FROM BECKY: I have just returned from one of the most amazing weeks of my life at the AutismOne conference in Chicago. During this week-long conference, parents and professionals gathered to watch lectures and learn more about the latest and greatest interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders and to connect with others in the autism community. Several of our Son-Rise Program staff from The Autism Treatment Center of America, (me included), were lucky enough to be providing childcare for some of the children while their parents attended the events happening that week.
As you may well know, The Son-Rise Program works one on one with children in a distraction free playroom because this is the environment we see to be most supportive to our children. So the fact that we were going to be caring for as many as 20 children of different ages and diagnoses in one room each day was a new and exciting adventure for us.
We needed to be sharp, focused and energetic. We needed put love and safety first. We needed structure, a schedule of activities to keep these children stimulated, we needed a system, like a well oiled machine, some to make sure no-one was getting into anything unsafe, some to prepare snacks and lunches, some on bathroom duty and others to continually clean up and get out new toys, and some to entertain and play. In our room, there were four Child Facilitator’s and another two joined us for the last 2 days where we had a few more children joining us.
What happened that week? We had the most incredible time! We confirmed for ourselves that all you really need is love! We constantly surprised ourselves with our ability to be completely present with the group as a whole and to sustain our energy, excitement and enthusiasm from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening. We strived to support each other and work as the best team in the world.
As for the children, their parents reported that they actually changed throughout the week! Some said they were more affectionate or calmer, some reported they were more verbal with better eye contact, some mentioned that they couldn’t wait to come back to play each day. We had parents who were already doing The Son-Rise Program, some who were new to it and signed up to learn more or even registered for the Start-Up Program, some who decided to take their children out of school after seeing the benefits of what we did.
What did we do? Well, we did childcare with a Son-Rise attitude, that’s what we did. It was my absolute pleasure to be able to love and attend to up to 20 children at one time. To prioritize love, comfort and happiness at all times and to know that these children had never had this type of childcare anywhere else in the world before was an amazing thing!
The icing on the cake that week was going to the AutismOne awards at the end of the week and The Son-Rise Program winning the award for “Best Therapy Tool” and for Raun K. Kaufman, the original Son-Rise Program child to win “Best Presenter”, what an amazing thing to happen and to witness that week! This will open a new doorway to help, support and love even more families!
To coin a phrase from Samahria Lyte Kaufman – “The One Who Loves the Most Wins”…..well we won in so many ways that week!