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Q&A Session 2 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program

Topic: Playroom Volunteers

Q: Dear Bryn: Ed, Julianna and I were at the Autism Treatment Center of America for our Son-Rise Program Intensive in late January of this year and we were so pleased with the progress Julianna made in one short week. As her last session in the playroom came to an end, I sat there in tears because I was so touched by the staff’s commitment to her and her delight in being in the playroom. I was totally up for the challenge of coming home and creating the same opportunity for her at home. Ed is a stay-at-home dad, and I work outside the home. We pulled her out of her Special Education Pre-School because we felt that she would be seen as a behavioral challenge after having had free run of the playroom. We had most of the essentials of our playroom together and quickly moved on getting the remaining pieces in place. Shortly after we returned home, we put together a flyer that we posted in lots of places, including the local colleges, and e-mailed it to everyone we know, asking them to pass it on to their friends, etc. I also ran an advertisement in the local newspaper for volunteers. The flyer was modeled after several in our Son-Rise Start-Up binder and included a photo of one of us playing with Julianna in the playroom. The end result was zip, nada, not one volunteer. In part this could be due to the low unemployment (approx. 2.5%) in our part of northern California, also known as Telecom Valley, located north of San Francisco in the southern tip of wine country. So, we went to plan B – pay people. Again, we posted and ran ads. We held an information night at our home where we explained the program, observed Julianna in the playroom, showed the BBC video and had people complete applications. End result, after checking references, etc. we hired 4 people. One participated in the program for 3 weeks and quit because it required more energy than she felt she had. One accepted an afternoon slot and never showed up and didn’t return phone calls (after receiving glowing references!). One participated for a couple of weeks and bowed out due to demands of her college courses and the fourth, who is a jewel, just tonight told us she is moving back to San Francisco and would like to be involved but can only do so one day a week on a rotating schedule. We ran a second ad a couple of weeks ago, had a second informational night, etc. and are in the process of trying to work out the schedules of additional facilitators to work with Julianna. However, we are starting to get gun shy – we clearly explain the time commitment we are looking for (minimum of 7 hours a week) and the duration (minimum of 6 months) and yet we are not being successful. The good news is that Julianna is benefiting from the playroom time she is getting and is now saying a couple of four-word sentences (I need more juice. I need more bubbles). The less-than-good news is we are getting discouraged. Ed cannot do the playroom time full time and I can’t quit my job and stay home. Any suggestions on what we can do differently regarding recruiting people would be greatly appreciated! What I would really like to do is move into Unit Two [a housing facility at The Son-Rise House in Sheffield, MA.] or minimally recruit a few of the wonderful staff there. I truly cannot express how much I admire, appreciate and love everyone that worked with us in January. Thank you and please give my best to William and the rest of the Son-Rise staff. Name: Victoria and Ed P. State: CA Child: Julianna, 4.5 years Diagnosis: PDD and ataxic CP A: Dear Victoria, I see that life has offered you some additional challenges…so the question is, how do we face them? We cannot control the actions of others, (volunteers leaving, not responding etc) but we can control our response to them. So…how do we want to respond? If you remember our idea on “Becoming a Force of Nature” – one paramount aspect is PERSISTENCE. The willingness to ask again and again and again for what we want. The willingness to say, “I cannot be stopped”, “I am going for what I want”. I know it can feel challenging when you have put so much into something and it doesn’t work out. I know that there must have been a tremendous amount of energy that went into each attempt to recruit. Firstly…let’s celebrate this! You are trying! You are doing everything you can for your beautiful daughter – this is wonderful! The reward for our actions is the love with which we do them…and then the outcome is our bonus. Hurrah for your efforts! Hurrah for your attempts! We want Julianna to continue to try, to continue to put out her best effort, even if we have asked her 100 times to look into our eyes or have a longer conversation. Now, we must be willing to do the same ourselves. My suggestion to you is two-fold: I would sit down and consider the way in which you have presented yourselves and the program – Is there anything you can change? Modify? Enhance? And then I would see what you can add or alter to be even more effective. (feel free to schedule a support call – for all Intensive Families, or a consultation if you feel that would help) Persist! Believe! Continue to go for what you want, to pursue volunteers, to go out into your community and believe that this can happen for you and your family. Years ago, when I first began to deal with my Arythmia, my heart would beat at 180 beats per minute in my chest and I could not breathe well and I felt dizzy and I couldn’t walk. I remember trying to relax and focusing on getting my heartbeat back to normal. I remember the times when I thought that might not be possible. I’ve been there, I understand that it can be a challenge…but, as Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing”. Today, I can run, I can control my heart (most of the time), I can dance, I can sing…but I had to try, I had to try 1000 times and then 1000 times again. Each time that I did, I became a greater, bigger version of myself. I know you can attain your dream of creating this program that you want – you simply have to dare to continue – and dare to make it so. With much warmth to you, Bryn

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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