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Glossary Item Description
Refrigerator Mother

Refrigerator mother is a term devised by Professor Bruno Bettelheim to describe a mother who was emotionally distant.



Regression is the process in which children appear to develop normal language and social skills but then lose these with the onset of autism before age 3.

Regressive Autism

Regressive autism is a form of autism in which children appear to develop normal language and social skills but then lose these with the onset of autism before age 3.


REI is an acronym for rhythmic entrainment intervention, a therapy which uses recorded hand drumming rhythms to stimulate the central nervous system and improve brain function.


Reiki is a form of therapeutic touch, an intervention in which the practitioner claims to alter the patient's energy field through an energy transfer that moves from the hands of the practitioner to the patient.


Reinforcement is an event, activity, or other circumstance occurring after a learner engages in a desired behaviour that leads to the increased occurrence of that behaviour in the future

Relationship Development Intervention

Relationship Development Intervention (also known as RDI) is a parent-led approach which focuses on a child's difficulties with flexibility of thought, emotional regulation and perspective-taking.

Relationship-Based Interventions

Relationship-based interventions focus on the individual's ability to form positive, meaningful relationships with other people.

Relaxation Room

Relaxation room is another term for a multi-sensory environment, which contains equipment and materials designed to stimulate the senses.

Relaxed Performance

A relaxed performance is specially designed to give those who otherwise might feel excluded the chance to experience live theatre.


Reliability is the amount to which results obtained by a measurement procedure can be replicated.


Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Remaking Recess

The Remaking Recess programme is an intervention that focuses on increasing social engagement between children with autism (ages 5-11 years old) and their typical peers during the less structured times of the school day.

Remedial Exercise

Remedial exercise means any form of physical exercise designed to improve someone's health.


Research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Research Methodology

Research methodology is the set of procedures by which researchers go about their work of describing, explaining and predicting phenomena.

Residential Care

Residential care refers to the care and support provided to individuals in a residential setting rather than in their own home or within the community.

Respite Care

Respite care is another term for short breaks, which consists of regular, short breaks during which individuals with autism spend some time away from their immediate family.

Response Interruption and Redirection

Response interruption and redirection is the introduction of a prompt, comment, or other distractor when an interfering behaviour is occurring.

Responsive Interaction

Responsive interaction is a parent-mediated programme which focuses on helping parents to interact more responsively to their children.

About This Glossary

This glossary is designed to explain some of the jargon and gobbledygook used by some people when they talk about autism or research..

You may be able to find more information, including links to other parts of this website, by clicking on the title of an item.

If you can't find the word you are looking for, or you know of a word we should include, please email info@researchautism.net


The fact that an intervention is listed in this glossary does not necessarily mean that we agree with its use. Nor does it necessarily mean that there is any scientifically valid or reliable evidence behind it.