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

Back in the Path of Light

When we began this journey almost eight years ago, I centered in the now. We put away all thoughts about future regarding school, friends, jobs and marriage, and focused on now. We nurtured the connection, the attitude, the love and presence above all, and then added a few goals.

Our curriculum never had too many goals; not a lot of varied ones either. They were all meaningful, important, foundational life skills: communication, flexibility, attention, and social reciprocity.

We dropped attachments to outcomes; let go of the urgency to achieve or see progress; I focused on my own growth through this journey and my relationship with Joaquin and all individuals it touched.

We put out a call for help and opened our home and lives to extraordinary loving strangers. They came and changed our lives; they loved Joaquin and built me up; some of them felt blessed and enriched from what they learned and shared with us.

And this way, the “impossible” happened.

So we go back to that.

It’s harder at ten years old than at two, but we put away again all thoughts about future college, jobs, and independence. We focus on where Joaquin is now, the most important skills we want to teach him now. We work around the edges… slowly, subtly, lovingly. We practice and have fun while doing it. We don’t attempt to fix or heal anything about Joaquin.

I won’t replace school attempting to give him an academic education.
I won’t track or attempt to fit on the linear path aimed to college and a typical future.
I won’t heal, fix, or battle APD or any of Joaquin’s neurology.
I won’t search for deficits, therapies, or opinions from experts.
I won’t compare my son, my life, or myself to any other.
I won’t let criticism and judgment (from others and myself) to pollute and confuse my intentions.

That was the path in which I got lost and burnt out over the last fifteen months.

I’ll nurture the attitude that was so foundational years ago.
I’ll embrace our lives, challenges, and difference as real gifts—just as I did before.
I’ll remind myself to trust in Joaquin’s quantum path. It’s never been linear.
I’ll nurture the belief that new paradigms and systems will be in place to welcome Joaquin in the future.
I’ll allow myself to believe that extraordinary loving people will support us now and always.
I’ll focus all my energy on practical life skills and let go of the rest.
I’ll regain and strengthen my trust in us.

the landscape after a similar storm 7 years ago
The Road Ahead (Jan 8, 2011)
We woke up to fresh snow from the day and night before. As we started the 90-minute drive back to the airport, I contemplated the landscape as a metaphor of what had happened to me. I went through my storm during the Intensive. I was blessed to have been there on my very weakest point since the last eight months. But now the storm was over and the road was clear. Not bright and shinny, but good enough to get back on it and continue the journey. And if I can embrace this “winter” and appreciate it for what it is, the spring will be here in no time.
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One comment:

  1. On , Dr John Kelliher wrote:

    Life is in the living.