Parents of autistic child reaching out for help
Aidan Brennan (right) reads through a book called "Ten in the Bed" with his father, Chris. Aidan has autism and the family is working on a home therapy program for him. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
Updated: June 8, 2012 10:58AM
Six year-old Aidan Brennan’s upstairs playroom may look a little plain, but it could hold the key to continued healing and growth.
Aidan was diagnosed with autism and has struggled with social interaction and
expressive language skills. His parents, Chris and Eva of Western Springs, spent many hours researching
various programs and may have found one which appears to be perfect for their son.
After learning of the Autism Treatment Center of America’s Son-Rise program, Chris
attended a week-long program conference in Sheffield, Mass., which detailed the home-
The course included building a playroom, which is free from all distractions,
allowing Aidan to learn and build his skills.
“Aidan’s in his world and we have our world,” Eva said. “The concept of Son-Rise
is you’re developing a bridge to go into his world and help bring him to our world.
Whatever it is that interests him we connect with him and bring him back so he’ll
function, be happy and develop relationships.”
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate stated autism
prevalence has risen to 1 in every 88 children in the United States.
Eva and Chris constructed the playroom two months ago and were surprised at how
Aidan’s enthusiasm, energy and eye-contact have improved. The couple tries to spend
four to five hours a week in the room, but are in search of volunteers to bump that up to
40 hours per week.
“We try to go into the room as much as we can,” Eva said. “Whatever he wants to do,
we follow his lead. He’s done so well up until now and you want to take him to the next
Eva and Chris have spoken with 10 prospective volunteers, interviewing three, and
have reached out to area college students.
With two other children in their home and Chris working two jobs, the Brennans
are seeking anyone high school-age and up to volunteer any hours they can to help in
Aidan’s treatment. The Brennans would provide all the training needed and feedback.
“Any race, age, sex of people is great for Aidan,” Chris said. “Him meeting all these
other people would be fantastic. Families have had unbelievable success when they
can get a full-time, 40-hour program.”
Aidan is the determining factor in how long his treatment in the playroom will last,
which could be anywhere from a few months to two years, but the Brennans are
optimistic it can lead to great things.
“It builds his social interaction and expressive language at an appropriate level,”
Chris said. “We’ve seen another couple who started the program two years ago and
now their child doesn’t need an aid at school and he can go out to the pool with other
Aidan is a very talkative child who loves to read books and act them out with various
dolls inside the playroom. Even sister Nora, 4, helps read books and plays with her
older brother as the entire family is committed to the Son-Rise program.
“Our approach and mind-set of Aidan and our whole family is a lot more positive and
we embrace it in a loving way,” Eva said. “It has helped our relationship and our family
as a whole.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Brennans can contact Eva at (708) 567-