Advanced search

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

What is the difference between ABA, floortime and Relationship Development Intervention?

(44 Posts)
oodlesofdoodles Sat 15-Oct-11 21:21:36

Is there a difference between ABA, Floortime and Relationship Development Intervention? Or are they all brand names of pretty similar approaches?

PipinJo Sat 15-Oct-11 23:32:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 08:31:16

ABA - often very directive

Floortime - more child led, but with adults expanding the child's repertoire - so not child led in the way Son Rise is.

RDI - the adult acts as a model for the child to follow

They have quite different foundations and the same child can look very different whilst doing the different therapies. Some people use a mix. Growing minds for example will combine son rise and ABA (vb)

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 08:32:45

I think they have different aims as well. You need to know what you are aiming for really.

Whatever you use you need a good understanding of reinforcement (intentional and otherwise).

oodlesofdoodles Sun 16-Oct-11 13:20:15

Thanks for this information. We are ABA-ing, but I'm always wondering if that is enough. DS is quite interested in social exchange, in an intellectual rather than intuitive way. This week he is trying to understand buying, borrowing, swapping, giving.
I'll have a look at RDI then. Someone told me that the Tavistock clinic in London is trying to get NHS referrals for their service.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 18:34:22

RDI (imo) is worth looking at if your child is high functioning (relatively)

PipinJo Sun 16-Oct-11 19:05:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 19:39:21

No idea. I think there are some trained therapists/practitioners in the UK now.

We have binned all therapies so I am not the person to ask grin

dolfrog Sun 16-Oct-11 20:31:10


you could have a look at Interventions to Improve Communication which discusses all three amongst a range of interventions

oodlesofdoodles Sun 16-Oct-11 21:05:59

Pippin I'm afraid I don't have any details on RDI/Tavistock. I'll put contacting them on my to do list.
Saintly, do you mind me asking why you have binned all therapies?
dolfrog thank you for another great link

My head starts to spin with all this information/possiblities. DS is extremely verbal (non stop sometimes), but he seems to have missed a lot of non-verbal/pre-verbal stuff, so much of the 70% of communication that is non verbal passes him by. His spoken language is also very odd and repetitive, but improving.

Is there anybody out there who ever got an NHS referral to an outcome driven service?

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 23:46:11

Because he began to hate them dolfrog. Actually we haven't quite binned them all - he still has SALT once every other week which he loves.

Also I began to feel that many therapists work with the therapy first, child second (Growing Minds I think are probably an exception to that but we can't afford them anymore).

Plus ds1 is 12 now, severely autistic - always will be. Non-verbal - probably always will be although we have high hopes of some pretty good communication with a communication aid (so when I say binned all therapies I really mean binned all autism 'experts' unless they particularly impress me, and then I've found out they're often cheap/free). And I began to feel like we had to get on and live life rather than wait for him to reach some magic ability at which stage we would start doing stuff. He's clearly going to have a severely autistic life so he may as well enjoy it. So now we focus on getting out and about and doing things.

This was in part helped by him falling in love with surfing, so we spend our (somewhat limited after years of autism) money on that now. It's done more for him than a lot of the therapies we spent years on in all sorts of ways. And definitely more for the family as a whole. The people who take him are absolutely brilliant and totally accepting of him.

So this is what he does now:

Of course knowing about reinforcement and understanding the principals we learned during our years of intervention are helpful. And ABA helped him learn to imitate (age 8) which did open a lot of the world to him. But I suppose now I think I know him better than some random expert, and what works with him. He's very very keen to communicate, but can't due to severe language disorder(s) and verbal dyspraxia, but he does a good job of finding other ways and we hope to make that easier for him with a communication aid. Otherwise he just needs to have fun. He's very happy and has an active a busy life with loads of time spent outdoors. That's pretty much what I would like for all my children so we're done with therapies for now. He just surfs every week (and I think he will all winter this year).

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 23:46:28

SOrry oodles not dolfrog!

PipinJo Mon 17-Oct-11 10:35:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

saintlyjimjams Mon 17-Oct-11 10:48:19

Yes, although tbh I would have binned the therapies without the surfing as well because it got to the stage where he was just so miserable doing them and it was producing behaviours that then spilled out of therapy.

Now he's happier he's just come on so much more.

oodlesofdoodles Mon 17-Oct-11 12:08:20

Thanks saintly, glad your ds has found a real life therapy that works and is fun too. I know what you mean about dragging them round all these therapists. They need to have a childhood as well.

pippin I'll let you know when I get some info. It may take me a while....

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 17-Oct-11 15:10:52

What they share in common is 'hours' of intervention/interaction and as such pretty much universally better than the LA offering, which is why advocates of each will swear blind it is the best thing. They all offer hope where none was before, but no, they are not the same.

oodlesofdoodles Mon 17-Oct-11 17:30:19

Lots of people here seem to be using ABA, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has tried the others.
starlight do you think you can incorporate one into the other?

silverfrog Mon 17-Oct-11 18:20:09

we did (accidentally) a lot of Floortime-esque play with dd1 when she was little. I like greenspan's ideas on most things, adn it made sense.

dd1 then needed more structure, which ABA has provided for her.

we did dabble with a bit of RDI when she was at her last school (an ABA school, but there was the opportunity for some RDI), and I was not convinced, tbh.

I am not sure I get why what RDI is trying to target cannot be delivered in an ABA way (but then, we did only dabble). certainly, when we were doing the RDI stuff, we had just come back from GM, and they were tackling the same issues, more effectively (therefore the ABA influenced approach seemed better. But maybe that is jsut wrt dd1 of course)

lingle Mon 17-Oct-11 19:48:43

Love the surfing video. I remember the newspaper article about this from years ago.....

Silverfrog or some other friendly person,

can you explain to me what RDI is?

I understand the ultra-basic stuff about ABA on a "don't shoot the dog" level and I understand floortime.

saintlyjimjams Mon 17-Oct-11 19:55:41

My understanding of RDI is that the child learns to base their behaviour on an adult model. So they learn to follow what the adult is doing - take their cues from those around them so to speak.

(I might be wrong!) It makes sense - in that - that is something that is definitely hard for those with autism, but I think you need to be quite high functioning to do it. I was repeatedly told by RDIers that you can do RDI with non-verbal kids - and there were some activities that ds1 could do, but I felt it didn't offer him anything if he wasn't going to suddenly develop language himself iyswim. It didn't seem to have a way to teach those missing skills (such as imitation). I was told I was wrong about that, and so i looked at it again (and again) but I really came away feeling that ds1 needed to be higher functioning to benefit.

lingle Mon 17-Oct-11 20:14:37

"Gutstein is a psychologist with experience in traditional(behavioral) approaches to autism treatment. He felt that, though patients increased in skills, they still lacked basic abilities to connect on an emotional level. In fact, according to the RDI promotional booklet, he felt that not one of his patients, not even the highest-functioning developed the ability to share a tender moment or a joke. "

If I recall rightly, your lad knew very well how to share a joke but was struggling with skills...........? we've been through this before haven't we?

I've flicked through a couple of pages of a book by the author. I like the way he divides up social skills into "instrumental skills" (knowing scripts) and "relationship skills" so I see where he's going there. I'm glad he thinks that all good relationships are interchangeable and that 1-to-1 is what matters as DS2 has two age-appropriate rich friendships (brother and one peer) but struggles in groups if neither of those two friends are present.

The Wikipedia article starts off by saying RDI is a "trademarked proprietary treatment" which is misleading (it makes it sound as though a trade mark makes it possible to stop others providing the same service which it doesn't) so that is putting me off, perhaps unfairly.

AgnesDiPesto Mon 17-Oct-11 20:15:27

I think RDI is about getting the child to think more flexibly but I have no idea how it works. I remember reading a book which seemed to involve buying vast numbers of bean bags and getting the child to trust the adult to fall and be caught and other similar exercises.
There is an RDI school in Oldham. I think the person who runs it has a blog or youtube clips which may be on the website. Bright Futures.

Modern ABA has borrowed lots of ideas from Floortime and RDI to make ABA more fun, playful and develop more genuine social relatedness. However fundamentally ABA people do not buy into the concept that RDI and Floortime do which is that if a child can be made to follow the emotional milestones of a typical child then it will effect a change in the brain. ABA as I see it approaches it from the viewpoint that you can teach skills and change behaviour to compensate / overcome symptoms of autism which affect everyday life but they don't agree you can essentially alter the development of a child's brain to follow a typical developmental path.

I agree I would probably prefer to incorporate RDI / Floortime ideas into an ABA programme than use pure Floortime / RDI but that may be because DS is very passive and would not be motivated to do anything without the structure and rewards built into ABA.

The other thing about RDI is it is marketed in a certain way so that you have to sign up with a consultant / website and do videos etc and pay the guy in USA who developed it; its not something you can dip in and out of.

lingle Mon 17-Oct-11 20:17:58

thanks Agnes.

yes the marketing of RDI is rather offputting (and perhaps it's worth saying here that intellectual property law in the UK doesn't enable the monopolisation of a treatment method).

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 18-Oct-11 08:17:41

Okay, so this is an RDI exercise that we'll be doing with ds.

We build a tower together. But we each have to build with the block that the other has chosen. We don't tell each other which we have chosen, we just look meaningfully at it with our eyes.

However, ABA-style, we will be taking data on his ability at the beginning and his improvements with each go.

I think RDI has a lot of exercises like this for non-verbal communication which are excellent. I don't think RDI takes data in the way that ABA does though.

saintlyjimjams Tue 18-Oct-11 08:53:35

Yes you see my problem with RDI is that there is no way that ds1 coukd begin to understand that exercise (this seemed to be the sort of thing that was suggested when I asked about RDI for a non verbal child). When we were looking at RDI he had no imitation skills at all - so how coukd he begin tk understand block building, he had no ability to follow a point, so how coukd he follow eye gaze? He had no ability to learn a new skill except hand over hand - it was all way above him, and didn't seem to offer a way to get those basic skills in place.

At least with ABA and floortime and son rise you can start with a child having zero skills.

:saves money and goes surfing: grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now