Parenting A Troubled Teen

Ever since I was a girl I wanted a family. As a young woman it was the most important desire in my life. Imagine my delight and excitement when I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. But then a peculiar thing happened shortly after her birth. l began to fear that I would somehow lose this most precious gift. As Erica grew older and more independent my fear became more powerful, overwhelming me! I imagined everything from her becoming deathly ill to her running away, to her being killed.

Two years ago, just before her 18th birthday, Erica was involved in an auto accident. Driving in a fit of rage, too fast down a winding mountain road, she lost control and rolled her car over a cliff. Although her little red Toyota was totally destroyed, she miraculously walked away virtually unscratched.

Six weeks later Erica announced that she was not going to attend the prestigious LA design school which had just accepted her. This was something she had dreamed of doing for years, and now she was turning it all down! Then one week later Erica told us she had dropped out of high school, four months before her graduation, an event she had been anticipating with excitement since her junior year.

Four days after this startling decision, Erica had a fight with her boyfriend, then went to her girlfriend’s house who wasn’t home. However, there on the table next to her friend’s bed were some pills which Erica picked up. She then drove slowly out to a place near our home, a place as barren as she was feeling. As she sat there alone in the dark she deliberately and intently swallowed one pill at a time. As soon as all the pills had been consumed Erica drove home and told me what she had done. Before she even got to the part about taking the pills, I could feel the fear choking me. I couldn’t breathe. Within moments I became blind with rage. I was hysterical. The rest of the evening was a chaotic blur. I was of no help to Erica or anyone because I was so hopelessly lost in my worst nightmare – the loss of my most precious gift, my daughter. Thankfully the pills were not lethal and Erica’s life had been spared.

By this time I was a total basket case. I sunk into a deep depression, not sleeping or eating, and unable to work. I cried all the time. I was worried sick about what might happen next. During this time a friend gave me a book written by Barry Neil Kaufman, emphatically urging me to read it. The book stated that by simply changing our beliefs we could become happier, more loving individuals. It talked about making positive changes in our lives by changing the way we see things. I consumed the book!

One week later Erica came home obviously very angry. She stomped down the hall into her room, slammed the door, and proceeded to hurl things against the wall. When I knocked, she screamed at me to go away which I did. Then an ominous silence fell over the house and a moment later a small, scared, childlike voice cried out, ‘Mommy, can you come here.’ Fearing the worst, I walked down the hall to her room where I found her curled up in a blanket with a note lying at her feet. The note outlined everything she had just ingested, a virtual drugstore. It also said she loved me very much and that she was sorry and good-bye. As I stood, not wanting to believe that this horror was taking place, I kept remembering Mr. Kaufman’s words that we do indeed have the power to consciously choose to view tragedies as opportunities. So, in that moment I chose to not give into the fear and to, instead, look for the opportunity.

As I rode in the car behind the ambulance, I was aware of the familiar feeling of fear wanting to wash over me. Instead of giving into the fear, as I always did before, I chose to become comfortable with myself, to feel love instead of fear and anxiety. I repeated this again after finding out that my daughter had consumed a lethal dose and, if she did not die, the chances were strong she’d sustain brain damage.

I was amazed at my own ability to stay calm, even as I talked with the doctors, convincing them to let me go into her room, something that, at first, they strongly opposed. When Erica woke up she tearfully asked if I was angry. And to my amazement I realized I was not. Then I seized the moment, creating an opportunity for myself, and possibly for her too. I asked her why she thought she did this. To my utter amazement and total delight, we began a long conversation, me gently and lovingly asking her questions and she answering, not so much for me, but mostly for herself. We talked for hours when Erica came to the conclusion that she didn’t want to die, but that she really wanted to live. And finally, the lab report came back, and miraculously, as if by the sheer grace of God, there was no permanent damage.

Today Erica is in college, and happier than I have ever seen her. She has a new passion for life! I believe this begin with the opportunity I created that incredible night almost two years ago in her hospital room. By choosing love over fear, I was able to give Erica the help she needed to change her view of herself and of her world. As for me, I have incorporated this simple yet profound concept into my life and as a result, my life is profoundly happier. I no longer fear loosing Erica, but instead have learned to let her take responsibility for her own life. I have replaced fear with a deep inner peace, something I once thought could not exist for me.

Lee B., Director, Women’s Resource Center, Colorado

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The Option Institute and its teachers have had the honor to present programs (during the last four decades) that explore the attitudes and beliefs we have (and may want to change) and to help program participants find their own answers to questions about relationships, careers, family challenges and health issues. Our new program, Health & Healing: Navigating Life’s Health Challenges (formerly '5 Days to Live') , focuses on navigating significant health challenges and decision-making with greater ease, clarity, and clear purpose.

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Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar