Autism Breakthrough

For Beyond 50's "Medical Care" talks, listen to an interview with Raun Kaufman.  As a boy, he was diagnosed as severely autistic with an IQ of below 30 and destined to spend his life in an institution.  Years later, Kaufman graduated with a degree in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University and has become a passionate and articulate Autism expert and educator with no trace of his former condition.  He'll talk about his parents helped him to completely recover from Autism within three years through their revolutionary Son-Rise Program.  Avoiding the techniques of behavior modification, they understood how repetitive behavior patterns give autistic children an illusion of control — Autistic children deal with sensory overload by shutting out their environments. You'll learn about the principles involved that has helped thousands of families worldwide. 

His Story

Before the age of one, Kaufman suffered a severe ear and throat infection, followed by a violent allergic reaction to the antibiotics prescribed.  He then showed signs of "spiraling ever deeper into my own world," as Kaufman described it.

Instead of accepting the grim, medical prognosis given to Kaufman's parents, Barry and Samahria, chose to not believe that their child would have to live with Autism permanently and resigned to be in an institution.

"And so they began an experiment.  They began by seeking to create an environment where I felt truly safe.  They didn't push me.  They didn't try to change my behaviors.  They sought first to understand me...How amazing that my parents began from this most kind and useful place," added Kaufman. 

Going against the traditional behavior modification techniques, his parents made patient and persistent attempts to understand, motivate, and "join" in his world, rather than conform to theirs.  They were always communicating in thousands of ways that he is safe, loved and accepted - cherishing every aspect of their child, even the ones that make him  different.  There was no judgment, only total acceptance and genuine interest in being in his world.

Slowly, their innovative home-based experiment began to work.  Kaufman showed signs of social connection, drawing him gradually into their world in an interactive way.

"For three and a half years, they worked with me, painstakingly building a bridge from my world to theirs.  And it all paid off," wrote Kaufman. 

His recovery in the late 1970s lead to helping more children on the Autism spectrum with the creation of the Son-Rise Program, that lead to founding the Autism Treatment Center of America (ATCA) in 1983 that serves as the teaching center of the Son-Rise Program globally. 

Joining Their World

By definition, Autism is not a behavioral disorder but a social-relational disorder. It is called that because an Autistic child has trouble bonding to form relationships.  

Joining is done by the caregiver participating in the same stimming (repetitive autistic behaviors) as the child.  This seems counter-intuitive, but it actually works to reduce the stimming behaviors.

The best time to join is when the child is doing a very specific type of behavior called an "ism".  That is when the behavior is both repetitive and exclusive (excluding other people, making it a one-person show). 

Some Principles of the Son-Rise Program

See Through Your Child's Eyes Through Joining - It's the reverse idea of allowing your child to be your teacher so that you can conform to their world instead of having them conform to yours.  

Stay Fresh and Creative to Create Motivation-Based Activities - By not censoring your ideas, you can be the parent that's a never-ending generator of them.  With simple items in your environment to create motivation-based activities - called the "anything-can-be-anything idea."

Socialization Over Academics - Autism is a social, relational, interpersonal, and interactional disorder.  Academics is secondary, even though school learning is important.  When they become more responsive to people (as measured by an increase in eye contact and nonverbal communication, verbal communication, interactive attention span, and flexibility), that's when you can open up their academic life.

Giving Control Can Generate Breakthroughs - This supports the concept of giving more control to the child so they're less controlling (more flexible and open to learning to achieve goals).  Control battles can be disabling to a relationship and your child associates learning or what you want with coercion and unpleasantness.

Celebrate Your Child with Great Energy, Excitement, and Enthusiasm When They Try and When They "Get It Right"

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