Scores of parents abandon mainstream autism treatments to pursue Son-Rise, an intense, expensive — and unproven — behavioral therapy.
The prices at the institute are especially steep given that states such as California and New York pay for a wide range of evidence-based interventions. Son-Rise startup classes are advertised as $2,200 per parent; an ‘intensive’ course, attended by parents and children, can run to $18,000. “Should you be selling your house to pay for this extraordinarily expensive program?” asks Catherine Lord, founding director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York. “That’s where we are getting worried.”
Investing in Son-Rise, experts say, is a little like buying a lottery ticket. “I’m not aware of any rigorous scientific evidence that supports it,” says Fred Volkmar, head of the Autism Program at Yale University. There are no independent clinical trials or scientific studies of Son-Rise to back the institute’s claims that the program “helps parents cure their children in some cases” and “achieve significant improvement in almost all cases.”