“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
2 thoughts on “My Story…part 1”
This was such an important discovery Jenni. And thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to hear more. You’re right that this message is urgent for so many of us. Although my kids aren’t adopted I’ve known that J was somewhat dealing with sensory processing and I could guess many reasons including trauma but still spent all my time worrying about behavior modification. Then when things finally came to head with many of Emily’s issues and being in intense therapy with her, I’ve finally realized with the help of many therapists and diagnosis tool that she is definitely dealing and has dealt with sensory processing disorder. I new deep down she always had but with both in therapy for so many years I thought this was helping them. It wasn’t. I’m so great full that I m now learning new types of ways to help my children. It’s step by step with E and she finishes her ED program tomorrow!! So proud. But I haven’t found great help for J yet. And I’d be thrilled to hear any thoughts and ideas you have. I believe our family is finally changing. E now being honest with both of us about her trauma has forced growth and understanding. I look back at the judgemental way we dealt with J and it breaks my heart. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your heart! 💛💛☀️🌻😘
Amy, thank you for your response. Many of our struggles feel completely isolating when we’re experiencing them. I’ve often felt alone when I needed others the most! I hope we can change that by creating safe spaces to connect with others and share our lives…however that may look. Much of what I’ve learned over the years has taught me to be less judgemental and more compassionate. Something I need to be reminded of daily. I’m so thankful we can be on this journey together! 🥰❤️