Autism and the Effects on Siblings

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Q&A Session 6 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program

Topic: Autism and the Effects on Siblings

Q: Hi Bryn!
Thanks so much for doing this – it is invaluable!!!
My question concerns the effect of a Son-Rise Program on siblings, something you must be very aware of, being Raun’s sister as a child, running a Son-Rise Program in your home for one of your children, and having so many years of experience working with various families. As you know, we have been running a program for Benjamin, autistic, 5 years old, for 2+ years now. I have made special time with my daughter, Rachel, who is 9 – we go to workshops at the museum and to plays and dances, etc., probably about once or twice a month. I am feeling pretty good about our relationship, but I’m also aware that she at times slips through the cracks – she doesn’t get the attention she should, we expect more out of her than she’s capable of, and her needs get put on the back burner while Benjamin’s needs are so front and foremost.

Do you remember how you felt about Raun getting so much attention when you were a child? Is there anything you do with your son that you’d like to share with us? Do you have any other insight into this area?

One of the things we told Rachel when we started this program was how much we wanted to take her to The Option Institute – we were looking forward to attending the pre-teen program you had at the time. Will you ever be bringing that program back? I’m sure many of us would be interested in going when the demands of our Son-Rise programs are less.

Thanks for sharing Bryn.

My love to you and your family
Kelly M.

A: Dear Kelly,
Hello! I was excited to see your name and have a question from you. I would also love, when you have time, to hear more details about your program with Benjamin – how is he doing? how are you feeling about it etc.

You ask a question which I am sure others share. In terms of my own personal experience, I can only say, truly, that it was positive. And if I did not have this personal experience, if it was in any way unpleasant for me, I would never then endeavor to create a circumstance, as I have, in which my son would experience the same thing. I always thought it was a fantastic and fun experience! I loved having young people come into our home – I loved the group meetings and being able to be the special “helper” on these occasions. I loved when my father would rotate taking my sister and I out for our “special” time with him. Actually, let me highlight this a moment. My father would take my sister and I out – every other thursday afternoon, so, in effect, I got my turns two times per month for an afternoon. You could perhaps think, “Well, that’s not that much”…and yet, these afternoons were the highlight of my childhood. I spent more time, focused, with my father than any of my friends did. And the beauty of it was, that he and my mother made it special too. They would highlight this occasion and make a big event out of it, talking about it days in advance and giving me the feeling that this was a very special, wonderful, unique opportunity for me. We tend to do this with Christmas, or Birthdays’ – we (the adults) begin to talk about them in advance and we are excited and we help to teach our children to become excited about and value these occasions as well, I feel that is what they did for me. And, that is what you can do for Rachel. You can make the things that you listed that you do with her “events” vs. just a “given” part of her week. You can talk about how you look forward to them, you can giggle and get excited about it – you can call it our “special” time – you can build it up and make it bigger and even more wonderful to her…and to you! This will be excellent for both of you, truly.

When you talk about her “falling through the cracks”…I am not sure what you mean. It sounds as though you are feeling that she is not receiving adequate attention from you. There are a few ways to deal with this. First, and most importantly, is attitude! (surprised I said that eh? tee-hee) If you are feeling guilty, or you are feeling that she is not getting enough, then you will teach her to see it the same way. My baby-sitter comes from a family of 8 children – 8 children in 8 years. Her mother did not have help in the home, her mother raised all of these children, plus 12 in her home as a childcare provider. She never played scrabble with them, she never sat for long periods individually with each child sharing about their day, speaking with them about their dreams. Yet, when I talk to my baby-sitter, she only speaks so highly and full of love towards her mother. She never talks about being cheated or unlucky…and given the circumstances above, I imagine she received much less individualized attention than Rachel does. So, why does she feel this way? In part I think because her mother felt good about what she was doing. Her mother highlighted for her how wonderful it was that they were all sitting together at snack time. Can you see? We can teach Rachel, by our own perspective, that which we give meaning to, she will give meaning to. That which we see as extraordinary (taking her to places one or two times per month) she will see as extraordinary as well. You are so powerful, so capable, and such a strong influence in her life – you have all you require to teach her to feel cared for and special. It all starts with you and your perspective. I am confident, with all that I know of you and your “powerful way” that you can create a new relationship and experience with Rachel. And it can be easy and fun! Have a good time with this new perspective – and let me know how it goes.

With warmest wishes to you,
Bryn N. Hogan

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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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