Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) is a research-based treatment program developed by Dr. Steven E. Gutstein. Whereas ABA aims to teach social skills directly, RDI focuses on building the "dynamic intelligence" that underlies the acquisition of those social skills in neurotypical children. It also focuses on the building blocks of motivation by developing episodic memory (seen as impaired in autism) and filling it with the child's own personal stories of competence and mastery. RDI emphasizes declarative (as opposed to imperative) communication, and aims for an appropriate balance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

Dr. Gutstein claims that 70% of his patients improved their ADOS score within 18 months, which is unprecedented (it was previously thought that improvement on the ADOS was impossible), and that a similar proportion are able to enter school without a shadow teacher or other personal assistant.


The Son-Rise program was developed by Barry Kaufman, who founded the Option Institute to promulgate his more general philosophy upon which the Son-Rise program is partially based, and to provide training in this treatment approach. It is a home-based program with emphasis on observing, accepting the child without judgement, and engaging the child in a non-coercive way. The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT)maintains a Description of the Son-Rise Program.

Son-Rise remains controversial, and makes a number of claims for itself that may be misleading. Parents who are considering committing their child and their money to this program should read this description of some of the more unrealistic aspects of Options, written by an autistic individual. Options is considered a cult by some former members.