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

The View from a Summit

Browsing through Team Joaquin’s blog, which I stopped updating one year ago, it was amazing to notice where Joaquin was at that time vs. where he is now. One of the milestones from one year ago was his openness to interact with adults. Twelve months ago, he had just shed his fear of people for the first time. And I look at him right now: In music class, in swimming class (where every lesson we’ve taken he’s had a different instructor, with whom he is in close proximity for 30 mins, in the water, following directions and negotiating).

This week and the last two, he’s told me many times that he doesn’t want to play with his old friends anymore. Not with Eliza, not with Erin, not even with Aaron!… He’s often asked about why they used to come to play with him?, why I left him alone in his playroom with Katrina?… “If I had told you I didn’t want to play with them, what would you have done?”, he asks… I’ve told him that all these beautiful people wanted to play with him because he is such a cool kid, and I wanted them to be with him because he learned and grew so much from his time with them.

Today he told me “I don’t want to play anymore with them; I don’t want to grow that way anymore”. I asked what he meant. He asked me in response “How did I grow from being with them?”… Oh darling, one day YOU WILL KNOW… For today, I told him that it is because of them that he is now able to take all these classes and live these experiences with all these strangers and be happy and comfortable in them, because –I told him– “You used to fear people SO MUCH. You didn’t want to be in the presence of anybody different than me or papa. And now look at you!”… He looked away and pondered.

Ex-members of Team Joaquin, be proud and always know that you meant so much. You changed lives!… If many years from now, lost in your lives, you once feel unaccomplished, call me. I will remind you.

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