Our Story

Our Story (written in 2012)

Henry was diagnosed with ASD in June 2007, 2 months before his 3rd birthday. We left the meeting with a colourful pack on autism and both cried in the car. We’d had our suspicions for a while and obviously been through the diagnosis process and thought we were quite prepared, but to hear it formally and officially was extremely hard.Everything we’d read about autism spoke of a ‘life long’, ‘limiting’ disability which we could possibly learn to manage but would never get any better. In one way we wanted to know what was wrong but on the other we could no longer pretend.When Henry was diagnosed he was very rigid and controlling. He watched the same DVDs over and over, played with cause and effect electronic toys becoming fixated and repeatedly dropped his plastic animals. Henry spoke a few words like ‘cake’ and ‘juice’ but mainly he liked to scream and look up at the cupboard where we kept the treats. He ate foods in fads only eating one food at a time. He didn’t like the outside and roads and was very noise sensitive. He had no concept of danger and would not hold hands. He did not like groups of people or new places. He gained skills and then lost them, like animal noises. He sometimes used the word ‘mommy’ but he would call everyone it and if he hurt himself he would not seek comfort. He was also aggressive. Hitting and biting me and banging his head off the floor and doors.When we heard about son rise through an article by another son rise mom I went to Raun’s lecture, I cried all the way through It and told my husband ‘we have to do this!’ It was such a positive and beautiful philosophy. I’d not heard anyone talk about our children in such a loving, accepting way. We went to the start up and it just blew us away. Once we had been given this information and opportunity we just couldn’t ignore it.Henry was in mainstream nursery at this time, which he found extremely distressing. On the first day he bit the computer cables and cried and hit anyone, including me, who came near him. After that it was 3 months before we made it back in to the classroom. It was a good day if we got through the glass doors in reception!

When we started our part-time programme in February 2008 after attending the start up me and warwick did in the mornings before nursery, we stopped all the play groups and things I had tried to do like I had done with my other daughters and  we connected with Henry in a way we had never done before. Joining him running and dropping his animals on the window sill and down the radiator was the first time we had done what he liked to do. It was so nice! Until this point I’d found Henry hard. I have to be honest. Life was a battle. It was a case of just getting through. I had no enjoyment. When he was 3 I couldn’t write his birthday card because I couldn’t think of a good or nice thing to say. I’m not proud of this but it’s how I feel and I’m sure many will understand. Son rise let me have a relationship with my son and most of all enjoy him. Not try and change him but accept and love him. This was a big step for me. I am so grateful for this. It changed all of our lives.

Henry responded to the techniques we were taught and he even made progress at nursery. I was able to leave him in May and with one on one support his behaviour did improve. Everyone at nursery commented that they had seen a big change in him since February. But he was still just working on ‘fitting in’. It was clear that he would need so much support and was massively behind his peers developmentally, going up to reception full time in mainstream just didn’t seem a possibility. We opted for a place at special school.

After attending new frontiers in may 2008 we decided that we wanted to give son rise a go full time and in September we started our programme full time with the help of volunteers. It was a huge step but still the best thing we ever did!

Son rise had shown us that it was not about Henry learning his abc’s and 123’s. We wanted Henry to be happy. We have learnt so much about ourselves along the way. Every time we changed our beliefs and saw things differently Henry changed! It was amazing! It wasn’t always plain sailing. It has been a journey of ups and downs but ultimately we always moved forward, although sometimes it might not have felt like that!

Henry is now 8 and is at mainstream school full time which we cannot believe. He is funny, caring, excited, friendly and above all a happy little boy who really does have the 3 e’s in life. He loves people and is getting cheekier by the day(a fact we actually love!). You can see the influence of all the hours in the playroom in his outlook and relationships with others. He is really popular at school and has taken part in class assembly’s and Christmas shows. He has been on trips and just got his yellow belt in karate! He has made fantastic progress academically and although still ‘behind’ is showing a love for learning and is proud of his work. He was awarded the ‘golden achieves’ award in recognition of the a amazing achievements he has made since coming to Hollyfield school. Most of all though he just loves life! He can still get overwhelmed but he is coping with so much and he is learning to describe his feelings and find ways to help himself through these moments. We are very proud of him.

Henry above all else has wonderful connections with people. He has a lovely relationship with his sisters (including sibling rivalry!) and with all his family and gets excited when people come round and sad when we say goodbye.

He still has some challenges in his speech and with sleeping and sensory needs that we are still helping him with. But from where we were to where we are now there is no comparison. It was hard to imagine how far we would come and we were overwhelmed when he started talking and interacting and wanting to be with us. The rest is icing on the cake.

We cannot believe the change in Henry. He really is like a completely different child. We’re so grateful that Henry was able to respond to the opportunity we set out for him and that son rise provided for us. We are working hard to help Henry work through his challenges as they arise. We know he still has to work so hard to do what others take for granted and son rise still enables us to support him and constantly evaluate ourselves so that our attitude reflects on him. The son rise philosophy still underpins all we do and how we live our life. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It really is a dream come true.

We hope this inspires others to believe in their child and the possibilities for the future. We do know that we are lucky that Henry was able to join us so fully in our world and that for other children there may be more obstacles for them to overcome but we really believe that however far your sonrise journey takes you it will take you to a far happier and beautiful place for you, your child and your family than the one you were on. You will all change so much and appreciate so much more. It has been the wonderful gift for our family, our daughters have benefitted so much too, and we will always be more grateful than we can explain xxxxxx

Update – October 2014

Henry is now 10 years and still full time and in year 5 at a mainstream nursery school. He went back a year when he transitioned into school and we now have confirmation from the LEA that he will be able to stay in this year for the rest of his school life.

Henry is still making fabulous progress and we are still supporting him with time after school in the playroom and with his diet and nutrition and HANDLE programme. We also have been doing RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) which Henry has loved. RPM is a educational and communication method which helps the student to express their thoughts and understanding and reasoning. We have been doing little sessions on his favourite video game characters and using this to explore other concepts (like opposites and meaning of words) and additional information, for example when we talk about Kazooie who is a bird we can talk about interesting facts about birds. This helps him cognitively as well as developing his conversation subjects as he does love his computer games!

Henry has made a brilliant start to year 5, a time he has in the past found difficult to cope with. As ever its a roller coaster ride. He is doing so well at school but has been struggling at home over the past few months and particularly in the last few weeks, but obviously it is totally understandable given all he does all day and the flexibility and focus and social ability he has to use. Thats not to say my patience are at times a bit stretched!!

He just seems so much more grown up these days! Can’t believe its 2 years since I had written the summary above. Scary where time is going, but Henry is still amazing us and making us laugh, smile and occassionally now cry!