Why Copy Nathan? (tips for son-rise volunteers)

Imagine you are Nathan. Your vision is not the same as other people, so when you take your fingers and wave it close to your eyes, it makes some magical patterns that you enjoy watching. Your sense of touch is different from others, perhaps somewhat weak, so you can’t exactly tell if what you’re holding is hard or soft or smooth or rough. So you take objects and put it in your mouth or lips to check. You don’t exactly know why people use certain words, but you want to get better at using then, so you echo a lot of words that you hear from others. These things are stimulating and you can probably do it all day if they let.

Now, here comes a really great son-rise volunteer that truly wants to help you get in touch with other people…but he/she is not sure how. He/she says, “Hi Nathan! How are you? Are you ok? Are you having fun? Hey, what do you want to do today? Hey, come on, let’s play! Do you want a toy? Hey, look this way. Hey Nathan? I’m here. Stop what you’re doing please look this way. Hey? Hey? Earth to Nathan? Are you there?”

But since you are so into your “ism,” you barely notice there is someone in the room trying to talk to you. Or maybe you’re using your “isms” intentionally to cover the fear you might have of being required to socialized with your visitors. Or maybe you heard it a bit and it sounded like, “blah, blah, blah, blah.” because for you, nothing beats the joy of watching your magical waving fingers or texture-full lips/mouth or the fun in repeating words.

Now, the son-rise volunteers decided to change tack tick. Instead of trying to get you to speak, he/she will first speak your autistic language. He/she sits about an arm-length in front of you, where you can see him/her if you decide to. As you flap your finger in front of your eyes, he/she will do the same….for as long as you are flapping your fingers.

As he/she joins you, you might stop for a split second and notice he/she is copying you….then you continue flapping.

After a minute, you might stop and look again and say to yourself, “hey, he/she is like me.”….then you continue flapping.

By this time your son-rise volunteer is noticing, “oh ya, fingers really do make an amazing pattern if you flap them this close to your eyes.”

After another minute you’ll want to check your volunteer again and give a smile saying, “See, I told you this was fun.”…..then you might want to continue flapping again.

Your son-rise facilitator then notices your smile and rewards you with, “Hey, Nathan, you’re looking at me! Thank you”

That encourages you to take a longer glance the next time. You might even think, “hey, this person is nice. I will look and smile at him/her more…or I will talk to him/her more.”


By copying Nathan, you will really be able to reach him and eventually pull him out of his autistic world and on to our social world.

In the first few sessions maybe the most you will get are a few smiles. For now that is fine…in fact fantastic! A few smiles will get us along way in the long run.

Another story. Author: Nathan (Mom)

Nathan just created his first story.

As he was playing with his fingers (like you would while singing “incy wincy spider”), he said, “Once upon a time, the spider and a sun….hello spider! The end”.

It’s amazing that he created the story himself and in his story, the sun actually says “hello” to the spider. Whereas “hello” seems like one of the most difficult social skill to teach him.

Praying (Mom)

Sometimes, during bed-time prayers, I can get Nathan to at least say the “Amen” part. He usually leaves me wondering if he’s listen or not.

The other night, as I began prayers with, “Thank you Lord for….,” he continued with, “…the zebra and parrot and lion and elephant and ostrich at the Oji Zoo”. Amazing!

Last night, as he was recalling the melody of an upbeat song he heard during the day, he started filling in the words with those same animals.

We should make next weeks theme about animals!

Story telling (Mom)

Before Nathan used to tell me stories like this:

“Once upon a time. The end.”

We’ve been role playing a story about a monkey and turtle, for the past few nights. His sibling have been helping me role-play the story. So
Yesterday, he decided to tell the story. He said:

“I will tell you a story. Si Pagong (turtle) at si Maching (monkey). Banana tree! Banana tree! The End!”.

Yes! My son’s story-telling skills is 5 times longer!

Along with progress came lot of crying (Mom)

This week I’ve spent the most time “Son-rising” Nathan. He was absent for 3 days so we had a lot of opportunities.

Let’s start with the bad news, towards the end the week, he was crying a lot. I’m still trying to figure it out. I believe he got so used to my attention that whenever I turn my head to talk to his siblings or my friends, he just gets really upset and cries. it’s quite consistent, I turn my head or attention away to talk to someone and then he cries.

Now the great news. He’s showing a lot of glimpses of improvements.

Today he was really trying to process language. He does not converse yet. He cannot answer why questions yet but I have managed to get him to answer “because I like it” somewhat robotically to general “why” questions. So I was listening to him talking to himself. This was after we heard a very subtle child’s cry at the train station. He was looking out the window when he asked himself, “why are you crying?”…a pause, followed by, “because I L…”. Another pause as if he was analyzing if “like it” was the appropriate answer. Then I prompted him, “because I feel sad”. Nathan then resumes his conversation (with himself). “Why are you crying”…pause…”because I feel sad”. I was never sure if Nathan really understood it when I asked him to reply, “because I like it”. But I am very certain he understands his new conversation. Little by little, my son is going to learn to converse with me!

Earlier during the day, we went to KobekoLand as a school trip. That’s a kid’s room that kinda looks like an indoor playground. The last time we went Nathan only played with one equipment, the, swing on a zip line that eventually dropped him into a ball pool. Today, he actually moved around and explored all the “rides”. He did get quite tired during the second half of the session. Autistic kids usually stick to one thing, maybe because they like routine or they do not have the skill and confidence to do other things. So watching Nathan explore today was great.

Another amazing thing he did tonight was when he dropped his crayon. He actually got down from his standing frame, picked up the crayon from the floor (without me instructing him to do so), he then got up onto his standing frame again and started coloring. He normally wouldn’t care less if he dropped anything. Bending down to pick up anything is really challenging for him. And he normally just puts things in his mouth instead of use them as tools or toys, so I was amazed to see him color.

I now agree with what son-rise says about unlocking social skills and everything else like sensory issues and motor problems, will follow. Aside from the above incident, Nathan has been struggling out or even asking to be “freed” from his wheelchair and choosing to walk or explore. He would normally just sit relaxed and wait for his destination to arrive 🙂

It’s amazing how son-rise, which now feels like the easiest thing to do, is the most productive type of therapy/treatment.

Nathan is tired today (Mom)

Nathan’s cold woke him up and kept him up during most of the night. I decided to make him absent again. Wednesdays are walking/hiking days at school so I’m sure Nathan would just complain if he was too sleepy to walk.

This morning I asked him if he wanted to go to the son-rise room and his face lit up as he answered “yes”. We had fun spinning in the swivel chair and making up songs with his new word, “spa”. He comes up with a new, fun to pronounce word ever month or so. I call it his flavor-of-the-month. Last month it was “Manang Carmeling”. That’s the lady that used to cook for us on occasion. I guess her name was fun to say.

When he looked as if he was getting bored he asked, “[I] want to go outside.” Excited, I got him into his brace shoes and winter jacket. He cooperated putting on his shoes, a rare occasion.

But before we got out of that door, he made that “I’m bored” expression again and asked, “want to go to the bedroom”. As it took so long to get him into is winter clothing, I ignored his second request. Sure enough, he was really tired and wanted maybe to catch up with more sleep. He started crying like crazy outside and I had to carry him back in. Why didn’t i listen to him when he said he needed to go to bed? He is currently settling down in bed. A bit of crying but I think he’ll fall a sleep soon.

I hope the rest of the day goes well for both of us.


Still active even after the son-rise session (Mom)

Today, the forecast was rainy so I decided to make Nathan absent from school to avoid catching a cold. Good opportunity to spend some son-rise time with him too.

In the morning, we spent 2 hours in the “son-rise” room. After lunch, we went off to sensory therapy. Then we “swam” in the tub at home. Then some lull time after dinner.

I can see how much more permanent learning can be with son-rise program compared to other therapies.

During the lull time, Nathan was still quite active for his standards. As his twin sister, Amor, cut through her art paper, Nathan turned around with an expression-full, “oh no! You broke the tape of Spa (Spa is his silly word for the month)”. Since Amor did not answer, he said it again. And yet again, with an even louder voice. He wouldn’t give up until I finally came in and repeated, “oh know….spa!” He stopped and started laughing. Nathan does not usually struggle to get anyone’s attention. He would normally give up as soon as he tries. So that was really amazing to watch.

I caught a short clip of Nathan’s “Oh no”

Later, he asked for more raisins. We had been eating raisins and learning to count with them in the morning. Then, he remembered something he used to do in speech therapy: along with raisins, “Mr. Su gave me Pretz,” he said. Yes, he has done it! Nathan has successfully told me something in the past tense. He is starting to tell me stories of his past! It starts with that very first sentence. I do hope more will come.

Since he’s happier, he’s also been showing more energy to walk or move around. Recently, he has been struggling to free himself from his wheel chair and to walk around.

Nathan with Tita Kumiko (Feb 2)

I am so happy that I could finally meet Nathan yesterday. He is such a cute, lovely boy! We had a great time playing the piano, singing, dancing to music and eating snacks together with his siblings too. They are so energetic! I will look for piano songs that we enjoy together. Music has limitless power! Kumiko