Once upon a time...
There was a young girl named Julie. She met one child with Autism while attending college and she was sold! In 1998 she knew what she wanted to do... or so she thought.
At that time there was one main way:
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
It was all she knew. Even though it didn't quite feel good, she did what she was told. She thought this must be the best way to help these kids.
She worked with more families. These families showed her new ways of being. She studied relationship-based approaches... and even dedicated 7 years to a training program to learn as much as she possibly could. She learned all the rules of the program. She did what she was told. She really thought this was the best way to be with the kids she worked with...
Until, she started to think for herself and veer from the "If A, then B" mentality. She started to wonder what would happen if she tried C or D or E or F. That is when she got into trouble with her program. She wanted to keep learning and try new ways of being. She wanted to try different things for different kids. But they wanted her to do it their one way for every child.
So she let go of her piece of paper that showed she did all that training.
And she simply was... herself.
At first it was scary. The nothingness was uncomfortable. But the freedom to be herself started to feel more and more natural. She was able to let go of techniques and bring raw and genuine humanity back to her interactions. The kids seemed to appreciate this.
Over time she noticed patterns. When she tried A, B tended to happen. And B often led to C. And C often led to D. And so on.
She connected with other parents and professionals who were also tired of their programs and all the rules. They were experiencing the freedom too.
They spent countless hours talking about the patterns they noticed. They wanted to help others feel the freedom of remembering how to be themselves without all the rules. So they created guidelines (not techniques) that helped people remember how to be natural.
After these guidelines were created, Julie did some research about how people naturally develop through the stages of play. The guidelines matched these natural stages of play EXACTLY! Of course.
Somehow the world forgot how to be natural with our kids (and adults) who have a hard time showing all that they have to offer the world. Silly us! It turns out WE are the slow learners... not our kids.
Julie's mission has been to help people transition into natural, bring humanity back to autism (or any different way of being), to let go of the old and embrace a new way of being. Because we all need to play more!