What is the Son-Rise Program?

There are so many things one has to know about the Son-Rise Program, I can write pages and pages of it. To start with, the Autism Treatment Center of America has a lot of information on their web page:

What is the son-rise program:
It is a one-on-one, parent-led therapy in a distraction-free environment. It is based on the foundation of love and acceptance.

How can you start immediately?
1. Start with an attitude of love and acceptance. Love your child as a whole, including his/her “isms”-autistic, repetitive behavior.

2. Join your child’s “isms.” Be a happy detective, find out why they do it. While other therapies disregard or even try to stop “isms” and classifies them as “unwanted behavior,” Son-Rise recognizes the importance of “isms.” Kids (autistic or not) “ism” for different reasons: 1) it has a calming effect, 2) It has a therapeutic nature (eg. waking up unresponsive nerves), 3) it can be their coping mechanism, 4) they simply enjoy it, etc.

3. Work on eye-contact. Encourage, don’t force it. Whenever your child attempt to look at you, celebrate! Say something like, “thank you for looking at me”, “I love your eyes”, etc.

4. Allow yourself to be a “yes” parent. If there is anything in the room that causes you to constantly say, “No! Stop doing that! That’s too dangerous!,” toss it out of the room. If a child is always told “no” (I know a lot of autistic kids do) then why bother doing anything at all? But whenever a child is answered “yes” (eg. go ahead climb), they are encouraged to explore more. If every time they attempt to ask you for something and you run to get it (yes), they are taught that their words are powerful. Soon they will use it more to communicate their needs.

5. Celebrate achievements big or small, partial or complete. Even we like being praised for what we do and it encourages us to do better next time. Also, don’t have a disapproving attitude. Never scold or use fear to stop them from doing things you don’t want.

6. Play using the 3 Es, Energy, Excitement and Enthusiasm.

7. Believe in your child. His/her potential is limitless.

Things you will want to do later on:

Learn when to challenge. When a child is “isming,” join. When a child gives you eye contact for a few seconds or is holding you or looking at what you’re holding, challenge. Offer to play with the toy in your hand, ask him/her to copy your actions, etc. Build your child’s skills a block at a time.

Find your child’s motivations and work from there. Children learn more and faster when they are doing things they enjoy.

Prioritize targeting social skills over academic skills. Would you rather have a super smart child that is autistic (and autistic kids really are geniuses) or a child that is just ok academically but can make friends and build relationships?

Put in as much hours as possible. Note: an hour of son-rise a day, is more productive than 3 hours of conventional therapy. I attest to that!

Get volunteers and train them on son-rise. It takes a village to raise a child. To my experience, volunteers have also given my whole family a great support system. They in turn also grow through the attitude of love, acceptance and perseverance.

Good luck! I’ll be around if you have questions.

Kristine’s Son-Rise experience with Nathan (Nov 2011 to June 2012, Kobe, Japan)

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.

Kristine Yu


Monica’s Son-Rise experience with Nathan (Nov 2011 to March 2012, Kobe, Japan)

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.

Monica Quahiansen


Marie’s Son-Rise experience with Nathan (Feb – June 2012, Kobe, Japan)

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.

Thank you,
Marie Kuyumgyan


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!