Our RPM exploration has inspired me to pursue a structured activity not completely centered around Joaquin’s interests. He’s ready and the guiding team is cheering me on.
Mafe Maria: Growing with a child to the biggest expression of ourselves
Autism changed my life and parenting forever. Twenty-four hours after the discovery I found the Son-Rise program, which launched our journey and became the nourishing greenhouse in which we —and a team of individuals I trained— were able to connect with my son and foster his social development. Today he’s out learning from the world, and my role has slowly evolved beyond a special diet and an autism treatment program. Everything I’ve learned in the service of my child’s development has melted and integrated into simply NURTURING an exceptional little person who is currently growing and has tremendous potential.
Our RPM exploration has inspired me to pursue a structured activity not completely centered around Joaquin’s interests. He’s ready and the guiding team is cheering me on.
In the road less traveled criticism hurts because I’m still walking blindly, finding my way as I go, and there’s no promise of a happy ending. Thank God for the messages that come to support me and assure me: I’m not alone.
In defense of self-directed learning at home, this is a sample of the life skills and functional abilities my eight-year-old is acquiring while pursuing his interests.
Learning together to navigate this life. One more conversation with Kiki meant for us both to expand and connect deeply with each other and with ourselves.
Sometimes I worry, and then I get evidence that learning is inevitable and it develops in meaningful and memorable stories tied to real experiences from life.
Stimulus at Kiki’s bowling class made me realize my fear regarding kids around him. By dissolving my fear I gave myself joy and the chance that Kiki will mirror my shift and expand in this area.
A grateful kiss goodbye to Son-Rise and our playroom, a statement of victory inspiring the beginning of a new chapter, and physical transformation to anchor a new reality.
Inquiry on a nagging stressful thought helped me clarify my purpose as Joaquin’s mother, shifting my focus from future outcomes to the tools, beliefs, and values I offer him now.
Observations and fear as we started transitioning from four years of Son-Rise and my attuned “Eye of Mordor” towards life without a social development program.
Letting myself to do my project instead of seeking to nurture Joaquin’s development brings up fear. But John Holt reminds me: “It’s okay; keep trusting”.
Child of Fire saw me working on the backyard project and has decided that he wants to make his own construction. Horay for our life of self-directed learning!
Two weeks ago, Joaquin decided that he wants to be the chef of our home; he wants to make his own lunch, his own way. I decided to support his independence with some structure: Only one time a week, he can make his own “rogue” lunch. I make my own with him. I deal with […]
I just returned from “Radical Authenticity” at The Option Institute (expansive beyond my expectations), and Kiki is working on a virtual road trip via Google maps from our home to the institute at Sheffield, MA . I’m loving the project and finding a number of learning opportunities and differences for him to perceive. I got […]
As I contemplate how far we've climbed –now starting to peek out of the Son-Rise greenhouse, Kiki asks me about Team Joaquin, why they came to his life.
Ode to a loved and almost outgrown tricycle and its wonderful powers exercising Kiki's proprioceptive and vestibular senses (and everything else).
Pursuing growth opportunities for Kiki through musical training, I was challenged by the stimulus that came with it. The experience expanded us both beyond the sheer powers of music.
Celebrating the challenge and victory I witnessed in Joaquin's first swimming lesson, one of our first experiences out of the Son-Rise nurturing bubble.
01. A mural for animation With the filmmaking and animation motivations still alive, I offered Joaquin the idea to draw a long strip of landscape we could scroll in order to create the illusion of movement in a train. He got passionately into it, and surprisingly traded his beloved hour of computer time to draw. […]
As the time for vocal exercises started to approach its end, and with an emerging motivation for animated Disney films, I noticed that Joaquin was using my computer to record his own movies. It was so exciting!… Completely spontaneously, he’d impersonate characters and record himself with PhotoBooth, and he’d even bring costume props to enhance […]
In this game our superhero gave great advice to pretend kids dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Some missions also gave us a chance to practice complex imitation.
From our last outreach with Aaron DeLand, these videos show Joaquin practicing complex imitation while playing. The guys went to space again, rehearsed scenes for our next film, and had tons of fun as usual.
A sampler of the topics Kiki and I have discussed in “homeschooling time” since its recent inception. Topics are always inspired by our conversations during lunch and the themes that populate his mind that day. Reading through this list makes me smile; I’m not afraid of talking “unsavory” topics with Joaquin; no taboos; he’s so […]
Moments of love between Joaquin and his friends in the Son-Rise playroom.
Resources I created to help our volunteers magnify their motivation and impact before each play session, and assess their facilitation skills within our program's curriculum.
I used ABM’s essential of subtlety to help Joaquin perceive non-verbal communication, and he surprised me spontaneously deciding to perform charades for me.
It looks like they’ve been friends for a while and she’s facilitated social goals for years. But it’s Erin’s first solo session and she’s only had 1 hour of feedback training!
This video shows Aaron motivating Kiki to perceive and practice following somebody else’s eyes. He is playful and consistent and Kiki quickly starts to get it.
Choosing love and ease in order to connect with Kiki while joining him in one of his repetitive activities.
A celebration of love three years into our Son-Rise program. Watch our amazing Team Joaquin and the miracles and joy they’ve helped us reach for our child.
He had never role-played before. Most of his non-verbal abilities were stagnant for years until I started using ABM essentials to awaken this area of his brain
When mentally “failing” as a Son-Rise parent, remember: Perfection is not required. Rules that separate us in the moment from our kids are not helpful. Self acceptance helps us AND our children grow.
Watching this was so exciting!… Even to Heidi, who at the time didn’t know much about the gestures goal… It’s been just two weeks of very subtle “work” giving Joaquin’s brain little pieces to figure out symbolic gestures, and today he spontaneously gestures “move the couch down”, then creates another gesture reproducing with his hands […]
Life examples of how ABM's 1st essential propelled us with sustained eye contact, verbal context in communication breakdowns, and understanding of emotions.
A tweak to our Son-Rise program replacing requests by opportunities for spontaneous action. In these videos, Aaron's playfulness alone motivates Kiki to imitate him.
Joaquin welcomes Aaron DeLand in the playroom, and I have to celebrate remembering how challenging transitions (and new people) used to be for him.
Becoming aware and reversing the "mental no" and minimal response I give to Kiki's crazy and repetitive comments to give joy a chance and connect deeply with him.
A fun game designed around Joaquin's interest for shopping that motivated him to practice non-verbal communication.
I’m currently discovering the natural talents of our new friend Megane… Acting on feedback I gave on her last play session with Joaquin (i.e. offer more actions vs. questions or “I don’t know” responses), for her second session she went with the intention to go 100% for whatever idea comes to her head. And I’m […]
Disconnecting is not of lesser value than being interactive; just one more way of being in the moment, and it has a purpose for autistic individuals and everybody else.
This morning I got in the playroom while in a slight bad mood with Joaquin. I realized I didn’t want to give him control over me (he had nagged me plenty in the morning and I had resisted very uncomfortably). So as soon as I went in, pencil and paper on hand, Joaquin asked me […]
Things are getting tricky and interesting at Joaquin’s house… Nineteen months after asking me to stop talking Spanish (in order to focus his verbal development), he has decided that he wants to re-learn “Español”. It started with this 5-year-old high-pitched voice nagging me every third word I said because I said it in English, and […]
A playroom game that motivated Kiki to stretch his attention span, body coordination, and physical interaction.
Playing with Kiki while holding the intention to use daring actions to build motivation for myself or for variations around repetitive activities or conversations.
A fun moment playing with Melissa, Joaquin's friend and one of our Son-Rise program volunteers.
In this game, inspired by Kiki's new motivation to get traffic tickets, my little bollito stretched himself sustaining eye contact.
With the recent introduction of a set of vinyl stamps and a clear stamping block, Joaquin has forgotten about his motivation for road construction, and has played three times in a row all around making these type of stamped strips for his streets. In addition to the focus and excitement he displays from trying and […]
A game designed to help Kiki have fun interacting with a new friend on her first day in our playroom.
Joaquin is not a big guesser; he usually wants us to give him the answers without delay. So I prepared a fun game to motivate him to practice guessing.
Just like a menstrual period, yet not exactly with the same frequency and predictability, I seem to experience cycles of contractive energy… They manifest primarily by a very strong need for space: physical and emotional. I find myself wanting to be alone, still, and silent. Mostly still and silent. Yet, mothering a four-year-old Sagittarius so […]
So, after two very great (and unusual) experiences joining Kiki’s activities with full openness and enthusiasm… And perhaps as a result of the atonement experience I had yesterday… And in response to my prayer to open again the channel with Source because I felt so uninspired all last week… The guidance I’m receiving today is […]
Wow, this kid is truly connected to something… For a few days now, every once in a while he’s told me with a mischiveous smile, his waving finger, and out of nowhere: “Don’t judge anymore”. I always thank him for the wisdom and tell him that I’m doing my best to act on that intention. […]
Challenged by Kiki's beloved Game of Lights, resistant to participate in his interest, and talking myself into accepting my feelings and being authentic with Kiki.
I’m thinking about our upcoming trip back to the Autism Treatment Center of America for an Intensive week… Same “challenges” than last year: A long day in airports, planes, and roads with a child and luggage, away from our kitchen. A single day to get there before our program begins (and a lot of money […]
Recently, I let go of several crippling habits I’ve carried for a long time. I’m currently living: Not trying to save, change, or heal anybody (not even one in the autism spectrum) Without any need to accomplish anything Not seeking anybody’s approval (I haven’t been put to a big test recently, though) For the first […]
This inspiring video documents the last 12 months in Joaquin’s son-rise Program. It’s a celebration of our journey, Joaquin’s growth, and our team of volunteers.
I used to read “happiness is a choice” as “happiness is a choice, and you’re always supposed to choose it; if you can’t it’s okay for now, but do seek happiness when you’re ready”. And so I’ve done a lot of choosing, allowing, and then attempting to choose not sure if I’m ready… just perhaps […]
This story confirms the guidance I once got: I was not alone teaching my volunteers. People went into our playroom and something else touched and expanded them.
I used to think that if you do Son-Rise perfectly, your child will have no option but to recover (as in, be fully “cured” of autism). I did this in order to motivate me to play perfect Son-Rise and put all of me behind the goal of Joaquin’s recovery. I took this belief in an […]
Wow. I’m putting together what I’m learning about living cells from Bruce Lipton, with what I learned and keep experiencing after attending a Reconnective Healing seminar last weekend, with what I’m experiencing reading Penney Peirce’s “Frequency”… It’s all making so much sense, and just keeps validating my gut wisdom to keep discarding much of what […]
There is this big fat fear I’ve had for a long time, that as I get older evolves in relationship to the people in my life, but the core of it is still there. And now that I find myself every day telling the Universe that I want to advance spiritually, that I’m trusting, listening, […]
At the core of this belief there is the very big and fat red itchy theory that I may have planted in Joaquin the subconscious idea that the world is not safe; that he is not welcome in my life. Sometimes I’ve thought that Joaquin may have experienced the conflict I had as a stay-at-home […]
Excited and inspired as I see how the intention to live love, choice, trust, self-awareness, and happiness in our personal life, is taking over Joaquin’s Son-Rise program and infecting my life and that of my team members.
I’m the mother of an autistic child, and that –far from a curse, has made my life more extraordinary and amazing than I was planning for. The more I stretch out of my old beliefs and comforts, the more my son stretches through his limitations to come into my world.
For anyone open to believe, and who may benefit from considering these thoughts… For the last months I’ve heard so much about the wonder of fermented foods in the treatment of autism. The information makes a lot of sense to me, and I have started as much as I can to add fermented foods to […]
Over the last month before turning three years old, Joaquin started writing numbers, drawing their outlines, spelling words and writing some, all by himself. His memory is amazing. His focus, passion, and control when drawing and writing is (I believe) extraordinary. All signs of a beautiful mind at work. And, as exciting and reassuring as […]
In celebration of our child and us, and the parents and volunteers working every day in son-rise playrooms, watch and feel the miracles seven months into our program.
Seeing how Joaquin is constantly developing in unexpected ways, I’m finally coming to understand the whole notion that he is in fact developing in a way that is comfortable and natural for him. Whether as parents we think his development is slow, or “different” in a bad way… that’s just our judgement based on comparing […]
Juicy month full of challenging stimulus with Kiki seeking control, me growing as a nurturer, and new exciting developments in Joaquin.
A memorable experience of guidance: Turning a challenging moment in Kiki's social development into an inspiring opportunity to climb our mountain with joy and enthusiasm.
Last weekend we enjoyed the company of Katrina Kramlich, a lovely and experienced Son-Rise child facilitator who came to our home to play with Joaquin in his romper room. The experience was absolutely wonderful, especially because the universe conspired to fit everything in such a perfect way, that Eliza (our first volunteer), had a chance […]
01. Help! Exhausted. Having to cook every meal every single day really drains me. Wish I could buy prepared food once in a while… And with all this cooking spilling over the weekends, I don’t have time to prepare games for therapy. By the end of each day I’m tired and can’t work (on games) […]
In preparation for my coming trip back to Massachusetts to attend an advanced Son-Rise course, last week I had to fill out a long survey reporting all kinds of details about Joaquin’s current state. The survey was exactly the same I took back in May, just a few weeks after having become aware of Joaquin’s […]
01. Giving SCD a Try During the few months after diagnosing Joaquin, I have resisted all the special diets and biomedical approaches collective wisdom recommends for autistic kids. Joaquin does not show signs of GI problems, but recently I decided to try SCD, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, just in case that his intestinal flora is […]
Videos illustrating several Son-Rise techniques during a game we played to develop Joaquin’s verbal communication from single words to 2 to 3-word sentences.
Introducing SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) to our lives, and with it begins an era of learning to cook and bake like I never thought I would.
Challenged and discouraged by Joaquin's resistance to eat the nourishing food I started making with SCD. Fearful that my actions would not result in the outcome I was working towards.
06. The Romper Room Joaquin’s romper room (i.e. Son-rise playroom) is AWESOME!!!… Still haven’t closed the door, but with the massive migration of toys into it, the bollo is already spending time in the room, and I’m loving it. 07. Calling the Beacons of Light! Remember that exercise we did where we got on groups […]
What unhappiness looked like when life was difficult, when I was just beginning my journey as mother of a child with higher needs, and I felt trapped and uncomfortably stretched.
We built the son-rise playroom and Kiki’s progress slowed down; I got discouraged, depressed. Prompt support help me discard limiting beliefs and get back on track inspired and driven.
I’ve just received my rental car for the week. After placing my bag in the trunk and contemplating all the little ways how this cheap rental is not as nice as our family car, I pull out the map package I’ve printed earlier charting the route to the Option Institute. The number of steps is […]
12. Happy That laugh!… It happens every day now. 14. Son-Rise Start Up During her intro speech, Bryn Hogan said “Each of you are here today because you love a child”. They had all of their photos on these walls surrounding us in our training auditorium. 20. Belonging Back home after an amazing week in […]
Lately, Joaquin is the bright center of my universe. A developmental summary of 2.5-year-old Joaquin, six weeks after starting the son-rise program.
An explanation of Son-Rise, the therapy we’ve followed since diagnosing our son’s autism. One month into the program has shown miraculous shifts and a promising journey.
One month after discovering my son’s autism and the son-rise program, I’m starting to see the wonder of the process unfolding and how it’s meant to “cure” ME.
Active, challenging, demanding, draining, and clingy... So I have a high-needs child. It's time to accept it, embrace it, and change my perspective, so I can give him the attention he needs without killing myself in the process.
One-year-old Joaquin cries and screams his way out of Mothers Morning Out and I feel betrayed and judged by his caregivers. One more puzzling experience that made a lot more sense with our discovery one year later.