I highly recommend the Son-Rise program for autism. Son-Rise, like RDI, is very empowering for parents, because as a parent you realize how very important you are and how much influence you really have on your child's progress.
Most children with autism respond well to Son-Rise, because the program establishes trust quickly with the child and as a result, they are usually more willing to interact with you more and accept more because of that level of trust and interaction. I also love how there are no limits or expectations put on how far your child can go with this program. There is a healing that happens in your heart and mind for your child and for your family regarding what autism means to you through Son-Rise, and I'm very grateful for their approach.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, John and I were fortunate enough to attend the Son-Rise New Frontiers Program in Sheffield Massachussetts.
Son-Rise, like RDI, focuses on the interpersonal, communication and flexibility goals first, then uses those skills to build other friendship and conversational skills, and focuses lastly on academics, reasoning, self-help, and motor skills.
New Frontiers is an advanced training program that builds on the foundation of the Son-Rise Start-Up. In New Frontiers, we learned specifics on how to establish program goals, and the techniques on how to achieve them, as well as looking at our own beliefs about what's possible.
We learned how to use both our child's activities and our activities to achieve our goals – to build length of interactional attention, to increase flexibility, to build language and communication skills, and ultimately to build friendship and conversational skills.
This is not done in a static way, but rather in a more flexible way, through interactive play and later on adding role plays, always adding to what we're doing and what we've done before. We learned how to keep growing and expanding our goals and activities to make them gradually more and more complex and changeable over time so that a child can learn how to deal with the world effectively within our program first.
We also learned how to be students of ourselves- regarding our feelings, attitudes and beliefs about our child, ourselves, our program, and how our child exists in our world. This is the only program out there that deals with the head and heart of the parent, and the people working with your child. You learn how to learn from yourself and from your child, how to examine and question your beliefs about what's possible and what's important, and how to ultimately be in a good place with all of this, while always trying for more.
The foundational idea of Son-Rise is total acceptance of the child as he is, while always extending kind invitations for more growth. Son-Rise goes with the child instead of against the child, so the child feels some control and trust in working and playing with you, and that helps the child to feel safe about gradually allowing new things in. Consequently, there are very few “no's” at the beginning. Once the child has mastered basic flexibility, social, and communication skills, that's when more “no's” start to come in.
In my experience, when a child is learning the basic stuff about how to be flexible, how to trust another, how to communicate and how to interpret and respond to the world around them, that you can use Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) or Son-Rise. However, just speaking from my own experience, Son-Rise is probably the easiest and quickest way to get through those really tough early stages with the least amount of resistance from your child.
I'm so glad that we looked into Son-Rise. It's a highly practical and healing way to remediate a child's autism.
Sandra Sinclair, www.autismvoice.com