ABA vs The Son-Rise Program: Video Series

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ABA vs The Son-Rise Program: Video Series

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Autism Treatment Comparison

The Son-Rise Program and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of autism treatment methodologies. To see a full detailed description please visit Comparing The Son-Rise Program with ABA. Take a minute to watch this series of 60-90 second video clips below that, in a funny but sweet way, outline the differences between ABA and The Son-Rise Program.

#1 Joining – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

Joining is a crucial part of The Son-Rise Program. Instead of stopping a child’s repetitive behaviors, as in ABA, parents join in these behaviors. INTERESTING FACT: The actor representing The Son-Rise Program in this video, also the script writer, is fully recovered from severe Autism himself.

The idea is that children with autism are performing their behaviors for reasons that are important to them (and, as an increasing body of research shows, these behaviors often serve a physiological purpose, as well). When parents show interest in what their children are doing, they establish a powerful bond. In response, children begin to display a genuine interest. Once a child is willingly engaged, the door is open to help that child to learn and grow.

#2 Parental Choice – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

When a parent gets the diagnosis of Autism for their child, the decision about what kind of treatment to use can be overwhelming. There can be pressure to conform to traditional mainstream treatments such as ABA as the standard default. At the Autism Treatment Center of America, home of The Son-Rise Program, we encourage parents to learn about their alternatives. You do have a choice that approaches your child as more than a clinical case. The Son-Rise Program is totally non-invasive and is based on a loving and respectful approach, using each child’s own motivation as a guide for social interaction. In The Son-Rise Program, the children show us the way in to their world, then we show them the way out to ours.

#3 Motivation – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

What motivates a child with Autism to change behaviors and engage with others? This video explores this important theme and offers a different perspective to traditional ABA therapy. The Son-Rise Program builds the child’s own interests into every game or activity so that the child is excited, comes back for more, generalizes skills, and relates naturally rather than robotically, whereas ABA therapy has traditionally used discrete trials or similar methods to prompt the child to perform a behavior (followed by a reward) over and over again until the child has demonstrated mastery.

#4 Funding – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

ABA is the treatment typically funded by school systems and offered by many schools and private therapists. Other treatments that are proven effective, such as The Son-Rise Program, are usually excluded. As a result, parents may not be given the full range of choices they deserve in the most effective treatment for their child with Autism.

ABA was formed by Dr. Ivar Lovaas in the 1980s (Lovass, 1987) from the branch of psychology known as Behaviorism, an outdated model in modern psychology. Nonetheless, many educational techniques, including ABA, that were spawned from Behaviorism still linger. Ivar Lovass’ original study (1987) into the efficacy of this model and the subsequent follow up (McEachin, Smith and Lovass, 1993) followed 19 children who underwent 2 years of this behavioral training. No single attempt at replication (despite extensively detailed operational manuals) has been able to
replicate the outcome of typical functioning (Rogers, 1998). Nonetheless, ABA is still widely funded, to the exclusion of programs that might be more effective, based in part on this outdated study.

#5 Friends – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

In this playful video, The Son-Rise Program is compared to ABA with regard to its approach to social development. The Son-Rise Program Social Developmental Model prioritizes social goals (communication, eye contact, interactive attention spans, and flexibility) above academic goals. Academic goals, while important, will do nothing to help our children with Autism overcome their central challenge of connecting with others socially. As first priority, do we want our children to have more math or more friends? Do we want our children to compensate for their
socialization challenges or overcome them? With The Son-Rise Program, socialization is taught first, and seeks not to help the child compensate for social skills deficits but rather to overcome them, so they can make friends and develop a real social life first, and focus on academic development secondarily.

#6 Training – ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

In this playful video, The Son-Rise Program is compared to ABA with regard to the kind of training that their respective facilitators receive. The Son-Rise Program requires 2 years of rigorous training for its child facilitators to become certified, ensuring that Son-Rise Program Facilitators that come into a family’s home to work with children with autism are always fully prepared, thoroughly educated professionals. ABA facilitators, on the other hand, may be qualified to practice ABA treatment after a single weekend course. This video uses humor to question the importance of standards and preparedness with regard to caretakers and teachers in the autism community.

#7 History- ABA vs. The Son-Rise Program

From the beginning of its inception, The Son-Rise Program has used a loving, accepting approach to Autism treatment, as opposed to ABA’s use of “aversives”, punishments used to stop children from displaying autistic behavior. Even as ABA has ironically softened its position on aversives to become more like The Son-Rise Program, which finds that joining and positive encouragement are more effective than punishment at treating Autism, their core principles and position on Autism differ widely from The Son-Rise Program. Where ABA has historically approached (and continues to approach) Autistic behaviors (“isms”) as something to be discouraged, The Son-Rise Program accepts and uses these very behaviors to create a connection with a child and encourage them to join our world. This playful video illustrates this historical difference.


  • Actors: Scott Fraize, Raun K. Kaufman
  • Script writer Extraordinaire: Raun “Tarantino” Kaufman
  • Musical Composition: The Power of One by Samahria Lyte Kaufman
  • Musical Performance piano and clarinet: Beverly Haberman, Clyde Haberman
  • Director: Bears “Fellini” Kaufman

Have any questions? Ask an Autism Expert

Contact us for a complimentary priority call with a Son‑Rise Program Advisor & free Autism resources.


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