An introduction to our life and how Riley with Autism and The Son-Rise Program changed it all!
This is an answer to a friends questions who is writing a research paper for college. I thought it might be a good place to start; tell the story.
Q1. What was life like for Riley prior to the realization that he had autism? How did you raise him prior to The Son-Rise program and did you have to make any changes (diet modifications, etc.)?
A1.The early stages of life for Riley were mostly normal, he was a stiff baby, cried a lot. Had only an affinity for me, no one else. He was developing normally accept for language, around 10 months after the MMR shots he completely lost the only word he had. “Ball”. After that he became super stiff baby, needing to be held even more…there were days he was never out of my arms. His tears became normal, as if they were his only words, but were never accompanied by ” mommy”, never “daddy” never” I love you.” He had to cover his eyes to go into the light, to go in to the dark he had to cover his ears to deal with all sound. It was around 14 months that I asked the pediatrician why he couldn’t find his nose. I have 4 children they all could find their nose….but no nose…no ears, no eyes, no ” mommy”. So all of this plus much more….equaled no time for anything else, I couldn’t leave him, we couldn’t go anywhere….so we didn’t. I worked full time until he was 1 year old…but it was too hard to leave him…so we stopped. Hard doesn’t begin to describe it. When we had no tools to deal with or understanding of what or who he was. We were simply existing…and not doing too well I might add. At 2 we figured out the gluten-free/ casein-free diet, we were told by our lovely in-laws and my mother about Jenny McCarthy and we tried it! It was a miracle to behold – he held his Daddy’s hand for the first time and he became less agitated. We also gave him cod liver oil consistently..noticed many good changes. He wore a weighted vest, and had a SPIO…both o these things seemed to give him the physical awareness he needed to be OK. Still couldn’t go anywhere easily.
Q2. How did you end up hearing about The Son-Rise program? Did you express any concerns about the program, such as the way it was run or its cost?
A2. We read Jonathan Levy’s book What You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism. We read and re-read and had other family members read….it was our first Autism book. How lucky! And it shaped everything we did. Very simple, very gracious and respectful of you and your child. We did our free Initial Call with The Autism Treatment Center of America, and it went from there. We did several updates with our Family Counselor and finally she had me fill out the financial aid questionnaire. It’ss expensive – but no more than any other therapy we have tried. Floortime is about $140 a hour and no fully paid for by our insurance, we did it for many months and spent a couple thousand on that for way less hands on input about me or my child. Yes, I wish it were cheaper and closer to me – I would learn to be a Child Facilitator.. I would teach for them – its that great!
Q3. How long have you been a Son-Rise Program parent? What key changes have you seen in Riley since you have adopted The Son-Rise program?
A3. We started implementing The Son-Rise Program in October of 2007. I didn’t make it to Start Up until June 2008. But we thought we were doing great with just the bit of book instruction we had. He went from 15 words at 2 years of age to 78 by that following June in 2008. It was when I returned from Start up that he blossomed to 350 words with in 2 weeks and now speaks any word he so desires….well over 2000 words now. His language though in need of maturity and time is fabulous!! This is The Son-Rise Program! Key changes – language, language, language!!!, his patience, the ability to go to a store or the library successfully, the ability to play with other children and accept them, ability to try new things (including new foods), and the ability to meet new people! Plus his tantrums are smaller, (although we do still have some). Life is just better here with The Son-Rise Program. The love and acceptance I have learned at The Autism Treatment Center Son-Rise is invaluable – they took care of me when I attended – they showed me the way!
Q4. What are Riley’s interests, and how have you been able to tailor his Son-Rise Program experiences to recognize those interests?
A4. The key to breaking out of the box that Autism has put you in is your child’s interests. What are your child’s interests? Riley changes from time to time, but for example he used to love to shuffle through playing cards or flash cards. We would shuffle together, eventually he was able to slide them through a mail slot and make stacks, and even tell me what was on them. He loves reading, but he used to just like to tear through the pictures, he didn’t have the fine motor to deal with the pages, so he ripped – that’s what they are for right? We ripped many things together. Eventually we just looked at pages, then we read, then we pointed and he told me something of what they said or were. He liked pirates for a while and we played many pirate games, created ships and costumes…that really motivated him to say many new words! Use motivation to create games and play activities that bring you and your child together!!!
Q5. Who makes up your Son-Rise Program team? What part do you think that they play in preparing Riley for the rigors and unpredictability of the real world?
A5. Our team has expanded and disbanded many times and includes a variety of people. We have my daughter and myself and my husband…of course my other son who is only 5 to Riley’s 4. So he is the number one therapist…he has taught Riley everything!!! He is the real motivator!! We have team members from Riley’s school, this is the 3rd year we have had the director of the developmental preschool come to our home every week to play with Riley. We have had others that came in the past also. Real world happens here every day for us – his brother torments him him like any other brother, we go out now, we go to the library, the store we even visit school for 2 hours a week now. All this from the playroom activities – we have played store in there and helped Riley understand what happens after you are in a store – which was key for Riley – what the process is…. We go in we get this , we go stand in line we leave…practicing made that easy!
Q6. With most individuals forced to find treatments for autism on their own, do you think that programs like The Son-Rise Program would benefit from government assistance? Why or why not?
A6. I think it would be difficult to say that we couldn’t use the ability for government support, the money would greatly help so many. But the ideas of The Son-Rise Program are so freeing…. how would a controlled entity not squelch that. Its so freeing being there….I’m not sure what would happen if they were “supported” by government funds.