One month was really short, but in that one month that I stayed in Singapore, I learned new things and heard about miracles.
Between the twins, Amor was much makulit because she was curious with the reactions of people on her actions. Tita Chris had some suggestions how to handle it. First, do not show big reactions because it will just make her repeat it. Second, tell Amor that I love her. Third, tickle her. Although this was not what most of the parents would do, I tried all of the suggestions and I found that tickling her was the most effective because it made the both of us laugh and it became somehow our playtime.
For Nathan, joining him (tapping the ball) was really important. The first time Tita Chris asked me if I wanted to play Son-Rise with Nathan, I got scared because I did not know how to join him the right way. So when I found Nathan alone, I practiced my joining skills! Hopefully it got better after my first time. After a lot of joining, I had short interactions with Nathan. And his smile, it was like an award for me every time he smiled at me.
But in that one month, I always admired Tita Chris and Tito Mike because they did not give up when the doctors said that there was no chance of recovery. They did not get tired of looking for ways to make the twins get better. They still wanted to share to everyone the Son-Rise program despite their busy schedule with work and with the kids. I would always admire their patience and attitude towards the children.
I do not know if I can be considered a volunteer for Nathan, but in those few sessions I had with him, it was very fulfilling to be able to be part of his miracle. And maybe by being a volunteer, the story of the miracle of Son-Rise program will spread.
1) Special needs kids are different, each individual is unique. The approach in getting to know them will take a while, unless they consider you as their ‘friend’, then they can and will connect with you openly.
They excel in a specific skill. They have great minds, as long as we can identify what is it and nurture that skill.
2) Before working with Nathan. or before Nathan allows me to work with him, I do not know how to communicate with him. This is where ‘joining’ came into play. As the sessions progress, I noticed Nathan really can communicate openly as long as he wanted to. (I also understand from Chris that its added effort for Nathan to open up) I interpret it as a muscle that he needs to flex to keep the connection open and that it can be trained with exercise. In our sessions, singing works, the sponge bob song surprised me, I forgot how we started, but it confirmed by belief that Nathan can connect when he wanted to.
3) How will my experience with Nathan affect my next encounter…. All special needs kids have great potential. With the correct nurturing method, patience, and love, special needs kids can grow out of Autism.
When I first met Amor and Nathan at a pool party, I didn’t try to interact with them cause I don’t know how to connect with them…am clueless : ) After the Son Rise Program orientation, it gave me a better understanding of “special needs” and felt am better equipped to adapt to their “special” needs. I’ve been a Son Rise volunteer for the past 5 weeks now. I find it rewarding to be a Son Rise volunteer for Nathan and Amor cause it affirms my belief on the POWER OF LOVE. LOVE gives us the ability to connect in a different level…it gives us the power to understand and adapt, and respond in a way that is nurturing than discouraging. Nathan surprises me every week. Am excited to see Nathan and Amor every week cause I know they are excited to see me too : ) plus it helps me unwind…forget about the worries for an hour or two once a week. Am also inspired by their parent’s, Chris and Gil, for their 3Es towards their kids…parang bottomless ice tea lang….so refreshing.
Next time I encounter a child with special needs…I will start to JOINING : )
The Son-rise program with Nathan has been a great eye-opener for me. It has taught and is teaching me to see and experience life from a different lens: the world as seen and experienced by Nathan. I have been working with Nathan for a short period of time but every single session has been rewarding. Through time spent with Nathan and Amor, I’ve come to appreciate that every smile returned, or laughter shared is priceless, and how moments like these are milestones in themselves. There is so much joy to be had with every interaction – even when it’s just sitting quietly and waiting to be invited into their world. Through Son-rise, I’ve even learned new things about myself: like how challenging it is for me to be quiet and still!
1. What do you think about special kids?
In retrospect,1 I use to have a preconceived notion that children with special needs has no set of skills and abilities. That they should be institutionalized. Until I had an encounter with a child with special needs. That encounter opened my mind and altered my belief system. Now I have been working with children that are differently abled for more than ten years.
2. What was your impression of special needs kids before and after working with Nathan (and/or Amor)? (if anything changed).
There was really nothing much different with my impression towards Nathan or Amor when compared with my other students. However, what struck me was the kind of love and support that they are receiving from their family and the community around them. Nathan and Amor’s spirit are fueled by the hope that their family have. A hope the celebrates every single success no matter how big or small it may be.
3. How will your experience with Nathan (and/or Amor) affect your next encounter with a special needs child.
After working with Nathan, I can only hope that each child with special needs will also have the opportunity to explore and learn in a safe and nurturing environment created by people around them.
I was reflecting on why we work so hard to get volunteers for Nathan’s Son-Rise Program. Aside from the fact that it is highly recommended by the Son-Rise program, here are my answers:
1. Volunteers add hours to Nathan’s therapy. The more hours the better his prognosis.
2. Because they have volunteered, these people really want to help and will really learn to love and accept Nathan no matter what his handicap is/are. Being loved and accepted is the foundation of growth.
3. As our child is loved, we parents are also encouraged. If I may speak for others, it is common for parents of special needs children to feel incarcerated in public, especially if their child with autism is not behaving according to social standards more so if the child is always having tantrums in public. I used to hate getting those stares from people judging me for being a horrible mother and not being able to keep Nathan quiet. The worst was when traveling and being stuck in a plane for 4 hours with a tantruming Nathan and not being able to walk out of the situation.
4. The more volunteers, the more fun and creative game ideas. The crazier the idea, the faster the child learns.
5. Volunteers (in any circumstance) have personal reasons for doing so. If and when their personal questions have been answered by their volunteering, it enhances their lives an they in turn enhance the lives of the people they volunteer for.
6. To put it quite simply, it makes the world a better place. Too many times, special needs children and adults are misunderstood. Working with a special child and seeing the world through their eyes, with the help of the son-rise program, help people understand and appreciate them better. If this generation has a hard time understanding autism, hopefully the next generation won’t. That will make the world a better place for Nathan and so many more kids being diagnosed every day.
Back in Japan, Marie was such a wonderful volunteer. When we left for Singapore, she continued working…more like playing…with another child in the spectrum. She loves what she does so much, she has even invited friends to join her. I know Marie will touch so many more lives, especially those of kids who really need it most. I feel fortunate to say that Nathan makes up part of the reason why she has and will do more amazing things!
Nathan has improved so much thru the Son-Rise program from not making eye contacts to pointing things out and telling me what he wants! It’s an honor to be part of Nathan’s journey and it’s a wonderful feeling every time he reciprocates your loving attention to him with more eye contact and more responsiveness. I have faith that Nathan will become a normal kid playing and going to school with peers after another one or two years of Son-Rise. Spending time with Nathan taught me the importance of being patient with people and believing that everyone has amazing capabilities waiting to be developed.
Spending time with Nathan was a privilege and a pleasure. It was a heartwarming and fulfilling opportunity to be part of his Son-Rise journey, whether through singing songs, dancing or just exploring new sights, sounds and textures together. Nathan has helped me appreciate and see the world in a new and more nuanced way. I invite you all to join Nathan on his inspiring adventure through Son-Rise.
Working with Nathan through the Son-Rise program has been mutually beneficial, both to me and Nathan. Not only was I able to obtain new knowledges that I wouldn’t be able to learn at school or everyday life, it has shaped me to be a more well rounded and optimistic person. Even though the Son-Rise program is for the mere purposes of pulling autism out of the person, it gives an astonishing wonderful after effect to the facilitator. I am very gifted to have the pleasure of being Nathan’s Son-Rise facilitator as I am able to witness the colossal progress Nathan is able to make. Spending time with Nathan brings a large spectrum of emotions in a very short time, from sad, scared, happy, laughing to surprised. It is very fun and enjoyable to spend time with Nathan as it is usually the high light of my week! Just to see him grow and simply spending time with Nathan is priceless and something that is missed the second your session ends with Nathan.