Son-Rise is a treatment program for Autism,
Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pervasive
Developmental Disorders and other disabilities related to communication
History of Son-Rise
The program was developed by a former advertising
executive Barry Neil Kaufman and his wife Samahria Lyte Kaufman.
They developed the program in the late 1960's and early 1970's,
while working with their own son, Raun, who was diagnosed with Autism
as a toddler. After Raun began displaying autistic behaviors following
a series of ear infections, the Kaufmans turned to the medical community
intervention. Unsatisfied with their responses, and the prognosis
that Autism was incurable, they began a program of their own, based
upon the idea that their child was engaged in these behaviors for
a reason that made sense only to him. His parents tried to communicate
with Raun not by overt attempts to force neurotypical behavior,
but by imitating his endless rocking, plate spinning and other rituals,
while gently introducing eye contact, speech, song, etc., for him
to engage with if he would.
During the course of an intensive three year program,
Raun's autistic behaviors regressed, and he appeared to 'emerge'
and become a completely neurotypical child who went into mainstream
school, developed friendships and went on to graduate from Brown
University, an Ivy League school, majoring in BioMedical Ethics.
By his parents' and his own accounts, he now leads
a 'normal' life. In 1983, the Kaufmans founded what is now known
as the Autism Treatment Center of America (ATCA) to offer other
parents the opportunity to learn how to create a play-based home
program for their own autism spectrum children. The center is
an independent non-profit organization, based in Sheffield, Massachusetts,
and regularly offers seminars on its techniques which are attended
by parents, caretakers and therapists from around the world.
Treatment and philosophy of Son-Rise
At the Autism Treatment Center of America, parents
are given training in order to help them to encourage their child
to interact and socialize more effectively. The acquisition of developmental
skills plays an important role in the program, however the priority
in a Son-Rise Program is encouraging socialization and communication
abilities. While there are other programs that emphasize a play-based
therapy, such as Dr. Stanley Greenspan's DIR/Floortime
model, one of the distinguishing features of Son-Rise is its
emphasis on loving and accepting the child just as he or she is,
with the idea that the autistic child "senses" your attitude
through your voice, body language and non-verbal behavior.
The Son-Rise philosophy states that if you approach
the child with a positive, loving attitude, the child is more likely
to interact than if you engage with a sense of underlying anger,
despair, hopelessness and desperation. As the child engages with
parent or caregiver, a constant attempt is made to expand the child's
interest beyond "self-stimulating" behaviors.
Many parents struggle to accept their child's
diagnosis and the unique behaviors of Autism. It is not uncommon
for parents to experience guilt and/or fears for the future. Son-Rise
finds that, by offering parents support in these areas, many parents
are able to attain a greater degree of comfort playing with their
child and in their day to day life with their child. This attitude,
combined with specific play strategies, gives parents a greater
opportunity to encourage more of the type of interactions that they
wish to create with their child.
controversy surrounding Son-Rise
Proponents of the Son-Rise program believe that
'cures' for Autism Spectrum Disorders are possible, as in the
case of Raun. This is controversial as most research suggests that
Autism is a life-long disability, although acknowledging that intensive
intervention can be effective and that in milder cases, some children
will improve to the point where they enter mainstream schools.
The 'cure' assertion can still be a target of
criticism from some critics who say that it encourages false hope.
However, the Son-Rise Program makes clear that all children are
different and face different degrees of challenge. Not all children
will be cured, but placing limits on their development - and pronouncing
what they will never do - can be counter-productive and, particularly
in the past, has held people back from even trying. One of the beliefs
espoused by Son-Rise is that hope
leads to action. Their program is designed to give parents the tools
to take action with their own child.
Critics of the Son-Rise program point to the lack
of rigorous research that would establish Son-Rise as an evidence-based
treatment, and dismiss anecdotal stories of success, particularly
given that initially the program was based on evidence from only
one child - their own. Other suggest that Raun was never truly autistic,
or that basing a program on one isolated case is unwarranted. Others
state that the program is too intensive for many parents to see
through to success.
In-house statistics of the Son-Rise Program, based
upon parents' own evaluations of their children's changes, show
a substantial improvements in language, attention span and eye contact;
however, to date there has been no independent research into the
effectiveness of the program.
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range of Asperger's and Autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation. It is derivative of an Autism and Asperger's
syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org