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

Nurturing the Team’s Motivation

After the October “reboot”, my energy bounced up with the “Eye of Mordor” on our motivation as the basis for everything we do with Joaquin. Last team meeting, I shared with the team this sheet I developed outlining everything I know that has to do with successful facilitation. I wanted to show them how these things build on top of each other (e.g. you can’t notice Joaquin’s cues and little differences if you’re not present), and how so much of what we do is helpful, and there also is a bit of a “temperature” difference in their relative power of ignition (of Joaquin’s flame and development). For instance, playing with Joaquin while loving and present is great. Now focus on also being motivating to him (making him laugh), and now you’re doing something more powerful; add an intentional focus on creating opportunities related to the areas of development we’re currently targeting, and that’s even more powerful.

The point of this is not to judge ourselves for when we can’t cook at high temperature. Cycles of energy and temperature are healthy for Joaquin and us. Anat Baniel talks about the power of subtlety and breaks, and how our learning switch cannot be ON all the time or we’d fry.

So the point of this was to give our team a high-level view of everything involved, in order to assess our strengths and areas of development within that curriculum, and to give us reasonable intentions to pursue on a day to day basis given where we find ourselves on the spectrum. For instance, on a day where I find myself not motivated to go in the playroom, thinking of being motivating and exciting sounds like too much. Instead, focusing on being present with Joaquin and aware of myself is a reasonable and subtle step.

I also developed a short survey to assess our levels on each of these things, and now we all have a clear picture of our individual areas of growth, the team’s shared weak points (e.g. consistently plugging goals in our play), and some of the skills we feel most motivated to develop right now.

Noticing that “being motivated” is the basis for all (I can’t have 3Es if I don’t feel energetic; I can’t be motivating to Joaquin if I don’t feel motivated myself), we’re also working to compile a cheatsheet for everyone in the team… We’re identifying what makes us tick (our strengths and interests, what relaxes us, what grounds us, our personal purpose in this program), and my plan is to have it as a quick reference to help us ignite our flame on days when we need it. There are so many reasons why we lose motivation at times, so depending on the leak, we can re-energize ourselves sometimes by relaxing our nervous system, by reconnecting with our purpose and goals, by focusing on a strength or interest, by having an intention that makes us feel purposeful, etc.

new facilitation tools for Team Joaquin

It’s being SO COOL for me to learn all these things about our team members, and I love to see their little eyes shining with enthusiasm as they speak about what makes them feel great and successful. I think we’re onto something really good here, and here’s something very exciting…

Mirroring these actions Joaquin is starting to talk to me about his own level of energy (he expresses it as a percentage), and what might help him feel better. Like yesterday, while playing he told me he was feeling at 50% of energy, and he offered “I think what might help me get better is to look at my lego catalogs right now”. AWESOME!

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