I want to review this book, but it is most important to me that you read it. Raun has done a beautiful job of conveying, from the world of a person who has lived in the world of autism, and then recovered, what works (and what doesn’t), in the ongoing struggle to connect with children (and adults) with ASD, and to thereby help them to come back into the surrounding world. The guiding principle of SonRise: “The children show us the way in, and then we show them the way out.” is exemplified and amplified in this book, presented in many practical examples and exercises.
In working with families who have trained in the SonRise approach, I have always been awed by the love, respect, connection parents have with their children, regardless of their level of functioning. But, as it is a comprehensive behavioral approach generally requiring training onsite at the Autism Treatment Center of America, with the attendant logistical and economic demands on already stressed families, I have generally not referred parents to SonRise. Raun’s book gives a powerful and compelling introduction to this compassionate and empowering system for connecting and leading children out of problem behaviors, obsessions, social withdrawal, inflexibility, and other features of autism. More than an introduction, parents who read his book will learn new tools to be applied today in working with their child.
This approach is based on respecting and connecting with your child on his own level, recognizing that what he is doing is a form of communication. It is about giving her as much control as possible and avoiding negative reinforcement, focusing only on positive input. He recognizes that stimming and withdrawal have an adaptive function, are not behaviors to extinguish; rather, represent opportunities to join with the child, and help him move to different reactions after establishing a connection through participation.
He teaches us how to defuse intense behaviors by calm and mellow responses, how to identify self-defeating attitudes and expectations, stereotypical thinking about prognosis or outcome. He offers hope of really making a difference with your child, and the major side effect of undertaking this approach is more love and appreciation for your child, deeper connection with him as he is now, reduction in power struggles, and special help for you in changing attitudes and expectations.
This book joins Your Greatness Is Growing by Catherine Stafford, as one of my favorite books about living with and relating to children with autism, heart opening approaches to building trust and self-confidence in your child, who has such a challenging path in life. May you find healing and inspiration through reading and applying the ideas of these healers.
-John Green MD