Autism and Expectations
Q&A Session 5 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program
Topic: Autism and Expectations Q: Hi, I’m new to this so please bear with me! I’m signed up to attend the session in June, and I can’t wait! My daughter is 8 years old, high functioning, but not making near the progress I think she shoud have made by now. I know your program and philosophy are the keys to this next phase in her life! So given that, I just want to ask you something…what type of expectations should I have for her? I’m very realistic, but I also know she has the potential to do very well, she just hasn’t because I’ve thrown so many obstacles in her path! But I (and my helpers over the years) have always naturally used the methods you espouse, so thank God, despite some of our crummier efforts (coersion and compliance!) she’s risen above it all and responded great to playing, fun, and our interest in her! Eventually, will she end up in Harvard, or will she be in a group home? How do other kids like her do when they start the intensive program so late? What is the reality? I really would appreciate an answer, because it’s my number one worry, and I think about it constantly. I’m coming to the training sessions regardless, because I’m so sure this is the best method for my daughter. I love it that you exist!!!
(By the way, I’m not sure if you post this to my e-mail or not, but I hope so…I wouldn’t know where to look for the answer on your web site.)
Carol L. A: Dear Carol, What a wonderful note and delightful questions. I am excited to know you will be coming this summer to our Son-Rise Program Start-Up. I will be here and look forward to having the chance to support you on your adventure with Lara (someone will e-mail you instructions on how to use the site).
Your question: What should my expectations be? What is the reality?
My response may seem funny to you, but here at The Option Institute we focus not on what others call “reality,” but rather we focus on what you want and what you want for your children.
We had a family here recently at our Son-Rise Program Intensive – they were told at the doctors office when their son was diagnosed at 3 years of age with autism: “He will never get married. He will never make friends. He will never have a job, or be able to meaningfully communicate. He will end up in an institution.” Is that reality? To look at a child, at age 3, and decide what he will never achieve or do later in life… is that reality?
We look at each child as having endless possibilities. We look at each child and want everything for him or her. We look at parents who are concerned, motivated and full of love for their children and we say: Why not? Why couldn’t he get married? Why couldn’t he have a job? Make friends? Since neither we, nor the doctors can know the future – why not focus on what we want and imagine it is possible?
We have seen, again and again, that our thoughts, beliefs and feelings affect every action we take. If I do not think Lara can have a ten minute interactive conversation, I will never ask her to do so. If I do not think she can follow instructions, I will not encourage her in that area. If I put limits, in my mind, on her – then these limits will play themselves out in the actions I take with her. It will effect the way I talk to her, what I offer her, when I challenge her. So, what I believe matters. What I think matters. I cannot know the future, but I can know what I want and I can try. I can try…and trying feels good. I work with my daughter, who has autistic tendencies, using The Son-Rise Program. My husband and I have been working with her for 2.5 years, 45-55 hours per week. We work with her on Sundays and holidays…we work with her when it’s sunny outside, when our neighbors are having picnics. And it feels so good. It feels so good to believe in my child and put action behind it. It feels so good to believe I can help her and she can grow and together, we can make a difference.
We can never be diminished for trying. We can never be diminished by loving our children and hoping for them and dreaming for them and wanting for them. What is the reality? I don’t know if there is one, Carol. Perhaps the question to ask is: What do you want? What do you want for Lara?
And then go…dream…try.
Bryn N. Hogan