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Film / Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love

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Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love is a TV docudrama directed by Glenn Jordan that aired on NBC on May 14, 1979. It was adapted from the nonfiction book Son-Rise by Barry Neil Kaufman.

Barry and Suzie Kaufman (James Farentino and Kathryn Herrold) are the loving parents of two young daughters, Bryn (Shelby Balik) and Thea (Melissa Francis), and their infant son Raun (Michael and Casey Adams). But Raun is fussy and constantly sick, and as he grows, his parents become concerned by his unresponsive behavior. After Raun is diagnosed with infantile autism, Barry and Suzie invent their own treatment plan that involves working with him for 75 hours a week, mimicking his behavior in an effort to make him feel accepted and coax him out of his shell.

Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love contains examples of:

  • All Psychology Is Freudian: One school tries to cure autism through regression therapy, forcing a girl to crawl and wrapping a boy in blankets to simulate the womb, despite the children's obvious distress.
  • And Starring: The opening credits have "Also starring Stephen Elliott, Henry Olek, and Kerry Sherman as Nancy." The end credits have "Co-Starring," "And Introducing," and "Also Co-Starring (In Alphabetical Order)."
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: At the last school the parents visit, Barry gets sick of the PR nonsense they're being fed and leads Suzie into a staff-only area. He avoids suspicion by looking impatient and glancing at his watch.
  • Character Narrator: Barry narrates a number of scenes.
  • Closet Punishment: In one of the schools Barry and Suzie visit, a girl is put into "Time Out" in a locked cabinet. She screams and bangs on the walls while a guard sits calmly nearby.
  • Cry into Chest: Bryn cries into Barry's chest because she thinks she did something wrong, which is why Raun won't play with her.
  • Electric Torture: In the staff-only area of the third school, Barry and Suzie witness a child being electrocuted, as well as other children straitjacketed, strapped to chairs, or locked in a padded room with no toys. After seeing this, they decide to homeschool Raun instead of visiting any other schools.
  • Eyes Always Averted: Raun rarely looks at people, and when he does, he seems to be staring through them.
  • Family Versus Career: In a Rare Male Example, Barry quits his job as an ad executive so he can spend more time working with Raun.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The movie ends on a shot of Barry lifting Raun into the air while Suzie stands nearby.
  • Happily Married: The Kaufmans.
  • A Hero Is Born: The first scene shows Raun's birth.
  • Holding Hands: Barry and Suzie hold hands while a doctor tells them about the infant Raun's illness, dehydration, and burst eardrums, and later when they're trying to find a babysitter for the kids while they're scouting out schools.
  • How Dad Met Mom: Barry and Suzie are asked how they met at one of the doctor's offices. They explain how a friend introduced them. On their first date, Suzie felt a sense of inevitability, like this was the man she was destined to marry. She wrote Barry a letter telling him about her feelings, saying she wasn't sure she was happy about it.
  • It's All My Fault: Suzy worries that she's responsible for Raun's condition because when she was pregnant with the girls, she prayed for healthy children, but when she was pregnant with Raun, she only prayed for a boy.
  • Music Video Syndrome: "Is There Room in Your World for Me?" by Debby Boone plays during Raun's therapy.
  • No Object Permanence: Raun struggles with this. When Barry waves a cookie in front of his face, he follows it with his face and tries to grab it, but when Barry puts the cookie behind a napkin, Raun completely forgets about it.
  • Sensory Overload: Barry reads in a textbook that Raun can't handle all the colors and movement of the world, so he blanks most of it out.
  • Silly Walk: Raun walks on his toes.
  • Tears of Joy: Suzy cries with happiness when Raun is born.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Barry and Suzie visit a series of horrifyingly abusive schools before they decide to try to teach Raun themselves.