In a recent post I discussed my growing concern about two elements of the business side of the autism intervention model Relationship Development Intervention (RDI). I had two primary concerns:
1) The cost of the RDI "protocol," which is so high that it precludes its use by many (perhaps most) families, and
2) My perception that some proponents of RDI suggested that only those parents following the prescribed RDI protocol were doing "real" RDI, and those of use researching, studying, networking, and implementing on our own ran the risk of setting our children's progress back instead of moving it forward.
I was pleased, then, when a recent edition of the RDI newsletter addressed both issues. It reads,
We have never wanted to discourage parents who either cannot afford or do not have access to Certified Consultants, from attempting to work with their child using RDI® Program principles. We have certainly read and seen many accounts of exciting changes brought about by parents who were intuitively using our methods as they were intended. Yet we do highly recommend parents follow the RDI® Program protocol, including taking full advantage of the Parent Seminar and the expertise of Consultants because this is the best way to get the most effective RDI® Program. So far, parents needing outside funding have accessed it through a variety of sources.
The newsletter goes on to list seven sources of funding that RDI families have used and concludes with,
Our goal is for the RDI® Program in its entirety, (Parent Seminars, RDAs™, ongoing consulting, etc.) to be accessible to every family with a child on the autism spectrum. However, this is not something we can do by ourselves. Nor can this be done through FARR, whose charter restricts it from funding treatment programs for individual families. It is time for all of us, as a community to work together to help those who cannot afford RDI® Program services. The Connections Center wants to take a leadership role in this initiative, and has already started discussions with a parent who is willing to spearhead fundraising. What we need next is a non-profit foundation to act as the conduit and administrator for providing the funds. If you have access to a non-profit organization that would be willing to do this, or if you have any good connections to possible funding sources, please let us know. We do not want any child, teen or adult on the spectrum left behind due to lack of financial resources and are actively working on a solution. We welcome your ideas and your support and hope to be able to start providing RDI® Program scholarships in the very near future.
I'm delighted to see that the folks at the Connections Center are recognizing and addressing the very real issues of access. The RDI philosophy has made - is making - a tremendous difference in our lives. I hope it will continue to do the same for many, many more.