In the 1970s, Raun Kaufman was a severely autistic boy with a functional IQ below 30. Today he is an author, lecturer, and many would say healer of autistic children. He is also a leading force in a program that has helped thousands of parents reach into their children’s worlds and then love them into theirs. How is such a thing possible? Autism is a life-long condition. The best we can do for “these children” is medicate them and lock them away in institutions so they don’t hurt themselves, so parents can get on with their lives.
Those are the messages that Raun’s parents heard from the leading “experts” in the field of autism research. And sadly, far too many experts today offer no more expertise than the experts from Raun’s childhood.
Raun’s parents, Barry Neal Kaufman and Samahria Lyte Kaufman, ignored the experts and viewed their son’s odd behaviors not as problems to be ashamed of and extinguished, but as coping skills purposefully performed to survive in the hostile, chaotic, and painful world common to autistic people. They knew their best chance of helping their son reach his full potential lay in their absolute love and acceptance of the severely autistic child they held in their arms. Ignoring the scoffs and scorn of experts and well-meaning family and friends, they viewed Raun as their teacher and they joined him in his peculiar behaviors. (Raun and his parents refer to these behaviors as “isms.”) This was the beginning of Raun’s transformation and now, decades later, as the first graduate and current Director of the Global Education for the Autism Treatment Center of America, Raun enthusiastically empowers parents with the same skills his parents intuitively and courageously practiced so long ago.
Raun’s father shared this remarkable story in his 1979 bestselling book, Son Rise. 14 years later, Raun joined his father in writing the book, Son Rise: The Miracle Countinues. Many others have told the story including NBC’s award-winning television special Son Rise: A Miracle of Love. ATCA offers an extensive list of books, DVDs, and other resources at this link.
And now Raun tells his story and the story of the program his parents implemented—the Son-Rise Program—in his own words in a book that most people believed Raun would never be able to read, let alone write.
Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World is truly groundbreaking. With great compassion and infectious hope, Raun details the principles that allowed him to grow and move beyond the world he experienced as a young child. He details these principles in chapters titled Joining, Motivation, Creativity, Socialization, Eye Contact and Nonverbal Communication, Verbal Communication, Interactive Attention Span, Flexibility, Giving Control, The Myth of False Hope, The Good-Tryer Principle, The Big Picture, Sensory Overload, Tantrums and Other Challenging Behaviors, Asperger’s Syndrome, Addressing the Biology of Autism—Especially Diet, and Attitude.
The book concludes with a heavily referenced section on the science supporting the Son-Rise Program as well as a comparison of Applied Behavior Analysis and the Son-Rise Program.
As a behavioral health therapist, I increasingly find myself in a peculiar place: Professionals refer or parents bring in their children to see me because the conventional wisdom of the day is that autism is a psychological disorder. Yet extensive research demonstrates that autism is largely biomedical in nature, often caused by our children’s ubiquitous exposure to environmental toxins. If the cause is biomedical then wouldn’t the treatment also be biomedical? Change the diet, supply needed nutrients, heal the gastrointestinal disease, heal the immune system, cleanse the body of heavy metals and other toxins found in GMOs, biocides such as RoundUp, vaccines and other drugs, amalgam fillings, PCBs, flame retardant, and numerous other toxins, many of which were present from the day our children were conceived.
Consequently, most of my counseling has been a process of helping parents recognize that the key to their children’s healing lie in treatment provided by specially trained medical professionals—professionals who have treated and recovered thousands of autistic children over the last few decades. Autism One’s website features numerous full-length, video recording of such specialists. The organization Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs also lists providers trained to biomedically treat people with autism.
I was well aware of the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis as a behavior modification program designed to do just that: change behaviors through rewards and consequences. Such methods have always struck me as mechanistic and disrespectful, if not abusive. Kaufman points out in Autism Breakthrough that such methods might be successful in getting children to count, to learn their colors, or to sit still, but parents of autistic children do not cry themselves to sleep at night praying that their children will learn such skills. No, they yearn for a connection with their children, a loving glance, a touch, a kind word. And they yearn that their children will one day laugh and play with their friends.
The Son-Rise Program recognizes above all else that autism is a social-relational disorder. Thus, the entire emphasis is first on relating to their children. And then, if and when it happens, celebrating with great enthusiasm when their children relate to them. And affected children are no different than others in that they are much more likely to relate to others when those others reach out to them with love, kindness, attention, and affection.
Autism Breakthrough is not just a book about parenting autistic children; it’s a book about parenting. Period. If the principles work—and they do—with some of our most affected children, then they will surely work with our children who are less affected by the toxic world our generation has passed on to them.
Thanks to the principles taught in Autism Breakthrough, in addition to educating parents about the biomedical causes and treatments for autism, I am excited to also offer the principles and the program they can use within the walls of their own home, principles that will draw them closer to their children and thus draw their children closer to a world beyond autism.
I am pleased to add my endorsement of Autism Breakthrough to the following endorsements:
Reading Autism Breakthrough brought chills to my body and tears of joy to my soul. This book must be read by every parent of a child with autism. The Son-Rise Program changed my life and the life of my daughter, who showed all the signs of early-stage autism. Today she thrives because I knew exactly what to do: ignore all of the dire predictions and immerse her in precisely the principle and techniques described in Autism Breakthrough.
—Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Power of Intention
I learned more about my daughter by reading this book than I have through all of the others I’ve read over the eleven years since her diagnosis. No matter how old your child is, Autism Breakthrough can help you to connect in ways you may have never thought possible.
—Wendy Fournier, President, National Autism Association
I highly recommend Raun Kaufman’s new book, Autism Breakthrough, to all parents, family members, and practitioners of persons on the autism spectrum. It combines the scientifically validated therapies of The Son-Rise Program with an easy-to-read approach. I frequently refer our patients to The Son-Rise Program, and I have seen the objective improvements in my patients with my own eyes. It has also helped my own son and our family tremendously.
—Phillip C. Demio, M.D., Executive Director of the American Medical Autism Board and Chief Medical Officer of the US Autism & Asperger Association
In my practice of psychiatry in a teaching hospital over several decades I have never been introduced to a set of clinical principles as powerful, elegant, and effective. The outcomes are truly stuffing: Children make concrete and sweeping progress and parents overcome feelings of devastation and learn to accept, enjoy, and meaningfully help their children.
—Ted McCarthy, M.D., Former Chief of Psychiatry, Mercy Hospital, Portland, Maine
For more information, please check out the Autism Treatment Center of America.