Rossland resident Geneviève Fortin is raising funds to help her daughter Mika, who was born autistic.
Fortin is fundraising by way of a painting by Stéphanie Gauvin which depicts a photo of Mika and her father on Record Ridge.
The painting, entitled Finding Mika’s Voice, The Mountain Ahead is for sale for $100 each and the money goes to the fund.
Fortin said they want to get Mika into an intensive program at the Son-Rise Center which is in New York.
There professionals work with both parents and children to help in the most thorough way possible.
Fortin already did a week there, without Mika.
“There is a lot to work on before you bring your child there, they like to see that you have a solid home program first, so that you can really benefit from their program,” she said. “There are a lot of Canadians and families from around the world doing it. It’s been around since 1978.”
The family made Son-Rise program for their son, and it worked to bring the child out of autism. Fortin said there are a lot of stories like that coming out of Son-Rise.
In B.C. the only therapy that is approved by the Autism Funding Unit. But Fortin said that approach didn’t work for them.
“ABA really didn’t call to us at all,” she said. “By the time she was second year in school I thought OK let’s do this.”
Fortin compared it to dog training, you repeat something until they do it on their own.
“It didn’t work. It didn’t work for her, it didn’t work for us,” she said.
Then her education assistant, who works with the family at home, had been researching other posible therapies and she found the Son-Rise method.
It took Fortin a couple months to really give the program a look, because to her, it seemed like it was too good to be true.
“It’s not a promise that the program will heal your child, but it can,” she said.
“I went back to school and did special ed. I went from a place where I didn’t know what to think or how to approach children with disabilities in our sociaty to a place where we just have to accept it and just accept them for who they are,” she said. “They won’t heal, but we can help them be in our world, and then this program tells me that, yeah, you have to accept them, but we can also have hope that they will reach our world and become active participating members of our society and not need help anymore.”
Finally she went over and did the parent training and found it was amazing. She said in ABA, the method is to try to get rid of the abnormal behaviour of an autistic child, replace it, but at Son-Rise it’s totally different.
“At Son-Rise, they have a wierd behaviour, I’m going to join in their behaviour, “Fortin said. “Then they notice that you’re there, and not only respecting them , but bridging to their world. Then once you’ve made that bridge then you can ask for a request.”
Fortin said they want to give Mika the tools so that she can go back in 2 -5 years and join her group again where she is a fully contributing member of her peer group.
Fortin said she wants the whole town to know why she’s doing this and endorse it.
She added some people would say that socializaton would be the best, something she tried by putting Mika in daycare when she was two. But she compares the socializing skills that Mika lacks to playing an instrument.
“If I want to learn guitar I can’t just go hang out with people who play guitar, I have to stay at home and learn the chords and practice,” she said. “Then I can go and hang out with people that play the guitar.”
Fortin needs to raise $15,000, half of which has been raised so far.
“We’re almost half way,” she said. “So when we get the money then we’ll book a week.”
Fortin will be doing a parent-only workshop in October.
To order the painting click here or call 250-362-5214.