Jonathon Alderson

Presentation + Questions & Answers
For ADD-Holistic Discussion Group

Autism Treatment: Multi-Treatments provide ultimate combination

Jonathan Alderson is the Founder and Director of the Intensive Multi-Treatment Intervention ( program for families with children on the autistic spectrum. Alderson offers a highly customized solution and specializes in blending play therapy, structured learning, sensory, and biomedical treatments in the integrated IMTI model. “The issues underlying the challenges of children with autism are multifaceted – so the treatment has to be multifaceted too”, Alderson explains about his unique approach. With over 20 years of study and work in education and autism treatment, a Masters in Education from Harvard University, a BA in developmental and educational psychology, and 8 years of training and work at the Son-Rise Program, including hundreds of hours of 1:1 therapy with children, Alderson now designs and directs home-based treatment programs for families in Toronto, Ontario. You can find more about his practice at

Date: Sun, 6 Sep 1998 11:25:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mark Gold
Subject: ADD Introducing next week's Visiting Expert


I would like to introduce our next Visiting Expert, Jonathan Alderson, of the Option Institute. I first read about the work of the Option Institute earlier this year in a magazine published in the UK. I very much look forward to learning more about their programs.

One concern I had is that programs and ideas which are not about diet, herbs, and other physical manipulations are sometimes not taken as seriously. I recently read an interview of the well-known and respected physician, Dr. Dean Ornish. He was referring some of the same ideas that are taught by the Option Institute when he said:

The Son-Rise Program is a program at the Option Institute for "helping children and adults with special needs maximize their potential." They work with persons with ADD, PDD, Autism, and others. Jonathan Alderson is the Son-Rise Program Director. He oversees all aspects of Son-Rise Program, responsible for budget planning, supervision and development of all SRP Child Facilitator and Teacher Training, staff trainer and family teacher, recruiting and interviewing new trainees, future planning and development.

Best Wishes,
- Mark
Holistic Healing Web Page

Date: Sun, 06 Sep 1998 13:00:08 -0700
From: Amy


I am a Special Needs Foster Parent ... currently:

  1. 9 yo male Navajo Autistic ADHD Seizures Agressive
  2. 4 yo female PDD/NOS just taking her first steps
  3. 3 yo femal Rett Syndrome
and 5 cats that let me stay here if I'm good! Additionally I do Respite for DD kids in my 'spare time'. I've been in this field since the early 70s first being introduced in a State School. I'm an Early Intervention advocate.

I'm wondering ... I've been following the Option Institute and would dearly love to attend. However due to time restrains and costs involved I'm not sure I'll ever get it worked out.

Have you or are you considering any 'road trip' seminars? Forgive me if I'm ignorant and you alread do this. But it's so very difficult if not impossible for many of us to REALLY get away.

I must say that my greatest successes I believe have been with diet approaches. Each of our kids has wonderful stories.

Bless you for all you do. And welcome again!



Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 16:42:57 -0400
From: Jonathan Alderson
Subject: Re: ADD WELCOME

Hello Amy! Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm so excited to be able to share more about what we do at the Son-Rise Program with all of you. A big WOW! goes to you for you love and courage in choosing to "foster" so many very special children. We continue to hold such admiration for all of the incredible parents that we meet daily...and it is for this reason that we feel so strongly about the importance of supporting parents as much as we help change the lives of children. One of our fundamental principles is the the parent is the child's best resource!

With regard to your questions-- yes, at times we do go "on the road" with our Start-Up Program which is a very powerful one-week seminar intorducing all of the basic concepts of the Son-Rise program with instruction on how to set-up a home-based program, video presentations, different experiential exercises etc. We are doing this more and more, this year already we presented in Amsterdam, and twice in London England. We haven't done this as yet in North America. However, we do offer this program almost every 3-4 months at the Institute in Massachusettes. We'd love you to attend and to meet you .

Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 21:40:14 -0400
From: Jonathan Alderson
Subject: ADD The Son-Rise Program

Cheers!; I'm sorry this is late getting to all of you, but hopefully still useful.; It is such an honor to be a guest on-line with you and to be able to have this open forum of ideas in which to share more of a program which for me has inspired professional and personal growth over the past seven years.; My formal training, prior to the Option Institute was in Developmental Psychology, however, it is my training and experience with these very very special children at the Option Institute that has led me to understand more than any text book could ever do!; I know that if any of you choose to read the book SON-RISE : THE MIRACLE CONTINUES, you will be touched by the heart-warming stories and the profound impact that the concepts taught in the Son-Rise program can make.; I invite you to do this as a first step and introduction.; Below I have tried to outline a brief history and synopsis of what we do.; I hope you enjoy!; And I look forward to hearing from you.

The Son-Rise Program for families with special children serves parents and professionals seeking a loving, humane and respectful method to help special children maximize their potential. This unique program is based on the work of Barry and Samahria Kaufman whorebirthed their son, Raun, from the supposedly incurable illness of autism. Defying the odds, they developed a program radically different than existing techniques. Based on an attitude of love and non-judgment, they designed and implemented a child-centered, home-based program for their son.

After their own success, the Kaufman's went on to establish The Option Institute and Fellowship, a non-profit, charitable organization. Families come to The Option Institute with children who face a host of disabilities including: autism, ADD, PDD, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Rett Syndrome, and Down Syndrome among others.

We teach from the perspective that every child is wonderful and precious, regardless of their diagnosis or the way they are often viewed by society. Families of children with special needs have heard "tragedy" and "hopeless" often enough. We tell them that their child is a gift, and can provide the entire family with an experience of growth. This perspective is not restricted to autism or any other condition. And, because we observe each child intensively and then design individualized programs based on the child's cues, the diagnosis is actually not important. What is important is the child. All children are different, regardless of the labels we give them.

We base our program on some very simple, yet powerful concepts: The first is that *loving* a child and expressing an accepting attitude are more important in establishing a relationship with the child than any specific to modify a child's behavior. The second is that the *Child is the Teacher.*; By this we mean that; one basis of learning is motivation.; A child will learn to the degree that they are motivated for something.; Most of the children that we work with are not motivated by the same things other children are such as peer relations, social dynamics, interactions, or even toys.; Since our aim is to establish interaction and an interest in learning with the child, we begin by observing what the child does how do they spend their time.; What can we learn about this particular child's motivation that we can then use to build on?; In this way, we can still have an agenda of what we want to teach a child, but we present the curriculum through the child's motivation.; For example, if I want to teach basic math.; And my son is interested in collecting baseball cards and studies the statistics of the baseball players, I could imagine various games, conversations, and projects involving baseball cards through which my son and I could explore the nature of basic math concepts.; This is of course almost evident it is so simple a concept, yet so few of us; take the time to study the interests of our children and then approach teaching through them.; Another benefit to this concept is that by "joining" my child in their area of interest I not only learn more about them and how they learn, but I build more trust, acceptance, and love between us.;

While our continued input with a family is extremely useful; we begin by empowering parents so that they feel confident enough to draw on their sense of what is most effective for their childto resource their observations and connection with their own child.; After a Son-Rise program Training Course, parents not only have a wealth of knowledge and techniques to use to help heal their child, but they have also gained a new perspective that offers the opportunity for them to cope with and embrace their situation rather than feel fearful or angry.; This attitude shift alone brings the parents closer to the child and invites the child to interact, communicate and participate more in their surroundings.

Our way of working with special needs children is applicable to any disability. What we are doing is motivating the children in a very loving, passionate and enthusiastic way to actually change their brains, their physical bodies, etc. When we work with children we are incredibly compelling in our enthusiasm, and we completely accept whatever the child might want to do, and we engagingly request them to do more.

Our way of working with special needs children is applicable to any disability. One young boy came to us with a very physically disabling condition called Anterior Horn Cell. He was unable to walk and spent his days in a wheel chair.

He wasn't able to feed himself or assist with any of his own care. He was deteriorating rapidly according to the doctor. He was quite capable of conversation and was very intelligent. We tried to motivate him in all sorts of ways to move his body, but he always came back with "Oh I can't do that" - Oh no way I couldn't possibly do that!"

Then one of our staff members came up with a game - very specific that this young boy loved. This boy was given the role of a very special detective and he was on a mission to save the world. And what he had to do was to pick up this pin and get it into the door, open the door and that would disable the bomb and then he would save the world. The staff member was so enthusiastic and so exciting that he was able to motivate Abraham to pick up a pin, put it into the door and save the world. They did this over and over as Abraham dropped the pin, the staff member cheering "You almost did it!", come on Abraham, you can do it "Save the World". By the end of the week Abraham was getting himself into and out of his wheelchair in record time, brushing his teeth, and fixing all sorts of things with screwdrivers etc. So you see the programs are customized, but the key is our attitude and our ability to motivate the children.

We offer several different styles of programs each with varying levels of intensity and customization.; The program that we offer to families learning about the Son-Rise Program for the first time is called the Son-Rise Program Start-Up.; This is a dynamic, powerful and inspiring program that offers parents and professionals a chance to learn all of the fundamentals of the program including how to create the most supportive and effective learning environment for their child, how to choose a more loving and accepting attitude with their child and how to be even more creative and energized with their child.; We also present classes on easy and powerful techniques to help parents teach their children more language, more eye contact, longer attention span, self-help skills etc.

Once a family has attended our Start-Up Program, they can bring their child for a customized Son-Rise Program Intensive.; We work with only 2 families per week in our Intensives. During the week our trained staff work 8 hours per day in a specially designed playroom with your child while our teaching staff work with and instruct the parents.

After the week, many families return home to set up their own home-based program. These parents then train volunteers who work in their Son-Rise programs. We have seen parents create incredible programs involving up to 10 volunteers who all take part in creating the miracle of helping a child come to his/her full potential. These volunteers and parents convey to us over and over the joy they feel in working with a child with special needs, and how it has changed their life in some way - how it has helped them become more loving. less judgmental -(even of themselves) and how that has spilled over into their lives in a very profound way. These programs are not just helping the child but the adults involved are deeply touched by the experience.

I know that your group is mostly based on nutrition and we do definitely recommend that parents strongly consider testing for allergies, especially eliminating dairy and most sugars from the child's diet.; However, since we are not doctors nor dieticians , we are careful not to tread in areas for which we are not fully trained, eventhough we have tons of anecdotal evidence for diet as a source of healing for many of these children.

There is so much more that I would love to share with you about our program, but I know this isn't supposed to be too long just enough to tickle your brains and to stimulate some discussion.; In your questions to me, I would like to encourage all of us to use specifics and examples where possible so that we don't engage too much in theoretical philosophy type debate.; We work with hundreds of families each year.; I myself spend almost 80% of my weekly work time on the floor playing with these children or working with the families directly; so for us, although we have theories and concepts to teach; we are very grounded in applying all that we know and strive for daily.; I hope that this information can be meaningful and useful to each of you in some way Thank you for the opportunity to be a guest with you this week. For more information and resources check out our site at
With warm regards, Jonathan Alderson

Subject: Re: ADD The Son-Rise Program
From: (Jane H Hersey)
Date: Tue, 08 Sep 1998 14:03:00 EDT

I've long been impressed with the Kauffman's work and have written about it in Pure Facts, the newsletter of the Feingold Association. But I wanted to ask you not to be too intimidated by the concept of using nutrition to help these children. The heart of the Feingold Program is to eat FOOD not petroleum-based synthetic additives. It's just common sense, and has no down side to it.

For the children with autistic symptoms or extreme allergies, they may need to use rice milk and gluten-free baked goods, but even that is simply a different version of plain old good food.

Anyone can follow such a plan with a little bit of help. That's what we do.


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 11:05:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mark Gold
Subject: ADD Son-Rise Program Questions


Thank you for your detailed introductory post to the group! I have a few questions:

  1. In general, how successful has the Son-Rise Program been in working with children with ADD? I know that whatever treatment techniques are used, no guarantees can be made. However, it would be helpful to get a sense of the kinds of improvements have been seen? Does the book, "Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues" contain ADD cases?

  2. Do you work with adults with ADD? I wonder if it is much more difficult than helping children because most children have can have a strong support group (e.g., parents), but with adults, the support is not necessarily available.

  3. You mentioned that the Son-Rise program visits the UK. What would it take to set up visits in other parts of the U.S.? Is it simply a matter of getting enough families interested and finding a location for the classes?
One thing that impresses me about the Son-Rise Program is the environment of loving and acceptance that can be created (or increased) in the child's life. With or without the health improvement, this seems to be an important benefit.

List Note: Here is the web page for "Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues" (web address broken into two lines): sr=2-1/002-2786172-1958604

Best Wishes,
- Mark
Holistic Healing Web Page

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 09:18:20 -0400
From: Jonathan Alderson
Subject: Re: ADD Son-Rise Program Questions

Dear Mark, below are some answers and information , each answer following your original question.-- thank you for your questions!

At 11:05 AM 98-09-09 -0400, you wrote:
>Thank you for your detailed introductory post to the group! I have a few
>1. In general, how successful has the Son-Rise Program been in working
> with children with ADD? I know that whatever treatment techniques
> are used, no guarantees can be made. However, it would be helpful to
> get a sense of the kinds of improvements have been seen?

since we work with each child in a specially designed palyroom - constructed to eliminate distractions (this helps the child to focus of course) , and to eliminate any circumstance in which the child might have to be stopped or controlled. For example, if I don't want my child to play with a sharp knife, then I won't put a sharp knife in the playroom. In this way, I control the environment to my child's favor in that I am able to let my child explore, learn and play in a "permissive" environment. For children with ADD, since they are often ditracted, not focused and into everything around them, their parents, teachers and supervisors will often have to stop the child (eg. from running out in the road, or from taking candy in a store, or to sit still in a desk) -- this constant physical manipulation and exerting control, going against the child we believe leads to less trust of the child toward adults, possibly avoidance of touch (we see this when for example when an adult holds out thier hand for the child and the child pulls away) . Since one of our main focuses is to establish a very strong relationship based on trust and acceptance so that we can then strongly request and encourange change in the child, we feel that the best place to do this is in a playroom as opposed to outside where I always have to say "no", stop and go against my child. This is very effective with ADD children. We see much more attention span, greater ability to focus, listening skills increase, and most importantly is eye contact which we go for very strongly.

> Does the book, "Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues" contain ADD cases?

No, but it does have 5 other amazing stories of children with similar challenges. We do work with many many ADD, ADHD children.

>2. Do you work with adults with ADD?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

>I wonder if it is much more
> difficult than helping children because most children
> have can have a strong support group (e.g., parents), but with
> adults, the support is not necessarily available.

True, howerver, since our program is focused on teaching parents/families or supporting professionals to set up programs , we usually only worked with families as a whole and not just individuals with ADD -- however, if an adult with ADD was motivated enough to look at themselves, the way they operate and to take time each day to do certain kinds of focused activity, then we could help.

>3. You mentioned that the Son-Rise program visits the UK. What would
> it take to set up visits in other parts of the U.S.? Is it simply
> a matter of getting enough families interested and finding a location
> for the classes?

We have just set up a new dept. within our Institute called our Son-Rise Program World Wide Services created to handle all of our off property Programs. We anticipat4e creating Start-Up programs throughout the U.S. in major cities over the next two years. We will continue to send out flyers announcing these programs to those on our mailing list. Yes, we usually require a minimum of 100 participants to run an off site Program as well as a local "sponsor" who helps to find a venue etc.

>One thing that impresses me about the Son-Rise Program is the environment
>of loving and acceptance that can be created (or increased) in the child's
>life. With or without the health improvement, this seems to be an
>important benefit.

Absolutely! We feel that this is perhaps the single most important factor in the work that we do. Combined with a good diet and awareness of allergies etc. the Son-Rise Program is very powerful. As a note, most children are much more open to trying new (health ) foods or special diets when the foods are presented in a fun, loving way without forcing or pushing the child...once again, the attitude is so important in determining the eventual actions that we all take.

Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 17:48:15 -0400
From: Jonathan Alderson
Subject: Re: ADD The Son-Rise Program

Jane, thank you for your kind support and for making this tangible by writing about the Option Institute. Our timidity about speaking on nutrition is less about our conviction in the importance of nutrition and more about legal ramifications. Since our staff are not trained doctors or nutritionists, we are careful not to make specific recommendations unless these are solicited by the parents first. You'll be pleased to know that we have seen many many families use the Feingold diet who have had great success, especially when such diets are combined with a Son-Rise Program (We believe the perfect combination.) Good luck with all of your work!

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 11:23:35 EDT
Subject: Re: Re: ADD Son-Rise Program Questions

I can't think of any questions, but I do want to say how wonderful your program sounds for the lucky children -- and adults -- who come to you.

Caryl in Mpls.

Subject: Re: ADD The Son-Rise Program
From: (Jane H Hersey)
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 10:26:15 EDT

Thanks so much for your note and your kind words!