I had watched the NBC movie “Son Rise: A Miracle of Love” after coming across it somewhere on the Internet. It’s an old movie and the story goes back even further, since it’s based on the book Son Rise written by Barry Neil Kaufman back in the 70’s when his son Raun was still young. I found it very moving and liked how it showed that parents will do whatever they can for their children. In this case they approached their son’s Autism diagnosis in a way that was not conventional for the time.
We had looked into the Son-Rise Program at the Autism Research Insitute in the Boston MA area as an option for one to one therapy for Oskar. However, due to childcare needs, costs etc. it never seemed to work out with the dates offered. In the meantime I came across the book written by Barry and Samahria Kaufman’s own son, Raun called Autism Breakthrough. Raun K. Kaufman has learned through his own experiences and the experiences of many families that have gone through the Son-Rise program that there are some basic elements that families can do on their own… much like his mother did many years earlier.
I found the book to be an easy read with lots of tips and things to think about at the end of each Chapter. I also got the privilege of hearing Raun speak at the 2014 Autism Canada Conference and even got chatting with him later about his book and the Son-Rise program.
We have used many of the techniques Raun has suggested in order to “join” with Oskar, to help understand his “stims” (or “isms” as they say at Son Rise) and to try to figure out why he might be doing certain things. This resonated with me. There may be some things that Oskar does to help cope with his sensory issues, and yet others for perhaps pleasure or curiosity. He definitely sees the whole world from a different perspective! As you may already know I strongly believe that removing “unwanted” behaviours is not the answer, it is a band aid and never gets you to the root of what is really going on. In some cases it is just cruel to stop a child or adult from trying to find ways to cope with whatever may be affecting them.
We made some great connections with Oskar by joining him with things that he was interested in, and we just let him have breaks when he had a “stim” (“ism”) or “behavior” that was a coping mechanism. Oskar still has a lot of motor planning issues that I think makes some tasks really challenging and so we go slowly. His body can be really out of control and I think as he is getting older it is harder for him to accept that things don’t happen as he wants. We challenge him daily, but nothing to cause more anxiety or frustration, as that can lead to more “stimming” or new behaviours.
We learned a lot from the Kaufman’s journey and are so glad that they have shared their story. There is definitely not one way to learn and no one “fix” for all kids on the spectrum. Learning and overcoming challenges is a long and often slow process. As we continue to find the right therapy that fits our family and Oskar’s needs we will continue to share. We have the camera ready and we keep capturing the progress for you to follow along with. ☺