“My Story”…That sounds trite, doesn’t it? But I have to start somewhere. I have labored for years over sharing myself and the experiences that have molded my life because it takes unhindered vulnerability. However, now is the time because the message is urgent.
Not that long ago, we were a family in crisis! Every day felt like I was treading water trying to keep myself and my family alive. We were in survival mode, and it impacted every aspect of our lives, especially our relationships.
One of our children was in an intense, life-threatening struggle with anxiety and depression. As I started researching the resources available for our family. I was amazed. I began to see that my past had indeed prepared me for this moment. That was the security and comfort I needed to press ahead and work through our tough times as a family.
But what would have happened if I didn’t have the background knowledge, education or experience?
That exact question is what haunts me daily. That question is what fuels my desire to spread this information along with a message of love, connection, and hope for our most vulnerable children and families.
When I was in graduate school (many moons ago), as part of my Master’s portfolio I was required to complete a research project. The research project was a comprehensive literature review synthesizing all existing research on a topic of my choice.
The topic I chose was one nobody in my Master’s program had heard of, and one I happened to stumble upon during one of my internships. I had met an Occupational Therapist at a school I worked in who introduced me to the book The Out-of-Sync Child. This book completely changed my perspective on children and behavior.
The book discusses the sensory system and describes how it processes information. It also explains that we have more than 5 senses. We also have the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. When a child’s sensory processing system (input) does not function properly, that child’s behavior (output) is maladaptive or disproportionate to the situation.
What I didn’t know at the time was that all my research would be vital to understanding the children we adopted later in life. Instead of focusing on modifying behavior, the focus should be on what’s causing the behavior. We call it THE WHY behind the behavior!
Once we got involved in foster care and adoption, I started to notice a trend. All of our children had some degree of sensory processing disorder. Additionally, I noticed that almost every adoptee I met seemed to have a sensory system that didn’t function properly.
I vividly remember the moment I was driving (that’s when I do a lot of my thinking), and the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. Something was happening. A commonality existed between adopted children that changed the way their nervous system worked.
I even remember telling my husband, “I think every adopted child has sensory processing disorder.” I knew the signs. I knew what to look for from my past research and from my own adopted children.
What I didn’t know at the time was that it all relates to the effects of trauma on the brain.
To Be Continued….read Part 2