Use an Interest in Electronic Devices to Create More Social Interaction

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content

Use an Interest in Electronic Devices to Create More Social Interaction

You are here:
< Back

Use an Interest in Electronic Devices to Create More Social Interaction

Does your child spend endless hours in front of a screen? Do they love to watch scenes from movies repetitiously? Are they in love with the “educational” app on the iPad which sings to them and invites them to press buttons and collect stickers? Do they play angry birds, candy crush or racing cars on your smart phone?

Whatever your child’s chosen activity is on their particular screen, here are some ways to view and deal with this unstoppable passion they seem to have.

Electronic devices and screens provide a hypnotic, highly absorbing, compelling and extremely addictive experience for our children. Even for us as neurotypical adults, we become very easily distracted by our devices and get sucked into everything that our smart phones have to offer countless times per day. Now that we are connected at the touch of a button, this is all too easily within our reach. Imagine that experience to a child who is already bombarded with sensory overload and finds it challenging to connect and relate to people and Bingo – there you have it, the ultimate repetitious and exclusive activity!

It’s extremely difficult to compete with these devices.

Our children are already really good at creating a hypnotic, self-stimulating, repetitious experiences for themselves which also usually excludes people. These devices are machines designed specifically to do just that (to entertain and stimulate the user). Since our children on the Autism spectrum are already having a challenge with creating social connections, this makes it hard for us to create social opportunities (e.g., playing a game, having a conversation, using our imagination together) and actually kills our ability to be creative. It’s a babysitter. Yes, it’s tempting to use the device to keep your child entertained or distracted when you don’t have resources or time to get things done, but we have found that once our children no longer have access to the screens, they actually find other ways to entertain themselves. If you have ever had the experience of going on a vacation to a place with no internet access or satellite TV (those old enough to remember this will relate), we know that when these modes of entertainment or distraction are not there we find other things to do. Your children will, too.

Eliminating screen time gives your child a chance to choose people.

Considering eliminating or severely reducing your child’s screen time could be one of the most life transforming moves you take to complement your Son-Rise Program and offer your child a chance to choose people. It could also be much easier than you think! This of course does not apply if your child is successfully using a communication device to get their needs met and uses it to communicate with you. We once worked with the parents of a sweet 8 year old The only time he communicated to his family was to ask for the iPad. He would usually spend several hours per day on it. His parents decided (with our guidance) not to give him the iPad for a whole week in order to offer him opportunities to play, interact and connect more deeply with people. On day one, he asked for the iPad over one hundred times. To which his parents lovingly celebrated his communication and offered him alternatives (e.g., to play with them, to write with them on a paper notepad, etc., while sweetly explaining that there was no more iPad.  On day two, he asked for the iPad over 50 times to which his parents did the same. On day three, he asked for the iPad a handful of times, to which they responded in the same way. By day five, he no longer asked for the iPad. His social skills blossomed and he began to engage with his parents more, playing at times for up to 40 minutes. He used more language, started to smile and laugh with them and became more physically affectionate with them, putting his arm around them and getting close to them. This was groundbreaking – in just one week!

Now let’s think about all the amazing ways we can bring our children’s motivations (from their screens) into the playroom.

  1. Do some research and get familiar with your child’s experience.
  2. Print out some material for you to study and also bring in to the playroom. This could include pictures of their favorite characters that you can place on Popsicle sticks, masks of those characters, hats, etc. You may even have some dress-up clothes lying around that could help you resemble them. If your child has favorite topics they like to read about or watch tutorials on (e.g., the solar system, garbage trucks, toilets, dinosaurs, etc.), find out some facts about these things and print off some interesting info they might not know. If your child likes video games, print out the logo of the title of the game and its characters and glue them on to a piece of poster Draw some buttons on it that will activate the sounds to the game.
  3. Create a simple activity you can do together using some of these things that are directly from the screens. Think of a way your child can participate in this game with you (perhaps they can physically participate, verbally participate, or just attend to you as you keep entertaining them).

Here are some examples of some of the types of things you could do:

  • Saving characters: Bring cut out pictures of your child’s favorite characters from their favorite movies or TV show into the playroom. Tape them up on the walls and in various different places around the room. Use a small cardboard box and prop the 2 flaps at the top (that you open the box with) and tape them together like a roof. This box will be the characters home. Cut out a door on the box, and even some windows if you are feeling adventurous. If you don’t have a box handy, just use a plastic bin or small empty trash can with a lid to represent your house. Have fun entertaining your child by driving a pretend car around the room to collect the characters and bring them back home. You could go on different rides (e.g., train ride, boat ride, horse ride) to collect them. Use the character voices along the way to make it fun and familiar to your child.
  • Dress-up and act out scenes: Grab some dress-up clothes that resemble the costumes or hair of your child’s favorite people. Study a particular scene to the movie or video game and learn it by heart if you can. If not, print out the lyrics or lines and bring them with you to the playroom. Entertain your child by acting out the scene. If your child plays games on their screens then bring in a poster  board with the characters and buttons from the game glued onto it in the same arrangement as you see on the screen (e.g., Angry Birds with the logo and the catapult, etc.). Press the buttons on the poster board and act out the sound effects to that game. If it’s a music video they like, bring a microphone and sing the song or attempt to do the dance moves of their favorite star.
  • Interview an expert: If your child has an Asperger’s diagnosis or a High Functioning Autism diagnosis then this game would be suitable for them. Using the facts about their favorite topics that you studied, pretend to be an expert on the topic they love and hold an interview (using a puppet or stuffed toy) to interview you with a microphone and talk about different facts. For example, “interview with inventor of the most common garbage truck” and then answer questions on the make, model, dates invented, etc. You could also try being a character from a movie, who can tell you other character names, traits, catchphrases, jokes, etc.

The main thing that will support you during this time is the belief that what you can offer your child might not be exactly the same as what they are experiencing first hand from the screens, but if you have fun and enjoy yourself, you will always be able to offer them an alternative. So then when (and even if) your child asks for the iPad, phone, TV, etc., sweetly celebrate them and offer them a different twist on what they are looking for (e.g., “Thank you for telling me you want Mommy’s phone. We don’t have the phone right now, but hey, I have a giant Angry Birds game that we can play together!”). Let yourself reflect on what an amazing act of love this is. How remarkable it is to be able to offer their brains a chance to be more able to engage with people. To support them in their challenges and to inspire them to initiate more verses being stimulated by the screen.

We believe in you and we know you can do this!


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.