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|Son-Rise is a home-based program for children with autism spectrum disorders other disabilities related to communication and interaction. The program emphasizes eye contact, accepting the child without judgment, and engaging the child in a noncoercive way, and it hypothesizes that treated children will decide to become non-autistic. Former advertising executive Barry Neil Kaufman and his wife Samahria Lyte Kaufman developed Son-Rise in the late 1960s and early 1970s while working with their son Raun, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, and who is claimed to have gone from being autistic to normal via the treatment.
No independent study has tested the efficacy of the program, but a 2003 study found that involvement with the program led to more drawbacks than benefits for the involved families over time, and a 2006 study found that the program is not always implemented as it is typically described in the literature, which suggests it will be difficult to evaluate its efficacy.
|Critics of the Son-Rise program point to the lack of hard statistical results, and dismiss its many anecdotal (yet verifiable) stories of success. Others suggest that Raun was never truly autistic. Others state that the program is too intensive for many parents to see through to success.
Other criticisms focus on Barry Neil Kaufman, and the fact that he chose to make a profession of authoring books about his philosophy, and his founding of a non-profit institute offering classes based upon his life perspectives and experiences.
The most vehement critics state that the Kaufmans offer false hope and that the entire enterprise is simply a money-making operation. However, the recent BBC Documentary titled "I Want My Little Boy Back" showed, in detail, one family's experience with the program, with results that far exceeded the parents' hopes.
The National Autistic Society points out the high cost of the program, as well as the lack of (and resistance to) formal scientific evaluations. The program is also of uncertain use with older children, and may work best with individuals who have a 'certain level of potential'. Son-Rise is also very volunteer-intensive with high turnover, and may require parents to fill in staffing gaps. In addition, professionals have questioned the emphasis placed on eye contact and its potential aversiveness for some children.
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