Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Son-Rise Intensive Letter

Hoopdaddy and I took Eric to the Option Institute in May, 2008 for a Son-Rise Intensive Program.  In each of the units in the Son-Rise house, parents write a letter to the next family that will experience the Intensive program. The letters are gathered into a binder for future families to read during that long Sunday evening, after their arrival at The Autism Treatment Center of America but before the start of the Intensive on Monday morning.  This week, going through some notes, I came across a copy of the letter that we left behind. Maybe you're wondering whether to plunk down the money for an Intensive, or maybe you're waiting on the date of your Intensive to arrive. In the meantime, this is the letter we left behind at the end of our Intensive:

What is the Son-Rise Intensive like? Imagine your sweet child on an island, all alone, just offshore. He's so close that it seems like you could almost touch him, but you can't quite reach him from the beach. You've tried shouting or throwing things his direction, but it only drives him deeper into the foliage at the center of his island. How can you, you wonder desperately, make him jump into the choppy ocean and swim to you? 
You can't.
Then, you notice a tribe of happy adventurers setting up a base camp next to you. "Ah," they say. "Your child is on the island. We love to visit that island!"
"Visit the island?" you ask. "You're nuts. I don't want to visit the island. I want to get my sweet boy off of the island."
They smile. They know. They ask you gently, "Do you really need him to be off the island, or do you want a way to be with him?"
Maybe, like me, you cry for a while, or pout, because at that moment you believe that you need need him off of the island so that you can be happy. But maybe, like me, when you're done crying, and you think about what it is that you really want, it's to know your child and love him.  That's when you decide that you are willing to explore out into the waves for the chance to reach him. But how?
That's when you turn to the merry tribe. They show you how to build a boat to ride through any surf. They help you make a paddle that you can use to keep your momentum when it seems like you'll never get to the island. Finally, you map out a course and you're ready to go. 
You learn that it might take many trips from the beach to the island and back again. On every trip you make, you take with you a little rope, and smooth piece of wood, anything to catch your child's eye, that he might use to build a bridge from the island to the shore. Little by little, the bridge gets built. 
The Intensive is not the same as construction of the bridge--that happens minute by minute in the play/therapy room. The Intensive is building your boat, finding a paddle, gathering supplies to build the bridge.  And the wonderful moment during the Intensive when you look around to see a merry tribe paddling surfboards alongside your boat, showing you how to ride the waves. 

We haven't reached the island yet, and still building that bridge to Eric.  But we're much closer than we were when we started our Son-Rise Program, and closer still because of the work we've done during the Start-Up, the Intensive, Maximum Impact, and New Frontiers Programs.  We rolled into our Intensive on fumes, just over a year ago, and re-energized ourselves and Eric's Son-Rise Program. 

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