This week at the Autism Treatment Center of America, we have a six year old girl who is deaf. She has a cochlear implant, but is refusing to wear the headset while in the playroom. So, this week, our team of teachers and child facilitators have decided we will work with her in the playroom, without her cochlear implant headset, to allow her the control she may be seeking. How do we do this and still be effective? Well, we really don’t do anything differently (yet we are still seeing amazing and wonderful things with this child) and I am going to tell you why.
One of the most important aspects of the Son-Rise Program is bonding through acceptance. When you go into the playroom, free of judgments and expectations, and join these children in their world, nothing else seems to matter. Use your 3E’s (energy, excitement, and enthusiasm) and your love, and acceptance will clearly show on your face! Your eyes will be brighter, your smile will be bigger and more genuine, and your body will probably be a movin and a shakin. When you walk into the playroom with the 3E’s, a child won’t need to hear you, because their eyes with show them your love, and your deep appreciation for them; If your child does not have their sight, then their ears will pick up the tenderness and love in your voice; And if your child doesn’t have the ability to see or hear, then I believe the acceptance and love emanating from your body will be absorbed by your child. You can actually talk with your body and the child can listen with their heart.
So, this week, when we go into the playroom with our deaf child, we use our 3E’s, we celebrate both physically and verbally, we join when she is exclusive, we love, we laugh, and yes, we also work on verbal and non-verbal communication. We do the entire Son-Rise Program to the very best of our abilities, and with all of our love.
On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit with the Mum as we watched an amazing facilitator (Kim) play with her daughter. Kim was exciting, loving, playful, energetic, accepting and fun. At one point while watching the session, I asked Mum to imagine that she too, couldn’t hear, and to only look at Kim’s face and body language. I then asked if the mum could feel the love and excitement exuding from the playroom and into her even though she couldn’t hear. Mum then smiled and said, with a bit of moisture in her eyes, “Yes. I do.”
This is the Son-Rise Program, and love is what we do!