Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Son-Rise Program Miracle in Progress

I recently went to The Autism Treatment Center of America in Sheffield, MA to learn the The Son-Rise Program®. I attended the Start-up, a 5 day training to learn the basics of the program to get you started with this therapy. I met some wonderful people there, there were 127 people in my class, from 25 countries! I was able to get a grant, which helped me attend, and drove for 8 hours from here in Ontario to get there. It was packed with great information, inspiring and life changing. I highly recommend it to any parent of a child with special needs, there were parents of kids as young as 3 and as old as 35, from non-verbal asd to high functioning aspergers.

The program began in the 1970's when Bears and Samharia Kaufman had a son, Raun, who was diagnosed with autism, and were given no hope for his future, and told to merely focus on their other kids because he was a lost cause and would need to be institutionalized in the future. They refused to believe that their son, who they felt was a blessing, was not able to be helped. They got to work with a program they created, which was different than anything else available. They joined their son. Where Raun spun plates on their edge for hours at a time, content to be absorbed into his own world, they would take him into an environment devoid of any distractions and spin plates with him. In doing that, they established his trust, and created a feeling of predictability and mastery over his environment. As days went on like this, he slowly started noticing his parent, he would have moments of eye contact as he became interested in what "our world" was. He began to find his parent more interesting than his own world, and that was the key. Join their world to bring them into ours. After continued work with Raun, for a period of approx. 3 years, he was no longer deemed autistic. He was indistinguishable from his peers, and went on to do well in school, have relationships, graduate a prestigious university with a degree in biomedical ethics and eventually came full circle and became the director of the Autism Treatment Center his parents had started.

Over the years, they have helped parents learn techniques to help their children, often with great improvement if not full recoveries. What I find so different about this therapy is that it does not rely on an outside agency, its done by parents and sometimes volunteers (who the parent trains). No waiting lists for services! It's child centered, so you meet your child where they are, and expand on their interests. It works on social, verbal and relationship skills first, as they see these as the base that every other skill is built upon. Academic skills tend to come easily to a child with autism who is accepted, connected, communicating and interested in the person explaining them, so they are not the focus of the program. Attitude of the parent is a huge part of the program, because if we can let go of the negative emotions connected to the child, feel and project love and acceptance, excitement, enthusiasm and energy into every interaction then it will create an atmosphere of creativity, and through this comes reaction and independent thinking.

I want to share with you some of the most important things I learned about the program:
  • connection with your child is the key
  • be authentic, don't fake it, be honest with others to be able to let go of negativity that could be holding you back
  • celebrate every achievement
  • a parent is a child's best teacher
  • when to join my child (green light/red light)
  • eye contact is so important
  • live in the present, don't worry about past/future
  • make yourself the most interesting person in the room
  • set up a room with no distractions, with toys on a shelf that your child must request verbally or non-verbally by involving you in the process
  • recovery is possible
  • set goals
  • choose happiness, your child can sense your emotions
  • motivation, not repetition holds the key to learning
  • your child's potential is limitless, don't apologize for believing in your child. There is no such thing as "false hope"
  • each stim (or ism as they call it) has a purpose and value, that is how your child has learned to cope and there is a good reason for it
  • Son-Rise works best combined with biomedical, sensory therapy and dietary changes. (SC diet most effective) 
  • Be flexible
  • Be persistent and patient
  • Live in gratitude for everything you have, your child is a blessing, believe in your child! 
 I have included a video I found that is informative, there are hundreds available on you tube and on the Autism Treatment Centre of America website.

Getting Started: Autism Solutions
 

It's been a month since I returned from learning the Son-Rise Program, I wanted to share the progress we've made since. All of these things are NEW!
-eye contact is better than ever, we actually have moments where we just gaze into each others eyes, sometimes for several minutes at a time (its a borderline staring contest, lol)
-language has improved, she's been spelling out words and singing non-stop, words are coming out very clearly
-she's been calling me "friend" and excited to "play together" in the playroom

-she bonked me in the eye yesterday by accident, and then came over and kissed my eye to make it feel better

-she's been using please, thank you, and sorry (and we don't push that usually, she's doing it on her own)

-she's been giving me long hugs, one day we hugged for literally 10-15 minutes

-she's following instruction better, I asked her to find something in her bed the other day, and she went and retrieved it and brought it to me

-she's asked to "draw a picture" twice in the playroom, and then did a few scribbles (this is something she had only done one time, reluctantly, in her life before!)

-she successfully attended a wedding as a flower girl, and walked around the reception saying "hello, how do you do?" to everyone

-she's waving and giving high fives, and saying hello and goodbye, something we've been working on for years.

-she will request things from me in the playroom, asking for a "rub" to rub her back, a "tickle", or "sunshine" for me to sing you are my sunshine to her, or "squish" to squish her on the yoga ball, or "swing" to play on the swing.

-she's stopped needing to touch us to ask for things she needs (she used to tap us) now she just asks for things with her words.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but not bad for a month, hey!? I'm so proud of her!!!

If you want to know more about the Son-Rise Program, visit the Autism Treatment Center of America website (link).





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