In all our work with adults and children alike, the attitude of love and acceptance is the foundation that we build upon.
Certainly we can and do teach a highly effective educational process with a wide range of specific techniques, but the power of the program lies in the attitude of the facilitator. The total acceptance of the child or challenged person, in all his or her uniqueness, is what brings the power to this process.
This approach is vastly different from that of the traditional therapeutic and educational setting, and its implications are profound and far-reaching. We do not judge the children we work with. We do not label behavior as good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate; we endeavor to help. We know that each child is doing the best he or she can . . . if they could do it better (talk, care for themselves, follow instructions), they would. Instead of pushing them to conform to our priorities, we try to enter and understand their world and encourage a bonding so special, so loving, so exciting that perhaps that young person will want to know more, get more and learn more from us. From such a base, anything is possible.
When Raun Kaufman was about one and a half years old he was diagnosed profoundly autistic. While doctors thought he was a lost case his parents declined to accede to that prognosis. By trying to ¡§join¡¨ their son in his remote world they erected some kind of bridge to him. This was how the Son-Rise programme to care for autistic children began. The most important thing about the project is that the child, not the grown-up, is the teacher ¡V so to say the youngster sets the pace. One guiding principle is not just to encourage language and learning but also to make the child feel peaceful, happy and secure. That¡¦s why a ¡§special room¡¨, a safe place for play and learning, is a significant part of the schedule too. It should be kept in neutral, plain colours, the windows should be whited out (so that everything is focused on human interaction), there should be a two-panel-mirror door so that behaviour can be observed. Moreover toys should be kept on high shelves, so that the child has to ask for them. There is no ¡§No!¡¨ or ¡§Don¡¦t!¡¨. Even after Raun¡¦s major reversal his parents didn¡¦t desist from treating him, and after the breakthrough had happened he never lapsed back. The initiators of the Son-Rise programme never talk of cure because they don¡¦t want to give false hope. But there is evidence that change for the better has occured on every autistic child who took part in the scheme.
"» We used to feel in mourning for a lost child.
"» Live on a day-to-day basis and make small breakthroughs.
"» Have not constructed a special room as recommended by Option.
"» Some people think the Son-Rise programme is a little too messianically
I am the mother of a two and a half year old son called Brian. He had appeared relatively normal in his development until the age of 24 months, when my husband and I noticed delays in his language skills and in social interaction. Brian¡¦s speech evolved very slowly and so he started to communicate with gestures instead of words. He was less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles than other youngsters his age. Moreover he was overactive and threw tantrums for no apparent reason. Sometimes he showed aggression towards others and even towards himself. Furthermore my son displayed repeated body movements such as rocking forwards and backwards. Half a year ago Brian was diagnosed as profoundly autistic. My husband and I accept our son as an individual with a unique personality. We consider our child not a curse but a gift, a present which challenges us to respond with enormous energy and dedication. We are aware of the fact that there is no cure for Brian. So it is not so important to us that Brian is taught specific skills but that he is encouraged to become a motivated person, able to lead a meaningful life. Our intention is to help our son to be all he can be. We talked to a friend about our attitude and she has given us your address to get in touch. We do not want to bank on traditional treatment. Because we are convinced that because of the many behaviour combinations which can occur, no one approach is effective in alleviating the symptoms of the disorder in all cases. All in all we are seeking an education programme which is tailored to Brian¡¦s specific needs. That¡¦s why we would like to join the Son-Rise project.