2. What is the background of the MARTE MEO PROGRAMME?
One Sunday afternoon in 1976, a mother who was visiting her autistic son at the institution where he was placed, burst into tears when she saw him together with his therapist, Maria Aarts. "I wish that I could have that kind of contact with my child," she said. This incident was the final confirmation of an idea that Maria had had for a number of years: Why is our professional knowledge not accessible to parents?
Once the idea was formulated in this way, Maria Aarts asked herself: how could professional information be re-formulated so that it could be made accessible to parents in a practical way. The experts had often abstract and mainly problem oriented information and esoteric knowledge has to be rendered into practical, everyday language.
In the process of attempting this, it was discovered that the professional focus was mainly problem oriented; focussing on explanations of pathology. What was often lacking were descriptions of what to do in order to try and solve the problem.
From 1976 onwards the question has been to develop a practical model which is accessible to parents and other members of the child's natural system. This development has taken place "on the factory floor" - in continual co-operation with those who work with children and their families.
The first family programme Maria Aarts developed in co-operation with Orion, a centre in The Netherlands, where she was managing director. It was during these years that Maria Aarts enjoyed a complementary and inspiring co-operation with Harrie Biemans and the rest of the Orion group.
Since 1987 Maria Aarts developed MARTE MEO programmes in co-operation with many different professional groups in many different countries - tailor made training programmes. Since 1987 she is the director of her own company, "MARTE MEO", an international organisation. It was here, in this company, that Maria Aarts developed the first Marte Meo Programmes. Each MARTE MEO programme is an information package specially designed by Maria Aarts to help each profession support the child's development, in terms of prevention, early intervention and treatment. The programmes, included the family programme, since developed, not the least because of international co-operation, into what is today MARTE MEO; an evolution which will certainly continue.