During the last Son-Rise Program Start-Up training course, a mother shared how she had Joined her daughter, Faith, in one of her repetitious activities for the first time. She told the group how beautiful that experience was for her and how connected she felt to her child. Her 19 year-old-daughter Faith, diagnosed with autism, had a repetitious behavior which involved holding a small piece of paper in each hand and rubbing and flicking them together, over and over again. Normally, her daughter was told to stop this behavior or was simply left alone to do it by herself. When the mother first found out about The Son-Rise Program, she read about the technique of Joining – engaging and delighting in the same actions the child wants to do repetitiously. So one day she decided to try this with her daughter
She got two small pieces of paper, one in each hand, and sat down opposite her daughter Faith and started to rub and flick her paper together, just like Faith was doing. Immediately Faith looked across at her mother’s hands and then up to her mother’s face with wonder and curiosity. Faith’s mother had never done this before. Faith fixed her gaze on her mother, watching her every move as she flicked her paper and lovingly smiled back at her. It was an amazing and wonderful moment for both Faith and her mother.
The next day, around the same time, Faith’s mother did exactly the same thing as the day before – she Joined Faith in her paper flicking. Again Faith looked with amazement at her mother. The following day Faith’s mother was delayed in Joining her daughter’s paper flicking, so Faith came looking for her. When Faith found her mother in another room of the house, she went over to her, handed her mother two small pieces of paper and said, “play, play”. It was an incredible and amazing moment for her mother… her daughter was actually seeking her out… it mattered to Faith that she had Joined her in doing what she liked doing.
Thoughts to think while Joining your child’s repetitious behavior(s)
· Joining is never a waste of time: Joining your child matters to your child. Even when your child is not looking directly at you or interacting, they are aware of what you are doing. They are taking in that you are doing the same as them, that you are interested in them and who they are. This awareness of you will grow and help them to become more interested and interactive with you.
· Joining is a clear way to show your child you like and love them even when they are acting their most autistic. Sincerely Joining your child (totally enjoying yourself as you Join in their activity with them) shows your child that you like them and feel good about them even when they are being their autistic selves. If you are unhappy, disappointed, sad, etc. when you see your child being repetitious then the message to them is that you do not like them or feel good about them when they are being autistic. If you are aware of feeling unhappy during these times use this as a sign to yourself that it is time to get help– to seek a greater sense of ease and peace with your child’s autism (contact us, we can help!).
· Loving and Caring Relationships are built on reciprocity — give and take: We want our child to be more interested and motivated to interact and be with us. A loving and caring relationship involves another person being interested in me and me being interested in the other person. Your child is interested in doing something over and over again – are you interested in them and what they are doing or are you more focused on getting them to be interested in you and what you want to them to do? Joining is a way to show your interest in your child, it is a way of giving to the relationship, of modeling for them what you are looking for them to give to you too. Joining is a sincere way of being with your child, it is not a trick to get them to do what you want them to do.
· Joining will help you understand your child’s world: A way to feel close to another person is to understand them more. When you Joinyour child it gives you a chance to know them better. When you Join their repetitious activity, you open the door to understanding their experience as they themselves experience it. Does it create a particular sensation in your body?… is it the sounds?… or the visual shapes and images you become aware of?… Is it soothing and calming in some way? Your child is repetitious for a reason that helps them – Joining is the way for you to find out what that might be.
Have the best time loving and Joining your child.
Love and smiles
William Hogan, Executive Director of Programs, Certified Son-Rise Program Teacher & Teacher/Trainer