In 2006 The Autism Treatment Center of America™ began the first ever independent scientific investigation of The Son-Rise Program. This has been a long-standing goal and so the formation of links with top-rated Northwestern University (IL, USA) and Lancaster University (UK) has been very exciting.
The first stages of the project have focused around creating infrastructure that allows The Autism Treatment Center of America to continuously collect information about families and children as they use The Son-Rise Program. This essential step will allow close tracking of the impact of The Son-Rise Program on children’s development and parents experience of running a home-based program. The development of this system has also allowed for the creation of new tools for assessing social development in children with autism as standardized current tools are tested against The Son-Rise Program model of social development.
In 2007 a second phase of The Son-Rise Program research project began to take a closer look at the immediate effects of The Son-Rise Program methodology when delivered by professionals to children with autism. An investigation into the social behaviors of children with autism before and after The Son-Rise Intensive Program is under way. This controlled study aims to be the first step on the path towards assessing the efficacy of The Son-Rise Program for the treatment of autism and to add to current theoretical perspectives on autism and development.
Both these projects are ongoing and currently no results are available. As soon as preliminary results are available these will be posted.
To date there is very little published research on The Son-Rise Program. That which is available highlights the challenges of designing research to rigorously assess the effects of The Son-Rise Program on children and families. Katie Williams from The University of Edinburgh used extensive questionnaires and interviews with a group of families over the first year of them running a Son-Rise Program at home. The study focused on the parent’s experience of running a home-based program not on the impact of the program on the child. However when asked about the efficacy of the program 52% of parents rated it as very effective, 26% as moderately effective, 22% as slightly effective and 0% as not at all effective (Williams, 2006). This may explain why many parents continued to run their home-based programs after 12 months even though they were encountering challenges in this endeavor.
A case study design followed one family’s experience of running a Son-Rise Program for a year and found improvements in the child’s level of eye contact, communication and social engagement while documenting the challenges faced by the parents in running the program (The Son-Rise Program: A Case Study of a Family Living with Autism. Pamela, S. Davis, 2007). A qualitative analysis of parent’s comments on their experience of running home-based Son-Rise Programs found that the creation of a new conceptualization of autism by parents helped foster positive changes in their own attitudes that impacted their interactions with their children and influenced positive change in the rest of their lives (Alternative Stories: A qualitative investigation into parental beliefs and experiences of The Son-Rise Program. Jack Mason-Goodall, 2006).
Although there is currently no published research addressing the efficacy of The Son-Rise Program there is support in the published literature for many of the techniques utilized by The Son-Rise Program. See The Son-Rise Program: Supportive Research for a full review.