Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Healing Journey: July 2010

From the trenches of our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends, family, and our Son-Rise community during July 2010, our third month into the program.

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.

Romper Room so farLoving his new trampoline

07. Calling the Beacons of Light!

Remember that exercise we did where we got on groups and brainstormed building ideas for each other’s children’s isms?… OK, that’s where I’m having most trouble. My child has managed to turn every toy into an ism, and while I’m great at joining, I think I fail miserably at building when I get green lights. So let’s start with one of his isms I’d love to build on.

Because he adores going out and playing with chalk, we decided to create a blackboard wall in his playroom, so we can keep him in when he yells for chalk. Now this used to be somewhat interactive as he used to ask me to draw things for him, but lately it’s just purely exclusive and inflexible. He draws these very long strokes and that’s it!. Although I enthusiastically may draw other things, I’m having trouble turning this activity into something all about me, which is what we’re supposed to do.

What would you do to become impossibly attractive when you get a green light at the blackboard?… Anything you can think of!

Playroom Day 2

12. Lighting Up With Papa

13. Stretching

Exhausted. Just spent 30 min playing a game with Kiki. His normal attention span is 1–2 min, so 30 is HUGE. The game took all my energy because requesting eye contact was as hard for me, as giving it was to him. But we made it! Earlier I had a dialogue, and the burst of emotions also took a toll. This is all good stuff, but changing and stretching myself this much is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

14. Thank You Susan

8:32 am. I really liked my Activity Brainstorming session this morning. Susan gave me some good ideas for activities that I can use in many ways to create different games, AND I really liked that she was also attentive to my words, and paused, and asked, and made me aware of tiny beliefs and assumptions I was making (“He’s getting bored”, “Requesting is hard for me”, etc), that are getting in the way.

10:21 pm. Three times during this process I have started my day with a personal intention—a goal for me; not for Joaquin. And no coincidence, those have been the best three days I’ve had since returning home to run our Son-Rise program. No coincidence, those have been the days I’ve felt most connected to Joaquin, and those eyes… how beautiful they are when they look straight at you with such a warm sweet smile.

15. Car Rides

I had given car rides to Joaquin in a laundry hamper many times when he was a baby, but it never occurred to me as a Son-Rise toy. Thanks to my activity brainstorming session with a beautiful Son-Rise child facilitator, the hamper was introduced in the romper room. It is fantastic, especially coupled with my magic chalkboard where I can draw all sorts of places and things Joaquin brings up during our sessions. He’s loving it, and the whole thing fits perfectly with his latest ism (“Llegamos a casa!” i.e. “We’re home”). I’m super excited because finally I’m in it with him. I have a real role rather than just simply imitating.

Car Rides

18. Your Son-Rise Program Is Perfect

This article speaks so much to me this week. I sense some of you out there may need to be reminded too.

19. Choosing My Reactions

Trying hard not to light up like a Christmas tree. So far so good. But we’re really skating on thin ice…

So, knowing that this day would pose challenges of this nature, I made my daily intention about it: Right when I feel I’m going to lose it and light up in fire, I will consider the possibility of feeling loving towards the little bugger. He’s so adorable (when I choose to look at him that way), and soooo sleepy today, which is the root of how this all began this morning at 5:00 am.

23. Controlling

Some days I really get tired of this constant flowing with him and doing EVERYTHING on his timeline. Like, I know he loves to go out. He’s going to ask me 1000 times today to go out. And with this temperature, it’s either now or much much later. So I try to get us out now for a change of pace, but he has a different plan. Doesn’t want his diaper changed. Doesn’t want his clothes changed. So I just say “fine; we’ll stay at home”. And some days I am perfectly okay with that. But not today. Today I wish he could move on my timeline every once in a while.

25. Inspired

Can’t wait to watch this movie. Just the trailers are giving me goosebumps. Temple Grandin changed the world precisely because of her autism. Tonight, this is helping me drop the pressure and urgency to “cure”. Who knows? Maybe our children have the potential to change the world too, precisely because of their autism. My job with Joaquin is just to provide a safe and warm environment through my love and acceptance of who he is, so he can develop to his full potential and wow the world with the beauty of his mind. Different; not less.

Happy in his magic room

26. Freaked Out

Temple Grandin is so articulate and amazing, but I have to confess that a lot of what she said freaked me out. The aggregated curriculum of all of the things she said parents should do sounded overwhelming. Don’t know why I reacted that way… Perhaps the contrast against how free-flowing Son-Rise feels. Like, we really don’t have all these rules. So perhaps it made me feel like I need to be a pro teacher more than a loving mom. Perhaps I need a dialogue on this. HA! HA!

27. Sugar Free

Last week we cut on sweet treats for Kiki. I felt terrible because of some association I must have about sugar and a happy childhood. But the unexpected surprise is that suddenly he’s eating foods he never wanted to try before. Bollo’s eating prunes (yay! no more sneaking them in his juice). And after a year of rejecting it, now he loves yogurt! Sweetened, yes, but we gotta start somewhere. We think he’s desperate ;)

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