“The tremendous part is the progress our son has made,” Na said. “We believe in a full recovery for our son.” The Son-Rise program of the Autism Treatment Center of America emphasizes “joining” children in their learning instead of going against them. According to the Web site Wikipedia, the main criticism against the Son-Rise program is that there has been no independent research of its effectiveness, although parents have reported substantial improvements in their children. In the beginning, Na said he and his wife simply joined their son in whatever he was doing – whether that was standing with their hands along the wall or laying on the floor. Even the smallest of his activities was celebrated with “Good job!” or “Awesome!” That positive reinforcement allowed Edward to trust his parents and he began interacting and communicating with them more. He stopped retreating into his own world, and that’s when the improvements began. It was evident even to veteran occupational therapist Laura Steingold, who works with the couple’s youngest daughter, Elleyse, who is 2years old and is thought to be at risk of autism because of developmental delays. “The changes in \ Eddie have been amazing,” said Steingold, who has a history of working with autistic children. “When I first started going to the home, I’d come in the door, and the boy would run right past me and not really acknowledge me,” she said. “There was no eye contact, no talking and he seemed agitated most of the time, like he didn’t know what to do with himself. “But last week, I had given Elleyse a feather and when I left, he came over to me, looked me right in the eyes and said, `I want a feather, please,”‘ Steingold said. “I said, `OK, what color would you like?’ And he said, `Purple.’ Now, to get two sentences out of him like that and have an actual conversation with him, it just goes to show how the change in him has been amazing.” Financially, Na said it hasn’t been that much of a burden. They spent $180,000 on traditional autism treatments in one year, but that didn’t seem to work. So, they added a playroom with a one-way observation mirror to their house, which cost them $10,000. And the couple has attended two Son-Rise training sessions on the East Coast at a cost of $2,000per person. The program is not without its challenges, however. The time commitment is huge. Edward’s teaching goes on for several hours a day, seven days a week. Assessments are done constantly. As such, the couple has enlisted help from three volunteers, mostly college students, who help with Edward’s education in exchange for class credit. Volunteer Tiffany Castanon, 23, a senior at Cal State Fullerton who hopes to become a psychologist, said she had always wanted to work with autistic children. “I’ve learned so much, and I’ve seen such an improvement since I came at the end of November,” Castanon said. “When I first started, \ would mostly circle the room and hit the walls. “Now, he will come get me, pull my hand and say, `Let’s go to the playroom,”‘ she added. More than anything, the Nas say they just want other parents to know that they have options when it comes to their autistic children. “We want to get parents to know that they have to trust themselves and their children, and there are alternatives outside of force-feeding them Ritalin,” Na said. “It’s one thing to preach and another to show by example,” he added. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.” [email protected] (562)698-0955, Ext.3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventSo they decided to take charge of Edward’s education themselves, finally settling on a home-based program called Son-Rise through the Autism Treatment Center of America. The program is heavy on love and support – but light on the pressure to perform. And if the past 11 months are any indication, it is working. “Parents are the best advocates for their kids because they’re willing to believe the impossible,” said Eddie Na, 35, who works full-time as an engineer and whose wife is a stay-at-home parent. “My son only has to be happy, and I want to know that I’ve done what I can to get him to progress and recover.” A 2005 school evaluation predicted that by the time Edward turned 4 last December, he would likely only have a 10-word vocabulary, be able to put together a four-piece puzzle and sort two colors. Now, four months after his fourth birthday, Edward’s vocabulary consists of 500 words. He can speak in six- to nine-word sentences, he maintains eye contact and just finished putting together a 36-piece puzzle with his father. LA HABRA – Eddie Na’s father brought him and his siblings from Korea to America in the 1970s to give them a chance at a better education, hoping they would eventually attend prestigious universities like Harvard and Stanford. Three decades later, Na and his wife, Rachel, find themselves also forging an unusual educational path for their 4-year-old son. But their expectations for his progress are much different. After their son, Edward Michael, was diagnosed with autism more than two years ago, the couple said they encountered mostly confusion and frustration with traditional techniques to treat the brain disorder. Therapy sessions involved someone physically restraining or moving Edward’s head or hands – and it just didn’t feel right, Na said.