The FUSE program combines the work and theories of Relationship Development Intervention, Social Thinking, and Zones of Regulation to create a FUSEd approach for children with social challenges. The FUSE program supports the child in all areas of social functioning they find difficult, fostering a more positive and successful everyday experience for the child. When a child enters the FUSE program, they are assessed to better understand strengths and weaknesses in relation to their social engagement, problem solving, flexibility, communication, collaboration, and perspective taking. The FUSE program uses a systematic series of objectives based on typical social development and the theories and results from the RDI and Social Thinking programs. The child begins working with the FUSE team at the appropriate objective and is supported in the office with parent/child sessions, at home with a home based service provider, and then with peer/dyad/group sessions with targeted objectives upon readiness. The goal is to generalize these objectives first with siblings and then friends in everyday life scenarios.

Theories we are FUSEing

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): (

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

Dr. Steven Gutstein is the creator of the RDI program. The program focuses on the following areas of social development.

  • Dramatic improvement in meaningful communication
  • Desire to share their experiences with others
  • Genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for other people
  • Ability to adapt easily and “go with the flow”
  • Increase in the initiation of joint attention
  • Improvement in perspective taking and theory of mind
  • Increased desire to seek out and interact with peers

Core Deficits Targeted by RDI

  • Emotional Referencing: The ability to use an emotional feedback system to learn from the subjective experiences of others.
  • Social Co-regulation / Coordination: The ability to observe and continually regulate one’s behavior in order to participate in spontaneous relationships involving collaboration and exchange of emotions.
  • Broadband Communication: Using language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings, and coordinate your actions with others.
  • Dynamic thinking: The ability to rapidly adapt, change strategies, and alter plans based upon changing circumstances.
  • Relational Information Processing: The ability to obtain meaning based upon the larger context. Solving problems that have no right-and-wrong solutions.
  • Foresight and Hindsight: The ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios in a productive manner.

The goal of RDI is to build or strengthen dynamic intelligence instead of relying on “static intelligence” (that is, the ability to know information or memorize facts).

Social Thinking: (

Social Thinking Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them.  How we think about people affects how we behave toward them, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions. Whether we are with friends, sending an email, in a classroom, or at the grocery store, we take in the thoughts, emotions, and intentions of those around us.

Social Thinking strategies teach individuals

  • How their own social minds work – why they and others react and respond the way they do;
  • How their behaviors affects those around them;
  • And from this, how behaviors are affecting their own emotions, responses to and relationships with others across different social contexts.
  • Recognize the different levels of their own and others’ social minds;
  • Navigate their behaviors for more rewarding social outcomes, which include considering how others perceive and respond to these behaviors;
  • Learn to adapt to the people and situations around them, across contexts, from formal (classroom) to casual settings (recess, etc.)

Zones of Regulation (

The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.

By addressing underlying deficits in emotional and sensory regulation, executive functions, and social cognition, the curriculum is designed to help move students toward independent regulation.

The Four Zones:  Our Feelings & States Determine Our Zone

The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions.  A person may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, explosive behavior, devastation, or terror when in the Red Zone.

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions; however, one has some control when they are in the Yellow Zone.  A person may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, the wiggles, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone.

The Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. A person may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone.  This is the zone where optimal learning occurs.

The Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness and down feelings, such as when one feels sad, tired, sick, or bored.