Dear Kaufman family and staff at The Option institute,
My name is Kristina and I live in Sweden. I just want to write to you and say THANK YOU for giving me support at this very moment.
This is my story: about 14 years ago I was a student and had a small party in my dorm. A friend of mine brought an American guy to this party, his name was Raun. I thought he was really nice and special. He had his own style with long, curly hair and a big earring and I found it interesting to speak to him. Later that evening we went to a club downtown in Stockholm and I talked quite a lot to Raun. He told me he had once been autistic. He said that when he was a small boy his mother couldn’t get in touch with him but was extremely patient. She would sit beside him and swing for hours and not pressure him, he continued. Later they had made a movie about his life, he told me. He said it was strange to see himself in a film. I listened carefully to this young man’s story. I also remembered that he said that after he had been cured, his mother and father had opened up a school for other autistic children.
Soon after this meeting I told a friend about Raun and she had seen the movie about him in High school in a psychology class. We both found it fascinating that I had met him.
Many years later, in 1999, I gave birth to a wonderful son. I soon noticed that he was very special but I felt positive that he would turn out OK and that many of his difficulties would disappear with the right training and patience. I dreaded having to make an investigation and “label” him and in that way take away many future hopes and dreams. I and my husband still have this attitude and we are grateful every day that he climbs mountains that were impossible the day before. However, school has now signalled that they would like an investigation and they have asked us what we have planned for him in the future. The way they have spoken to us, is that we are naive thinking that he can develop and live a good life. It seems like they do not see, or choose to see, the progress he makes all the time.
When I felt sad about school’s attitude, I remembered the young American I had spoken to one evening about 14 years ago. I remembered him telling me that he had had autism but was cured. That gave me a lot of hope. I spent hours on the internet trying to find facts about him and the movie he had told me about. I didn’t quite remember his name and searched on Google for Ron and other similar names for hours and hours. Then suddenly I found him: Raun Kaufman was his name. I shivered. That movie must be for sale on the Internet somewhere.
I didn’t find the movie but I found the books Son-Rise:The Miracle Continues and Happiness Is A Choice by Raun’s father.
And that’s why I am writing this long letter to you. I have read those two books and they have given me hope, and more important strength, to continue to believe in my son and to continue to let myself be happy with his progress instead of letting pessimistic people trying to convince me to be realistic and trying to let me understand he has a life-long and terrible handicap.
So once again, thank you Barry Kaufman for writing such inspiring books, thank you Raun for having spent a few hours talking to me when you were an exchange student, and thank you every one at The Option Institute. You really do make a change and give people in my situation hope and strength!
A big hug to all of you!
Kristina Axelsson, Mother, Sweden