FROM KATRINA: Having been trained as a Son-Rise Program child facilitator before I became a parent has been extremely useful to me. Mostly because I’m pretty flexible with my nine month old daughther. I know that she won’t die by eating a little grass, I know that falling over is part of life, I know that if I get excited about eating peas she will most likely be exited as well. However, even I am sometimes surprised by how much truth there is to the Son-Rise Program techniques. Take for example the idea of remaining calm and not lighting up like a Christmas tree when our children do something we prefer they didn’t.

At work at the Autism Treatment Center of America, in the playroom I give control as much as possible. I rarely say no, because I know that the room is set up as safe as can be. I feel like I say “no” at home much more, but I must not. My daughter, Kyla, is nine months old. She explores everything, she has an endless curiosity which I indulge when I can. This week has been intensely hot here in Massachusetts and thus a fan has become a necessity to sleep. Kyla has not been around much fans and so this she wanted to touch. As I tried to gently brush her hand away, and dissuade her and explain, she wasn’t really paying attention. So I tried the “typical” attempt. I said a firm loud “no” and I think I even pointed a finger at her……Kyla started laughing. Yeah, not exactly what I was going for.

If my nine month old daughter thinks its funny when I scold her, I’m pretty sure its funny for other children who may not understand all of the social intricacies of life, such as autistic children. When we react in a big, excited way our children may not be taking in what we are saying. However they do see that we are having a big excited reaction. This is fun to them. It encourages them to continue to do what they were doing or do it again some other time.

If instead we remain calm and loving, explain why we don’t want them to do something (e.g. its not safe, it ruins toys, etc.) and offer them an alternative to the situation, then we are not creating anything exciting about the situation itself. Our children will be much more likely to do what we ask. When I gave Kyla a different toy and made that really exciting she had no problem moving away from the fan.

I hope this lesson may be useful to you too!
Lots of love,
Katrina