Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chapter 4 – Motivation: The Key to Everything.

Kate Wilde, Director, The Son-Rise Program

Motivation is everything. We work harder, learn quicker and engage more when we are really interested and enjoying what we are doing. Raun K. Kaufman in his book, “Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World.” says:
“Motivation is the engine of growth. It is the single largest factor in your child’s learning and progress. When a child is following his or her own intrinsic interests and motivations, learning comes fast and furious.”

I worked with Gabriella a beautiful young girl of 7. Gabriella loved food, wanted to eat and look at pictures of food all day long. At that time food was her one and only motivation. Because Gabriella focused nearly all of her attention around food her parents were trying to move her away from food and get her into doing something else. They wanted her to read, learn math, and experience more of what “the world had to offer”.  They did this by introducing subjects and things that had nothing to do with food. This was not working. She showed no interest in what they were offering her. This was because they were completely ignoring what it is that she enjoyed - food.

The idea is to use your child motivations, by marrying the goal or skill you want your child to learn with what it is they enjoy. We did that with Gabriella. So instead of trying to get her away from the subject of food we embraced it and made it the central focus of everything we offered her. 

Over the next two years she learned to speak through naming all the different foods. She learned math by cooking her favorite foods and measuring out the ingredients. She learned to be flexible and spontaneous by making up her own recipes. She learned about the different cultures of the world through studying their different foods. She even learned French and Italian!

It is important to note that this is not about giving rewards for a job well done. It is about putting what they enjoy at the center of the activity or learning.
This is going to be so important as you go about encouraging your child to do all the skills outlined in this book.

Carl was 10 years old and he loved staccato rhythms.  He would tap out rhythms using his fingers on the floor the walls and the backs of books. His preferred state of being was to lie on a beanbag and tap out rhythms. One goal we worked on with him was to encourage him to be more active. So I brought in a skipping rope. Instead of introducing it to him in a traditional way I showed him how he could use the skipping robe in a way that I knew would interest him first. I took the handles of the skipping rope and tapped out a rhythm. I then gave it to him and he taped out a rhythm. Then I swung the skipping robe in a way that the rope made a rhythm on the floor. This helped him become interested and interact with the skipping rope. We had a lot of fun and by the end of the session he had attempted to skip. Hooray for Carl! Putting what he was motivated for, tapping at the center of the activity helped him reach the goal of being more active.


We can find out what really motivates our children by observing where they put their attention. Then we can marry their motivation with the goal we have for our child. This book is about how to help our children with their self help skills such as taking a bath, sitting on the toilet, eating new foods and much more. These endeavors will be so much more successful if we do them in a way that interests our children. For some of you it will be immediately obvious to you what motivates your child, for others it may not be so apparent. The exercise below is designed to help you find out what motivates your child.
For Printer Friendly Version of these Exercises Click Here.

Exercise 1
Spend 15 minutes a day for five days just observing your child as they play by themselves. Notice not just what they are playing with but how they are playing with it.  What senses are they predominately using? As you observe them notice what they are doing, if they are tapping things with their fingers then that is their motivation. It does not have to be playing with something in the traditional sense. Our children play and explore differently. The following list will help you observe in a particular way. Just tick the boxes that are relevant to your child.

 He touches or taps things in a rhythmic way.
□ The rhythm is fast
□ The rhythm is slow
□ The rhythm is staccato
□ The rhythm is syncopated

*Write your child’s favorite rhythm in the space provided below.

He is visually stimulated.
□ He looks at things out of the corner of his eye
□ He lines things up in neat rows
□ He likes to arrange things in scenes
□ He likes to arrange thing in piles
□ He stares at the wall, or ceiling, or at the woodwork, or light switches
□ He stares intently at his own fingers as he slowly wiggles them
□ He looks at patterns while running his fingers over the pattern
□ He will watch the credits role down the TV again and again
□ He will draw
□ He likes to watch the chalk dust fall
□ He watches things that move like fans or any electrical equipment
□ He stares at light on floorboards
□ He watches little things falling through the air like rice
□ He watches a scarves fall through the air
□ He closely watches the wheels of a car spin
□ He watches a piece of string dangle
□ He waves a belt along the floor watching it move like a snake

*Write what and how your child watches things in the space provided below.

She likes to engage in physical activities.
□  She runs from one side of the room to another banging her hands into the walls
□ She paces using large steps starting slowly and gathering speed, then slowing down and again gathering speed
□ She flaps her hand, stimulating mainly his wrists
□ She flaps her fingers only
□ She shakes her head from side to side
□ She pushing her tongue against the side of his cheeks
□ She chews on any object she has
□ She slaps the side of her head, legs, or claps her hands.
□ She jumps
□ She is constantly in perpetual motion
□ She holds an object most of the time

*Write your child’s particular physical activity in the space provided below.

He likes to listen to sounds.
□ He puts a car up close to his ear and listens to the whirl of the car wheels
□ He makes sounds to himself as he jumps, spins, or watches things fall
□ He listens to the clank of a belt buckle falling to the ground as he watches it fall
□ He bangs doors, listening to the click of the door handle opening or closing
□ He says the same phrase or word over and over again, with a particular inflection or rhythm
□ He shakes bells

*Add the specific sound your child likes to hear in the space below.

She likes patterns.
□ She likes to do puzzles
□ She likes numbers
□ She likes to spell words
□ She likes to solve math problems

*In the space below write your child own specific interest in patterns.

He likes to engage with textures and touch.
□ He loves soft things
□ He loves hard and bumpy textures
□ He loves furry things
□ He likes sand paper
□ He will wrap himself up in a blanket
□ He loves silky cloths
□ He will roll cars up and down his arms
□ He likes soft touch
□ He likes hard pressure like squeezes
□ He loves ribbon
□ He loves the feel of hair

*In the space below write any other texture or touch your child likes.

What kind of spaces does she like?
□ She likes the doors and windows to be open
□ She will always close the door
□ She will surround herself with cushions
□ She will play underneath the table, or in a small play tent or lay house
□ She will play surrounded by a fortress of books or stuffed animals
□ She likes to play in a dark space
□ She likes to play in a light space

*In the space provided below write down any other kind of space your child enjoys.

What type of characters does he like?
□ Plastic Disney characters?
□ Soft plush Disney characters?
□ Movie characters?
□ Characters from a storybook?

*Write your child favorite characters in the space provided below.

What music or song does your child like?
Write them down in the space provided below.

Does your child show you a color preference?
If so write in the space provided below.

Exercise 2
This time notice how your child responds to what YOU do. As you read below see if your child likes you to do any of these actions. If you’re not sure then find out by trying the action with your child.  If they do, then that’s their motivation.
□ Speaking in funny voices, like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
□ Using slapstick humor like pretending to fall on a banana peel
□ Big gestures, and big facial expressions
□ Big celebrations
□ Singing to them
□ Playing musical instrument
□ Dancing in big and funny ways
□ Whispering
□ Using anticipation
□ Talking softly
□ Clapping hands
□ Pretending to be an animal
□ Reading books out loud
□ Tickling him
□ Big squeezes
□ Blowing on his body

Add any other things that you do that motivate your child in the space below.

Now you have just created a list of your child’s own unique motivations. As you read the upcoming chapters use these specific motivations to encourage your child to want to do the goals in this book, by putting your child’s motivation at the center of the activity. For example:

Marcus’s story:  goal = eat new foods, motivation = Spiderman.
Marcus was 5 and completely in love with Spiderman. I think the only clothes he ever wore while I knew him was a Spider Man Costume – so cute! While he loved spider man he seemed not to be so interested in eating. He was underweight and his parents understandably were very concerned about his health. So we took his motivation for Spider man and married it with our goal of wanting him to eat. We started by making up stories about what Spiderman loved to eat after he has done his days work of being a super hero. He was amazing at drawing so we drew cartoons together about spider man and every place we could we would draw spider man eating, or stopping off at the shops to get his favorite foods. These were of course all the different foods that we wanted Marcus to eat. We would then bring in what we started to call “Spiderman Meals”. We introduced the food on Spiderman party plates and while we were playing we would stop for a Spiderman munch.  Within a couple of weeks he had started to put on weight. This was because we made eating the most interesting we could for him by putting what he enjoyed most “Spiderman” at the center of the activity.

You can order your copy of Autistic Logistics at...

USA: Amazon.com   Or   UK: Amazon.co.uk.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Five helpful tips for CREATIVITY!!!

Article by : Kim Korpady
Son-Rise Program®Team Trainer
& Professional Training Coordinator

In The Son-Rise Program® we see creativity as a key piece in helping form a deep connection to our children on the Autism Spectrum. Oftentimes we hear from parents around the World … “I’m just not creative.”

But the thing is … WE ACTUALLY ARE CREATIVE!  Isn’t that wonderful!?!
As humans, we all have the capacity to be creative - we were not born as “UN-CREATIVE” beings!  In fact, as children we spent much of our childhood practicing our creativity… and for many of us this was encouraged as a way to help us develop … playing with our peers, running around imagining we were pirates or princesses, turning inanimate objects into the most magnificent playmates, etc.

Somewhere along the line of growing-up into the adults we are today, the idea of playfulness and creativity has been pushed to the side to make way for responsibility and handling life in an “adult” way.

Growing up we were easily able to access our imaginations, silliness, and creativity, so this is not something we are born without having.  Oftentimes what is happening is that we have just not put this skill into practice for quite a while, therefore we haven’t allowed ourselves to experience this, and then we create the belief that we aren’t creative (based on all the evidence we have created for ourselves over the years) … So for those of you out there wanting a bit of a kick-start to CREATIVITY, here are five simple steps to getting your CREATIVE on!

Five helpful tips for CREATIVITY!!!

1.Remind yourself you actually DO have something fun and wonderful to offer your child.  You are a powerful FUN MAGNET!!! 

Our beliefs fuel our actions - and when we are believing and telling ourselves that we are full of fun and creativity we will be more likely to carry this out by offering our child fun games and activities! Believe in yourself!

2.There are no good or bad ideas. 

 Rather than putting a filter on what we are about to present (“Is this fun enough?” … “Is this exciting enough?”… “Will my child enjoy this?”…etc.), instead try out being FILTER FREE…
Oftentimes a big thing that gets in the way of us being able to access our creativity is when we filter our ideas; or when we think, "is this a good or bad idea." The minute we start judging our ideas, or start thinking "I have to get it right" … or "I have to have the right game"… or do it the right way – we are essentially judging our ideas.
Here is a thought that might help if you find yourself judging your game or ideas when playing with your child … We can't be in our child’s brain, so we don’t even know what the “right” thing would be … what we can do instead is rely on ourselves and think what is my idea, and then carry out that idea to help our beautiful children see how alive and inviting people can be!!!

3.Think about something you would like to do - and do it!

Do you like playing soccer? Offer to play a game of soccer with your child!  Do you like to cook? Have fun pretending to cook with your child!  Do you like to sing?  Sing for your child!
Try thinking of something that would be FUN FOR YOU, and offer that to your child!  When we are behind our ideas and we offer our child something we ourselves are really into, they will be much more likely to come on board with our ideas and play the games and activities we are offering because they see how much fun we ourselves are having with it.

4.Pick up any object and BRING IT TO LIFE by TAKING ACTION!

  •         Throw it
  •         Spin it
  •         Give it a goofy voice
  •         Cheer for it
  •         Make it sing
  •         Make it dance
  •         Give your child tickles with it
  •         Sometimes we hear “Oh if I do that, I might look really silly …”  and the thing is … you might!  But how wonderful for your child to see you there offering them silliness and playfulness!  Our children are not judging our ideas.  In fact, when we let loose and take actions that invite a sense of silliness, we are inspiring them to see how fun people really are!  This is a beautiful invitation into our world.

5.Say you get “stuck”... it doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck … Bring yourself back to the present moment and START AGAIN!  Have fun practicing staying PRESENT and PLAYFUL.

Most importantly, let the LOVE you feel for your child be your inspiration as you take yourself to new amazing places with your creativity!  Have the best time with your AMAZING CHILDREN!!!

With love,


Monday, May 2, 2016

Motivation is the key to all social interactions.

Article by: Camila Titone
Son-Rise Program® Teacher
Senior Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator

This morning I was in the Son-Rise Program® playroom, here at the Autism
Treatment Center of America® with our very sweet five year old friend. He had very fine, long, blonde hair and he loved to move his head around and watch his own hair hit his face. He also moved his fingers in front of his face watching this most perfect finger choreography in fascination.

I gathered that he loved watching things move. This was a very important discovery for me!!! This is my very special friend and whatever is important to him, is important to me! And so it was, that the two of us moved our hair and our fingers around the room as I joined him in his actions.

Until he became still, his hands became quiet and his eyes were actually looking at ME… We both smiled – we both knew that what we had been doing together had great importance!

Now that I had my friend’s attention, I invited him into my world!  Knowing now what he likes to do, I danced around the room trying to match his fingers choreography.  I got hold of some scarves from the shelf that could aid me to continue with my choreography of movement, color and fun ... It was certainly a lot of fun!!! Then I noticed my friend was still there with me!!! He had carried on watching me.  I paused, he looked at me and said “up” and so I continued moving the scarves … Hooray! He was not only watching me now, he also spoke and told me what he wanted!!!
In The Son-Rise Program we follow what our children are motivated for because this is how we connect – by being the doorway into their world.

Motivation is also the key to all social interactions…
So here are some questions for you:
  • Do you want your child to answer your questions?
  • Do you want your child to look at you?
  • Do you want your child to to say that he/she loves you? 
  • Do you want your child to play to play a game with you?
  • Do you want your child to engage more with you?
Here are some steps that will help you discover some of your child’s motivations and ways to create more social interactions with your child with Autism:
1. Join them in their ism (stim) and show them that you are predictable and easy to be with. Be curious and interested about THEIR WORLD.

2. Be a detective! Observe your child and ask yourself –“what does my child like to do?”, “what gets my child’s attention?” Our children are ALWAYS doing something, even if it seems to you that they are not doing anything…

**Remember, our children are always doing something and that’s important to them. And you want to find out what that is!**

1. As you observe your child and you notice the things your child moves towards or seeks more of, create a list. You are creating a list of what we call your child’s motivations.

2. When you are spending time with your child, there will be times when your child might look at you, talk to you or reach out to you – your child might give you, what we call green lights.
Once you get a green light and your child shows an interest in you, this will be an opportunity for you to offer an activity! Offering activities will create a space to help your child do different things, and learn and grow from it – it’s an opportunity to inspire your child to grow. 

When we get a green light, we want to offer activities that are around our children’s main areas of interest and motivation (that thing that your child likes to do).

1. The motivation is your “bait” and by “giving” that to your child, you are creating a stage where the two of you can play together and where your child will be able to engage with you longer (because this is about the thing that he/she LOVES).

2. We all learn more when we are motivated and interested in what we are doing. We all are also more likely to try a little harder if we are enjoying our experience (if we are doing what we like). Using your child’s motivation in an activity will help your child grow and learn more.  

So if you want your child to answer that question you ask them, if you want your child to look at you, to tell you they love you, to play with you … remember that it all starts with us embracing THEIR WORLD FIRST, loving what they love (even if it’s a piece of paper, a silly cartoon character, a piece of lint from the floor) – we want to love whatever it is and find the fun in it! 

Our children’s motivation is the doorway into their world and the key to all social interactions.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Autism Parenting: Should We Do the Opposite of What Everyone’s Telling Us?

Article by: Raun K. Kaufman
Director of Global Education
Autism Treatment Center of America®

Facing the turmoil of an autism diagnosis, it’s totally understandable for us to feel pressured into using an approach with our children that doesn’t feel right to us. Most parents of children on the autism spectrum have been told that they have to rush around trying to stamp out their children’s repetitive “stims” – and push their children to do or learn other, more “appropriate” behaviors. But maybe you’re one of the many parents who feels that parenting this way is difficult, stressful, exhausting, and goes against your natural instinct to connect and bond with your child.You’re not alone. And you’re not wrong.

If you do the opposite of what everyone’s telling you to do, you could actually see significantly more progress with your child – and feel so much more connected to your child and to your own parental instincts. In fact, I wrote my book, Autism Breakthrough, specifically to enable parents to help their children grow and learn while going with instead of against their children, bonding more with their children rather than doing battle with them.

Getting our children to change their behaviors does not address our children’s autism. Why? Because autism is not a behavioral disorder; it is a social-relational disorder.

Our children certainly behave differently. There’s no doubt about that. But these behaviors are symptoms, and stamping out symptoms does nothing to help our children with their core challenge: connecting to, relating to, and communicating with other people.

Helping our children with their central deficit requires defying everyone else’s behavior-obsession and committing to one thing: creating a relationship – on your child’s terms, in your child’s world. Deep down inside, you know this. Your own parental instinct is probably screaming it. But it’s hard to hear it over the din of everyone else’s voices.

What if there were a specific way to translate your love and your instinct to connect with your child into concrete, results-producing action?
There is.

Next time your child “stims,” join your child. Yep, that’s right. Everyone else says to stop, limit, or redirect these behaviors. You’re going to join in with them. If your child is stacking blocks, you stack your own pile of blocks. If your child is ripping paper into tiny strips, you do the same. If you child is repeating a line from a movie over and over, you repeat it, too. And if you have a child with Asperger syndrome who loves to talk about airplanes, then listen to what he or she says with baited breath; become an airplane fanatic! Some well-intentioned people who are used to focusing on behavior may tell you that joining will cause your child to “stim” more. It won’t.

Since autism is a social-relational disorder, we can’t help our children to overcome their significant social-relational challenges with an anti-social approach. Trying to stamp out our children’s behaviors breaks trust and alienates them. And this trust is your most important asset in helping your child to progress!

When you join your child in his or her “stim,” you create a connection around a common interest. Joining is about creating a relationship, a trusting bond, a sweet rapport, based upon diving into your child’s world, loving what your child loves, exploring what your child is exploring, cherishing what your child cherishes.

Have you every wondered if your child can understand the deep love you feel for him or her? When you join, you are showing deep love for your child in a way that he or she can truly understand. You are saying (through action), “I love you. And because I love you, I love what you love.”
I’m speaking to you not as an academic or even solely as a professional (though I’ve been working with families for seventeen years). For me, this is very personal.

When I was a little boy, I was diagnosed with severe autism. I had no language, no eye contact, and a tested IQ below 30. I would spend my days engaging in repetitive behaviors such as flapping my hands in front of my face, rocking back and forth, and spinning objects such as plates on the floor. My parents were told that my condition was permanent and that I was destined to spend my life in an institution, where I would be fed, bathed, etc.

Seeing the dismal outcomes offered by conventional treatments, my parents pioneered a new approach: The Son-Rise Program®. After three-and-a-half years, I recovered completely, bearing no traces of my former condition, living a normal life, graduating from the Ivy League’s Brown University with a degree in Biomedical Ethics, and, now, spending my days involved in the most social of professions: working with families, teaching workshops, and lecturing worldwide.

It means so much to me that I get to work with our team of over 60 at the non-profit Autism Treatment Center of America® to show parents how to help their children in the same way that my parents helped me. I have seen first-hand how joining children in their own unique worlds results in these children engaging with us more and “stimming” less. Of course, there is a wide range of techniques we use in order to help our children learn new things and reach new heights. But it all begins with joining – and with the deep desire to bond and connect that parents just like you have unleashed.

RAUN K. KAUFMAN is the author of the new book, Autism Breakthrough, and the Director of Global Education for the Autism Treatment Center of America®, the worldwide training center for The Son-Rise Program®.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Simple games to introduce to your child with Autism.

If you are searching for the perfect game idea then look no further. This article will give you ideas for how to turn easy household objects in to interactive play back and forth with your child. There’s no need to spend lots of money on new toys or put valuable hours into creating something elaborate! Whether you are a parent or therapist, the chances are you will probably have the following things lying around your house somewhere or in your place of work.

Remember with any Game4Socialization you are presenting to your child, it’s important to first wait for a green light of interaction from your child. We have 4 green lights that we use at The Son-Rise Program:

1) Eye contact
2) Verbal communication/speech like sounds
3) Physical touch from your child
4)Your child looking over at what you are doing/looking at your items as you join them
We would not recommend you initiate any games when your child is showing you a red light (engaging in an exclusive and/or repetitious activity – stimming). This would be a time that you would be joining in with your child’s activity and doing exactly the same as them.

String Clothes!

  • Cut up different pieces of string
  • Tape them onto your clothes
  • Create a new outfit together (e.g. a hula skirt)
  • Once the outfit is made you can dance around the room in your new ensemble!
Variation:  Make different outfits for the stuffed animals in the room- sing a song while you are making your outfits together, make hats, gloves, shoes, etc.
What to work on with your child:
  1. Physical participation:  When your child is motivated to watch you make your own clothes, invite them to join you by helping you hold the string, cut the string or tape the string onto your outfit!
  2. Eye contact: Once you have string on your clothes and you have made part of your outfit then invite your child to look at you to watch you dance around the room in silly ways in your new clothes!
Pirate Straws!
  • Grab a straw from the playroom shelf
  • Pretend your straw is a pirate telescope
  • Search the room using your pirate telescope for some of your pirate booty
  • The things you could be looking for can be make believe such as “ohhhh look what I found under the table it’s a giant tickle!” 
Variation: As you search the room for your pirate booty try singing a song or skipping around the room so you are dynamic for your child to watch! You can also pretend to drop your telescope and have your child help you pick it up!

What to work on with your child:
  1. Physical participation:  Have your child help you search for the pirate booty (their motivation), hand them their own telescope and invite them to search the room with you.  If you drop your telescope then ask them to help you pick it up or look for it!
  2. Simple gestures:  Ask your child to point to where they think the next bit of treasure it hidden!

Magic Hat!

  • Grab a hat from the playroom shelf
  • Put different objects that your child is motivated for into the hat (e.g. balls, feathers, toy cars, etc.)
  • Wave your hand above the magic hat saying fun magic words such as “Abracadabra”.
  • Using anticipation as you pull each object slowly out of the hat (e.g. for example pull a ball out and then throw it across the room).

Variation: The variation here is adding new things to the hat- such as an animal themed hat where you fill the hat with different animals and then have them pop out making different animal sounds.Another variation could be putting different sensory items into the hat and then deliver sensory stimulation to your child each time you wave your hand above the hat.

What to work on with your child:
  1. Verbal participation: Ask your child to say the magic words with you, or have them tell you “out” to help you take out the next item from the hat.
  2. Eye contact to continue the game: try saying “look at me if you want to bring out the next magic toy”.
  3. Physical participation:  Ask your child to help you by waving their hand above the hat, or even give them a magic wand (this could be simply be a marker) they can tap on the hat!

Acting Book!

  • When your child requests a book from off the shelf then open the page up and act out the scene of the book.
  • Continue to turn the pages of the book and act out different scenes.
Variation:  You can even bring down puppets or figurines that you know your child is motivated for and act out the book with those different characters.  Try using different voices and varying the volume and tone of your voice, you can also vary the way you use your body- get up and use your body in big ways and also use your body in small ways – see how your child reacts to each and then deliver more of the acting they are motivated for.

What to work on with your child:
  1. Physical participation: Invite your child to get up and act out the pages of the book with you.  Give them one clear role in the game such as holding a prop and then shaking it, or jumping up and down.  You can also invite them to turn the pages of the book for you as you entertain them.
  2. Verbal Participation:  Have your child read the book aloud as you act it out for them.  Invite them to continue reading to see more of the show.
  3. Eye contact:  Ask your child to look at you for more of the book act!
Bubble Soup!
  • Make bubble soup by blowing  bubbles into a bucket
  • Add in other ingredients such as pretend vegetables, then add in more bubbles and then more bubbles
  • Ladle it in to two bowls, one for you and one for your child, maybe even one for the teddy bear, and then pretend to eat it together, don’t forget to rub your belly to say, “Yum Yum”. 

Variations: Invite many different friends (stuffed animals) to come and join you in testing out your soup!You can even make other items such as bubble bread, or bubble salad, etc.Have fun creating a whole meal with the help of bubbles!

What to work on with your child:
  1. Physical participation - Encourage your child to participate by putting the pretend vegetables into the bowl or by serving the soup into the bowls and then pretending to eat them.
  2. Verbal participation- Ask your child to verbally participate in the interaction by telling you which vegetables to put into the soup.

For more ideas on games to play with your child we recommend the DVD Games4Socialization

Article by: Becky Damgaard 
Son-Rise Program® Senior Teacher