Son-Rise Program and Autism Ranking: No evidence

Father and son

The Son-Rise Program (sometimes known as the Options Method) is a type of relationship-based intervention. It is used to help autistic children and children with other disabilities.

The Son-Rise Program is based on the idea that autistic children have trouble forming relationships with other people but can be helped to develop those relationships through playful interaction with an adult.

The adult follows the child’s lead rather than superimposing their own ideas of what the child should do. This includes ‘joining’ the child in his or behaviour rather than trying to stop it. So, if the child is stacking blocks or flapping his hands, the adult does the same.

The aim is not simply to copy the activity but to build trust. By doing the same as the child, the adult shows the child that he or she is loved and accepted without judgment. It then becomes much easier to build a relationship. As the relationship develops the adult is able to use the child’s own motivation to teach him or her new skills based around his or her own interests.

Our Opinion

There is almost no research (two very poor quality studies) to suggest that the Son-Rise Program is an effective intervention for autistic children and young people.

However, we believe that some elements of the approach (such as the emphasis on following the child’s own interests and reciprocal interaction with the parents) may be beneficial to some autistic children and young people.

Because of this, we feel that further research into the programme is justified. This research should

  • be considerably more robust in terms of numbers and methodology used
  • compare the Son-Rise program with other educational interventions which are commonly used to help autistic children and young people
  • investigate variables, such as whether the program is likely to be more effective for specific groups on the autism spectrum or whether it is more effective when delivered by parents or therapists or both
  • investigate whether the program provides any long term benefits in real world settings (such as in the children’s own home)
  • investigate the effects on the emotional well being of the children or the impact on the whole family


Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions

16 Jun 2022
Last Review
01 Oct 2016
Next Review
01 Mar 2023