|HAWAIIAN SON-RISE: Ka'eo Jr's Journey Out of Autism||
So we had a pretty big pour down this morning in Hawaii. Ka'ēo pulled me into his playroom, looked at me with a sweet smile and said "open open" - then went into the bathroom and grabbed his stool and brought it to the window so he can look at the rain. I just love that he can communicate his wants with his eyes and with language and even help himself when he needs to now. I also love how he he heard the rain coming before I heard a single drop fall...amazing!
It's so exciting to see Ka'ēo take an interest in most of the games I have been introducing in the playroom! He has been motivated by shapes lately & I noticed he liked the water bottles when hanging out in the kitchen - so this game was another instant hit. ;)
He has also been staying in the games, initiating the games again and just being so receptive to following directions too! All from a child who was completely encapsulated in his own world. Wow! All glory to the God of Miracles!
My mentor, Bears Barry Neil Kaufman posed an interesting question on facebook today.
He said, "My fuel is being mission-driven (to teach what we teach, to help as best we can), absolutely loving what I do, fee...ling endlessly grateful to have the freedom to choose this life and so, so, so excited and fascinated to continue climbing my mountain and climb along with others who are heading up similar mountains...let me know what is your fuel...or the new fuel you can start putting in your engine -- right now!!!!"
Others have asked my wife and I, "just how do you do it all?". Since, these past 10 days, Jackie has been in Massachusetts, at the Option Institute for a two seminars called, The Happiness Option Weekend and Optimal Self-Trust (both are amazing!), and I'm at home alone with the boys, I even asked myself at the start of the week, "How am I going to do it all?" So tonight, I finally decided to see if I could answer that question, (thanks to Bears' post). This was my response:
This week, being "single daddy", working 2 jobs from home, running our Son-Rise Program, loving our boys...yes fuel...wow...how timely!!!
My fuel this week is:
1. absolutely loving my incredible children and wanting the best for them ~ to continue to grow, be safe, be healthy, and love life.
2. completely loving my beautiful amazing superwoman wife and wanting the best for her ~ to find her own answers this week on the mountain with you, to learn to live the life she chooses and to love every second of it and to love every ounce of herself.
3. being so grateful for all of the incredible blessings my lord Jesus has given me ~ my children, my best friend, our home, our health, Ka'eo Jr's autism, my jobs, my challenges, my weaknesses, the Option Process, The Son-Rise Program, our friends, & life
Yes, these are specifically my 3 "E's" during these 10 days at home.
I started the week out crying (literally). I embraced my fear, my anxiety, my wants and ran toward them with open arms. I BELIEVED in me, in us, in you Bears. Now, I'm ending the week sprinting, even more energized than when it began, even more thankful for life's OPPORTUNITIES, even more loving of my God, my children, my wife, & myself.
Thank you for this question Papa Bears ~ Barry Neil Kaufman, you always know what to say ♥ ;oD
Yet ANOTHER miracle in our home. Just 8 months ago, Ka'eo Jr had yet to even acknowledge his younger brother Koa's very existence. Tonight we were amazed to see Koa bring a game of wooden beads over to Ka'eo Jr and they both began stringing the beads and playing TOGETHER. Not just next to each other but TOGETHER, without any of us around to facilitate nor initiate their play. We are completely humbled and amazed at the Lord's miracles!
When asked about the amount of attention we give Ka'eo Jr. vs Koa, we explain that we are giving Ka'eo Jr as much attention as we can right now to give Koa a beautiful gift, a brother, who he can play with, and grow with, and be best friends with, for the rest of their lives, long after we are gone.
Tonight was an amazing glimpse of that beautiful future we are movig towards as we hold hands with each other in love and the Lord's grace. Thank you Jesus!
My amazing family inspired me to write this tonight:
I’m cleaning up our Son-Rise Program Playroom as I overhear Jackie asking Ka’eo Jr if he wants to get out of the bath tub yet. The next thing I hear is our once non-verbal little Ka’eo Jr say a determined, clear, and confident, “no!”
Jackie immediately celebrates him and says, “Oh Ka’eo, that’s a good ‘no’!”
I smile to myself as I continue to clean up. Then it dawns on me: I wonder just how many households in the country exist, where there is such a thing as a “good no”?
Seriously, how many times across America does a child say “no”, and his parents or caregivers celebrate and say, “Oh that’s a good no!”? Probably not many, huh? Well, I can tell you, without a doubt where the “good no’s” live in our country.
In every Son-Rise Program house, because we believe in celebrating every communication our child with autism attempts. We celebrate every independent thought, every word they’ve understood, and every step they take on the bridge they're building back toward our world.
I haven’t blogged in over 6 months, and THIS is what has brought me back to the keyboard, back to wanting to shout it out to the world. THIS….this CELEBRATION of the Son-Rise house. Such a RARE gem in our fast-paced, what-I-have-is-never-enough society.
What is a Son-Rise Program house? Well, I can tell you, it isn’t JUST a place where families MOVE MOUNTAINS to help their children climb to their highest potential. It isn’t JUST a place where negativity doesn’t matter, doesn’t stop us, and doesn’t hold us down. It IS a place where RESPECT and ACCEPTANCE rule, where LOVE is UNCONDITIONAL.
It is a place where TRYING is the goal! It’s a place where kisses and hugs are not only a daily occurrence but a 40-times-a-day occurrence!
It's a place where silly hats, over-sized sunglasses and stickers are the daily uniform. Where we look to our children for the answers of how to help them, because THEY know themselves best! Where we do not apologize for doing the best we can. Where it is understood, the difference between a weed and a flower is only a judgment.
I'm smiling now, as I enjoy how fantastic it is that in our Son-Rise house, you can randomly break out into song and dance whenever your heart desires...and when you do...everyone joins in!
Some people pity us and think "what a tragedy it must be to have an autistic child".
To that, I press my finger to my lips and say, "shhhh...don't tell anyone but it's actually our little slice of heaven on earth. Where a real-life little angel lives. Where miracles…happen...every…day."
To the Son-Rise Program families across the land. Cheers to you and your undying courage. Cheers to you and your limitless belief in your children and in yourselves. Cheers to you for being unstoppable Forces of Nature.
My love for you all is endless, and our friendship and brotherhood is forever!
Me Ke Aloha,
It is fascinating to view the world from the eyes of a family with Autism. I look at everything so differently than I ever did before. Our little angel, Ka’eo Jr, is only 3.5 years old. So I can still vividly remember viewing everyday things such as going to the store, visiting a friend’s house, eating a meal, getting ready for bed, or even taking a bath just like everyone else around us still does. So simple, so obvious, and really no big deal…autopilot…cruise control…compared to
Now, everything matters…the time of day, the amount of people around, the noises…so many noises, the smells, the colors, other kids, how long since our last meal, how long we’ve been awake…EVERYTHING matters… exponentially more than it ever did before.
So now we’ve arrived at the first holiday of the season…Halloweeeeeeeeeeners! It’s AMAZING to think about just how much the meaning of this holiday has changed for me over the course of my life… As a baby: so scary and unpredictable. As a toddler: so exciting and full of mystery. As a kiddo: so sweeeeeet and sugary. As a teenager: so mischievous and daring. As a college student: so sexy and competitive. As a young adult: so wild and out of control. As a new Christian: so silly and foolish. As a new parent: so sweet and hopeful. As new father of a child with Autism: so frustrating and heartbreaking. As a Son-Rise Daddy: so what? …and SO
Tonight, we were in a bit of a dilemma. Our son Koa (neurotypical) was now 2.5 and ready to experience his first Halloween as a little person. What I mean by that is now he is really aware of what’s going on in the world and he truly has his own personality and really knows what
he wants and doesn’t want. This means the holidays will have more meaning for him than they ever did before because he’s not a little baby being carted around from house to house, party to party, not really knowing why or what we’re doing. For all these reasons we wanted more than ever to take him trick or treating, or at the very least, to the neighborhood block party
On the other hand, our little Ka’eo is not at all ready for that. He would be completely overwhelmed at any type of party, he wouldn’t want to keep walking from house to house, he’d very likely end up stimming with the very first pile of gravel or patch of grass he sees on the
sidewalk. So we absolutely weren’t going to take him out of the serenity and safety of our home tonight. So what do we do?
Well, we decided it would be fun for Koa and Mommy to go for a little while to the neighborhood
Halloweenie block party and I would stay home with Ka’eo.
Mommy and Koa left the house and there I was in my Halloween costume (an old faded Ghost Busters t-shirt) with my little angel, Ka’eo Jr, sweetly humming and dropping paper in front of his eyes in the corner of our living room.
I whispered to him that I was going to his playroom and I would love it if he would come play
with me when he was ready. At that I left him and went into his Son-Rise playroom. A few moments later I heard the pitter patter of little feet behind me.
“Hi Ka’eo! Thank you for coming to see me! I love you!” I exclaimed. He smiled as he stared past me and gave a sweet little squeal as he sat by the door of the room, not quite committing to the idea yet.
I picked up his little plastic toy magnet squares he’d stacked expertly in a row. I tossed one between on us on the carpet…”Woah!” I said with a smile.
Ka’eo looked at the square with curiosity.
I tossed another between us, “Woah!” I said again with a snicker. He looked up at me and
quickly back down to the new square. I did it again and waited…
“Woo” he said and looked at me again.
“Yes!” I celebrated and quickly tossed another square toward him. The anticipation was painted on my smiley face.
“Woah” he said with more confidence.
“That’s right!” I proclaimed and threw another square into the pile…it clicked onto one of the previous magnets squares on the floor. Seeing this Ka’eo quickly scrambled over to it, separated the two pieces, and sat back down ready for the game to continue.
He looked at me again and I began to say “W..” he interrupted me with a loud “Woah!”
“Yes! Woah! Throw! You said it!” I answered and quickly tossed another square out.
Ka’eo giggled with understanding. “Throw!” he commanded.
“Throw? Okay Daddy throw!” as I tossed another out towards him.
“Throw Daddy!” he sang to me and then he jumped up and ran over to me.
I grabbed him up quickly and gave him a kiss. “Tickle me,” he said through his teeth as he braced in anticipation.
“Daddy Tickle!!!” I shouted and our game was on! We spent the next half an hour laughing and tickling and wrestling with each other in such love and happiness.
After so much fun, he ran back over to his pile of ripped paper, scooped it up and said, “come on”. I agreed and followed him back to his little corner of our living room and we sat down together to join in sweet meditation as he skillfully picked up his tiny pieces of paper and watched them fall through his gaze. I sat in front of him, our feet touching at the toes and dropped my own little pieces.
We built a bridge into his blissful world. I wondered what it was he loved about this so much and knew whatever it was, it was healing. I drifted back into my own rhythm, watching the tiny pieces of paper fall gently to the ground like snowflakes.
Mommy and Koa came home shortly thereafter. She told me how crowded it was but worth it to see little Koa make friends with a cute little Minnie Mouse near the kids games. Koa looked so cute in his Blue’s Clues Steve outfit.
I’m glad Koa got to experience Halloween this year with Mommy. For me, well…I believe this was the best Halloween I’ve ever had, connecting with my little man in ways, for a time, I never thought possible. Truly, happiness is a choice, and I’m so thankful God has shown me how to find it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to BLOG. Our Journey has been so exciting and filled with so many blessings, I sometimes forget to stand still and take a breath…
I was fortunate enough to be able to go to an advanced Son-Rise Program training called Maximum Impact 2 weeks ago. What’s more amazing is my father came with me, inspired to help Ka’eo Jr become all that he can be…to reach his limitless potential!
My revelations at Maximum Impact were 90% attitudinal. I’m finally seeing the power we have within ourselves to create permanent change in our limiting beliefs. True love and happiness
is available to any of us and it doesn’t come from any other source but our own choosing, REGARDLESS of our outside circumstances or past (the stimulus).
Since learning how to TRULY love myself, my son, and my family without any judgments, any expectations, and with no conditions my eyes are completely WIDE OPEN…and so is my heart. I’ve just spent the most 1-on-1 time with my son in his Son-Rise PlayRoom than I have in any other week - since we STARTED our Son-Rise Program. The difference??? My choosing...that’s it. Isn’t that amazing?
When it REALLY comes down to it, it was simply because of my own choices...
All this time, I’ve only “not had enough time” or been “too tired” or thought “Ka’eo Jr’s too tired” because I was choosing to believe that. It’s a funny thing about not having “enough time” or being “too tired”…if the building was burning would you be too tired to run outside?
Have you ever not had enough time to go to work? …not likely, huh?
Looking at Ka’eo, Jr. with such joy, admiration, and enthusiasm has made such a difference in the PlayRoom. EVERY SINGLE TIME I play with him he shows me something new and does
something he’s never done with me in his entire life! Simply stated…miracles are a daily occurrence in my house. What an amazing blessing my son has been to me. In all his autistic bliss, he is my little savior sent directly from God. He is my greatest teacher on this earth.
Today, in the midst of our playtime, I stacked some of his little toy cups and gave it to him.
True to his perfect rhythms, he began to sprinkle the cups down on to the floor. My new found clarity lead me to cheer him on, “go Ka’eo go! You’re dropping the cups! Yes Baby, you can do it!!!” I was celebrating him just as any other parent might celebrate their own son as he charges down the field toward the end zone.
Ka’eo Jr looked at me with wonder… I celebrated his spontaneous look into my eyes and quickly stacked the cups again, “here you go! You’re the best! Do it again! Woo hoo!”
As Ka’eo Jr sprinkled the cups again, I pounded on the carpet and cheered as if he was dribbling past all defenders, ready to shoot the winning basket, “alright Ka’eo! Look at that! You’re soooo good at that!”
Ka’eo Jr giggled to see my amusement and when he was done he squealed with accomplishment and ran to me. I grabbed him and tickled him and we giggled and laughed together!
Again and again we played our new game, complete interaction, sincere enthusiasm, and pure love of one another. At the end of our session I realized he’d looked at me, SPONTANEOUSLY, 91 times.
Heaven on earth is REAL, it happens every day in Ka’eo Jr’s playroom…BELIEVE
I'm the HAPPIEST MOMMY in thee entire universe!!! Today my first "DREAM MOMENT" with Ka'eo Jr. came true!!! I asked him for a kiss...he planted one on me - then looked my right in the eyes with a smile and said "MOMMY...I LOVE YOU" --- My heart stopped & my eyes instantly filled with tears. I couldn't believe it!!!! I'm still overjoyed - a moment I will cherish forvever and ever. I know his potential is LIMITLESS...and this is just the beginning!!! :) :) :)
I just had an amazing 2 hour Son-Rise therapy session with Ka’eo, Jr. What’s even more incredible is the session started with him crying his heart out when Mommy left the room. When he cried I just loved and accepted him and let him know it was okay to cry and Daddy was right
there when he was ready. He cried for about a minute or so, then he started to play with his marble game.
As I enthusiastically joined him in his marble game, his frown grew to a smile and he started giggling as we played with his “kick ball”(marble game). After he was done with his marbles, he led me to the closet and asked me to “open please” so I could take out his Mr. Potato Head set. We played with all the different eyes, ears, noses, mouths, as I labeled “big”& “small” for him. He actually said “big”with me a few times.
I started sorting the pieces into like parts, ears together, arms together, shoes together, etc. He looked at me and, almost as if to show me who’s room it was, he threw everything up in the air, mixing all my sorted piles around, pieces flying every which way. I celebrated his act of dominance. “Yey Ka’eo! It’s popping like popcorn! Pop! Pop! Pop!” He smiled and continued to toss pieces in the air as I kept feeding him more and more pieces to pop up like popcorn.
He said, “Pop! Pop!” with approval of our newly changed game. Then he smiled and twirled some plastic teeth between his fingers. I relaxed and joined him by twirling a nose or two. He looked down and grabbed the big moustache and searched the pile before picking up the small moustache. Was he matching?
Next he grabbed a small red tongue and looked at me, “help me”. I was astonished. I looked down to see he was indicating he wanted me to help him find the other tongue.
“Okay, you want this one?” as I handed him the pink tongue.
“This one,” he said as he gladly took the matching piece. Not a few moments later he picked up the small set of teeth and matched it with the bid set of teeth.
He was matching! Only a few minutes earlier I was trying to show him how to match and it seemed he was ignoring me. So awesome! He then decided to show me that he could take his marbles and send them rolling and twisting down his slide. I said, “woo hoo! That looks like fun!” and positioned myself at the end of the slide so the marbles would roll down the slide, across the carpet, and up against my leg. He rolled the marbles down the slide and I gathered them up for him. We created a new game!
This went on for 15 minutes or longer and by the end of it, he would roll the marbles down the slide, I would gather them and ask, “again Ka’eo?” To which he would reply, “again!”and come and pick them out of my hands. After he filled his hands with marbles, I asked him, “where’s my kiss?”he said, “kiss” and give me a sweet peck before return to the top of the slide to make his next roll. I swear I must have gotten 15 or more sweet kisses this way. What a game!
After the first hour, Mommy brought his favorite dish to the door, turkey bacon and brown rice, yummy! I pulled out his chair and asked him to “sit down please” to which he eagerly complied while grabbing some bacon bits and devouring them. I looked at the plate and saw that Mommy had given us a 3 inch branch of cooked broccoli. “Oh my, this is going to be a challenge.” I thought to myself. So I cut the broccoli up into little pieces and gave him a few pieces with each big bite of bacon and rice. Lo and behold he ate the entire meal! All the broccoli, the mountain of brown rice, his juice with supplements, and of course his crispity crunchity bacon! Woo hoo again for team Griffin!
Ka’eo danced around the room for a while, singing Old McDonald, celebrating his delicious feast. He then pulled me over to his bookshelf and said, “up please!”
“Oh, okay Ka’eo, let’s go up, up, up!” I said with excitement.
“I want book.” He said as he reached up toward his Little People book. We pulled it down off the bookshelf and he started to flip the pages with great interest. I pointed at one of the pages and he pushed my hand away.
“Okay, no problem Buddy. I’ll read my book too.” So I grabbed my fish book and read next to
This was a regular occurrence because Ka’eo Jr has never let anyone read his book with him, except Mommy. I remember that morning talking to Jackie and telling her about the fact that he never lets me read with him. She said just that morning they were reading a book together and he was telling her who Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Zoey were. She said, “next time he gets a book out, take a pillow of the bed, lay down with your book and invite him to read with you…you never know!”
Remembering her words of wisdom, I slid a pillow off his bed, laid down next to him and started reading my fish book. Amazingly as if by habit, he left his book and laid down right next to me on the pillow and started to look at my fish book with me. He was laying down and reading a book with me for the first time in his life!!! I was so excited, I thanked him for reading with me and I started to flip the pages as he pointed at the different fish (he pointed!). I said, “see there’s Max Ka’eo, he’s looking for his friend. Purple fish. Yellow fish. Max the fish.”
In agreement he then said, “fish. Hello. Max.” Oh….My….God!!!! Really? I couldn’t believe it!
I was so happy I couldn’t stand it! Three E’s??? Oh yeah, I was definitely feeling the Energy, Excitement, and Enthusiasm today Baby! After about 3 minutes, he got up and started looking at his book again, but what a three minutes it was! Yee hee!
I looked up on the shelf and realized there were some new fuzzy toy balls that Mommy said he played that morning with her. I took them out of their bag and showed them to Ka’eo. He jumped up and grabbed them out of my hands and ran to his slide. “Oh, cool! Let’s play our game Ka’eo!” I said. He started to roll the new sillies down the slide and I gathered them up for him. We fell right back into our routine of “Again please.” Gather the balls. “Kiss Daddy” Sweet kisses. “Ready, set, go!” Down the slide they go! He was smiling and laughing as we played this game for more than 10 minutes together.
We just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company for more than 2 hours today. It was so much fun. I had to write about it. This week Ka’eo had more than 22 hours of 1-on-1 playroom time! Our best week yet! We are charging forward with our Son-Rise Program and Ka’eo Jr continues to show us its exceptional effectiveness.
It seems like there’s a new miracle everyday in our house. We are so blessed! Thank you Lord for my wife and little boys, for Ka’eo’s autism, and for Son-Rise :o)
I'm choosing to be really bummed now!!!
We were all excited about Dr. Dorinne Davis from the Davis Center whom we
met at the Autism One Conference in Chicago this May.
She is this amazingly intelligent Dr. who is certified in over 20 different listening programs that help heal issues with your inner ear, etc. She can analyze your inner ear to see exactly which program is the best fit for you... So we paid around $400 or $500 each for Jackie and Ka'eo Jr to get assessed by her while we were there in Chicago. Everything went great, her diagnoses seemed spot on, so she said we would be contacted to get set up with the 2 programs Ka'eo Jr and Jackie would be right for...Auditory Integration Training and the Enlisten Training Program.
So today we get the call that they are ready to ship out the AIT equipment to us, it's a 10 day program, then we would start the ETP over the next 6 months. So I find out the AIT would cost $2000 (for 10 days) and the ETP License would be another $6000 (for 6 months) !!!
I was floored. I said, "um...we can't afford $8000, we have a child with autism and we're already spending every penny we have to help him recover..."
She said, "oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were already invoiced for this..."
I said, "No...I knew the AIT was $800 after the initial assessment and that's it...but actually it is $800 after the intial assessment that costs $600 (which isn't the first assessment we did in Chicago, its different), then it's another $600 for the 2nd person's AIT..."
OMG...anyway I could go on and on, but you get the picture...I'm just choosing to be bummed at this moment...then I'll get over it and move on.
I just had such high hopes for this because Ka'eo Jr really shows us he has inner ear issues, he covers his ears often and is sensitive to certain sounds...but we just can't afford $8000. Even if Jackie backs out of it and we only do Ka'eo Jr, it's still $6400! I mean, REALLY, do you know how much Son-Rise training and consultations that would equal???
Thanks but no thanks Dr. Dorinne Davis!!! Movin' on :o)