A Child Lured Out By An Emotional Connection

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A Child Lured Out By An Emotional Connection

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Reprinted from South China Post, Canada
The unsuspecting dinner guest simply did not get it when Kilee’s parents praised her for hurling a toy at him. My niece laughed, spun around and hurled another, then stared at him intently, albeit briefly. Kilee, aged 3.5, is autistic and her family is more accustomed to her avoiding eye contact and seeming oblivious to visitors. A year ago, Kilee was completely withdrawn and obviously unhappy, but things are changing. During the past 12 months, she has been involved in The Son-Rise Program, an Autism Treatment programme designed to help her become a willing participant in life. Kilee’s introduction to the world begins with guests entering her playroom and her world, meeting her on her terms. During the 10 to 12 hours of daily playtime, Kilee is in charge of the activities. There are no orders or reprimands and whatever Kilee chooses to do is fine. The goals of her ‘guests’ or ‘facilitators’ include developing eye contact, word or word approximation and extending the length of appropriate play, even if this means joining Kilee in body-painting or spitting juice on the floor. Kilee’s mother, Tammy Patchell-Evans, said that before starting the Son-Rise programme, Kilee never responded to her name; now she responds 80 per cent of the time. ‘She’s gone from only noticing family faces to being intrigued by new faces. She’s just started to use words instead of just saying them. She’s expanded her eating habits, she’s potty-trained, and she’s 100 per cent happier,’ Ms Patchell-Evans said. Parents and professionals helping children with special needs often have specific agendas: teach the child to talk, use the toilet, eat with utensils, read or perform practical skills. The aim of the Son-Rise programme is to have every child realise those capabilities. But, rather than trying to control the agenda to teach a child specific skills, the goal is to encourage them to become a fully participating and motivated person on the precept that this has the greatest impact in the long term. The programme’s power lies in the attitude of the ‘facilitators’ (who may include parents, friends, volunteer and paid workers): loving and non-judgmental. Behaviour is not labelled as good or bad, right or wrong. The perspective is that each child is doing the best he or she can. Instead of pushing them to conform, the goal is to understand their world and encourage them to want to learn more and join ‘our’ world. When Kilee was diagnosed with autism, her parents bought every book they could and logged on to the Internet. They also checked out what was available where they lived – in London in Ontario, Canada – which turned out to be behavioural modification therapy. Ms Patchell-Evans participates in a support group of about 12 women, 10 of whom are using behavioural therapy and two following the Son-Rise programme. Ms Patchell-Evans said: ‘Most [children in behavioural therapy] are verbal, with language skills ranging from ‘yes’ or ‘no’ only to a huge vocabulary, but they seem to have very little comprehension. They have knowledge of ‘appropriate’ information but are unable to apply what they have learned to daily living. They know that the fire truck on the flash card is red but they would not recognise a real fire truck. ‘It has been my experience that these kids are like well-trained animals and their responses are unnatural, almost Pavlovian. ‘Our thinking is that autism is an emotion-based disease that has some physical components but is largely to do with a lack of understanding relationships. We feel the Son-Rise programme is emotional in nature and therefore goes to the root of the problem.’ The Son-Rise programme is not available in Hong Kong; nor was it available where Kilee’s family live. They went to the Option Institute, a non-profit centre in Sheffield, Massachusetts, in the United States, which runs Son-Rise. They completed the one-week residential programme and returned to London where they started their own programme, keeping in contact with the Option Institute staff. The institute was established following the successful experience of founders Barry and Samahria Kaufman with their son, Raun, who at 18 months was mute and totally withdrawn. Doctors and specialists told the Kaufmans that with an IQ of less than 30, Raun eventually would have to be institutionalised. Defying the experts, the Kaufmans designed and implemented their unique, child-centred, home-based programme, working with Raun 12 hours every day, for more than three years. When they finished, Raun had evolved into a highly verbal, extroverted, loving and intelligent young boy with a high IQ. They say he bore no traces of his original condition and went on to graduate from an Ivy League university with a degree in biomedical ethics. When Ms Patchell-Evans asked how many children are ‘cured’, the response was a little fuzzy. The Option Institute does not formally track the results of the programme because many parents do not want toparticipate in this data collection. They do not want their child stigmatised by the word autism or submitted for testing and re-testing. She was told that hundreds of children have been ‘cured or gone into remission’, but also that there is no guarantee.

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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,

Jackline

 

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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