Retained Baby Memory

As a toddler, Nathan was able to learn sign language. However, there was a turmoil after age 2 as Nathan regressed until he got his late autism diagnosis at age 4. He “slipped away” and lost all his words, songs, focus and attention. He became severely autistic.

It’s interesting now that we are on the road to recovery, Nathan might have “lost memory” during those turmoil years but his memory from toddler years is amazing. He has been recalling things we used to do at age 1 to 2 like sign language for water, milk, bread, giraffe, lion, etc.
How to get on the road to recovery? Simple as it may sound, but come to think about it, the key is playing silly games like you see in the video…the Son-Rise® way! There must be large truths in laugher being the best medicine even for #AutismRecovery!


From Zero Attention Span to Perfect Bonding!

When Nathan was 4 years old and regressed deep into autism, he was so withdrawn, it was as if no body else existed around him. He didn’t respond to his name. I didn’t even know if he knew I was his mom and if he knew that I loved him so much. Up to age 5, he had not intentional speech. At that time, in the lowest point of our autism journey, I thought he had no future.

I was so wrong. Thanks to Son-Rise® I found a way to “reach” Nathan and manifest my love for him. This boy, once severely autistc boy, with zero interactive attention span, can now engage with me. We had a long blissful interaction this morning. He “stayed” interacting with me for longer than 30 minutes. I have to break up the video I took, so watch out, there is more to come!

“Lovey Dovey Hugs” or squeeze hugs, btw, help Nathan regulate excess energy he has brewing inside. That excess energy used to result into tantrums and biting (me, his sibling or himself), but hugs and Son-Rise, in general, has helped Nathan regulate and be the sweet boy he was intended to be.

Praise God for the gift of healing! #AutismRecovery here we come!


Nathan’s Progress 2014

Haven’t been updating much but here’s a summary of all the improvements I can recall:

– He calls us, and all his Son-Rise volunteers, by name before requesting for anything.
– He verbalizes all his wants and needs (food, water, blanket, toys, music, adjust volume of music, even if he wants us to go away, etc.).
– His persistence is amazing. If for some reason he cannot get what he wants from one parent, he will turn to the other parent and ask again. He will even turn to nanny and ask a 3rd time to get what he wants. This is an amazing development, since we all know that persistence is key to anyone’s success in life.
– He has a very good way of letting people, even new volunteers, understand his needs. If his voice is unheard, he makes extra effort to increase his volume. If new volunteers do not know what he is asking for, he will use other words/concepts to describe the object that he is asking for. He tries again and again, changing or adding to the description of what he wants until the new volunteer understands him.
– His attention span is much longer. We started with zero attention span. He now averages 5 – 9 minutes, but on some occasions has maintained up to 40 minutes of interactive attention.
– He is not as rigid. He is more compliant and will not tantrum if he does not get what he wants. Waiting (for school bus to arrive, in a public que, etc.) always led to major tantrums before. Today, he simply verbalizes, “I want to wait for the school bus.” or “I want to wait for Mr. Ng (the driver),” and he will wait patiently.
– He is a lot calmer. He no longer has the need to be aggressive towards others, or even bite other people, when he feels agitated or if he has hearing sensitivity.
– His happy and cheerful personality is shining through his smiles all the time.

This list of improvements continues to grow as we continue our SRP.

This was a boy who at age 4 got the autism diagnosis. His Developmental Neurologist assessed his cognitive age to be equivalent to a one year old. At age 5, his cognitive age was 1 year 2 months. He only gained 2 months despite 12 months of conventional therapy. At that time, he had no intentional speech, he could take a toy, put it in his mouth and sit in one corner of the house, oblivious to anybody around him. He could do that one thing, all day, if we let him and he would only cry to indicate that he was hungry or that he needed something. At the time my greatest fear was who would take care of him when my husband and I pass away. Following those projections, at age 20, my son’s cognitive skill would only be equivalent to that of a 4 year old.

Nathan is currently 8 years old. We started our home based SRP 3 years ago at age 5.


June 2013 Progress

This month’s progress:

1. Nathan has been able to sustain 3 to 4-loop simple conversations with many volunteers. That is, if you ask him a question, he will answer spontaneously up to 4 times that you ask him question. Last month we could only say that he was consistent with 2-loops.

2. Nathan now says the names of his volunteers before requesting for something.

3. Nathan can better process language. He can now answer choice questions. Before, he simply used to echo the last choice.

4. Nathan now corrects his use of pronouns. He corrects to “I want…” Instead of “You want…” More practice needed but the fact that he is auto correcting is great!

5. Some volunteers observe that Nathan has less isms (exclusive, repetitive, autistic behaviors) and more interaction. Sometimes instead of isming, Nathan looks at his volunteers as if to say, “Ok, what game are we playing next?”

We just had our Son-Rise team meeting yesterday and it was great listening to Nathan’s volunteers discuss the improvements they have been seeing.


ATEC improvement

ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist) is a simple but effective tool to measure the effectiveness of various autism treatments. An ATEC score below 10 indicates the child has no autism. The higher the number, the more autistic.

Before MMS (December 2012), Nathan scored 81. Now, 4 months after, his scores 71! A 10-point drop! We have a long way to go but we are certainly on the right path!

Most of Nathan’s gains are in the social skills area. Nathan is always excited about his son-rise volunteers coming over. He guesses who is coming for the day. After I confirm who it will be, he will keep anticipating, “(Volunteer’s name) is coming!” When our volunteer finally arrives, Nathan’s face always light up as he escorts them to the son-rise room. Even after sessions, when I’m talking to the volunteers, Nathan will come over and sit next to his volunteer.

Thank you to the most amazing Son-Rise team!



Our Son-Rise volunteer, Buddie, asked a great question, “Is it productive spending a lot of time just JOINING* Nathan’s autistic, repetitive behavior?”

*JOINING a child with autism by imitating his exclusive, repetitive behavior is a unique practice of the Son-Rise Program for autism. It is the best tool we can use to truly understand their world. As
We join, we find reasons why they have to do those behaviors.

In the first hour, Buddie was asked to JOIN by imitating and trying to learn Nathan’s autism language. Nathan chose to play with a banana peel by waving it around and watching how it moved with the flipping motion of his hand. Buddie too followed and waved his banana peel. Like physicists, both were understanding the movement patterns made by matter acted upon by gravity and the optical illusion such movements made.

That was as interaction. When we say we want an interaction with a child, initially what comes in mind is that child is talking to us and responding to out questions. knock, knock, autism here.

Imagine this, he has an autism language. It is us who wants to communicate with him. He would much rather stay in his own happy place. By JOINING, we are speaking the autism language and we are communicating and getting an interaction with him. When Buddie waved the banana peel in sync with Nathan, Nathan stopped, looked at Buddie straight into his eyes, exchanged laughs and giggles and exchanged banana peels several times. That’s interaction 101!

If Buddie was a conventional therapist, “forcing” Nathan to follow his instructions and speak his language, Nathan would certainly decide to remain in his own world. And when Nathan stops paying attention, the conventional therapist will use more “force” like call his name in a stern voice, hold his chin up to force eye-contact, remove the banana peel or distracting toy, etc. Such “force” will just turn-off Nathan, which will make him withdraw deeper into autism.

Conventional therapy gives Nathan no control of his situation. No control leads to no comfort/security. In such situations, the best way for an autistic child to protect himself is to retreat into his world and block everything out with exclusive, repetitive, autistic behavior.

Buddie gave Nathan full control and when Nathan was ready, Nathan engaged.

Son-rise JOIN the autistic child’s repetitive behavior while the other therapies on the opposite end (eg. ABA) try to extinguish the “strange” behavoir by stopping it. The difference between Son-Rise kids and ABA kids: Son-Rise kids are more spontaneous. They speak when they are ready. ABA kids are “forced” to learn their therapist’s agenda. Thus, they will respond they way they were “trained” to respond. Thus, they are usually “robotic”. Because their training leads to becoming “robotic”, many still believe that kids with autism cannot recover or be spontaneous.

What about other therapies that do not try to extinguish repetitive behavior but simply set it aside to be able to teach the child? An example would be floor time. This type of therapy would be somewhere in the middle of Son-Rise and ABA. Yes, the child learns from the agenda that the teacher prepares. No amount of time is used for JOINING. That means not so much investment is made to really get to know your child. Joining helps you understand your child and find out what his motivations are. Knowing his motivations (i.e. every small detail that motivates your child, including for example, the fact that your child might like playing with a banana peel more than the yo-yo you got him) and using them will help you PROPEL learnings. And that’s how they learn. Learning can be PERMANENT and EXPONENTIAL even for children with autism. Motivation is the key. Contrary to what conventional therapy says that they will only learn through repetition…no body learns through repetition!

Son-rise simply is the fastest and funnest way to learn and grow.

So after I answered Buddies question about JOINING. He returned to the second half of his son-rise session with Nathan. Guess what? Nathan asked him to get the magnetic pen, draw Thomas Train starting with his head , his eyes, his nose, his smile. Buddie asked if he wanted Thomas ears. Nathan agreed. Buddie challenged again: hands on Thomas, and another yes from Nathan.

Hmmm, did that sound like I was writing about a child with autism? Buddie had invested enough time speaking Nathan’s autism language with the banana peels that Nathan was ready to speak to Buddie in our social language.

The truth is, our targets for the past few months was to make Nathan’s 2-loop conversations more consistent. That is, he should be able to sustain enough attention to have a second round of question and answer (or interaction/comply with task given). Guess what, very spontaneously, Nathan and Buddie did 7-loops!


When a child with autism does repetitive actions -> JOIN! Speak his language. Then he’ll speak yours.

When a high-function child says, “I like Thomas the tank, I like Thomas the tanks” again and again -> JOIN! tell him how exciting Thomas is. Then he’ll talk about what you want to talk about.

When a neuro-typical child says, “Play with me please.” -> JOIN! Then he’ll finish his broccoli when you ask him the favor.

When a teenager is having heartaches -> JOIN! Don’t go attacking and demanding answers for yourself. Get into your child’s world first and find out how they feel. Then, they will tell you what you want to know.


Nathan demands our attention

I was chatting with my Mom all morning, telling her about our amazing son-rise journey with Nathan, my 6-year-old autistic son.

Finally Nathan called our attention and requested that we sing “wheels on the bus” with him. Thereafter, he asked for several more songs and Barney story-poems. He would sing or narrate perfectly while watching me do the actions. At times he would join the actions. Of course after every performance, grandma and I applauded as he smiled. Nathan demanded this interaction for an hour. This must be the longest interactive attention span he has shown…so far.

Nathan must have felt like, “Mom, we haven’t had enough son-rise sessions since we moved to Singapore, now sit down and interact with me…bring Grandma along.”

I love son-rise!


Nathan’s first 3-loop conversation

Last week, Nathan and I had our first 3-loop conversation:

Nathan: Carry me please.
Mama: Do you want me to carry you?
Nathan: Please.
Mama: (still trying to push my luck) Who do want to carry you, Papa or Mama?
Nathan: (glances at Papa, then looks back at me as he replies) Mama!

Boy was I celebrating after that! Nathan was able to answer the question and sustain his attention for the next round of questions. That’s 3 loops!

He also said a chain of comments at grandfather:
Lolo (grandfather) is cutting his nails. Lolo is using a nail cutter. The nail cutter looks like this (as he makes cutting scissor actions with his fingers).



Nathan suddenly knows how to play with Legos

Nathan does not normally play with toys because he tends to put them in his mouth. Until now, his way to exploring his world is still predominantly through his taste buds. But today was great! While we were playing with Legos, he purposefully said, “I want to build a tall building.” He proceeded and really made one, almost entirely by himself.

About an hour, or so prior, to that wonderful even, I simply “joined” Nathan the Son-Rise way. When he mouthed the Lego, I tasted one too; when he tapped it against teeth, I checked out the vibration too; then when he was ready, I challenged him to put one block on top of the other.

Today, all I planned to gain was to get Nathan to put a block on top, a step at a time. Then pull them a part, a block at a time. All in single step commands. But he showed me he could understand and certainly do a lot more!

It’s one of those son-rise moments when a switch seems to just have turned on. All of a sudden Nathan knows how to play with Legos.

I wonder what we’re going to build tomorrow?