Looking back: We started Applied Behavioral Analysis (a conventional autism therapy) in 2011, when Nathan was 5-years-old. In early 2012, Nathan’s ABA therapist recommended that we target teaching Nathan a useful skill that he could use. We identified: To teach him to point by August 2012 (before our move to Singapore). A six-month target, which they believed was reasonable. Prior to that, Nathan had never pointed in his life.
Simultaneously, Nathan’s speech therapist targeted for Nathan to speak with intention. At that point, Nathan was highly verbal, but many times I would wonder if he meant what he said or was simply pulling out quotes from TV or songs. The speech therapist wanted Nathan to intentionally say “I want raisins” and this would be indicated by Nathan picking up a raisin flash card.
Those therapist were of course wonderful people, trying their very best to help Nathan.
Continuing with the time line…on February 2012, I attended the Son-Rise Start-Up and got our program running soon after, as best as I could. We were lucky to have a hand-full of great volunteers. We all really learned (and continue to learn) as we went along.
The results of the Son-Rise Program:
By March, Nathan all of a sudden points accurately, several times in one day. From that day on, pointing became his regular gesture, used to aid his communication. ABA targeted 6 months. Son-Rise achieved in a month. In fact, it was not even a target but a result of helping Nathan learn better social skills the son-rise way.
About 5 more months after, Nathan begins to communicate his needs. His communication is not only confined to “I want (food)” as targeted by his speech therapist. Now, 7 months after we started Son-Rise Nathan can tell us exactly what he needs: I want to eat, the book, to turn off the lights, go to sleep, take a bath in tub, go in the big pool, do 1-2-3-jump, mama to carry me, piggy back ride, take off my shirt…the list is limitless. He can even plan now: I want to put on my shoes, ride a wheel chair, go outside. He even tells us how he feels: sad, angry, funny (when laughing).
The Son-Rise Attitude that helped:
Nathan’s words are powerful, it moves Mom (and volunteers). No matter how wrong the sentence or even if the word was only approximated, celebrate! and reward immediately by giving him what he wants.
At the start, when Nathan would say “cookie,” I would burst out of the son-rise room (celebrate!) and get that cookie from the kitchen as fast as I could (reward). It really made a big impression. In the first few months I found my self running to get stuff from the kitchen (or books from the shelf)…and praying all the time that our kitchen had all the stuff he requested for.