There are a few events that we all look back on as life altering. For me one of those was going to the Son Rise Program start up class at the Autism Treatment Centers of America (ATCA). The Son Rise Program changed who I was as person, and as an autism mom. It was the first program I was completely comfortable with. I knew I was being pulled there, so I forced myself to leave my LittleOne for an entire week and spend every single penny I had on it.
Intervention was getting nowhere. A year after our diagnosis nothing had changed. In a moment of frustration I typed autism into Amazon and bought every used book under $2. By some miracle Autism Breakthrough by Raun Kaufman was among the discount books. Thirty dollars later, I took the stack of books to my daycare and told everyone to grab a book. After the staff had grabbed their books on activities, games and interventions, I was left with a few to read myself. So I went home and read Raun’s book.
I had no idea who he was or the impact that left over book had on many before me or what it would do for my life. If you don’t know, Autism Breakthrough is Raun’s intro to the SRP philosophy and intervention, which was designed by his parents after his diagnosis. Handed a severe diagnosis and prognosis of no hope, they chose to try a radical new approach, rejecting the prevailing treatments and group homes. Raun now helps run the center they founded!
Given how much sense it made, I called the ATCA. I couldn’t afford the week long full time training program. I was sure I was hanging up with that one free conversation to go on, but I applied for a scholarship. The scholarship I received plus my tax return totaled the exact amount I needed. I just had to find travel money, and that fell into place as well. I was meant to go.
SRP is built on a few premises that are contrary to the prevailing thoughts and attitudes: Children stim/ism for a reason, and Isming should not be stopped, discouraged or negatively viewed. In fact, parents and volunteers are taught to join in these exclusive repetitious behaviors. This whole program is built on loving acceptance of the child where they are in real time. What could actually be better than that?
The remarkable result of joining in the ism is that the children consistently stop and eventually join the adult. The whole program is built on the concept that if you enter their world authentically, and build relationships of trust they will be able to enter ours.
It was such a life altering experience as a parent. It completely changed my perspective on how to handle his treatment, giving me the confidence and skills to take charge. Finally, I had found people didn’t want to punish my child for being himself, and train him to look and act normal. I have never felt so relieved that what I believed had validity, nor so empowered. SRP allowed me to step into my own as a parent and as the final decision maker in his care.
Much of the SRP work is done in a playroom– a space without distractions where the child can interact one on one with his parent/ volunteer. The more time a child can spend in the playroom with an adult joining in isming or challenging when they have the child’s attention, the better. By completely accepting and joining autistic behaviors, a relationship is built. Then children over time learn skills to leave those behaviors behind.
I have found that every behavioral problem we have found along the way can be corrected in the playroom. Joining and time in the playroom can solve every behavioral issue that pops up. Interestingly enough, his favorite volunteer is his Gammie not me. The more she is with him in the playroom the more he flourishes.
The book and the program turned our life around. All of our detox and biomed only work because we have a solid relationship on which to build. Without the bonds formed in our playroom, I don’t think we would have progressed. It was an answer to my prayers, and the steps by which I got there providence, directed in a way that I will forever be grateful for.