ANN ARBOR, MICH., May 5, 2005 - As discussion continues regarding the increased prevalence of autism, Dr. Steve Gutstein, will come to the Ann Arbor area for a comprehensive two-day workshop delving into the latest research findings and treatment advances. An internationally recognized author and innovator in the field of autism spectrum disorders, Gutstein’s discussion will focus on the Relationship Development Intervention™ (RDI™) methodology Gutstein developed.

The workshop, sponsored by the Arbor Hills-based Autism Support Center, is scheduled for June 17th and 18th. It is intended for family members, professionals, researchers and educators who work with people on the autism spectrum and will include the following:

* How modifying communication style can dramatically change the way a person on the autism spectrum relates to others;

* The importance of guiding and pacing, creating an experience-sharing communication environment and capturing episodic memories; and

* What motivates people on the autistic spectrum to develop relationships.

Through RDI, a parent-based clinical treatment program, Gutstein has worked to translate research findings into a systematic clinical program to address the core problems faced by all individuals on the autism spectrum. In addition to helping parents motivate children on the spectrum, RDI provides parents the tools to effectively teach the skills necessary to manage environments that are dynamic and changing.

"Through RDI, we essentially are helping loved ones and professionals open a door that enables people on the autism spectrum to develop friendships, empathy and the love of sharing their world with others," said Gutstein. "What makes this approach different is that we focus on fostering loving relationships to enhance quality of life, rather than on behavior modification aimed at teaching children on the autism spectrum to perform scripted behaviors."

The prevalence of autism and associated disorders has sharply risen in recent years, with some education and medical professionals describing the rise as an epidemic. Most notably, a 1999 report by the California Department of Developmental Services found a 273 percent increase in autism cases between 1987 and 1998. Some, including Gutstein, believe the rise is at least partly due to a loosening of the criteria used to diagnose autism as well as misclassification of autistic children as mentally retarded in the past.

"We know more about children and adults on the autism spectrum than ever, which is helping us accurately diagnose it early," said Gutstein. "This is a positive step for families and for society, because early intervention is critical in improving long-term quality of life."

The workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on June 4 and June 5, 2005. It will take place at Ypsilanti Marriott at Eagle Crest, 1275 South Huron St. in Ypsilanti. The cost is $225 for early bird registration, $250 after May 6 and $275 after June 3. Online registration is available at <> or by calling (713) 838-1362.

About Connections Center

Established in 1995, the Connections Center for Family and Personal Development, based in Houston, is a multi-disciplinary program to develop innovative evaluation and intervention programs for people with relationship disorders. Led by Drs. Steve Gutstein and Rachelle K. Sheely, the Connections Center staff provides a full range of evaluation and treatment services, including RDI. They provide education and training to families and professionals worldwide. More information is available at <>.

About Autism Support Center

The Autism Support Center is a research based outcome approach that provides continual treatment monitoring to maximize progress. The center''s staff has more than 25 years of experience in serving individuals with a variety of disabilities and behavioral difficulties. More information if available at <> or by calling 248-276-8086.