“In The Son-Rise Program® – joining is the number one technique we use to bond with our amazing children on the Autism Spectrum. We join with our children when they are in a Red Light. Red Lights happen when our children are overloaded. They disconnect from interaction with other people and do their Isms (repetitious, self-soothing behaviors). Joining is doing what our children are doing, alongside them and showing them they have a friend who is there loving and accepting them, just as they are.
“Sometimes, when parents and caregivers are first introduced to the concept of Joining, they are under the impression that Joining is ‘copying’, ‘mirroring’ or even ‘parallel play.’ Joining is actually quite different. Firstly, Joining is as much about attitude as it is technique. For example, if we are copying, then there is no particular intention to enjoy and understand the activity our children are choosing to do. Joining is about falling in love with doing your child’s repetitious activity. Doing it with joy, with delight, and with great curiosity about what your child could be experiencing in their Isms. Secondly, parallel play is about two people who are engaging, just doing it next to each other. Joining is about being in your own world, being present focused in your own activity, and not engaging your child in anyway. In fact, letting your child come to you if (and when) they are ready, allowing your child to make the first move in any connection with you.
“From someone who has spent literally thousands of hours joining children and adults of all ages, in all kinds of different isms, here are some useful perspectives to hold as you join your beautiful child.
• I will join you as long as you need, as long as you are in a Red Light.
• I trust that this is a beautiful and powerful way to spend time with you.
• I will become a master of this ism, and have fun joining exactly.
• I will find details in the ism that I can appreciate and enjoy.
• Joining you in your world will build a bridge to your world and strengthen our bond.
“Next time you join your child, try some of these perspectives and see how it feels.
Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher