The Son-Rise Program

Carly and Stef use the methods described in this therapy approach in many scenes of the film. One example is when they join Oskar in his stimming. The goal is to enter into Oskar’s world; to be interested in the things he is interested in, just as you would with any child. As Carly explains:

“There may be some things that Oskar does to help cope with his sensory issues, and yet others for perhaps pleasure or curiosity. He definitely sees the whole world from a different perspective!”

She emphasises that the goal is to respect Oskar and to support him in developing coping strategies that work for him, rather than to get rid of behaviours or stims.

“I strongly believe that removing “unwanted” behaviours is not the answer, it is a band aid and never gets you to the root of what is really going on. In some cases it is just cruel to stop a child or adult from trying to find ways to cope with whatever may be affecting them.”

Similar to Floortime, the parent-directed Son-Rise program starts from the principle of accepting autism and joining the child in their chosen play. Creators Barry and Samahria Kaufman took this approach and developed the program when, in the 1970s, they faced no treatment options for their autistic son, Raun, but to house him in an institution. Through their homemade intervention, Raun transformed from a withdrawn child with a low IQ into a highly social and successful Ivy League college graduate. The Son-Rise program proposes parent-child connection through the “3Es” (energy, enthusiasm, and excitement) and using play to teach new skills in the child’s area of interest. It also asks parents to arrange a special low-stimulus environment for play, so that the child may feel in control of the situation. The main difference with Floortime, the creators say, is that Son-Rise emphasizes waiting for the child to show his/her own desire to interact.

To read more about Carly’s thoughts on the Son-Rise Program visit her blog, The Muddy Path.

A note from Carly & Stef

We invited director Steve Suderman to share our story with the hope that our experience would offer comfort to other families facing similar experiences, and provide insight into life with a special needs child for those who aren’t familiar with the highs and lows of parenting on the spectrum.

This film portrays the beginning of our journey and our story is far from over. We hope that the film demonstrates that there is no single “correct” way to approach the task of supporting your child on their developmental path. We wanted to empower parents to do their own research, and make choices with the intention that they can help their child to thrive, regardless of their diagnosis. We think the film Steve made does this and this website has some additional videos and information for those who want to find out more about topics and therapies featured in the film.

For parents of children with autism the first year after diagnosis can be confusing and tiring. At times you might feel that you can never do enough research, the options are endless, and the developmental milestones can seem unattainable. The important thing to remember is that as parents it is our job to advocate, observe and use our gut instincts!   It's not "one size fits all” and different therapies work for different children. Try therapies that your gut tells you might be a good fit for what you are seeing in your child, and maybe stop anything that doesn’t seem to work since you can always try again later. You know your child better than anyone else and you can trust that instinct.

Lastly, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are lots of free things in books or the internet that you can do or try at home. Don’t break the bank – listen to your gut!

Statement of Values

For a year director Steve Suderman followed Carly, Stef and their five children, as the family faced each challenge and joy that arose since their son Oskar’s autism diagnosis. Throughout the film Carly and Stef try a range of therapies and treatments; all out of love for their son and the desire to connect with him. The intent of the documentary is not to endorse or dissuade from any particular treatment. Rather, our hope is that the film will communicate the experience of a family touched by autism, something parents can share with family, caregivers, and friends to offer an insight into their world.

We believe that autism is a unique way of being in the world. We advocate for inclusion, respect, and increased services that make tangible differences in the lives of those on the spectrum - and their families. We hope that this collection of articles and videos from our team and other third-party sources will help provide a fuller picture of the treatments, therapies, and ideas explored in the film.

Carly and Stef, the family featured in this film, maintain a blog called The Muddy Path. Please check it out to learn more about their experiences raising a family with children on the autism spectrum.

The Muddy Path: Son Rise Therapy

“I had watched the NBC movie “Son Rise: A Miracle of Love” after coming across it somewhere on the Internet. It’s an old movie and the story goes back even further, since it’s based on the book Son Rise written by Barry Neil Kaufman back in the 70’s when his son Raun was still young. I found it very moving and liked how it showed that parents will do whatever they can for their children…”

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Bonus Material
Produced in association with:
Produced with the participation of:
The Government of Manitoba -Manitoba Film & Video Production Tax Credit
Digital media produced with the participation of:
The Government of Manitoba -Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit
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