Research on RDI just keeps pouring out

Congrats to all of the authors on recent RDI studies. Our side of the field is producing quality research that is the impetus for us being included in the new MCFD Under 6 Funding handbook (Page 28) here in British Columbia along with our colleagues in DIR/Floortime and other Social Pragmatic-Developmental approaches. They can no longer say we lack ‘evidence’ or ‘research’, in fact ours seems to be growing and stronger than other approaches that have yet to provide a replication of their decades old so-called ‘gold standard’ research. We have arrived.

Here are just a few samples of what has been published:


Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

First online: 23 August 2015
The Relation between Severity of Autism and Caregiver-Child Interaction: a Study in the Context of Relationship Development Intervention

Jessica A. Hobson , Laura Tarver, Nicole Beurkens, R. Peter Hobson


The aim of this study was to examine the relations between severity of children’s autism and qualities of parent-child interaction. We studied these variables at two points of time in children receiving a treatment that has a focus on social engagement, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI; Gutstein 2009). Participants were 18 parent-child dyads where the child (16 boys, 2 girls) had a diagnosis of autism and was between the ages of 2 and 12 years. The severity of the children’s autism was assessed at baseline and later in treatment using the autism severity metric of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Gotham et al. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 693–705 2009). Although the ADOS was designed as a diagnostic measure, ADOS calibrated severity scores (CSS) are increasingly used as one index of change (e.g., Locke et al. Autism, 18, 370–375 2014). Videotapes of parent-child interaction at baseline and later in treatment were rated by independent coders, for a) overall qualities of interpersonal relatedness using the Dyadic Coding Scales (DCS; Humber and Moss The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 128-141 2005), and b) second-by-second parent-child Co-Regulation and Intersubjective Engagement (processes targeted by the treatment approach of RDI). Severity of autism was correlated with lower quality of parent-child interaction. Ratings on each of these variables changed over the course of treatment, and there was evidence that improvement was specifically related to the quality of parent-child interaction at baseline.

The Relationship Development Assessment – Research Version: Preliminary validation of a clinical tool and coding schemes to measure parent-child interaction in autism

Fionnuala Larkin1
Suzanne Guerin1
Jessica A Hobson2
Steven E Gutstein3

1School of Psychology, College of Human Sciences, University College Dublin, Ireland
2Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK; Sonoma State University, USA
3The Connections Centre, Texas, USA

Fionnuala Larkin, School of Psychology, College of Human Sciences, University College Dublin, Ireland. Email:


The aim of this project was to replicate and extend findings from two recent studies on parent-child relatedness in autism (Beurkens, Hobson, & Hobson, 2013; Hobson, Tarver, Beurkens, & Hobson, 2013, under review) by adapting an observational assessment and coding schemes of parent-child relatedness for the clinical context and examining their validity and reliability. The coding schemes focussed on three aspects of relatedness: joint attentional focus (Adamson, Bakeman, & Deckner, 2004), the capacity to co-regulate an interaction and the capacity to share emotional experiences. The participants were 40 children (20 with autism, 20 without autism) aged 6–14, and their parents. Parent-child dyads took part in the observational assessment and were coded on these schemes. Comparisons were made with standardised measures of autism severity (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, ADOS: Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 2001; Social Responsiveness Scale, SRS: Constantino & Gruber, 2005), relationship quality (Parent Child Relationship Inventory, PCRI: Gerard, 1994) and quality of parent-child interaction (Dyadic Coding Scales, DCS: Humber & Moss, 2005). Inter-rater reliability was very good and, as predicted, codes both diverged from the measure of parent-child relationship and converged with a separate measure of parent-child interaction quality. A detailed profile review revealed nuanced areas of group and individual differences which may be specific to verbally-able school-age children. The results support the utility of the Relationship Development Assessment – Research Version for clinical practice.