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

Challenging challenges

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 him to typical children.

So today I was pondering again in the shower…

How about considering that what I’ve come to call “challenges” in his development are not true challenges?… I mean, if we see a baby not reading a book, we don’t say he/she has a challenge with reading. We simply don’t expect reading from somebody that young. So here I am, calling Joaquin’s acceptance of strangers a challenge, when I could see it instead as he’s not ready for that development yet. He’s currently focusing on developing other skills. Like, we are currently working hard at encouraging his consistent use of 2-3 word sentences, and meanwhile he’s writing numbers on his own, and adorning them with outlines of different widths, and filling them with colors… Not yet three years old, doing things that the average typical child does at 4-5 years.

Joaquin's drawing

Of course I’ll still continue presenting possibilities to him, like you continue to read to babies as a way of exposing them to a future skill. I’ll still do Son-Rise with a full believe that this “education” and way of raising him is exactly what he needs. But as you expect it with a typical child, right now… today… I’m considering the possibility… believing… that Joaquin will be whole in the end.

I already believed this. I already see him as a brilliant mind in the making and I always see a great future in the horizon for him. The difference is the change of perspective. Yesterday I saw some things as challenges. Today I intend to see them as areas not yet developed, that he will eventually get to… without a whole lot of my intervention. The path of least resistance… Less need to intervene. Not passivity, nonetheless… Just the believe that everything is happening at the right pace, and the perfect way how he needs it.

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  1. On , Ria wrote:

    I firmly believe Pelle will learn everything there is to learn for him. I can’t imagine another outcome of the whole process. But he needs my guidance and example. He needs to dear step into the flow off other experiences.
    And his mind will be a great advantage for him in the future. When he combines the social skills he learns at home with the cognitive ones he learns at school he will be ready to function as a wonderfull adult.
    And I think this is true for Joaquin and others, too. They might even form a new generation of innovators and will be very adapt to the needs of this world.

  2. On , Ruth wrote:

    I finally got round to reading your latest blog Maria. Well worth the wait as usual! I am feeling that we have some synchronicity here as this is how I’ve been thinking of Raphael recently. I feel like I’ve ‘taken my foot off the gas’. I like that phrase even though it’s very American and I’m British! I believe Raffy needs to go at his own pace and it’s important that he develops in the way that is most comfortable for him. For the past 3 months I think I’ve been internally stressing about not giving him enough of or the right kind of challenges and worrying about acting on ‘green lights’ too much. I’m realising that I just need to join him, enjoy him and have a fun time.
    He’s a wonderful mini human just as he is. Phew. This is a big relief for me personally too. I have a tendency to think I’m failing, not doing enough. I’m better these days at being present and enjoying ‘now’. Don’t get me wrong I’m still a novice! However yesterday, I thought wow I love how my kids are today… I will miss this. If time stood still, that would be fine with me.

  3. On , Maria wrote:

    I saw your kids’ pictures on facebook, Ruth… They’re soooo cute!

    You know? Right after I posted this, I went in our playroom and had an amazing session with Joaquin. My best so far; but that’s how I feel every time: Every day I come out of the room thinking I just had the best session ever… And by bedtime, the best day ever…

    I found that having tapped into “the attitude”… really getting it… feeling it way beyond the mental exercise of knowing what we’re supposed to do… I went in there and did everything we are supposed to do (join, build motivation, request, etc), except it came out in a totally natural way. I didn’t have to assess “Is this a green light?”, or remember to run out of magic powers in order to ask Joaquin to do something to restore them. It just happened. And he rolled with almost everything I put out there for him. It was incredible!… Because when he didn’t, it was totally okay too. Not much thought behind why.

    I realized that words are so completely clumsy at expressing this state of true perfect acceptance of our children’s present (a state in which you don’t worry, or doubt, or compare them to other children anymore, and don’t see their differences vs. the norm as problems that need fixing)… I truly saw Joaquin as perfect, whole, not missing anything… My heart finally felt him that way, without my mind telling me that this is how I should see him. And I realized that, because it is impossible to transfer this feeling from one person to another (everyone just has to arrive to it at her own pace, through her own process), our teachers at Option can only describe it to us, and tell us what it looks like from the outside (i.e. the techniques), but when you finally get the underlying attitude, then your behavior is perfectly consistent with what they’re telling us to do. But it is completely easy. It just comes out naturally without thinking about it…

    I had the best time the last couple of weeks arriving to that point. Crystal children, Gregg Braden, awesomism, reconnection, and Son-Rise… They all came together and I clicked and got hooked to “it”.

    Right now something is bothering me, so I can’t lie and say that I’m all woohooo as happy as a couple days ago. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Trying to not let myself be consumed by emotions I don’t understand. I know it’s nothing to do with Joaquin, but not feeling great of course affects my enthusiasm. It’s a good thing that we’re in a holiday weekend. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be back on the horse. Life looked so beautiful and incredibly easy when I was up there, I really want to get back.