Frequently Asked Questions

We have found that parents and professionals who are consistently hopeful and optimistic are powerful forces for their children. Though we cannot know ahead of time what a given child will do, we cannot know ahead of time what a given child will never do. Hope is defined as: “The belief that what is wanted, can be had.” Believing substantial change and healing is possible can never be detrimental, but rather is life-affirming and empowering, and the beginning of an effective intervention program. When hope is combined with action, there are no drawbacks – only benefits. Hope and believing in possibilities for our children will always serve us.  
Due to the nature of our program, any amount of time you can devote to your child’s development and education will have an impact. Obviously, the more time you can spend implementing the techniques and principles, the greater opportunity you will be offering your child to grow. Consistency is key. Many families have started by planning to do 10 hours per week of focused 1:1 Son-Rise Program Playroom/Focus Room time with their child and then have built slowly from there. The idea is to take some action. Even if you have a goal towards implementing the program 20 hours per week (which we recommend as an important initial goal), you can begin with 5 hours per week and work your way towards your goal. We have found that the more hours of this intensive 1:1 intervention that a child can experience, the greater benefit to the child and the family. The key being, begin something now. Programs & Services  
Autism Breakthrough by Raun K Kaufman is a detailed guide to The Son-Rise Program, and many parents have successfully used this to begin using the techniques and strategies. The Son-Rise Program Online is a very different experience. This program will walk with you, day by day, through the materials. You will receive direct video presentations from our experienced and highly trained staff, you will have interactive step by step instruction, day-to-day, week-to-week, to be completed within 9 months) You will see videos of our staff demonstrating techniques with children, specific activities, “Make It Happen” Guides and more. This will include 2 Eight week After Courses which give you, each day, specific actions you can take to help your child that day. You will also have access to an ever increasing Library of blogs, videos, and articles written by our staff on a multitude of subjects and other materials to enhance your experience with the program. We highly recommend that after you read the book, you register for the course and continue to move forward in this way to help your child. The Son-Rise Program Online  
We have seen such amazing responses to the program by children and adults who are diagnosed with either High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome! The Son-Rise Program attitudinal foundation is based upon truly accepting a child/adult where they are, and offering them loving guidance and encouragement. Those with this diagnosis can have the ability to communicate in a way that allows for greater understanding and growth, especially in the area of social interaction and learning to connect in a meaningful way with others. If you have a child/or work with an individual with this diagnosis, use the links below which explain the two different ways you can learn the program. Both of which have specific ‘breakout’ materials/sessions designed to specifically address the unique questions and concerns many parents have when trying to help their child with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome. The Son-Rise Program In-PersonHigh Functioning Breakout Sessions The Son-Rise Program Online* (*Note: The first 3 modules were designed specifically to offer opportunities to choose “Highly Verbal” in order to get the specific information that may apply to your child. In addition, both 8-week After Courses include optional activities for highly verbal children and adults)  
Absolutely. We have used the program, and supported parents using this program, for over 35+ years with ‘children’ that are aged 18, 27, 35 and beyond. Certainly the attitudinal principles of love, respect, and enthusiasm can be applied at any age and the educational techniques that you will learn are based much more on addressing a child or person where they are, their current skills and abilities, than their chronological age. Unlike most other programs and professional guidance, we do not believe that there is any age at which a human being is no longer able to grow and learn and change. We have witnessed this again and again as parents continue to dream for their adult children and are so excited to see the benefits of this program at any age. Who Uses The Son-Rise Program?  
The same principles that have allowed us to achieve such measurable gains in social interaction are also applied effectively in teaching academics and daily living skills. The Son-Rise Program is based on creating a respectful, trusting and interactive bond with the child. We then use that relationship as a foundation for education, learning, and language development. We have found that children who are more engaged in an activity, learn more rapidly and interact and communicate more frequently. For many of our children, the roadblock to learning is not a matter of intellect or capacity, but rather a lack of motivation, interest, and ability to stay attentive long enough to learn certain things. We have seen over and over again that when a child can increase his capacity to stay connected with another person, then they can demonstrate great abilities to learn and retain what they learn. We have seen this affect all areas of a child’s life such as: academics, daily living skills, reading, using speech to communicate, following instructions, using the toilet consistently, brushing teeth, and playing games by the rules, to name a few. Many children have “graduated” from their Son-Rise Programs to attend typical or mainstream schools where they demonstrated age-level or above academic skills.  
The common misconception of this technique is that by “joining” in repetitious and ritualistic behaviors the child will be encouraged to “ism” even more. Since 1984, we have been implementing this technique, a cornerstone strategy of The Son-Rise Program and our experience and results prove just the opposite. We have found that when children are “joined” in their repetitious behaviors, they actually become more engaged, more socially available, and more motivated to be with others. Rather than increasing their self-stimulating behaviors and rituals, they reach out more and connect more fully to the world around them. Although the “joining” aspect of our program has been the subject of much speculation and misconception, and has received criticism over the years, recent studies are now supporting the perspective and techniques that we have been applying for over 3 decades. Click below to see the 2 peer reviewed studies on the Son-Rise Program and additional supportive research: Supporting Research & Studies  
The techniques and strategies that we teach in relation to these types of behaviors are very effective. You can learn more about this specifically in Raun K. Kaufman’s book Autism Breakthrough, which has an entire chapter entitled, “Tantrums and Other Challenging Behaviors.” If this is a daily and meaningful challenge, we would strongly recommend that you plan to attend our Son-Rise Program® In-Person Start-Up, so that you can interact with our teachers specifically and receive guidance directly related to this. (Only those who attend our in-person programs can schedule individual Consultations with our teachers, which many have found life-changing regarding issues of tantrums and aggressive behaviors). The Son-Rise Program Options  
You are talking about the prognosis which tends to be given when a child is diagnosed with Autism or other diagnosis. We believe that no one can say what your child can never do, or will never do. We believe that every child and individual is capable of growth, change and transformation. We know parents are given little guidance regarding what treatment to pursue, where to turn for support, and few ways to help their child significantly develop and grow. We have witnessed (and can certainly understand) the despair that results from this experience. That’s why we offer a different perspective. We do not put limits on the possibilities for your child. We inspire parents to hope for their children, to dream for their children, and to take meaningful action to help their children. Then, we offer the specific tools, techniques and methods that help your children learn, connect with people, and blossom. This means that parents have the opportunity not only to hope, but to make a substantial difference in the lives of their children.  
At this time, we are not able to accept third party insurance, although we hope in the future, this will change. As a not for profit, charitable organization, we fundraise yearly in order to provide scholarships to those in financial need. Click the link below to learn more about applying for financial aid for our in-person programs. Financial Aid Here is a link you can use to apply for financial aid for The Son-Rise Program Online: The Son-Rise Program® Special Assistance Form. Please contact us directly at: 413-229-2100 to speak with a Program Advisor about Financial Aid for our Son-Rise Program® Start-Up. Contact Us  
It is not necessary to have a specific diagnosis prior to using the program. If you, as a parent, believe that your child has developmental, social, physical or other issues that are of concern, we trust your assessment. We truly believe that a parent is their child’s best resource, and it is very common for parents to ‘know’ there is something different about their child long before any professional or any testing suggests this. We would recommend that you trust your instincts and get support and help as soon as you have a concern.  
Yes, we do! Click below for information about two peer-reviewed research studies published in medical journals as well other empirical research supporting the efficacy and principles of The Son-Rise Program: Supportive Research  
Certainly! A number of interventions have been used successfully in conjunction with The Son-Rise Program, including dietary changes, biomedical interventions, physical therapy, etc. At the same time, other approaches have been found to undermine The Son-Rise Program’s effectiveness and often impede a child’s growth because of the contradictory or conflicting approaches. It is very important to research any other therapy being considered to determine if it will be complementary or potentially unsupportive. Click below for our current list of complimentary therapies and services – Complementary Therapies  

Please make sure you understand the following pre-requisites for this course before registering.

Pre-requisites for this course are:

  • For parents or care-givers who have attended The Start-Up course or who have done The Son-Rise Program Online course.
  • For families who have already started running a Son-Rise Program for their children.


Amanda Louison

  • Director of Operations
  • Deputy CEO
  • Senior Son-Rise Program Advisor
  • Former Son-Rise Program Child Facilitator

Personal Statement

"I came to the Autism Treatment Center of America in October of 2008 where I took the position as the Intensive Coordinator. Before coming to the Autism Treatment Center of America, I worked with special children for 13 years, and upon my arrival fell in-love with the Son-Rise Program®. The modality of “Bonding through acceptance” opened my eyes to a world of love and acceptance for my own son, who has ADHD, and inspired me to want to live a happier, more loving life. I soon set the intention of doing the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training so I could share my love with children on a much deeper level. I spent six months observing and learning the Son-Rise Program, and in April of 2009 was accepted into the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training Program and in July of 2010, I became a Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator staff member and cherished my time in the playroom as a facilitator.

I continued my training at The Autism Treatment Center of America to become a Senior Son-Rise Program® Advisor. My love of Son-Rise Program® inspired me to talk with parents who are just beginning their journey and who are continuing journey with their children using the Son-Rise Program® principals and techniques.

Through the years, I found myself wanting to help our staff grow and the organization flourish, so I have now moved into a managerial role while still working as a Senior Program Advisor. I am currently the Director of Operations and Deputy CEO of the Autism Treatment Center of America and the Option Institute and look forward to working with our staff and with parents of children on the Autism Spectrum for many years to come."

Fun Facts:

Amanda has been married for 24 years and has two amazing children, a son age 22 and daughter who is 18. Some of her favorite hobbies are hiking, reading, finding tag sales, traveling and spending time with her family.

Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar


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