Sheffield, MA, USA 01257
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Parenting by Intention

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Parenting by Intention

You are here:
< Back

Parenting by Intention

by Barry Neil Kaufman
Excerpted from Mothering Magazine, USA

I have six children, now adults, who still give me incredible challenges as new and different situations arise in their lives. When a toddler, my son was diagnosed as autistic and retarded, and pronounced by doctors as incurable. One of my three adopted children was seriously malnourished when he arrived from a South American orphanage. Another had his throat slit by his father at the age of two and a half, just months after the death of his biological mother. For the next three years he remained in an orphanage where doctors viewed him as justifiably traumatized. I have faced many challenges with these children; yet, at the same time, raising them has been among the easiest and most comfortable experiences of my life.

One of the most powerful journeys my wife Samahria and I faced took place over forty-five years ago when we designed a program based on a loving and nonjudgmental attitude which enabled our son to completely emerge from autism. After this, and the airing of the NBC television movie, “Son-Rise, A Miracle of Love” based on our story, we were overwhelmed with requests for our assistance. In 1983, we founded The Option Institute to offer workshops to a wide range of people to help them make effective and positive changes in their lives and the Autism Treatment Center of America, to help families with children on the autism spectrum. These programs have helped families and individuals from around the world find a more loving and empowering way of addressing life’s challenges-including the challenges presented by parenting.

Although we raised only six children, I believe we could have nurtured 60 and found that just as easy. Why? First, we had developed principles of living that apply easily to parenting. Because of this, we felt at ease with our children as we tried to guide them through their teenage years, despite their sometimes confused attempts to experience their own power and individuality.

Second, we parent with strong intentions. When working with families at our learning and training center, I observe that those who enjoy their children live and parent with a set of principles or intentions in mind. Unfortunately, most parents have not consciously developed a frame of reference that helps them understand their daily interactions with their children.

When someone decides to become an architect, social worker, plumber, electrician, or taxicab driver, society tells us that these endeavors are so important that we must educate ourselves in our chosen field and then actually be tested on what we’ve learned. Then we will be given a license to operate, whether it’s to perform brain surgery or install a light switch in a wall. Interestingly, in two critically important areas, love relationships and parenting, we are given absolutely no education. Before we get a driver’s license, we find out where the brakes and the accelerator are. However, when we have children, we have no understanding of how they operate. We don’t know where the child’s accelerator is, we don’t know where the switches are to help our youngster turn things on and off in themselves. Oftentimes we enter parenting with little forethought, ignorant of the dynamics of child-rearing and possessing little mastery over our own thoughts and feelings.

If I could do anything to teach people about parenting, the first thing that I would do is ask them some basic, extraordinarily fundamental questions, ones that often remain unasked. “Why do you want to be a parent?” “What do you hope to give and receive?” “What principles do you want to teach?” When I ask myself why I became a parent, the answer is very clear. I wanted to be a parent because I wanted to experience love, give love, and teach love. I felt that my relationships with my children would give me an incredible arena in which to make love tangible; this was a precious experience that I wanted deeply.

Indeed, I have wanted my children to be neat, responsive and respectful, to be good students and dear friends; yet all these aspirations have consistently taken a back seat to my primary objective as a parent, which has to do with teaching happiness and love. Mom and Dad are crucial role models in helping children open their hearts and making happiness, love, and respect for others a priority in their lives. To that end, we teach families easy principles based on our awareness of human interpersonal dynamics rather than externally derived “have-to’s” “should’s” or “supposed-to’s.” These principles may seem radical, outrageous, maybe even uncaring. However, my intention and delivery have always been to teach and foster love. I assure you, I love my children passionately and have found these guiding perspectives extraordinarily useful in teaching them how to choose love and happiness.

Principle Number One:

I never, ever, try to save my children from their unhappiness.

That might seem like a strange position to take, lacking in compassion and sympathy. Actually, it has nothing to do with lack of caring. Most parents spend massive amounts of time trying to rescue their children from their anger, distress and sadness. In doing so, they unwittingly teach and reinforce unhappiness. When children are unhappy about something, if I run around trying to rescue them, I’m making several implicit statements:

-Unhappiness is out of their control (that’s why I have to save them)
-Unhappiness is powerful as a tool to motivate Mom, Dad and others (throw a tantrum at a crowded check-out line and you get a candy bar to keep you quiet)
-Unhappiness is a sign of caring (crying about your broken doll demonstrates how much you loved it.)

In the end, our distress with our children’s discomfort reinforces the belief that unhappiness is not only appropriate, but, perhaps, even a preferred response in many situations. Inadvertently, we model and teach misery rather than inner ease and comfort. If a child at a family gathering is smiling, everybody walks by him/her unmoved. If, on the other hand, a child begins to yell and cry, the adults present, in an effort to save this youngster from their discomfort, will be drawn like ants to an ant hill. An observant child would rightly conclude that ranting and raving gets far more attention than playing happily. That child would gain significant insight into the ways of the world: if you want to move the universe, show distress.

I saw this demonstrated clearly one day when my family waited patiently at a supermarket check-out line during the rush of holiday shopping. Although many shoppers appeared blank faced, more than the usual number smiled at one another. A moderately festive mood prevailed until a two-year old girl, sitting in the seat of her mother’s shopping cart, began screaming loudly.

People turned to see what problem had arisen. The child apparently wanted some potato ships that were inside the cart, but her mother had refused. In response, she protested with loud noises, tears, a flushed face and kicking. Her mother, somewhat embarrassed, maintained her position, trying to calm her daughter with quiet words. The child escalated her antics. By now, people in almost every line watched.

Some grimaced, their disapproval obvious. Others gave the child sympathetic glances. One woman leaned over the shelves in her aisle and demanded the mother do something – anything – immediately.

Suddenly the store’s Santa Claus appeared. He searched through the crowds of people for the screaming child. Once he sighted her, he pushed through several lines, shouting “Ho! Ho! Ho!” as soon as he reached her, he put a candy cane into her hand. The little girl stopped screaming immediately and smiled broadly through her tears. As she opened the candy wrapper, surrounding adults watched approvingly. An older woman kept nodding her head saying, “Good.” Some people applauded. One man proclaimed, “Santa saved the day.”

My daughter, thirteen-years-old at the time watched the entire event with great fascination. She looked up at me and laughed. “Santa didn’t save the day; he just taught that little girl that if you scream and cry, you get candy. Now, I’ll bet when she goes to the next store, she’ll do the same thing.”

We attempt to save our children from their unhappiness as a way to love them, but in so doing we actually teach them to use discomfort as a manipulative tool. If we could be really comfortable when our child seems unhappy, then we might find they choose it less often. We could instead say to them lovingly and sincerely, “You can be sad or angry about that if you want and I would love to talk with you about what you’ve experienced. But your screaming, whining and nagging is not going to motivate me in any way.” In our home playing the nagging game does not get my children results or help them get their needs met. Thus, acting in that way makes little sense to them.

Contrastingly, when a child or adolescent experiences sadness, (for example, if a favorite doll is broken or when someone dies) being comfortable in the face of their feelings can be so useful. I have a greater capacity to be loving if I am happy and at ease, even when my children are sad. They are more apt to share their deepest feelings with me because they aren’t afraid that they will cause me pain or discomfort.

Principle Number Two:

I don’t owe my children anything.

This second principle may sound as odd as the first; however, let me explain.

Most parents feel a deep sense of obligation to their children. They not only believe that they should provide food, shelter, health and safety, but also that they should buy little red bicycles, space-age games to play on their mobile phones, trendy clothes and a college education. How wonderful if parents want to provide such objects and opportunities for their child! Certainly, I would encourage those who are excited to present a wealth of goodies to do so, not because they believe they’re supposed to, but because they truly want to. If we only did what we wanted to do as parents, the nature of our parent- child relationship would be radically transformed; children are amazing students of the beliefs of our culture and those of their parents. They understand immediately when they’re two, three, four and five years old that their parents are on the supply side of the relationship (the child asks for what they want, and the parent promptly delivers.) The message the child receives: Mom and Dad keep providing because that’s their job. They owe me. By their actions, the parents unwittingly become co-creators of such a lopsided relationship.

As a result, children may fail to learn about gratitude. They may fail to develop a deep sense of appreciation for all that’s provided for them, even if it’s minimal, through the efforts and energy of well-intended parents. In some way, we cheat our children from perceiving as gifts what the universe gives them, what their culture gives them, what their community gives them and what we personally give them. We often base our parenting on obligation rather than on choosing to deliver only what we truly want.

I’d like to illustrate the foregoing with an example from my own parenting. I had always tried to teach my children that education was an honor to be earned, not the birthright of all, even those with little interest in learning. Both of my older daughters were graduating from high school intending to continue their education at college. One daughter had applied herself diligently to her studies and earned excellent grades. In addition she had dedicated herself to dance and wished to enter a choreographic arts program. Could we help her financially to achieve her goal? After much discussion, my wife and I expressed with enthusiasm our wish to fully support our daughter’s demonstrated commitment to learning. In contrast, another daughter had moved through her high school years without putting out much energy or effort, applying herself less diligently in order to complete her course work. Since many of her friends were continuing their education, she too planned to attend college. When she asked for our financial support, we decided that her lackadaisical attitude and performance in high school warranted serious review. Our conclusion: we would pay for a part of her tuition but requested that she earn a substantial portion for herself as a way to demonstrate that she truly wanted to learn. At first, my daughter became angry in the face of our position. We pointed out that her focus on what we wouldn’t provide undermined her appreciation for the part we were willing to offer. I remember that night very clearly. After we had explained our intentions, she looked at us astounded and then quietly left the room. Five years later she shared with me how that event had had a profound impact on her life. For the first time, she had to take significant responsibility for what she wanted. As a result of paying for part of her education, she became a far more motivated and successful student. We gave only what we wanted to give and trusted that our children would grow from that.

My own father was aghast at the apparent inequity of our decision. He believed we “owed” our children a college education. Obviously, we did not concur. He continued to protest, “How could you treat one child differently from the other?” He noted, with pride, that every time he had purchased a gift for one of his three children he had always purchased an identical or similar item for the others. I call this “abstract parenting.” In effect, if one of us had consistently lent others a helping hand, while the second sibling had been a thief and the third an arsonist, we would still all have received the same provisions, no matter what we had done. It occurred to me, as I explained our decision to my dad, that I didn’t see the world in terms of an abstract equity that obligated me to provide for each of my children in the exact same way. I made a moment-to-moment decision to do what I reasoned would be responsive to each of my children as separate and individual. Where is it written that everyone gets the same, regardless of their choices and actions? I wanted to support love, caring, respect and hard work. By giving thoughtfully and consciously, I may be more likely to increase those desirable results in the universe.

Though I strongly affirm that “I don’t owe my children anything.” I do not mean that parents shouldn’t provide and share their bounty with their children. I suggest, however, that we see our provisions as gifts, amazing gifts, provided in a give-and-take relationship of love. No “should’s” here. As gift givers, we would probably feel far more excited to supply whatever we choose to supply, while our children, as receivers, would have a completely different experience of the exchange, one far more respectful, honoring, and appreciative. You win. The child wins. The relationship grows deeper and more loving.

Principle Number Three:

I don’t spend any more time with my children than I want to.

Caring parenting, loving, powerful and effective parenting has nothing to do with time. Many parents have deeply held beliefs that when their children are infants, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, they are supposed to spend a certain number of hours per day or per week with them. They believe that “time” spent directly with children will naturally have a favorable impact on their development.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. In our parenting programs, I often hear moms, especially, feeling trapped as the major caretaker of the family. Although they love and cherish their children, they often experience a sense of boredom and frustration in their parent/child interactions. As a result, the message they give their children is not the one they would hope to give. The time spent is infused with irritation, discomfort and impatience. The child, instead of feeling a sense of communion, love and interactive ease, ultimately experiences resentment from their parents.

I believe in parenting by wanting: do what you want to do and don’t do what you don’t want to do. Instead of stuffing any feelings of boredom or frustration, we can examine why we are feeling that way toward our children. In moments like this you will not be very useful to your children anyway. Use the time you would have begrudgingly spent with your children to help yourself become truly present and loving. Then go and be with your kids.

You might notice that the principles I’ve suggested differ from accepted cultural norms in a profound and dramatic way. Nevertheless, it’s been my experience that parenting from these perspectives ultimately results in our children’s learning of love, self-reliance and gratitude. Although in our culture our sons and daughters commonly learn to strive for such accomplishments as good grades, they often fail to give much attention to deeply opening their hearts and minds to themselves and others. When I was a child, my well-intended father, doing the best he could, used to discipline me harshly with the end of a strap. Each time he hit me, he would explain he was doing it because he loved me. I remember thinking back then that when I grew up, I might not want to love anyone else, since love seemed to beget painful interactions. Unfortunately, in our work with families, we find that those old methods of child rearing still persist. Perhaps the only change in approach (to one seen as more politically correct) has been that the sharp edge of the strap has been replaced by the sharp edge of the tongue.

Therefore, I encourage parents to create some primary principles for themselves and to establish clear intentions. There is something wondrous about parenting this way. Most of us don’t do it because we believe that if we have preset intentions, spontaneity and serendipitous behavior will be diminished. However, I haven’t found that to be the case. Parenting by intention puts us on a firm footing with our children as we view and respond to them, allowing us a wider panorama of possibilities by freeing us from distracting discomfort and indecision. Most of us design our relationships haphazardly. They reflect what occurs on a daily basis – not what we would have intended had we given the matter forethought. When, instead, we take charge of becoming the grand architects of our parent/child relationships, we can make up intentions that we believe would serve us most in these very special relationships. Each of us should create our own list. However, wishing to offer you inspiration and guidance, I will present intentions that have been espoused by families with whom we have worked at The Option Institute.

Intention Number One:

Make love the number one priority in all our parent/child relationships.

That means, for instance, valuing feelings and expressions of love above grades, neat bedrooms and an appropriate appearance. The mother of two teenagers who attended a program here at The Option Institute found herself preoccupied with her concern that the mess in her teenager’s bedrooms would spread to the rest of the house. Although she learned in the workshop that happiness is a choice, she feared abandoning her new knowledge once she got home. I posed the following questions: “Suppose you went home and found the house in utter disarray. Would that be difficult or stressful for you?” She replied that it would be a sign that her children did not respect her and perhaps did not really love her. I then asked, “Why do you believe if your children were sloppy, that would mean they didn’t love or respect you?” As she explored further, she decided such an assumption no longer made any sense to her, although she remembered her own mother accusing her of disrespect when she herself, as a teenager, hadn’t obeyed the house rules. The message we send our children: If you don’t do as your parents say, then you’re disrespectful; if you aren’t who your parents want you to be, then you’re not honoring them.

As she reviewed those assumptions, she laughed and said, “No, they don’t make sense. Why would I ignore all the various ways they do love and respect me just because at times they don’t put their clothes away?”

After completing the program, she later shared a wonderful experience with me. She explained that when she returned home her house looked like an unkempt college dorm, with dirty dishes, plates of uneaten food and soiled laundry everywhere. At first she felt the muscles in the back of her neck tighten; her mind became cluttered with judgments and irritation. Then she reminded herself that in the workshop she had decided to make love the number one priority with her children. As she approached their bedrooms, she committed herself to feeling and acting out her new intentions. She could feel her body relax as she encountered her daughter and said, “Hi honey! It’s so good to see you.” In spite of the situation, she opened her arms and gave her teenager a hug. She reported the wonder of the internal experience she had given herself, never once focusing on the state of affairs in the bedroom. When her son entered the room, she turned and greeted him, too, with an affectionate embrace. Her son smiled and said, “Wow, it sure looks like that program was good for you!” She smiled, “Yes, I had a wonderful time.” As she walked out of the room, she stopped, looked around, and said, “Look, I’m wondering if you could do me a favor. I would really appreciate it if you could spend the next hour or two cleaning up the house. “Her son, whom she had described previously as resistant and a bit foul-mouthed, looked at her casually, smiled, and said “sure, Mom” Then he proceeded to pick up a shirt lying on the floor, folded it carefully and started a neat pile of clothing. Mom was flabbergasted. Usually her children resisted her. However, she noted when she made love the number one priority, not only did she have a completely different experience with her children, but she inspired a different response from them.

Intention Number Two:

Be fully present with our children.

Many parents half-listen when their children speak. That doesn’t reflect a lack of caring. Most of us half-listen to our partners, our co-workers, and our lovers as well. As a result, we miss the subtle nuances and cues expressed by our sons and daughters. And we don’t give them a chance to fully know and understand us.

All discomfort and distress is the result of a regret about the past or a worry about the future. Most of us have never been educated to attend to the present moment. In interacting with our children, my wife and I focus on being present. We do it in a way that is quite exciting. I believe that God lives in details. That means to me that when we are truly present, we can see God in our children.

What would happen if we recalled that experience, we gave ourselves when we first held our infant sons and daughters, who might now be 10, 14 or 18? Perhaps they want to borrow our car, shave their head, pierce a ring through their nostril or cut holes in their jeans. Do we look at these teenagers and think, “Wow, this is God, this is the blessing of the universe!” Or are we more likely to exclaim, “My God, don’t pierce your nose! Please, could you put another pair of pants on? And why do you want that ridiculous hair-do?” We have so many expectations and agendas for our children! They cloud our ability to see and appreciate their uniqueness and originality. Being present is the key to truly enjoying the moment to moment events of parenting.

Intention Number Three:

Express and teach gratitude.

The power of appreciation comes through actions. Feeling gratitude creates a wonderful internal experience; expressing it allows us to feel the full bloom of appreciation. Most significant would be our willingness, on a moment-to-moment basis, to find some aspect of every person and event to appreciate and then find a tangible way to express our gratitude. Again, what we do is what we teach.

Several times a year, our family participates in what we call an informal gratitude exchange. Each of us takes the time to consider what we most appreciate in the other member of our clan. One by one we express our appreciation using specific examples. Often, we anchor these expressions with a smile, a hug or sometimes even a tear.

We have another tradition in our family. Before leaving for a trip to give a lecture or workshop in another city, state or country, I check in with each of my children. I update my love and appreciation for them in words and gestures. In this way, if by chance those moments turned out to be my last with them, I would feel a sense of completion.

Parenting is a creative and evolving process, so the principles and intentions we create today might give way to new and innovative perspectives tomorrow. As we create a platform on which to stand, we don’t have to make it rigid or inflexible. Love has many modes, and infinite pathways through which it can be expressed.

Oftentimes, we have the internal awareness of loving our children, but our works and actions do not display that love. In fact, our expressions of display and discomfort teach our children about our values and concerns. When we express anger, we teach anger. We can never be diminished by loving our children, even when they might not be expressing love to us.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • Your child is 7 years or older.
  • Your child uses sentences, asks and answers questions and might even be able to have back and forth conversations with other people.
  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course. Please note, this is a per-person registration

Please make sure you understand the following pre-requisites for this course before registering.

Pre-requisites for this course are:

  • Your child is currently using babbling sounds or unclear words, or
  • Your child has a vocabulary of less than 20 words and is not yet speaking in phrases.
  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.
Please note, this is a per-person registration

Please make sure you understand the following pre-requisites for this course before registering.

Pre-requisites for this course are:

  • For parents or care-givers who have attended The Start-Up course or who have done The Son-Rise Program Online course.
  • For families who have already started running a Son-Rise Program for their children.


Amanda Louison

  • Director of Operations
  • Deputy CEO
  • Senior Son-Rise Program Advisor
  • Former Son-Rise Program Child Facilitator

Personal Statement

"I came to the Autism Treatment Center of America in October of 2008 where I took the position as the Intensive Coordinator. Before coming to the Autism Treatment Center of America, I worked with special children for 13 years, and upon my arrival fell in-love with the Son-Rise Program®. The modality of “Bonding through acceptance” opened my eyes to a world of love and acceptance for my own son, who has ADHD, and inspired me to want to live a happier, more loving life. I soon set the intention of doing the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training so I could share my love with children on a much deeper level. I spent six months observing and learning the Son-Rise Program, and in April of 2009 was accepted into the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training Program and in July of 2010, I became a Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator staff member and cherished my time in the playroom as a facilitator.

I continued my training at The Autism Treatment Center of America to become a Senior Son-Rise Program® Advisor. My love of Son-Rise Program® inspired me to talk with parents who are just beginning their journey and who are continuing journey with their children using the Son-Rise Program® principals and techniques.

Through the years, I found myself wanting to help our staff grow and the organization flourish, so I have now moved into a managerial role while still working as a Senior Program Advisor. I am currently the Director of Operations and Deputy CEO of the Autism Treatment Center of America and the Option Institute and look forward to working with our staff and with parents of children on the Autism Spectrum for many years to come."

Fun Facts:

Amanda has been married for 24 years and has two amazing children, a son age 22 and daughter who is 18. Some of her favorite hobbies are hiking, reading, finding tag sales, traveling and spending time with her family.

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,



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


Our Commitment to Privacy

The Autism Treatment Center of America® (a division of The Option Institute & Fellowship®) are committed to your privacy. This notice serves to help you better understand what information we collect, how we use that information, and with whom we may share a limited portion of that information. If you have questions or concerns regarding this policy, you should contact Customer Support by email

We know that you value your personal information, and we strive to protect your privacy as if it were our own. The Autism Treatment Center of America (a division of The Option Institute & Fellowship) uses of your information is limited to the ways outlined in this notice, except as required by law and/or to comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on us.

Information We Collect From You

  1. Online Contact and Info Requests: If you submit an online request for Option Institute products such as free brochures, or submit a question through a “Contact Us” or “Call-Me” form, we may have to gather additional information from you to respond to your request. Such information will include name, shipping address, telephone number, and email address.
  2. Non-Personal Information We Receive Automatically: Like most websites, we utilize cookies. Cookies are a mechanism to remember information about you when you navigate from one web page to another. Our website uses cookies to hold a user’s unique session identifiers, allowing us to serve correct information back to the user. Such information may include your language and currency. Our website cookies do not hold any personally identifiable information. We may use other similar technologies that allow us to collect non-personally identifiable information about your visit to help us better your experience.

Lawful Basis For Processing Your Data

  1. Consent: We will not process any personal information unless you agree to our Privacy policy and freely give consent to process your information for the purpose of your request.
  2. Fulfillment of Requests: We only store and process your information for the purpose of your request. Your information is removed and no longer processed after the request has been fulfilled. If you have also freely consented to receive marketing or promotional communications via a request form or registration form, we will retain your information until you revoke your consent or unsubscribe from receiving those communications via the instructions located at the bottom of all our emails.

Sharing of Your Data

  1. If we are required by law: we will disclose information about you in response to a subpoena, court order, or other legitimate governmental request.
  2. We will only share your data with third party service providers such as email services to facilitate fulfilment of your information or contact request. None of your information will be processed or stored by any third party if you choose to revoke your consent or submit a request to be forgotten.
  3. We do not share or distribute your information with any other third parties for any purposes other than the purposes you freely consent to.

Use Of Information Collected From You

  1. Information Requests and Customer Service: After submitting information to us via our online forms, your contact information including your email address will be used to respond to that request. After you submit online information requests to us, you may, from time to time, receive email or other communications from us or our service providers with information including information about our upcoming programs or products if you choose to agree to receive those communications. If you do not wish to receive these communications, you are able to opt out of at any time by following the unsubscribe link found in the email.
  2. Third-Party Service Providers: We work closely with other companies and individuals to facilitate transactions and better your experience. Examples of third-party service provider services include shipping orders, analyzing data, providing accurate search results and links, affiliate marketing, and newsletters. Any information that we share with a third-party service provider is done so safely, securely, and under a contractual relationship with that provider to protect your data.
  3. Promotional events: From time to time, we or a service provider acting on our behalf may use your name, email address, telephone number and/or mailing address to send you information or offers for a program, product or other service we believe to be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive these communications, you are able to opt out of at any time by following the unsubscribe link found in the email.

Data Retention Policy

We maintain a data retention policy to protect your data. Information collected on our website will be retained for as long as necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected.

How We Secure Your Information

We are committed to protecting the security of your personal information and to honoring your choices for its intended use. To prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, we strive to maintain physical, electronic, and administrative safeguards. We use industry standard security protocol such as encryption and https security protocol to protect your information.
Any time we share your information with a third party consistent with this Privacy Policy, we utilize technological or contractual safeguards in an effort to keep your information safe.
While we are confident ordering online is safe and secure, if for any reason you cannot access the secure server or feel uncomfortable ordering online, please feel free to place your order with us by phone at 877-766-7473 or +001-413-229-2100.
At any time you wish to opt out of receiving promotional mailings, you may call or email Customer Service (

Your Rights

At any time, you can use the following request form to request any of the following:

  1. Confirm whether or not personal data about you is being processed.
  2. Provide you with further details about how we process your personal data.
  3. Provide you with a copy of any data which we hold about you.
  4. Withdraw your consent to using your personal information, where we rely on your consent as a legal basis to justify using your personal data.
  5. Consider any valid objection to the processing of your personal information (including the right to object to processing on grounds related to your particular situation where we are relying on our legitimate interests as a legal basis for processing).
  6. Request to update or delete personal data which we hold about you.
  7. Restrict the way that we process your personal data.
  8. Consider any valid request to transfer your personal data to a third party provider of services (data portability).

We will consider all requests. However, certain personal information may be exempt from those requests in certain circumstances, which include a need to keep processing information for our legitimate interests or to comply with a legal obligation. If such an exception applies, we will notify you when responding to your request. Please note that we may ask you to provide us with information necessary to confirm your identity before responding.

Policy Updates

We reserve the right to update the above policy at any time. If we decide to change our Privacy Policy, we will post the updates to this Privacy Policy here and on any other place we deem appropriate, so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.