Local family to take part in US Autism course

Little Lily McMullan with parents Jill and Sammy. INCR21-325PL
Little Lily McMullan with parents Jill and Sammy. INCR21-325PL

A Coleraine couple will travel to America next month to take part in a programme in a bid to help their four-year old daughter who suffers from Autism

Little Lily McMullan suffers from severe autism, she has no means of communicating with others.

Lily’s parents Jill and Sammy McMullan will travel to the Autism Treatment Centre of America, the worldwide teaching centre for The Son-Rise Programme to take part in a training course.

The intense training will enable them to take their little daughter through the programme from their Coleraine home.

They will be one of only a handful of Northern Ireland families to take part in the programme, which had has many success stories.

The Son-Rise Program was originated in 1974 by parents, Barry Neil Kaufman and Samahria Lyte Kaufman for their son. Their treatment and educational model has changed the way children with Autism are helped worldwide.

It’s is an alternative autism treatment based upon the idea that the children show us the way in, and then we show them the way out.

This means that, rather than trying to force children to conform to a world that they don’t yet understand, parents join them in their world first.

After reading about the programme online, Jill felt that she had to find out more about it in a bid to help her happy-go-lucky little daughter.

“Lily is a such a wonderful girl,” Jill told The Times.

“She is always smiling and loves bubbles, swings and drawing.

“Lily is unable to communicate, she will take me by the hand, but that’s really the only means of communication she knows.

“I read about the programme online, and was really excited about it. When another friend in work told me about another success story through the programme, I just knew that we had to give it a go.”

For Lily’s parents - introducing Lily to the programme will be a big commitment: “Myself and my husband are going to America to take part on a course about the programme. It will be full on, but if it means we can help Lily then it will be worth it.

“I will be taking a year out of work to work with Lily on the programme from home.

“She’s currently at preschool at Sandelford, but when she finishes that at the end of June that will be her, we will start the programme ourselves from home then in July.

“The programme is child led, it’s about making the adult the main focus rather than toys or other objects - it’s really about joining the Autistic child in their world, building a connection with the hope that they will join us in our world.

“We just want to allow Lily to develop as much as we can.

“There are been children who have been ‘unlocked’ after the programme, that means that they show no signs of Autism at all, obviously that is our dream, but if we can help Lily even a little bit then it will have been worth while.

“Throughout the programme we will be in contact with people from the Autism Centre of America for monthly consultation and then an outreach officer will visit us at home.”

*A fundraiser for the family will be held in the Coleraine FC Social Club this Friday.

The event, a table quiz is will commence at 8pm, and teams of six people are invited to come along.

Everyone is welcome.