Playing with Others »
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.
Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz
Autism changed my life and parenting forever. Twenty-four hours after the discovery, I found the map which launched our journey with a nourishing home bubble in which we—and a team of volunteers I trained—were able to connect with my son and foster his social development. Today he’s out, learning from the world, and my role has slowly evolved beyond special diets and treatment programs. Everything I’ve learned in the service of my child’s development has melted and integrated into simply NURTURING an exceptional person as he grows and expands to thrive on his own in the world.
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.
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.
Through a metaphor, my son tells me the story of how his autism began and the locked space where he found safety.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 grateful kiss goodbye to Son-Rise and our playroom. A statement of victory inspiring the beginning of a new chapter learning and nurturing our child out in the world.
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.
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.
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!
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 […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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.
Interactive loop games are perfect to pursue subtle related variation. Here I offer several ideas around a turn-taking game for my team of Son-Rise volunteers.
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.
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 […]
Things are getting tricky and interesting at Joaquin’s house… Nineteen months after asking me to stop talking Spanish (in order to focus his verbal development), he has decided that he wants to re-learn “Español”. It started with this 5-year-old high-pitched voice nagging me every third word I said because I said it in English, and […]
A playroom game that motivated Kiki to stretch his attention span, body coordination, and physical interaction.
Playing with Kiki while holding the intention to use daring actions to build motivation for myself or for variations around repetitive activities or conversations.
A fun moment playing with Melissa, Joaquin’s friend and one of our Son-Rise program volunteers.
In this game, inspired by Kiki’s new motivation to get traffic tickets, my little bollito stretched himself sustaining eye contact.
With the recent introduction of a set of vinyl stamps and a clear stamping block, Joaquin has forgotten about his motivation for road construction, and has played three times in a row all around making these type of stamped strips for his streets. In addition to the focus and excitement he displays from trying and […]
A game designed to help Kiki have fun interacting with a new friend on her first day in our playroom.
Joaquin is not a big guesser; he usually wants us to give him the answers without delay. So I prepared a fun game to motivate him to practice guessing.
Just like a menstrual period, yet not exactly with the same frequency and predictability, I seem to experience cycles of contractive energy… They manifest primarily by a very strong need for space: physical and emotional. I find myself wanting to be alone, still, and silent. Mostly still and silent. Yet, mothering a four-year-old Sagittarius so […]
So, after two very great (and unusual) experiences joining Kiki’s activities with full openness and enthusiasm… And perhaps as a result of the atonement experience I had yesterday… And in response to my prayer to open again the channel with Source because I felt so uninspired all last week… The guidance I’m receiving today is […]
Wow, this kid is truly connected to something… For a few days now, every once in a while he’s told me with a mischiveous smile, his waving finger, and out of nowhere: “Don’t judge anymore”. I always thank him for the wisdom and tell him that I’m doing my best to act on that intention. […]
Challenged by Kiki's beloved Game of Lights, resistant to participate in his interest, and talking myself into accepting my feelings and being authentic with Kiki.
I’m thinking about our upcoming trip back to the Autism Treatment Center of America for an Intensive week… Same “challenges” than last year: A long day in airports, planes, and roads with a child and luggage, away from our kitchen. A single day to get there before our program begins (and a lot of money […]
Recently, I let go of several crippling habits I’ve carried for a long time. I’m currently living: Not trying to save, change, or heal anybody (not even one in the autism spectrum) Without any need to accomplish anything Not seeking anybody’s approval (I haven’t been put to a big test recently, though) For the first […]
This inspiring video documents the last 12 months in Joaquin’s son-rise Program. It’s a celebration of our journey, Joaquin’s growth, and our team of volunteers.
I used to read “happiness is a choice” as “happiness is a choice, and you’re always supposed to choose it; if you can’t it’s okay for now, but do seek happiness when you’re ready”. And so I’ve done a lot of choosing, allowing, and then attempting to choose not sure if I’m ready… just perhaps […]
This story confirms the guidance I once got: I was not alone teaching my volunteers. People went into our playroom and something else touched and expanded them.
Understanding the force behind my choices—love or fear—allowed me to start breaking “the rules”, and that way get to the true core of our Son-Rise program.
Wow. I’m putting together what I’m learning about living cells from Bruce Lipton, with what I learned and keep experiencing after attending a Reconnective Healing seminar last weekend, with what I’m experiencing reading Penney Peirce’s “Frequency”… It’s all making so much sense, and just keeps validating my gut wisdom to keep discarding much of what […]
There is this big fat fear I’ve had for a long time, that as I get older evolves in relationship to the people in my life, but the core of it is still there. And now that I find myself every day telling the Universe that I want to advance spiritually, that I’m trusting, listening, […]
At the core of this belief there is the very big and fat red itchy theory that I may have planted in Joaquin the subconscious idea that the world is not safe; that he is not welcome in my life. Sometimes I’ve thought that Joaquin may have experienced the conflict I had as a stay-at-home […]
Excited and inspired as I see how the intention to live love, choice, trust, self-awareness, and happiness in our personal life, is taking over Joaquin’s Son-Rise program and infecting my life and that of my team members.
I’m the mother of an autistic child, and that –far from a curse, has made my life more extraordinary and amazing than I was planning for. The more I stretch out of my old beliefs and comforts, the more my son stretches through his limitations to come into my world.
For anyone open to believe, and who may benefit from considering these thoughts… For the last months I’ve heard so much about the wonder of fermented foods in the treatment of autism. The information makes a lot of sense to me, and I have started as much as I can to add fermented foods to […]
Over the last month before turning three years old, Joaquin started writing numbers, drawing their outlines, spelling words and writing some, all by himself. His memory is amazing. His focus, passion, and control when drawing and writing is (I believe) extraordinary. All signs of a beautiful mind at work. And, as exciting and reassuring as […]
In celebration of our child and us, and the parents and volunteers working every day in son-rise playrooms, watch and feel the miracles seven months into our program.
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 […]
Reporting from our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends, family, and fellow Son-Rise families during our 6th month into the program.
A memorable experience of guidance: Turning a challenging moment in Kiki's social development into an inspiring opportunity to climb our mountain with joy and enthusiasm.
Last weekend we enjoyed the company of Katrina Kramlich, a lovely and experienced Son-Rise child facilitator who came to our home to play with Joaquin in his romper room. The experience was absolutely wonderful, especially because the universe conspired to fit everything in such a perfect way, that Eliza (our first volunteer), had a chance […]
From the trenches of our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends, family, and our son-Rise community during our 5th month in the program.
In preparation for my coming trip back to Massachusetts to attend an advanced Son-Rise course, last week I had to fill out a long survey reporting all kinds of details about Joaquin’s current state. The survey was exactly the same I took back in May, just a few weeks after having become aware of Joaquin’s […]
From the trenches of our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends and family during August 2010, our 4th month into the program.
Videos illustrating several Son-Rise techniques during a game we played to develop Joaquin’s verbal communication from single words to 2 to 3-word sentences.
Introducing SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) to our lives, and with it begins an era of learning to cook and bake like I never thought I would.
Challenged and discouraged by Joaquin's resistance to eat the nourishing food I started making with SCD. Fearful that my actions would not result in the outcome I was working towards.
From the trenches of our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends , family, and our Son-Rise community during July 2010, our 3rd month into the program.
What unhappiness looked like when life was difficult, when I was just beginning my journey as mother of a child with higher needs, and I felt trapped and uncomfortably stretched.
We built the son-rise playroom and Kiki’s progress slowed down; I got discouraged, depressed. Prompt support help me discard limiting beliefs and get back on track inspired and driven.
I’ve just received my rental car for the week. After placing my bag in the trunk and contemplating all the little ways how this cheap rental is not as nice as our family car, I pull out the map package I’ve printed earlier charting the route to the Option Institute. The number of steps is […]
From the trenches of our Son-Rise bubble, here are the highlights shared with friends and family during June 2010, our 2nd month into the program.
Lately, Joaquin is the bright center of my universe. A developmental summary of 2.5-year-old Joaquin, six weeks after starting the son-rise program.
Explaining the Son-Rise program, the therapy we’ve followed since diagnosing our son’s autism. A single month into it has shown miraculous shifts and a promising journey.
One month after discovering my son’s autism and the son-rise program, I’m starting to see the wonder of the process unfolding and how it’s meant to “cure” ME.
Active, challenging, demanding, draining, and clingy... So I have a high-needs child. It's time to accept it, embrace it, and change my perspective, so I can give him the attention he needs without killing myself in the process.
One-year-old Joaquin cries and screams his way out of Mothers Morning Out and I feel betrayed and judged by his caregivers. One more puzzling experience that made a lot more sense with our discovery one year later.