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Photographs by Christopher M. Gauthier, Evidence and Artifacts
Raun K. Kaufman


Raun K. Kaufman - "The children show us the way in, and then we show them the way out. Everybody loves the second half of this sentence, but if we want to do that, we have to start with the first half of this sentence. We have to cross into their world first; hold their hands on their terms, and then, yes, we can lead them back across the bridge from their world to ours. That's the keystone. Rather than focus on this behavior issue, of how do we stamp out the autistic behaviors and the stims, and promote the normal looking behaviors, we ask how can we create a relationship with this child and how can we get this child to want to relate to other people. That means that rather forcing our children to conform to a world they don't yet understand, we start by joining them in their world. The first principle is called 'Joining' and probably the most controversial piece of the program is basically all those stimming behaviors, the hand flapping, the repeating lines from movies, running around in circles, or ripping little pieces of paper, or if you have a child with Asperger's talking about airplanes over and over again; All of that everyone is trying to stamp out, not only do we not stamp it out, but we literally participate in it, joining in with the very behaviors that everyone else is saying to stop.

Raun K. Kaufman is an international speaker, writer and teacher for The Son-Rise Program® at the Autism Treatment Center of America™. In his work with families, children, and professionals from around the world, Mr. Kaufman brings a distinctive qualification to the realm of Autism treatment his own personal history.

At 18 months, Raun was diagnosed as severely and incurably autistic. Although advised to institutionalize Raun, his parents, authors/teachers Samahria and Barry Neil Kaufman, instead created an innovative home-based, child-centered program in an effort to reach their son. Their work, which developed into a unique methodology now known as The Son-Rise Program, enabled Raun to recover completely from his autism, transforming him from a mute, withdrawn child with a tested I.Q. of less than 30 into an outgoing, social boy with a near-genius I.Q. Raun’s story was recounted by his father, Barry Neil Kaufman, in the best-selling book Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, and was also the subject of an award-winning NBC television movie, Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love.

After graduating from an Ivy League university (Brown University) with a degree in Biomedical Ethics, Raun K. Kaufman continued his professional development as the director of an educational center for school-aged children as well as a presenter and lecturer at conferences and symposia worldwide. Now, Mr. Kaufman works at the Autism Treatment Center of America and is an integral member of The Son-Rise Program that began with him. Raun serves on the US Autism & Asperger Association Advisory Board. Raun is working on a new book that will be released later this year.

Raun Kaufman has presented at many USAAA Annual World Conferences. Click here for video and audio presentations from the USAAA World Conferences.

Sandra R. Wise, PsyD - "I am a student of human behavior. Academically, I have earned the title of Doctor of Psychology. My training was in clinical psychology and I have a professional license to practice psychotherapy. But, first and foremost, I consider myself to be a simple student of human behavior. One doesn't need a doctoral degree or a license to be a student of human behavior. One only needs curiosity about one's own kind, a desire to understand, a keen sense of awareness, good observational skills, and, of course, people to observe."

"One of the primary symptoms of Asperger's is intense concentration on a narrow focus. In this context, Michael's ability to hyper-focus served as a definite asset. As a coach on the sidelines, I quickly became aware that my verbal comments and input, rather than helping, might be taking away from Michael's ability to apply his intense visual focus to accomplish his goal. I decided to become less of a distractor, as I observed that this particular ability to focus narrowly - which some would call a deficit - was serving Michael well and that he did not need my help." (from "Of Mutts and Misfits:
A View of Asperger's Syndrome from the Corral Fence
"- USAAA 2012 Conference Manual)

Sandra R. Wise, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist, an Assistant Professor of Medical Education at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and a guest lecturer at the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Wise has worked in private practice and was the Director of Mental Health for several Colorado prisons and for the Delaware State Department of Corrections. She has taught graduate-level courses in clinical psychology and has conducted numerous workshops on topics ranging from non-verbal communication, to hands-on experiential learning, to nature exposure. In 2002, Dr. Wise, who has long understood the powerful dynamics inherent in human-animal relationships and the mental health benefits of exposure to nature (plants and animals), began utilizing principles of applied behavioral analysis to train horses and cows, with the goal of using interactions with these animals in their natural setting to help clients with communication and social skills deficits. Dr. Wise's animal-assisted outdoor programs focus on issues such as impulse control, resistance, anger management, problem-solving, goal setting, and social functioning. She facilitates interactions that build skills in non-verbal communication, self-awareness, focus, cooperation, timing, boundaries, and empathy.

Dr. Wise sees this treatment model as one of the few that offer opportunities to address social deficits through interactions with living, breathing, responsive "beings" that can provide honest and immediate feedback without judgment, bias or condemnation. Moreover, clients need not be concerned with verbal language, which can often obfuscate and overshadow the important non-verbal aspects of social interactions. These qualities make this model particularly well-suited for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders who need a safe, non-threatening environment to practice social thinking and non-verbal communication skills. More...

Since 1995, USAAA began improving the quality of life of individuals affected by ASD. In the summer of 2005, Special Abilities evolved into US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. with a mission to provide the opportunity for everyone living with autism spectrum disorders to achieve their fullest potential, by enriching the autism community with education, training, accessible resources, and partnerships with local and national projects.

Support from donors and members provide resources to make our programs possible. 100% of all donations to USAAA go directly to providing support for our programs and initiatives. No administrative costs are funded by donations.

Your support enhances the quality of life of individuals and their families and caregivers touched by autism spectrum disorders. US Autism & Asperger Association provides educational and family support through conferences and published and electronic media. USAAA distributes information with regard to medical, behavioral, and developmental interventions and research to parents, grandparents, practitioners, students, administrators, teachers, individuals on the autism spectrum and everyone connected with the autism and Asperger's communities.

"Let's experience what their life is like for a day. Our children are in pretty much of a constant state of overload. Your living room is like LAX [Los Angeles International Airport] to your child. They can't recognize patterns the same way we can, so everything that seems predictable and understandable to you and I seems totally unpredictable to our children."
— Raun K. Kaufman

"I might suggest that a good starting place for a "social solution" to a social problem might be found in socializing with horses, rather than humans. In many ways horses, especially the smaller breeds such as Crackers, can be less intimidating than humans to persons with Asperger's."

Sandra R. Wise, PsyD

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