Relationship Development Intervention and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Future Research

Summary of Existing Research

There is a very limited amount of research evidence (a single, very low quality study) into the use of RDI for autistic individuals.

The single study we identified has some major methodological weaknesses, which means that it cannot be considered scientifically valid or reliable.

Because the quality of that research evidence is so poor we cannot determine whether RDI is likely to provide any benefits to anyone who is autistic. We must wait for further research of sufficiently high quality to be completed.

Recommendations for Future Research

We believe that further, objective research into RDI is justified.

That research should use scientifically robust, experimental methodologies with larger numbers of more diverse participants.  That research should 

  • Compare RDI with other interventions (such as the Son-Rise program) which are designed to provide the same benefits.
  • Include a wider range of participants including more females and individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • Identify if specific groups on the autism spectrum are more likely to benefit from the RDI program than other groups on the spectrum.
  • Identify if RDI program has any beneficial or harmful effects in the medium to long term.
  • Be conducted by investigators who are completely independent of the RDI program.
  • Involve autistic people (and parents and carers) in the design, development and evaluation of those studies.


17 Jun 2022
Last Review
01 Oct 2018
Next Review
01 Nov 2024