Empirical Research Supporting
The Son-Rise Program

The Son-Rise Program’s efficacy is supported by evidence-based research studies, as well as many additional research studies that validate the program’s core principles.

Long-Term Study by Northwestern University

  • 3 groups of children with Autism: a control group and 2 treatment groups
  • All three groups: parents attended the Start-Up course and then an advanced Son-Rise Program course several months later. They filled out two detailed questionnaires (one at the Start-Up and one at their advanced program), which included the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist), a respected and widely-used Autism evaluation tool.
  • Control group: parents did not implement The Son-Rise Program in the months in between their two courses.
  • Treatment group #1: parents implemented a low-intensity Son-Rise Program of less than 20 hours per week.
  • Treatment group #2: parents implemented a high-intensity Son-Rise Program of 20 or more hours per week.
  • Changes in ATEC scores for all 3 groups were examined.
  1. The ATEC scores of the children in the low-intensity treatment group (#1) showed significant improvements in communication, sociability, and sensory and cognitive awareness as compared to the control group.
  2. The ATEC scores of the children in the high-intensity treatment group (#2) showed the greatest improvements in communication, sociability, and sensory and cognitive awareness – as compared to both the control group and the low-intensity treatment group.
  3. Conclusion: Children whose parents took the Start-Up course and then implemented The Son-Rise Program at home over the span of several months showed big improvements in the central challenges of Autism (language, sociability, communication, etc.) – with children whose parents did more than 20 hours a week of The Son-Rise Program showing the greatest gains.

Training Parents to Promote Communication and Social Behavior in Children with Autism: The Son-Rise Program®


Short-Term Study by Lancaster University

  • 2 groups of children with Autism: a control group and the treatment group.
  • Control group: each family would spend 10 days in our Intensive Program apartment unit (on our campus), where the child would not receive Son-Rise Program treatment.
  • Treatment group: each family would spend 10 days in our Intensive Program apartment unit (on our campus). For each of the final 5 days, the child would receive one-on-one Son-Rise Program treatment throughout the day.
  • The children in both groups were meticulously tested at the beginning of their stay, after 5 days, and again after the final 5 days. (This meant that the treatment group of children were tested just before and just after their 5 days of Son-Rise Program treatment.) The method of testing/evaluation was the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), a third-party evaluation tool considered to be the “gold standard” for assessing and diagnosing autism spectrum disorders.
  1. The children in the control group did not improve.
  2. The children in the treatment group showed meaningful statistical improvement across a range of social/interactive behaviors over the course of their 5 days of Son-Rise Program treatment.
  3. Conclusion: Children who were worked with using The Son-Rise Program showed a strong improvement and response to treatment after only 5 days!

Promoting Child-Initiated Social-Communication in Children with Autism: The Son-Rise Program® Intervention Effects



Additional Empirical Research Supporting The Son-Rise Program and its Core Principles.


Research Summaries on The Son-Rise Program

Supportive Empirical Research Highlighted Summaries

Here are some of The Son-Rise Program Principles that are supported by empirical research


It can be seen that this treatment principle of The Son-Rise Program is supported by the current neuro-anatomical and physiological data. Children with autism have been seen to become overwhelmed and over-aroused in typical environments – Hirstein, 2001 (University of California). Many clinical studies have found autistic children to be neurologically challenged by “perceptual filtering” – Townsend and Courchesne, 1994 (Children’s Hospital Research Center, San Diego).


Learning to understand social meaning and respond appropriately in a social situation is gained by typical children through countless hours of interacting with others. Children with autism, who avoid this interaction, miss out on this ‘social education’ from a very early age (Klin et al, 2003, Yale University). Children with autism tend to avoid social stimuli – Osterling & Dawson 1994 (University of Washington).


A fundamental tenet of The Son-Rise Program is that the brain is plastic. That is, that the brain can change in structure and function in response to changes in the environment and sensory input throughout the lifetime. Numerous studies over the past decade have validated this concept.


Children prompted to engage in activities chosen by adults were more socially avoidant than when they were prompted to engage in child-preferred activities. – Follow the Child: Start with the child’s motivationRobert Koegel (et al) – (University of California – 1987 and 1998).


“Affect”= acceptance, enjoyment, expressiveness, inventiveness and warmth. These studies found affect to be significantly related to increases in language, social competence, joint attention and self-regulation in autistic children. Acceptance promotes responsiveness and Appreciation Encourages Engagement –
Gerald Mahoney (et al) – (Case Western University, OH – 2004-2005).


‘Isms’ (Autistic children’s stimming or repetitive behaviours) are functional for Autistic children. Children with autism had higher skin conductance response levels (indicative of arousal in autonomic system) than typical children and were unable to bring these levels down until allowed to carry out their exclusive repetitive behaviour. The ‘ism’ helped the children regulate their nervous systems. – William Hirstein (et al) (University of California – 2001).


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