Celebrating your child on the Autism Spectrum each time they interact with you is an extremely effective Son-Rise Program® technique. After more than 25 years of working with children on the Autism Spectrum I would say that sincerely, warmly and enthusiastically celebrating a child’s attempts at interacting with us, IS one of the most powerful and impactful techniques we have not only to support the child’s development but also to enrich your own life.
Imagine if you realized that the technique of celebrating was one of the most powerful tools you have to help your child . How would that change the way you celebrated your child? My guess is that your celebration would become more passionate and sincere. My guess is that you would increase the intensity and amount you celebrated your child. This change would enrich your child’s life and help them grow profoundly, but perhaps more importantly it will change and enrich your life as well. How?
For Your Child:
1. They will grow. Your celebration shows your child on the Autism Spectrum that people are inviting, warm and fun to play with. As you celebrate them for looking at you , talking to you, and interacting you are highlighting what you want them to do more of. Your child will develop in the areas you most pay attention to. Celebrate the areas where you want your child to grow, which for us at The Autism Treatment Center of America™ is social interaction. When you celebrate your child you are creating an environment of success and warmth … the ideal environment to foster growth.
2. It will change how you see your child. Imagine if you celebrated your child every time they looked at you … every time they put their hand in yours. Imagine if you celebrated each time they responded to your request … spoke to you or made a vocalization. Yes that means you would be spending a lot of time celebrating. But if you really did this you would be appreciating and SEEING all the times that your child is giving you what you want. Often we are so preoccupied in seeing what our child is not doing and focusing on encouraging them to do something that we may actually miss a lot of what they have already accomplished. Changing how you view celebrating will change this.
1. The more you celebrate the better you will feel. There is no doubt about it … sincerely celebrating feels great! The more you celebrate the more you will see that not only is your child succeeding but also that you are too! This can translate into having more energy and hope for you and your child’s future.
2. Celebrating will grow your ability to “be present” and “to be grateful”. Barry Neil Kaufman (Co-founder of the Autism Treatment Center of America and The Son-Rise Program) in his book, Happiness is a Choice, calls these two skills “short cuts to happiness”. By celebrating our children we are growing our muscle to choose happiness and comfort in our lives. When we are focusing on being grateful it is hard to be unhappy. Being happier feels good and will translate again and again into more energy to help your child. The more present you can be with your child the more you will grow your understanding of your child and how they operate.
3. Grow your celebration of yourself and others in your life. As you practice the art of celebration with your child, it will spill over into other areas of your life. As you celebrate the other people in your life they in turn will tend to be warmer and sweeter to you. As you celebrate you will also become a model to your child and others in how to see and respond to the world.
Some of you might say, “well my child does not like it when I celebrate … they move away from me or put their hand over my mouth, or in some cases my even tell me to stop”. If this is the case we don’t stop celebrating, instead find a different way.
- Celebrate them quietly versus loudly.
- Respond first to what they are asking and then celebrate.
- Wait until your child has finished having a conversation with you, or playing a game with you, or looking at you and then celebrate the wonderful interaction you have just had.
- Make sure that your celebrations are age appropriate … take this into consideration especially if your child is older. What form of celebration would they like?
- Celebrate silently with your facial expressions and arm movements instead of always celebrating verbally
- Vary the way you are celebrating – are you stuck in a loop of always celebrating in the same way; this can get “old” or lose its effectiveness for your child.
Celebrations are like water and sun are to a plant … they are the food that nourishes our growth and attitude.