Here is a story that will inspire you! It is a story of a single mother named Teboho from Africa who is making her dreams come true for herself and her son. When her son was 14-years-old, he was living in a residential setting and came home every other weekend. At the end of the weekend Teboho felt that her son was just starting to connect with her and she longed for this interaction with him, yet it was time for him to go back to his residential home. It was then that she decided to bring him home full-time as she deeply wanted to have this relationship with him. She also believed she could help him more.
Not knowing exactly how to help her son, she searched for an effective Autism treatment option and eventually discovered The Son-Rise Program®. However, in order for her to get to The Son-Rise Program® Start-Up training course that is over 8,000 miles away, this was a distant dream. She loves her son and passionately wanted to learn all she could to help him, so she began talking with a Son-Rise Program Advisor at the Autism Treatment Center of America™. She shared her challenges – lack of money, the difficulty of obtaining child care, time off from work, etc. For Teboho, there were many reasons why this dream would not become a reality. However, having shared her concerns, a Son-Rise Program Advisor was able to support and guide her – she was given a scholarship towards her tuition and presented with ideas of how to ask her family, friends and community for help. For the very first time and with a deep sense of humility and determination, Teboho reached out for help. She asked her church, her friends and her family. In 2011, she made her dream a reality and attended The Son-Rise Program Start-Up training course in Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA, having raised all the money she needed, organized care for her son while she was away, arranged time-off work, as well as all the other hundreds of details that make such a trip possible.
And so her life changed. As soon as Teboho came home after The Son-Rise Program Start-Up course, she started working with her son. The training had given her a clear way to help him interact more, increase his eye contact and express what he wanted by using his language more than ever. It also helped her guide him through his challenging behaviors. Before The Son-Rise Program Start-Upher son would bang doors (loudly) over and over again to get her attention. Now, after applying everything that she had learned her son no longer banged doors but instead comes to his mother to communicate what he wants. Her love and determination to get the proper training had made this possible.
Teboho continued to dream. She wanted to learn more to help her son, “I want to take him to The Son-Rise Program Intensive!” she told herself. And so began the next step in her journey. She talked with her Son-Rise Program Advisor, again getting the encouragement and guidance to bring her dream alive. She received a scholarship that greatly helped. Again she reached out, again she did all that was required and with great persistence and passion she made it possible for both herself and her son to come to the Autism Treatment Center of America. She was also able to bring her sister for support and help on this adventure.
With a mixture of nervousness and excitement Teboho arrived at the Johannesburg Airport with her sister and 17-year-old son with Autism to begin their journey to The Son-Rise Program Intensive. Ahead was a 25-hour journey including two plane rides and a car ride. However, the journey did not go as planned … While waiting in the check-in line Teboho’s son became overwhelmed by all the noises, the visual stimuli and the people waiting in line and ran out of the airport and would not come back in. As they drove away from the airport Teboho cried as she talked with one of The Son-Rise Program Teachers as she shared her feelings of disappointment, fear and hopelessness about not getting her son to the United States for the help she so deeply wanted for her son and herself. That evening as these feelings swirled around within her she focused on her love and what she wanted for her son-she did not give up! She called the airline to set up a different system of boarding the plane and with this plan and hope in her heart that all would work out, she arrived back at the airport. That evening she boarded the plane with her son and her sister bound for The Son-Rise Program Intensive in the USA.
They arrived with great relief at the Autism Treatment Center of America, one day late. As our Son-Rise Program Intensive staff added additional hours for the remaining four days, Teboho was determined to help her son to the fullest. In these four days she learned so much and observed The Son-Rise Program Child Facilitatorsworking with her son. They worked with him from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night and had the best time! Here are just a few of the changes he made during this week:
- His interactive attention span doubled!
- Having received many years of ABA therapy he had very little spontaneous language and most of the time repeated the last sentence a person said to him. This week he increased his spontaneous interaction.
- He was more affectionate.
- He allowed more physical contact.
- He made more eye-to-eye contact and for longer.
- He smiled more throughout the week (more than his mother had ever seen before.)
- He used more language.
- He was singing every night after the playroom sessions, as he walked around the apartment.
- He went into the playroom on his own in the morning.
- He was calmer and more connected.
These are incredible changes! As one of The Son-Rise Program Teachers during this week I felt very honored and blessed to be a part of their journey. The moments that stood out for me were the times Teboho smiled and laughed with her son. It was so beautiful to witness her devotion and to see what she made happen for herself and her son.
I share this story of this single mother and her son because like many stories that I hear, this one inspired me. I feel inspired by the power of Teboho’s love, her humility and unwavering determination – it would have been very easy and understandable for her to never have started this journey … but she did. It is a story of inspiration- that we too can create the life we want for ourselves and our loved ones. Even with our fears and thoughts of the impossible, all that is required is the love in your heart and the determination to take the first step, and then the next. There is no guarantee you will get exactly what you dream for but you will never know if you do not take that first step and all the steps that follow. Let this mother inspire you – take that next step!
With much love, celebration and support,