When The Dust Settles

Often times when we are so busy focusing on others, we neglect ourselves. Our own problems fall to the wayside as we put all of our thought and energy into helping someone else. After all, it is Mandy Hale who said, “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”  But what about putting the plane’s oxygen mask on yourself before helping put it on the person(s) beside you? I don’t know about you, but I definitely struggle with taking care of myself. I prefer to be the care taker and help those around me, especially those whom I love. And that is exactly what I did.

Now, this will be a two-part post. I will briefly touch on what the second half will be about, but it is a sensitive topic and I am still working through how I will be handling the subject in a way that will not hurt others who are still unaware of my experience. However, I feel that both of these topics are vital in not only my own mental health, but hopefully in one of your’s as well.

With that being said, I have a childhood trauma that I never dealt with. I pushed it to the back of my mind and never thought of it again. I did my best to never think about it and I had done pretty well at succeeding in doing so. The few times it would present itself, I would focus on other people or events in my life. It didn’t start coming back to me until I had Killian. But then I had my HBC trauma and a newborn to put all of my focus on. So, yet again, I continued to ignore my childhood trauma.

When it started to come back again, I had just had Oliver and that happened to be the same time when Killian’s Autism began presenting in full force. Fighting with Dr. D-Bag and learning how to advocate for my son took lead. And that fight lasted a year and a half. I put my entire self, everything I had, into getting the answers I knew were there and pioneered to get the therapies, doctors, and tests needed to get to where we are today.

It wasn’t until March or April of this year (2019) when something happened to me that caused all of it to come flooding back. I couldn’t even pick up Killian from the bus stop without having a massive anxiety attack every time. One of the other bus stop moms was great at staying by my side after I had opened up to her about what had caused my trauma to come flooding back. It had gotten so bad that I could not sleep at night (more-so than normal), and I would often cry every night as images flashed through my mind as I lay in bed reliving my nightmare over and over again.

I wasn’t able to push it away anymore. Our medical life had begun to calm down. Results had come back, therapies were in place, medications were being figured out, and support surrounding Killian’s Autism diagnosis were established. Things were finally, “calm.” I didn’t have anything else to pull my attention away from myself. I was essentially being forced to put on my own oxygen mask. I was suffocating and I needed to do something about it.

I decided it was time to open up to one of my cousins and ask her if she had experienced the same thing I had. Thankfully, her answer was no. She encouraged me to seek help when I had mentioned that I was going to look for a therapist. I had talked to Killian’s behavioral therapist about it during one of my parent sessions and she recommended her office-neighbor, Pamela.

I was going to meet Pamela once every 2 weeks but after doing a wellness check with my primary doctor and, for the first time, opening up to her about what had happened to me, she told me she wanted me to see my therapist once a week instead. Pamela agreed and thought that once a week sessions would be more beneficial.

In each of our meetings we talked about how I had opened up to my mom after having Killian and told her about what had happened to me but that my dad did not know. I was too afraid of my dad finding out and hurting him. I didn’t want him to feel guilty that he was unable to protect me when I was little or cause him any anger over what had happened. But as my sessions continued, I felt that it was imperative for my healing process to open up and trust my dad with my pain.

I had only seen Pamela 6 times before I sat down with him and had a very emotional conversation about my experience. As you can imagine, it was very hard. I cried, but ultimately it brought us closer and allowed him to see why I behave the way I do in certain situations.

A friend of mine recently had her son tested and he came back positive for Autism Spectrum Disorder. This was not news to any of us as we knew he would be, but what did come as a surprise was the severity of his Autism. A couple weeks after receiving his diagnosis, the shock had worn off and she reached out to me asking if I had been hit with the grief of the “what could have been’s” and I answered her with my story. Because Killian has high functioning Autism like I had suspected, I didn’t have the grief but more of the “haha I told you so” feelings directed at Dr. D-Bag. But I did have the memories of my past rearing its ugly head at me that I could no longer ignore. She shared with me that she had a similar experience in the fact that her mother had been an alcoholic and even though she thought she had put those feelings of pain and hurt to rest, experiencing those same memories as a mother ripped open old wounds. She realized that she too was at a point in her life where she was needing to put on her oxygen mask and put herself first.

Caring for others is great, as long as we are caring for ourselves in turn. Finding the balance between the two can be difficult. I firmly believe in the fact that every person, young and old, should be in talk therapy. We all have issues that we need a neutral person to help us work through. Whether it be from our past or something that we are currently going through, intense trauma, or disputes among colleagues, family, or friends, we all need someone who can help us put things into perspective and help us heal.

So, when all is said and done, be cautious of the dust that settles. Once you no longer have someone or something else taking up your undivided attention, it may be the time that your mind decides to perk up and remind you that it is needing some attention. Call around and find a trained therapist who can help you work through it. (I personally like to reach out to my local moms groups on Facebook to get recommendations for doctors and therapists) And if you don’t have any past or present traumas? Good for you! Still call and find a therapist. If anything else, it will be a mandatory self care hour. Something that we are all in desperate need of.

-The Lazy Mama

Happy and Green

Every week my son has his behavioral therapy appointment. And I absolutely love her. Let me tell you why I love her so much. First, she helps give me ideas on how to help manage my sons aggression and teach him ways to learn impulse control. And second, she cares about how I am doing and allows me to talk about issues with myself and gives me the help I need to be a better parent to him.

I honestly believe that everyone should be seeing a therapist. Someone who you can talk to, vent to, and get help from with life’s difficult problems. And children have many problems in life. They may not seem very drastic to us as adults in comparison, but to them, they are just learning how to manage life and find out how to behave as a functional person in society. And sadly, a lot of kids struggle with this. Even as young as my 4.5 year old son.

Like I have mentioned before, Killian struggles with a lot of anger and aggression. Things started going much better after his schedule became more routine. Weekly OT, weekly BT (behavioral therapy), school every day for 2.5 hours, weekly chiropractic. Then around the beginning of December, he had to stop going to OT due to the therapist’s completely booked schedule. I don’t know how large of a role this played in his change but it was definitely on contributor. He had become more hostile and aggressive. He was angry and everything would set him off.

I had a meeting with his teacher where we discussed possible ways to prevent him from hitting other students because he was attacking at least 3 kids a day and other parents were beginning to call her about it.  Thankfully it hasn’t been anything that caused major harm but he is still hitting and that hurts.

We talked about revising his daily sticker chart to see if he would start responding better to that. The Green Room ( a sensory friendly room where certain kids who have these issues can go for 10 minutes to decompress and regulate while in a sensory friendly and calming environment with a trained professional) finally had become available for use to the preschoolers and he was able to have his first day in there last week. His sticker chart has 10 spots and 6 stickers is our minimum gaol to receive a treat of Special Milk, milk with a small amount of coffee creamer in it. Tuesday he had his first Green Room day and he got to choose 2 activities to do in there so he chose to have 4 minutes at the sand table and 4 minutes in the tent with the soft weighted blanket before his 2 minutes of quiet belly breathing in order to return back to class in the Green Zone (which I will explain in a minute).

Tuesday was a 4 sticker day. It was not a good day. When I asked him how the Green Room went he said that he really liked it and he felt good in there. However, his sticker chart was riddled with notes from Errin about how he was very angry, knocking student’s work on the ground, yelling at the teachers, hitting kids, and refusing to follow directions. When I asked him why he was so angry he said because he didn’t get to have his snack. It turned out that when he went back to the Green Room he missed snack time and was unable to have it when he returned. I then asked if he told his teacher that and he said no. We talked about how he needs to use his words and explain that to his teachers so they know why he is angry and can help him.

The next day he had a 6 sticker day, followed by a 9 sticker day! Just having that little bit of decompression time during school when he gets most overwhelmed and deregulated had allowed him to have a better couple of days at school. His therapist was amazed at how much happier he had seemed that morning compared to the previous 3 weeks. We talked about the new school wide curriculum about social-emotional well-being and self-regulating called Zones of Regulation and about how he is not allowed to enter the Green Room until he is in the Green Zone, so they will stand outside of the room and take calming belly breathes in order to get themselves into the Green Zone. I had even asked his teacher if she could print me 6 colored copies of the Zones of Regulation chart so that I could have them all over our house, in the car, and at my parent’s house.

zones of regulation

Gina, his behavioral therapist, at one of our very first sessions with her, explained something that was so important and yet so obvious. When we get upset with kids we tell them to go to their room and calm down or go out in the hall and calm down. But when they get there, they don’t know how to calm down. We haven’t given them to tools to do something that is not in their understanding. Calming down is something that needs to be taught. Its something that as adults we don’t need to think about how to do it, we just do it. Like breathing, that skill is just, THERE.

So she gave me some papers to cut out and laminate in order to help Killian chose from and give him ideas about how to get himself back in to the Green Zone. These included 10 belly breaths, kicking a ball outside, running, drawing his anger, 10 jumping jacks, listening to music, and a bunch of other suggestions. I put them on a ring and hung it next to one of the Zones charts making it easy to identify which zone he was in and then search for a method to get to the zone he needed to be in.

Remember in the beginning when I said that his therapist helps me in the same that she helps my son? Well, this was definitely one of the biggest ways she helped me. Pointing out that I needed to give Killian the tools that he lacked that would in turn allow for a better outcome for everyone involved.

I gave a copy of those to his teacher as well so that we could all be on the same page, doing the same thing, speaking the same language in order to make sure that things progress in a positive way for his development. Some days he is more cooperative and other days he just yells and runs away. It’s a work in progress. But because of the immense amount of support that we have, and the weekly check-ins and advice from Gina, we are able to better collaborate with everyone involved to ensure that not only is his future bright, but that we all survive!

Talk therapy isn’t just for adults and teens. Young kids can benefit from it as well. And even better, when you and your child go together, you both can get help and advice at the same time. If your child is having a hard time and is acting out, maybe going to behavioral therapy with them would be something to look into. Either way, talking through and finding the root cause and/or ways to adapt and overcome is the best way to make everyone happy.

-The Lazy Mama


But He Doesn’t Have A Job…

When I first told my husband about our 4 year old son going to Occupational Therapy, he looked at me like I had lost my damn mind and said, “Why does he need occuapational therapy? He doesn’t have a job!”

Whenever I talk to people about him being in OT they always want to know what he does there and why he goes.  So this post is all about pediatric occupational therapy and th eimportance of it with special needs children.

So, what exactly is OT?

Occupational therapy helps people live as independently as possible. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who (because of illness, injury, developmental delays, or psychological problems) need help learning skills that can allow them to live more independent, productive and satisfying lives. Occupational therapists use work, self-care, and recreational activities to increase independent function.

What is a Pediatric Occupational Therapaist and what do they actully do?

Pediatric occupational therapists focus on the “occupations” of childhood which are play, socialization, self-care, and school performance. Pediatric occupational therapists help children develop the skills needed for functional independence in these important developmental areas.

Pediatric OT is aimed at the unique needs of each individual child and is provided through meaningful activity, so as to keep the child motivated and invested in the therapeutic process. Also known as, Play Therapy. While pediatric therapy is designed to feel like play to the child, expertly trained occupational therapists draw from strategies in many specialty areas to build upon the child’s progress.

Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on the progression of developmental skills, the use of compensation techniques and/or adaptive equipment as needed, and adapting to the environment. The goal for the child is to promote the highest level of independence and success during work or play.

OTs place great importance on working closely with parents and other caregivers/teachers for carryover into the home and school.

More important than the things they use during pediatric therapy is the building of a relationship. OTs focus not just on skill development, but also on play, socialization, language, and teamwork. They strive to help the child learn that they are partners in this process and that he/she is able to achieve the extraordinary.

Why is pediatric OT so important?

When children are offered the ‘just-right’ sensory motor and input demands that are based off their own unique needs, they typically will respond at their optimum level. When they are successful in an activity, it helps to motivate them and organize their behavior to participate more in day-to-day activities.

Sensory motor activities that are child-initiated and play-based are therapeutic. Activities that control the intensity, type, and duration of sensory input carefully will either calm the over-responsive child OR alert the under-responsive child. This allows them to participate more fully in self-help tasks and play that is more developmentally appropriate.

The list starts with providing aid to children facing difficulties in daily activities like brushing, dressing, toileting, writing, drawing, etc. The therapy helps develop these self-help skills in the children.

Here is a list of some ares and conditions that pediatric OTs work on:

  • Sensory processing
  • Play and socialization
  • Fine motor and hand skill development
  • Visual perceptual/visual-motor skills
  • Handwriting
  • Self-care
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Environmental modifications
  • Sensory-based feeding problems
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • ADHD
  • Behavioral difficulties
  • And more….

What is our role as the parent?

Parents have a huge role in the therapy of their child. It’s important that they understand what the therapist is doing and PARTICIPATE. This will assist them in helping their child at home.

Take sensory integration for an example. An essential way a parent (or teacher) can expedite sensory integration and sensory processing is by realizing that it is real and has an impact on the child’s development. Although teachers and parents offer an enriched environment for the child to promote healthy maturity and growth, they should also consider the unique needs of each child.

By working with a pediatric occupational therapist for early intervention, parents can enhance their child’s physical, social, cognitive, emotional, communicative, and adaptive developments.

Now let’s do a mini delve in to what Pediatric Occupational Therapy looks like in different types of special needs.

Sensory Processing Issues:

It is generally observed that children with sensory processing issues are unable to synthesize information in the basic five senses (sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste). These children may experience over-sensitivity, under-sensitivity, or both at different places like school, home, or anywhere. These kids often feel difficulty in paying attention and get distracted easily by sounds or visual stimulations or other things. They could also try to avoid recess and other group activites.

Occupational therapy can help them regain the skills and address the issue in a proper manner.

Kids with Cerebral Palsy:

Occupational therapy is also beneficial for those suffering from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other disorders in which the child needs a wheelchair. The OT teaches the child to use the wheelchair in a proper manner and gain the ability to be independant in their home, make it to class on time, get things out of their locker, and more.

Kids with Autistic Spectrum Disorder:

Autism and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) are somewhat related but are not the same. Children with SPD may not suffer from Autism, but the reverse may be true. The child suffering from SPD has trouble communicating with other people, limited play skills, less interest in activities, and more. The occupational therapist can help gain these skills by observing the child’s behavior and developing a plan for them. The OT uses different sets of methods and plans, and there is no one single ideal program. These may include activities to help with interaction, puzzles to develop coordination and awareness, and more.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills Delay

Gross motor skill involves the movement of muscles needed in whole body movement (arms, legs, core). Fine motor skills (or dexterity) are the coordination of small muscles in movement (forearms and fingers). Children having trouble with these skills may experience difficulty in walking, riding a bike, writing, puzzles, and other activities.

Occupational therapy can be used to deal with the condition and eventually eradicate it. They can adapt and create skills in order to become more self-sufficiant and independant, especially with regards to grooming.

What are some OT activites that can be seen during a therapy session?

There are a number of activities that can be arranged for children with special needs depending on the condition. Therapy can be conducted in several places like a hospital, home, school, a clinic, specialized center, etc. It will be designed differently depending on age and abilities.

For Toddlers and Infants:

Infants generally face trouble sleeping at night. The common exercises that are included are bath time activities, providing gentle massage, sand and water therapy, feeding therapy, activities using specialized toys to make them deal with light and sound, olfactory input activities, and more.

Sensory Integration Activities

These activities help a child respond more actively and accurately to the environment. The activities are designed in such a way that it creates a deep pressure on the child. These can be active or passive. You can create soft corners in the room using soft furnishing like a bean bag which provides a wonderful deep pressure with a calming effect.

Another thing you can do is let him/her lie down on a mat or bed and cover them with blankets and pillows to develop pressure. Other techniques would be to give them a stress ball to squeeze, chew toys, a liquid motion bubbler, and many more sensory items.

Coordination Activities

These are designed for the child’s legs and arms so that they can work in an effective way. These are divided into two broad categories: bilateral and hand-eye coordination skills. For hand-eye coordination, ask your child to hit a ball with a bat, catch a ball, etc. Bilateral activities provide the ability to use both sides of the body in an accurate manner. You can ask your child to roll out pastry sheets from a play dough, ask them to pull a rope hand-over-hand, etc.

Visual Perception Activities

These activities help the child understand the information sent by the eyes to the brain. For form constancy, and to help them understand shapes, put objects on a tray and ask your child to recognize them. You can also use any object at home for this activity. Use books to teach them different fonts and same alphabets of different size to enhance their abilities. Ask your child to draw shapes, lines, alphabets, etc. You can also use a jigsaw puzzle to aid development process.

Activities for Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are required for those who have trouble using a hand, fingers, and forearm properly. The basic therapy includes simple exercises of arms, wrist, fingers, etc., so that they can perform regular work like holding a pencil with ease. Give them safety scissors and ask them to cut out shapes from the paper.

For gross motor skills, help your child with core and shoulder activities. These activities may include swimming, hopscotch, wheelbarrow walking, walking over an unstable surface, etc.

Miscellaneous Activity

Other activities involved in pediatric occupational therapy that could keep them involved and improve their developmental processes are: painting with pom-pom balls, making a playdough puzzle, smash the dough or cut out shapes from it, place a coin in a container, and more.


If it is not obvious by now, please let me be the very blunt, gigiantic billboard in neon lights for you.


If you even THINK that your child is delayed in the slightest, insist that their pediatrician sends out a referral for an OT to evaluate them.  If the pediatrician denies that simple request then you need a new doctor ASAP.

So the next time someone asks why a child needs occuapational therapy, you can educate them on the importance of it and all of the positive benefits that will come from the outisde assistance.

-The Lazy Mama