I Love You Mommy

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I Love You Mommy

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Reprinted from Woman’s World Magazine, USA

Look, Bridger!” Nancy Mahlum exclaimed. “Look at Mommy make the car go! Vroom! Vroom!” It was a moment that would have delighted most three-year-olds. But like every other time Nancy played with her little boy, Bridger just stared into space. “Children like this rarely improve,” doctors had told her. Yet Nancy couldn’t bring herself to just give up. “There must be some way to reach you, Bridger,” she said, blinking back tears. Somehow, I’ll find away…

It seemed like just yesterday that she held Bridger for the first time, her husband Doug looking on proudly. Before she knew it, he was standing in his crib each morning, happily babbling “Mama.”

But after his second birthday, about the time Nancy discovered she was expecting again, she and Doug began to notice a change in Bridger. Gazing into space, he often didn’t notice when Nancy called his name. And when his daddy tried to play, with him, he turned away Almost overnight, Bridger grew irritable and whiny flying into tantrums or banging his head on the floor if he couldn’t find a favorite toy “Don’t worry” the pediatrician said. “He’s fine.” But when Nancy’s friend Cindy, who worked with disabled children, suggested she have Bridger evaluated, Nancy set up an appointment. “He doesn’t respond to our voices or hug us back,” Nancy told the psychologist at a child development center. “He was always such a happy child,” she added, her voice trembling. “But lately…” “I’m sorry,” a doctor finally diagnosed Bridger “Your son has autism-a severe developmental disorder.” No! Nancy wanted to cry, but when she opened her mouth, nothing came out. She remembered haunting images from a show she’d seen on autism-children spinning endlessly, oblivious to the world around them. Children living in their own worlds. Just like Bridger. Nancy listened numbly as the doctor explained that Bridger would probably never learn to read or write or even learn to talk “He may always be in his own world, unable to live a normal life.”

Back home, tears choked Nancy as she looked out the window and saw little ones riding their tricycles. What kind of future will my boy have? she anguished. Not much we can do the doctors words echoed in her mind. And yet, Nancy thought, inside he’s still the same little boy I’ll always love. There must be some way to reach him! The next day, Nancy quit her job in personnel to spend all her time with Bridger and search for answers. Pouring over books and journals, and calling experts, Nancy left no stone unturned. But over and over, she heard the same thing-almost 100% of children with autism as severe as Bridger’s were dependent on others their whole lives. She felt hopeless-until her friend Cindy dropped by… “I just read a book about a program called Son-Rise!” she said. “It’s about parents who designed a program to reach their autistic son-and today he’s a college graduate!”

That night, Nancy stayed up all night devouring every page of that book. For the first time in months, her heart was filled with hope. “This could be the answer we’ve been praying for,” she excitedly told Doug.

Soon the family was traveling to Massachusetts for a training program at the Option Institute. “If you communicate with Bridger on his level, it’s possible to draw him out,” their teachers explained. The program had helped hundreds of autistic children live normal lives-helping them to play and talk and go to school and learn like any other children. ‘The first step is show Bridger that you accept him as he is,” the teacher said during the first session. So instead of trying to get him to play her way, when Bridger sat mesmerized, spinning the wheels of a toy car, Nancy picked up a toy truck and spun the wheels herself. ‘This is cool!” she said as she watched the grooves making patterns as they moved. So this is what his world looks like, she thought. And to her surprise, he looked at her and his new baby brother Colter.

More and more often, as they imitated his every move, Bridger rewarded them with smiles, or sometimes even offered them his toys. But Nancy didn’t realize just how much he had progressed until one day after nearly a year of therapy Bridger walked up to Nancy and spontaneously announced, “I love you, Mommy!” I never thought I’d hear those words! she thought, a tiny sob catching in her throat. And as she threw her arms around Bridger, another miracle happened. After years of pulling back or going limp whenever she tried to hug him, this time she felt arms wrap around her and squeeze. Bridger was hugging her back! And the miracles were just beginning.

Soon Bridger was greeting Daddy with hugs when he came home. And tears of joy filled Nancy’s eyes as she watched Bridger showing his brother how to play trucks. ‘You go Vroom, Vroom!” he roared. Incredibly when it was time for Bridger to start kindergarten, he tested normal in all areas. And best of all, like any other boy he loved it! Two years later, the boy who doctors predicted would never lead a normal life is a happy healthy eight year-old. And when Bridger cuddles with his mom just to talk, her heart swells with joy These are the times she realizes the most vividly what a precious gift she’s been given. “When Bridger was diagnosed with autism, I thought it was the end of the world,” Nancy says. “But now I know it was just the beginning.”

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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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