The Son-Rise programme which transformed Raun Kaufman's life begins by encouraging parents to join in a child's repetitive behaviour.
Known as `the joining', it goes against the theory that mirroring these actions - such as rocking back and forth, tapping things with a pen, or flapping hands in the air - will only serve to reinforce the rituals.
Instead, Raun's parents copied him. He liked to spin plates for hours. So they joined him, until they had built up his trust and he began to communicate.
The first signs of improvement might be just an occasional glance, but it is more than parents of autistic children can usually hope for.
Son-Rise then uses the child's new motivation to help them learn more.
For example, if a child likes Thomas The Tank Engine, they might be taught to identify colours using the brightly-painted engines. Parents are taught to react to every word their child says, to encourage communication. At every attempt to talk, the parent responds by cheering and celebrating wildly. This shows the child they have power to affect others through speech.
Likewise, the parent does not respond to screaming, crying and hitting. The carer simply explains in a calm tone that they do not understand when the child acts this way. If a child is unwilling to finish a task, the parent does not force the issue.
Probably the most important element of the programme - which can take years - is teaching parents to accept their child's autism.
Sue says: "The most important part of it all for me was learning to say `So what?' If Shaun or Danielle don't progress in a particular way, it doesn't matter, as long as they are happy."
Raun Kaufman will give a free lecture at George Square Theatre, Edinburgh University, on September 26, at 5-9pm. For more info or to book seats e-mail email@example.com, visit www.AutismTreatmentCenter.org or call 1-877-SONRISE