of time is important, the more hours the better



Quality of time is important, it is more about an RDI life style


You need a big team (parents and volunteers)



Depends on the parents


Artificial activities in artificial situation



True life experience and challenges


The child must be isolated  for months



Live the natural experience together with his siblings and parents


Monthly consultation at best.

In-between: you are own your own



Regular daily and weekly consultations and full supervision



Provide you with few tips and a manual



Provide you with an access to the one-of-its kind rdiconnect Learning Platform that contains lots of knowledge. Also a private personal account for you


Imbalanced family life, Totally concentrating on the sessions



Balanced family life







I feel that the Son-Rise program team are trying their best to help the children, and that all the parents who attended the program will learn how to love their children more, but allow me to tell what your child is going to miss; s/he is going to miss out on RDI – s/he is going to miss out the true life experience!

 RDI is a sophisticated program which can’t be discussed in brief, so I advise you to watch the RDI DVD and to read the RDI book to have a better idea about it. You could also go through some videos on their Youtube channel “rdiconnect”.

Today, I can say with total conviction: The RDI program is the future. I wish that every family with an ASD child could experience the joy of rediscovering their child and I’d like to leave you with this thought:

Do you want your child to “act” like a typical child, or want your child to think like a typical child?

Thank-you for taking the time to read this.

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