In stillness I discover a future version of myself—a Priestess—who “quietly” mentors me as I begin the journey to become a mentor. Then the Universe conspires, and a physical manifestation of her soul manifests. She speaks about the fierce, wondrous, most expansive expression of myself calling from the future for me to become… to be brave.
Stories by Maria Stultz
Sometimes we get stuck or lost on our way to our goals. In my experience as an autism parent, Son-Rise Program mom, and special needs homeschooler, I’ve learned that using support relevant to my purpose is crucial at key moments in the journey. Allowing myself the help I need can make the difference between succeeding and quitting.
As I start working on my new calling–listening, mentoring, serving as a supporting presence for others–the curriculum is guiding me to integrate my learning and listening channels. Refining my ability to listen for non-verbal information beyond words.
In the middle of the historic 2020 pandemic and the fearful and dense vibration around the U.S. presidential election, my inner guidance inspires us to seek open space outside, and most importantly: inside our minds.
Already learning from my work as a mentor, I intend to allow space and time while I build my vision. My nurturing work is still at play, and I want to comfortably hold both.
An audio gift for me and my magical sisters. This is a frequency reminder of the power we wield when we get to this place.
Perfection is not required, is what I’ve lived and say to every mother of an autistic child. Yet, I thought I needed to be perfect to mentor others now. Always supporting my growth, the Wise Voice changed my lenses today. From fear I went to inspiration, just like in key Son-Rise days. So I may not be perfect, but I’m ready to begin. To learn. To teach. To co-create.
Light always follows darkness. I’ve learned to embrace that dark space; that pause; that moment of transformation. One more time I emerge gloriously from it, ready for my next adventure.
Expanding myself along with Joaquin is a strong theme in my parenting. I’m currently seeing both of us at the edge of this big frontier: “Playing” with unpredictable others.
Building, setting up, lighting, photographing, and animating a lego micro scenery for the prologue sequence of our latest filmmaking project, King of Swords.
Upon sight of his lego trays (and with project deliverables now assigned to him), Chiquitin-Grandulon resumes the building competition between his plushies.
Thanks to Kiki’s latest passion for GoT and the project it inspired, we’ve had a very rich summer practicing many different aspects of literacy and storytelling.
Beginning to document the process of our new filmmaking project, King of Swords, let’s talk about costumes, character promo photos, and Joaquin sewing.
With a history of sensory sensitivities since birth, I dreaded the idea of orthodontics for Joaquin. Life gave us no choice and it turned out he’s loved it in a way I could have never imagined.
Inspired by the last season of GoT, 11-year-old Joaquin embarks a new filmmaking project; our most complex so far, rich in preparation and new skills.
We’re using our racquetball practice to develop Joaquin’s skill anticipating and quickly reaching for passes in his basketball game. I’m also counting on this training and development to enrich many more neurological processes.
Reminder to self in preparation for volunteering in a Special Ed class. I’ve learned for nine years from one child, and hope to learn from many more.
Calling on the Higher Spheres as I contemplate a possibility for my next creation; one that would serve autism, education, and love in this world… a “building project” that would use all of my gifts and motivations.
Our month trial at school has ended and don’t you dare take this away from Joaquin. He LOVES his school and everybody in it, and as far as I can see this community has embraced him and is organically nurturing him.
Celebrating Joaquin’s math abilities and more than that: his passion and joy for learning. Teaching him is such a privilege!
In 5 months, ten-year-old Joaquin built up the strength to unfold his wings and joyfully fly out of his baby nest all the way to school. This is how it happened.
I found the perfect school for my son but that meant moving across the country and leaving my husband at home: A bittersweet decision I was terrified to consider.
I sent this clear desire out to the ether and the Universe connected me immediately with Otto Specht School. Everything lined up perfectly for a visit which gave Joaquin much to perceive and take a giant leap.
An ABM-inspired activity helped Joaquin to step into his fear of unexpected and unpredictable physical contact. His motivation: basketball. The aftermath: overall expansion!
I’ve just turned my pain into fire and gotten support for a new loop around the spiral of awetism parenting, and my child of light tells me this!
For the last 15 months I’ve ventured the path of fixing. Whatever was accomplished, I got lost, burned out, and finally collapsed. It took weeks in the dark and a slap by the system to remember and center around what I learned at the beginning of my journey. Here we go again…
The new year knocked me down with a fever that kept me resting in bed for three days. When I got up I realized that I needed a break from the life I was living. I turned myself off to reset.
3rd Grade at home was a year of literacy, developmental discoveries, and foundational breakthroughs. This video summarizes it all.
Put against the grain of the world I fear. Criticism points to doubts I hold about myself, and it’s gotta be for me to claim my strength, to align with truth, to become my highest potential letting go of the belief that I am not enough.
My path parenting and educating a special child is completely out of the mould, and the uncertainty about its results brings recurring fear and stress which I must fight to continue walking.
Turning fear into love in action. Years ago I learned and lived this to gracefully navigate out of the limitations of autism. Now APD has come to give me one more way to learn it.
The Guiding Team has given me this plan and vision to develop order out of Auditory Processing Disorder, and as a result reach goals we’ve held for years.
A video of one of our daily sessions designed to practice individual and integrated auditory/verbal skills and to expand Joaquin’s bank of familiar concepts.
Prompting and helping Joaquin to self-explore his beliefs and responses. Thank you Option Dialogue. Thank you Brain Engineering.
After two weeks of Brain Engineering I’m starting to see lights of knowledge that will help us pinpoint Joaquin’s particular auditory processing weaknesses.
Thanks to RPM, structured academic activities are seeping into our lives. We are doing lessons on different topics capitalizing on Kiki’s open learning channels.
Listening to gorgeous (filtered) music is a gift to our brains and souls.
A key piece of our puzzle has finally come to sharp focus: Auditory Processing Disorder. Let this new piece of knowledge enrich and expand us.
RPM in bedtime reading has engaged Joaquin with the story told in the children’s book series “La Pandilla Salvaje”. He’s finally listening, following the plot, and of course loving the characters in this outstanding story.
Our RPM exploration has inspired me to pursue a structured activity not completely centered around Joaquin’s interests. He’s ready and the guiding team is cheering me on.
In the road less traveled criticism hurts because I’m still walking blindly, finding my way as I go, and there’s no promise of a happy ending. Thank God for the messages that come to support me and assure me: I’m not alone.
The U.S. presidential election is giving me a rich opportunity for expansion as I attempt to see disagreement and uncertainty with grace, from a higher perspective.
In 2009 I documented a day in my life. Almost seven years later, this is what life looks like. I once heard that every seven years you’re new. I can confirm this.
This morning I was launched into something yet to be discovered. It involved a separation from a past identity, and an explicit intention to trust and allow the journey to take me where it’s headed.
In defense of self-directed learning at home, this is a sample of the life skills and functional abilities my eight-year-old is acquiring while pursuing his interests.
I notice what I notice, then my dream and the experiences next day unravel a multidimensional message from my son reassuring me of our deep soul connection.
Joaquin’s latest film is shark drama at its highest. I helped animating characters or filming, but he took charge of direction, production, and the final story.
Learning about “talents” and my nature as a creator to dissolve one more layer of the limiting thought that I need to do and be more than I already am.
Learning together to navigate this life. One more conversation with Kiki meant for us both to expand and connect deeply with each other and with ourselves.
Lately I’ve noticed the constant presence of stories defining people’s existence. We seem to crave them, collect them, learn to seek to create them to define ourselves and stand out from the crowd, to be “somebody”. I have mine too, of course… “Mother of a special child whose journey to save her son ultimately saves […]
Weedy, expansive, and perfect in my garden and kitchen, I love my mint and all the sweet and savory treats I make with it. Here’s to many more years together!
Walnuts and cashews make a creamy, rich, and nourishing chocolate ice cream (our mousse) free of refined sugar, eggs, gluten and dairy.
Talking with Kiki about school, college, work, and the need he will feel some day to be free from his parents and pursue and independent life.
This spring my food garden is teaching me one more layer of letting go. I’m trusting the balance of nature, and enjoying my foraging trips every lunch and breakfast.
Kiki and I enjoying spring and each other in a tent under the shade of our tree. He wrote a post about his experience, and we took photos to remember.
Bowling, basketball, hincha furibundo, Calvin & Hobbes, financial ambition, learning from movies, arcade fan, new interests, abilities, questions, and ways to express himself.
Reflecting on the change manifested since I started the Home Reorg, and the change not yet recognized coming next to my life.
Sometimes I worry, and then I get evidence that learning is inevitable and it develops in meaningful and memorable stories tied to real experiences from life.
Watching Joaquin playing basketball made my heart sing. For a long time he didn’t show interest or ability in ball playing. This evidences a leap in his brain development.
Stimulus at Kiki’s bowling class made me realize my fear regarding kids around him. By dissolving my fear I gave myself joy and the chance that Kiki will mirror my shift and expand in this area.
A frugal makeover for our bath/laundry room repurposing two wooden baby gates to create a clothesline concealed behind closet doors.
A grateful kiss goodbye to Son-Rise and our playroom, a statement of victory inspiring the beginning of a new chapter, and physical transformation to anchor a new reality.
This winter I went on a streak of sewn product making which Kiki joined. We created a nice collection of currently needed items and handmade repurposed goods.
Inquiry on a nagging stressful thought helped me clarify my purpose as Joaquin’s mother, shifting my focus from future outcomes to the tools, beliefs, and values I offer him now.
Snapshots of our 2014 home harvest; my return to gardening and the beginning of a beautiful and deeper friendship with my land and food.
Observations and fear as we started transitioning from four years of Son-Rise and my attuned “Eye of Mordor” towards life without a social development program.
“Moew”, pronounced “Moo”, is Joaquin’s latest culinary creation. Inspired by truffles we’ve made and enjoyed at home, he created an SCD recipe for yummy sweet bites.
Letting myself to do my project instead of seeking to nurture Joaquin’s development brings up fear. But John Holt reminds me: “It’s okay; keep trusting”.
Child of Fire saw me working on the backyard project and has decided that he wants to make his own construction. Horay for our life of self-directed learning!
He said “This is the day in which I am going to swim!”… and he did!
At 6 years old Joaquin can read though he hates it, but the last three weeks his motivation for reading and comprehension was on. He just finished his first book.
After eight lessons of formal instruction—or, as formal as it could be with this child—Joaquin is now teaching himself how to swim. During his lessons we were fortunate to have Nanette, his most recurring instructor. As soon as she learned from me about Joaquin’s learning process and sensory sensitivities (I didn’t want his challenge to […]
All summer. Several times a week after Joey gets home from work. We’re so impressed by Joaquin’s ease at this. He doesn’t get tired, and he’s fast on long distances.
Two weeks ago, Joaquin decided that he wants to be the chef of our home; he wants to make his own lunch, his own way. I decided to support his independence with some structure: Only one time a week, he can make his own “rogue” lunch. I make my own with him. I deal with […]
I just returned from Radical Authenticity at The Option Institute (expansive beyond my expectations), and Kiki is working on a virtual road trip via Google maps from our home to the institute at Sheffield, MA . I’m loving the project and finding a number of learning opportunities and differences for him to perceive. I got […]
Last month I attended one of Anat Baniel’s Kids Beyond Limits workshops. I loved meeting and interacting personally with one of my favorite teachers, refreshing my mind with her knowledge, and considering the possibility of signing up for her professional training – for a very little while. As I considered the kind of help I […]
As I contemplate how far we've climbed –now starting to peek out of the Son-Rise greenhouse, Kiki asks me about Team Joaquin, why they came to his life.
For Joaquin, whose brain is craving industrial amounts of butter these days, and who asked his mama to make our own at home. Of course cultured it needed to be!
Ode to a loved and almost outgrown tricycle and its wonderful powers exercising Kiki's proprioceptive and vestibular senses (and everything else).
Pursuing growth opportunities for Kiki through musical training, I was challenged by the stimulus that came with it. The experience expanded us both beyond the sheer powers of music.
Celebrating the challenge and victory I witnessed in Joaquin's first swimming lesson, one of our first experiences out of the Son-Rise nurturing bubble.
Narrative and photos of Kiki’s project to create hiking trails in our backyard for a book inspired by the hiking guide he uses on his weekend trips with papa.
Our piano teacher finally realizes how exceptional Joaquin is, and "graduates" him to a higher level of instruction.
I have become that woman who cooks delicious nutritious stuff every day, bakes for breakfast, improvises recipes, and ENJOYS IT. This is a collection of recent hits to remind myself.
A moment in time, an image, a thought that made me smile.
This morning I woke up craving scones. After some research I walked determined to the kitchen, improvised a GFSF recipe, and made my first scones ever. Yum!
Who makes cookie dough out of sunflower seeds, cream cheese, and kombucha? —THE ROGUE CHEF!… Six-year-old Joaquin explains his GFSF recipe in our first cooking show video.
An SCD recipe developed by six-year-old Joaquin. His first muffin and the third concoction for his project of daily experimental desserts. I love the video tutorial!
01. A mural for animation With the filmmaking and animation motivations still alive, I offered Joaquin the idea to draw a long strip of landscape we could scroll in order to create the illusion of movement in a train. He got passionately into it, and surprisingly traded his beloved hour of computer time to draw. […]
As the time for vocal exercises started to approach its end, and with an emerging motivation for animated Disney films, I noticed that Joaquin was using my computer to record his own movies. It was so exciting!… Completely spontaneously, he’d impersonate characters and record himself with PhotoBooth, and he’d even bring costume props to enhance […]
Time to make the popcorn and get cozy. It’s finally time for the world premiere of Leon, a filmmaking project that kept Joaquin and I busy and very motivated all February and part of March. The movie is about a little lion and his friendship and adventures with two friends he meets along the way. […]
Joaquin and I have been working on a serious filmmaking project for several weeks, and we exported the final movie today! 61 mins with credits as Joaquin set out to do. This is a short clip with one of my favorite scenes. It took me a long time to edit it because I wanted to […]
In this game our superhero gave great advice to pretend kids dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Some missions also gave us a chance to practice complex imitation.
From our last outreach with Aaron DeLand, these videos show Joaquin practicing complex imitation while playing. The guys went to space again, rehearsed scenes for our next film, and had tons of fun as usual.
Joaquin's persistence and surprising skill getting through phone operators to share some joyful news with papa.
Inspired by my online singing course, six-year-old Joaquin produces his own set of vocal exercises to train my voice. They’re hard! And hilarious.
Joaquin’s newest passion is to write illustrated STORIES (whoo hoo!). He started a few days ago, and as I’ve added variations, it’s become a new favorite activity for him. I love his illustrations. They’re 3-dimensional and so expressive. This is “The boy who recharged his batteries” (we often talk about me needing solo time to […]
A sampler of the topics Kiki and I have discussed in “homeschooling time” since its recent inception. Topics are always inspired by our conversations during lunch and the themes that populate his mind that day. Reading through this list makes me smile; I’m not afraid of talking “unsavory” topics with Joaquin; no taboos; he’s so […]
Joey said it tasted like German chocolate cake, and Joaquin loved it and died for the double frosting. Here’s the SCD (except for the cacao) recipe.
A video celebrating our favorite moments, people, and places from 2013
Moments of love between Joaquin and his friends in the Son-Rise playroom.
Resources I created to help our volunteers magnify their motivation and impact before each play session, and assess their facilitation skills within our program's curriculum.
I used ABM’s essential of subtlety to help Joaquin perceive non-verbal communication, and he surprised me spontaneously deciding to perform charades for me.
It looks like they’ve been friends for a while and she’s facilitated social goals for years. But it’s Erin’s first solo session and she’s only had 1 hour of feedback training!
This video shows Aaron motivating Kiki to perceive and practice following somebody else’s eyes. He is playful and consistent and Kiki quickly starts to get it.
Choosing love and ease in order to connect with Kiki while joining him in one of his repetitive activities.
A celebration of love three years into our Son-Rise program. Watch our amazing Team Joaquin and the miracles and joy they’ve helped us reach for our child.
He had never role-played before. Most of his non-verbal abilities were stagnant for years until I started using ABM essentials to awaken this area of his brain
When mentally “failing” as a Son-Rise parent, remember: Perfection is not required. Rules that separate us in the moment from our kids are not helpful. Self acceptance helps us AND our children grow.
A memorable, potent, clearly multi-dimensional experience of heaven on earth, gratitude, and joyful closure.
Watching this was so exciting!… Even to Heidi, who at the time didn’t know much about the gestures goal… It’s been just two weeks of very subtle “work” giving Joaquin’s brain little pieces to figure out symbolic gestures, and today he spontaneously gestures “move the couch down”, then creates another gesture reproducing with his hands […]
Life examples of how ABM's 1st essential propelled us with sustained eye contact, verbal context in communication breakdowns, and understanding of emotions.
A tweak to our Son-Rise program replacing requests by opportunities for spontaneous action. In these videos, Aaron’s playfulness alone motivates Kiki to imitate him.
Joaquin welcomes Aaron DeLand in the playroom, and I have to celebrate remembering how challenging transitions (and new people) used to be for him.
Becoming aware and reversing the "mental no" and minimal response I give to Kiki's crazy and repetitive comments to give joy a chance and connect deeply with him.
A fun game designed around Joaquin’s interest for shopping that motivated him to practice non-verbal communication.
I’m currently discovering the natural talents of our new friend Megane… Acting on feedback I gave on her last play session with Joaquin (i.e. offer more actions vs. questions or “I don’t know” responses), for her second session she went with the intention to go 100% for whatever idea comes to her head. And I’m […]
Disconnecting is not of lesser value than being interactive; just one more way of being in the moment, and it has a purpose for autistic individuals and everybody else.
This morning I got in the playroom while in a slight bad mood with Joaquin. I realized I didn’t want to give him control over me; he had nagged me plenty in the morning and I had resisted very uncomfortably. So as soon as I went in, pencil and paper on hand, Joaquin asked me […]