FROM BEARS (Barry Neil Kaufman):

I know you before you say a word.

How is that possible?

We listen to what people say (although sometimes not attentively). We gather data from their words. Isn't that how we get to know each other? Yes…and no. We also notice facial expressions, we see body language and movements… we even smell each other. We catalog all the information and form an opinion. Sometimes, wow, we're right on. Sometimes we're really off the mark.

However, there is a group of select people among us who actually don't need to listen to the words or even watch directly what others do…and yet they are often right on what they can know. Who are they? Our amazing, blessed children with autism and other developmental challenges. 

A Son-Rise Program Child Facilitator is playing in one of our playrooms (at the Autism Treatment Center of America) with a 6-year-old boy. They have begun to establish a relationship…slowly, Jimmy has dared to look and smile at our facilitator who has joined him running around the room and occasionally flapping as if to punctuate each full revolution. The day before, Jimmy was totally exclusive. Today, a relationship in an environment of acceptance and love and celebration has been growing. Another person enters the room…endeavoring to be inconspicuous — sits in the corner. Jimmy doesn't appear to even look at that person but something starts to happen…Jimmy disengages from our child facilitator and flaps more intensely, then kicks the wall. When the visitor leaves, we noticed an immediate change in Jimmy — he actually initiates to re-engage and continue building a relationship with our facilitator. Later we find out that the visitor felt very uncomfortable in the room and even judgmental of our joining this little boy’s "bizarre" behavior.

We have seen this many times before. Jimmy knew perhaps the most important thing about the visitor he needed to know — without the person saying a word, or even making any decisive moments. The optimum Son-Rise Program and Son-Rise Program environment is one in which your child is surrounded by people who are comfortable, nonjudgmental and loving. That's one of the keys — and even if your child was challenged by autism or on the spectrum, wouldn't you want that for him or any child? None of us is perfect. Just like our children, we are learning and growing. Do we have to do this perfectly? Actually, do the best you can. The idea is to be aware of our child's human world and do our best to fill it with folks who want to be with us and our children with the Son-Rise Program attitude. You’ll be surprised at what you will notice when you keep this in mind.

Please know that all of us here at the Autism Treatment Center of America feel excited, honored and blessed to work with you and your awesome children. We're climbing the mountain with you…you are our heroes!!

In love and celebration of our children,

Bears