Almost twenty years ago, the universe placed in my path a challenge that would irrevocably change my life and the lives of everyone in my family. Our son had been diagnosed as profoundly autistic and functionally retarded. We were offered no hope. In response, my wife and I not only reevaluated the meaning and purpose of our lives but searched ourselves to find the most open-hearted, accepting, and loving place inside. More than anything else, we wanted to help our child. And even when others discouraged such an endeavor as foolhardy and unrealistic, we knew we had to try.
An amazing adventure into the unknown ensued. Instead of trying to discourage what others judged as our son’s weird and inappropriate behaviors, we joined him lovingly and respectfully, jumping fully into his bizarre, unpredictable, and fantastic world. Unexpectedly, what began as a journey to find our son became a journey in which we found ourselves.
The publication of the book Son-Rise, written eighteen years ago, and the network television movie based on it, brought people to our doorstep from around the world. In response to their pleas for help and assistance, our lives took a dramatic new turn. Soon we were devoting ourselves full-time to sharing what we learned, not only with families with special children, but also with thousands of adults wanting to use the attitude we teach to help themselves find happiness, peace of mind, and inspiration when confronting the challenges in their lives. As I have worked with people at our learning center, The Option Institute , written other books, and traveled extensively presenting talks, seminars, and workshops, I have encountered over and over and over again two pointed questions:
Question #1: Whatever happened to that little boy who was only four years old when the Son-Rise book ended? Did his healing last? Did he continue to develop and thrive?
Question #2: Was his healing a fluke or were you able to replicate your success with him when you worked with other children?
I wrote this book to answer both of these questions.
Additionally, I substantially rewrote the original Son-Rise (which forms the first section of this book), expanding it, deepening it, and adding anecdotes not contained in the original book in order to make the events and what we learned from them more graspable. I feel as if I have matured – grown up – during these intervening years. The people who have come to our learning center have taught me so much about accessing peace of mind and personal power as they faced their challenges and created their solutions. These lessons have enabled me to see more and understand much, much more about our profoundly transforming experience with our own son. I have tried to incorporate those realizations into this book as well.
Reading the following I hope will be as wondrous an adventure for you as living and sharing it has been for my family and all those who have attended our programs throughout the years.
Barry (“Bears”) Neil Kaufman