From Amanda: As you may have heard, the Autism Treatment Center of America has been on the road, visiting various communities as a way to share our knowledge and love for the Son-Rise Program®. On June 21st, I traveled to North Syracuse and spoke at the North Onondaga Public Library where I had a most amazing experience; An experience I will hold close to my heart and never forget.

The content of our lectures takes nearly 1.5 hours to present, and then we open the floor for a question and answer period. After the lecture in North Syracuse, a man raised his hand said, ” I am having a really hard time believing in this idea of joining my daughter in her world. Children need education. You mean to tell me that I am supposed to go into her world so she can just stim (ism)more? She is just going to want to stay there forever. I was told to stop her from doing that” I lovingly explained, “I totally understand your concern since you have been told something very different. I will tell you this though, we have been joining children for over 30 years and we have never seen children become more exclusive. We have actually seen quite the opposite; When we join children we notice they are looking more, talking more, playing longer games when they become available, and deepening their connection with us.” I then re-explained that joining is a way of bonding through acceptance which in turn builds a connection and a relationship with your child. You get to know your child in a way you may have never known them before. What happened next crystallized my support of joining.

A man,who was sitting in the back of the room throughout the lecture, raised his hand to say something. I noticed him early in the lecture; He was looking off to the side of the room as I spoke,rarely making eye-contact with anyone. He was also shaking his leg in the beginning of the lecture, but stopped as time went on. When I saw his hand up, I immediately called on him, and this is what he said. “I have severe Asperger’s, and when I was younger, my mom built me a stimming room so I could go there anytime I wanted and stim if I needed to. I think that it’s because of my stim room that I was able to do so well growing up. I live on my own and drive a car.” The room was still as he spoke. The man, who said he was “having a hard time believing this idea,” smiled as he listened, while his wife who was sitting next to him, looked at her husband and said, “See.” I then asked the young Asperger’s man a question. “What do you think that room would have been like if you had another person in there with you, loving the things you loved.” He replied, ” I think it would have been really cool.”

This moment for me, was the most profound moment I have had since I began my journey with the Son-Rise Program®. I had certainly witnessed first hand the power of joining and how it leads to more connection and social interaction, but I had never heard it spoken in this way from the person who does the isming. There was nothing more to say; Nothing more to question; Nothing more to doubt from anyone in the room. This was the plain truth spoken from a man who knows.

So, if you are in the playroom with your child and you begin to doubt the effectiveness of joining, think about what this young man had said. “I think that it’s because of my stim room that I was able to do so well growing up,” and how he believes it would have been “cool,” to have someone with him doing what he loved to do.

With love, Amanda