KITCHENER, ONTARIO, Oct. 20, 2005 - An Ontario autism consultant has earned certification in the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) autism treatment program. Lisa Palasti becomes the second consultant in Canada to earn certification from Connections Center of Houston, Texas, which developed the RDI program.

A rigorous process, the Certification Program typically takes 18 months to complete. Consultants are trained to administer the RDA™ (Relationship Development Assessment™) and provide ongoing support to parents.

The RDI program is a cognitive model designed to work with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders by providing consultation to families to address the core deficits, which include flexible thinking, communication, development of self and social/emotional relationships.

"We consider the role of Certified RDI Consultants such as Lisa to be nurturing the primary relationship between parent and child by raising the parents’ level of competence and confidence," said Dr. Rachelle Sheely, who developed the RDI program with Dr. Steven Gutstein in 2001 and oversees the RDI Certification Program. "Most parents run into challenges from time to time, so having an ongoing relationship with a Consultant who knows their family can make a big difference."

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. According to Autism Society Canada, autism is the most common neurological disorder affecting children and one of the most common developmental disabilities. Most recent epidemiological studies show that the prevalence has increased from 40 to 60 per 10,000, which represents approximately 190,000 Canadians. Approximately one in 200 children born today have an ASD. 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.

Palasti provides autism treatment services to individuals of all ages with autism and other developmental disabilities. She can be reached at:

Lisa Palasti
Kitchener, Ontario N2B 3T7
Phone: 519.895.0228

Editor’s Note: A high-resolution photo of Lisa Palasti is available for download.

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 Dr. Steve Gutstein and Dr. Rachelle K. Sheely, the Connections Center staff provides a full range of evaluation and treatment services, including the RDI program. They provide education and training to families and professionals worldwide. More information is available at