As a practitioner and as a parent of an additional needs child, my personal life experiences affect my professional and vice versa. One most enlightening effect of having my son, who was quite sensitive to certain noises or fearful of certain states was that I had to look for a solution to ease his system so that he could self-regulate. I learned intuitively and through practicing that I could balance my son using biofeedback to activate and balance his vagus nerve. What transpired was amazing. He was able not to just tolerate but still soothe and transition his focus back to what he was doing instead of focusing on barking dogs, for instance. Using this information I quickly started applying my knowledge on my clients. They calmed quicker. Anxiety reduced, digestion improved. Why, you ask? Because the vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve and it is our longest winding nerve affecting heart rate, breathing and because it wraps around most of the organs it therefore affects our digestion.

When we have a stress response, like my son to the sound of a dog barking, we choose to go into fight or flight or stress and digest depending on how “balanced”we feel. When we are more balanced and less stressed, it is easier to respond. However, when life circumstances that are out of our control happen, like #COVID-19, loss of a loved one, etc. stress ensues. This puts us back into fight and flight, making us more reactive. Even as adults, things that we could handle before re-trigger us along with new triggers and we become overly sensitive. This over-sensitivity expresses itself either as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, allergic reactions, and or digestive issues.

Adults and children alike respond to having their vagus nerve stimulated and balanced. Working on the vagus nerve through biofeedback returns their bodies back into the rest and digest state. Adult clients and parents of children I have worked on have commented that they or their children have noticeably become less reactive, that they pause and respond where they would have reacted. Mood even elevates, becoming calmer even happier.

There are ways of easing yourself from stress. Biofeedback has helped our family and my clients do that.



I feel this needs to be said for myself or for those of us who struggle. It is easy to assume that someone else’s life is easier. This has been repeated to me often recently. So in my effort to be REAL and to assist and be assistance I am going to share.
This morning was a HARD morning. I started my meditation first thing as I always do because I know it always assists me especially when I’ve had a rough night sleep. Once our son was up everything was fine until it was time to get ready for school. For those with an additional needs child who have commented that your child’s behavior is constant, this was one of THOSE moments. That’s when it all transitioned. In order to keep privacy for his sake I will just say that I was late getting our son to school, something I was fine with due to circumstances.
By the time we were getting ready to go to school all three of us were frustrated. My nerves and hands were shaking and I felt very vulnerable and very human. When I arrived at school or son’s assistant hugged me. It was a hug I desperately needed. I sobbed in her arms as she told me sweet things like, “you’re doing a great job”, and “you’re a wonderful momma.” Thank GOD I had my sunglasses on…my eyes were full of tears releasing. I kissed my son goodbye and told him how much I loved him.
What I realized is that in that moment I felt weak, as each and every one of us has. But I also recognized my strength: I am resilient and I intend to teach that to my son and to those who come into my life and practice. We often neglect or feel uncomfortable having those knee weakening experiences, much less share them, but those are very necessary because they help us move forward. More importantly it also encourages others to be themselves and acknowledge that they are able to do that with you.
I came home after driving safely and again meditated. Now I set the intent for the rest of my day….taking each moment one at a time knowing I am in control of one thing….me.
If this resonates with you or you have something to share, please do. Message me, post or call. I am here for you. I get it. May my experience allow you to know you are not alone. And may I share my favorite saying, “This too shall pass.”
Life is not a test. It is made up of simple moments of opportunities that allow us to practice being our best selves. When we are not, that’s ok. Acknowledge that, you are human. Move towards what it is you are striving for until you are there. Remember be kind. Kindness begins with you.

Today was like any other day, our son walked into our room after waking and announced, “school is closed right now! “It is a familiar greeting that we get every single morning. Seriously. Every. Single. Morning.

 We’ve gotten used to this as parents. We’ve heard it multiple times throughout every morning. This first started at the end of the school year last year. We stopped hearing it over summer and now the school has resumed, and it has restarted. I have noticed that my son is now biting his nails, something he would not typically do. I observe the small details as they tell me much of what’s going on, like other children, he is sometimes not able to fully communicate everything that is on his mind.

 This morning I felt urged to do something about it. It was time to address the underlying issue and I felt he was ready for it. As we were in the car driving to school before I turned the radio on, I said to my son, “You know, you’re not being kind to you. Every day you wake up telling yourself school is closed, you begin the day with frustration. That is just not being kind to you. I know school isn’t always fun and I sometimes didn’t like school or didn’t want to go to school myself. I get that. But you waking up in the morning and telling yourself that school is closed EVERY morning is stressing you out. And that doesn’t help you. It’s OK to feel that way. But start waking up in the morning and think of something in the day that you get to look forward to at school. Like, “I get to see Sami! (A cute as a button girl in his class) You like Sami right? She’s cute, and you like seeing her?” He smiled and it broadens as he thought of seeing her. “OK! You start the day saying I get to see Sammy today because school is open! You love music. On the days you have music tell yourself, I get to go to music today because school is open!” Then I said, “You get to choose how are you look at things. You are in control of that. That is your POWER. Don’t let anyone take your power away. Use your power to make the day that you want. If you start the day looking forward to one thing that you want to happen, you create possibilities of making that happen. And then you are open to seeing other possibilities and wonderful things. You become creative and make things happen! That is how you make MAGIC! You can do it!”

 Here’s what I want everyone to know: it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day. It is easy to find the minutiae in everything. It is up to us to PRACTICE finding the JOY in each and every day until it doesn’t become WORK and it is just a part of US. When that happens everyone around you benefits! At first it feels like walking through a tunnel with just a glimmer of light at the end. However, with practice, you are through the tunnel and you are embraced by the light.

 Remember, kindness begins with you.

There are so many things I’ve learned on this journey of having a child with additional needs, specifically, Down syndrome. These things I have learned, I often wish others would learn or at least benefit from knowing.

Take for example today. My adorable son has been greeting us every morning with “school is closed.” We eventually manage to get breakfast started and then him dressed. Today was a more difficult start to the morning. I could tell that something was amiss from his waking. I wasn’t sure if he had a restful night’s sleep and therefore he was just not wanting to get ready for the day. He wanted to be home only, having a playdate with mom.

When it came to getting dressed, he was UPSET. Getting dressed wasn’t an option for him. He was mad and frustrated and exhibited that clearly with his behavior.

After calmly addressing his behavior and verbally reflecting with him his options and choices, I left him to get dressed. He happily did so!

We headed for school. I asked him to meditate in the car. Then he had the choice of listening to his favorite chapter book we recently started or to listen to music. Book it was! Once the chapter was finished, he was ready for music.

We were in carline and he pecked my cheek with his cheerful kiss. He exited our car and walked proudly and confidently towards his assistant. As I watched, he was smiling the entire way in. Every safety patrol who he walked by and who was watching him, smiled in equal admiration. My heart filled with joy, love, admiration and gratitude for that moment, wanting to replace the earlier incident with much more positivity.

Here’s what I wish we all put into practice on a daily basis:

We ALL have moments of drama that we can choose to over dramatize in our heads or let go and allow the moment to pass. It is difficult sometimes to stop the stories we make up in our heads once something has occurred that we have difficulty processing. However, when we choose to allow the moment to pass, we allow ourselves the opportunity to embrace a more positive perspective and reality. We allow ourselves to be more present and allow others to embrace the moment with us. We allow ourselves the capacity to love and be loved.

May you choose to recognize when you are having one of those moments that keeps you in your head and choose to shift and find the unique blessings presented to you in your life, however simple they may be.

Additional needs parent or not, parenting has its joys and challenges. Sometimes brushing teeth is one of those challenges, because our kids just don’t want to do it. Oral hygiene is extremely important. It not only assists with reducing halitosis but also reducing gum disease, plaque and gingivitis. Preventing these three and/or reducing them also goes further in assisting and promoting good cardiovascular health.

But what do you do when your child doesn’t want to brush their teeth and/or furthermore get their teeth flossed? You have to find an alternative, a win-win for both you and your child.

Being an additional needs parent trying to get a good dental visit in has recently proven difficult. Our journey began with our son who was intimidated by the dentist office. We found a fabulous dentist in our insurance network who allowed us to come in frequently to create a comfortable environment. Then, she stopped taking our insurance. We had to start all over again. We found another place like it. They had found two cavities and wanted to address those and wanted to fully sedate our son. For me as a parent, with a child who had gone through open heart surgery at 5 months, this wasn’t acceptable.

I wanted a less toxic way to get the same solution. I also know my son and that he is manageable in the dentist’s chair. He needs to feel confident and secure with whomever is working with him. Once that trust is established he is good to go.

Having to re-establish a new relationship, I realized I needed a way to get him comfortable at home with going to the dentist. Voila, my solution came! Our local wholesale store had a sale on a Waterpik! The wonderful thing about this was is that it not just had the traditional Waterpik but it also had a travel sized one! It helped get him accustomed to keeping his mouth open for the dentist, and also used to the constant flow of water in his mouth then spitting. So, what was meant as a training tool, ended up becoming important part of our routine as he stopped allowing me to floss. We were trying to prevent additional cavities sprouting and stifling the bacteria from untreated cavities affecting adult teeth.

An unexpected benefit from using the Waterpik was that of all our teeth have become whiter and our gums have improved. More importantly not only did this addition to our routine become fun, but at our last dental visit the dentist was impressed that nothing had affected the adult teeth.

I also asked the dentist at what age a child could start using a waterpik. She said as early as they understand spitting and can tolerate having constant water in their mouth. Children with additional needs don’t always manage well or tolerate things in their mouth much less constant water pressure. It is up to the parents to observe and decide if this can be an additional tool they can use with their child.

Recently, I was meeting with another additional needs parent and we were catching up on each other’s lives. She was telling me about her life’s challenges. When I shared with her my perspective, that she was going through some growing pains it gave her a new appreciation and lighter perspective.

When we think of growing pains we think of it as something a young child or an adolescent experience. We never stop and think as adults that we would be going through growing pains. What comes with growing pains is discomfort. Children and adolescents experience their bones elongating, their muscles and ligaments stretching hormones changing and emotional imbalance as their bodies are shifting. There’s an awkward clumsiness that also comes along with these growing pains because there’s an adjustment period that happens to and for all individuals as they adjust to their new height.

Just the same happens for adults. It’s different because it’s not physical, but rather emotional, psychological and spiritual and oftentimes all at once. We know we are going through growing pains as an adult when we are presented a situation in which our status quo is no longer acceptable. That in order to proceed or move ahead, we need to change our behavior, our attitude or the way that we relate to others and/or to ourselves. This realization creates discomfort for us because sometimes we don’t know what it is that we’re supposed to shift towards. We don’t know how to relate and it is in that trepidation, in that unknowing, that we are experiencing our own growing pain. Hence we experience our own emotional instability and awkwardness.

Here’s how I’ve gotten through those moments. I recognize that in the times that everything is smooth going it is easy and enjoyable. It allows me to rest and it allows me to digest life. And then come those uncomfortable moments where I realize I am struggling. During those times I have to reflect back to the moments of ease. I realize that in order to enjoy the sweetness of life, there needs to be some sour. Truly when reflecting, think about it, we are never proud of ourselves for those moments when it’s smooth sailing. When we reflect back to the moments that we are most proud of ourselves, it is always in those moments that we didn’t know how we would make it. During these tumultuous times we feel unstable or uncertain in either ourselves, or our surroundings or both and we are consistently trying to find our balance. These are our growth spurts that when we reflect upon them, provide us much nourishment in the form of love and pride for ourselves and those around us.

Please, when experiencing your next growth spurt, recognize and embrace it. Although it may feel rather difficult, remember my favorite phrase: this too shall pass!

Regulations and reimbursement is changing for those who are receiving Behavioral Analysis (otherwise known as ABA, Applied Behavioral Analysis). Please make your voice heard. Let your representative know the effects and ramifications of their proposed cutbacks on reimbursement for BA will have on you, your family and our community. Visit: United States House of Representatives

Also visit FABA (The Florida Association for Behavioral Analysis) to learn more and take action.  

This morning my son was stimming.  It was something that he started up again this last weekend. But this weekend I wasn’t asking him why he was doing it, I was just requesting he stop. Something made me stop and ask myself, why was he choosing this behavior. The answer I got was simple: stress. So I asked my son if he was stressed. He answered me no, but that didn’t suffice. Me being me, I asked again in a different way, “are you anxious?” In case he didn’t understand what anxious meant, I described it as feeling butterflies in his stomach. Then I went on to say, we all get anxious. Mommy gets anxious daddy gets anxious and that’s OK. What’s important is that what we remember is how to deal with our anxiety. So I gave him some concrete examples of what to do. I told him he could think of clouds floating by in his head. Or do you think the stars and the count them and lastly I told him that it would be ok if he meditate, I reminded him meditation helps calm your tummy.

This interaction made me realize what I take for granted being a parent of an additional needs child… I have acquired many tools from having a supportive family growing up, from going to school and becoming an educator and from life experience but most of all, from our behavioral analyst. There is certain knowledge I have of child development, psychology, behavior that most parents don’t, and yet, I still need assistance and support to guide me in how to effectively manage my son’s behavior. So for those who are not as well equipped with these tools it is even more necessary to rely on support systems.

We’ve all heard the phrase, you can’t see forest through the trees. That is exactly what a behavioral analyst does for parents. For example, a behavioral analyst would naturally look at the antecedent of the behavior assess the behavior as it is happening and look at redirecting or replacing the behavior.

This weekend for me was that prime example where I was the parent looking at my son’s behavior and not understanding why he was stimming. I was not constructively redirecting his behavior or supporting him in doing so for himself. I was too engrossed in our daily life that I couldn’t see that my son was communicating in his own way that he is stressed.

AHCA, Otherwise known as the Agency for Health Care Administration, Is proposing major cutbacks from Medicaid to those who would be providing behavioral therapy. Think this doesn’t affect you because you have private insurance? Private insurance may actually follow suit, so it behooves you to start advocating and letting your legislature know your thoughts and what ABA therapy has done for you and your family.

Don’t use behavioral therapy but are an additional needs parent and don’t see the need to get involved? The impact that this may have on your other therapies may be profound! This is just one therapy, but may actually impact your speech, physical therapy or occupational therapy. Also consider the impact that it has on your friends who have children who benefit from ABA therapy. Choose to be supportive, choose to be kind, choose strength in numbers. We can be strong only if our community bands together and stands strong in support of each other.

Have a neurotypical child and don’t feel that this will affect you? Wrong again. We are in a movement of creating a much more compassionate society. Your neurotypical child benefits by having our additional needs children in their lives. It creates awareness and consciousness allowing all individuals to not just accept others as they are, but encourages the actual neurotypical individual to accept themselves as they are, their perfect imperfections. Furthermore, the economic impact this will have of the repercussions of those with additional needs having unmanageable behavior because the support needed was not given due to cutbacks that forced behavioral analysts, to close their offices because they could not afford to continue working and giving away their services. ACHA’s short term solution may be economic right now but will be economically detrimental to society as a whole in the long run.

Embrace the simple coincidences… Synchronicities

Remember when you were little and your parents would remind you to say please and thank you? That is exactly what you need to do to create a fulfilling life.

Sometimes the reality of having an additional needs child is overwhelming and can put you in a state of “why me?”. The truth is, this is your journey and until you embrace it, it’s going to be uncomfortable.

Embracing it may seem unbearable even unrealistic. However, when you acknowledge where you are and how difficult or challenging it maybe, you create a space and an opportunity to allow yourself to see the exact opposite. You allow yourself to see the possibility of making it what you want.

How do you do that? I’ll give you a concrete example. My son was ill. More so than usual, congested coughing, extremely snotty nose.  After taking a warm bath and being freshly showered he sneezed and all his snot was running down his face.  He sat there as if he did not know what to do. Waiting for someone to help and wipe his face. I immediately demanded that he get a tissue and do it independently. I remarked how there are children who don’t have both hands or both legs and would feel blessed to be able to take care of themselves and would wish to be able to have the health that he does and the capability to wipe their own nose so easily. I looked at him and reminded him that God made him perfectly and that he needed to embrace the opportunity to get up and blow his own nose. I realize I was giving him much tough love, so I needed to soften it a bit. Once he actually did blow his nose, I looked at him smiled and said, “You make me proud! That is you being independent! When you do that, you shine!” I remarked. “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel handicapped don’t give your power away!” I said to him. “Shine so that you encourage others to shine as you do.”

The next day I realized after watching a Cars movie, that Lightning McQueen remarks to his competitor “You are the Thunder” His competitor asks why am I the thunder?” and Lightning replies because “I’m the lightning before the thunder.” From that point forward I told my son that he is the lightning before the thunder and that’s how he shines. We happen to be listening to some music and Imagine Dragons came on,  “Thunder” was playing and again I reminded him, you are the lightning before the Thunder.

It is these simple coincidences, synchronicities that once brought together make quite the impact.

As an additional needs parent we can often be overwhelmed with the task at hand of what we are trying to accomplish for ourselves and for our children. There’s a famous Chinese proverb, “A walk of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Here’s mine: we cannot eat a whole plate of dinner without taking a bite at a time. Remember, when these little synchronicities come about say, “thank you” by acknowledging them. I promise you, you may not be wealthy, but you will be very, very rich.

It was just before Thanksgiving and I was picking up holiday supplies at the local home improvement store. My son was with me doing this quick errand with me after school. We were approaching the checkout line and he noticed a dog. He has developed quite an aversion and apprehension of dogs. So there we were items in hand and he wanted to leave the store. I quickly and calmly explained to him that there was no way we could leave the store. I needed to buy the items and only then could we leave.

It was interesting, because the woman who had her service dog immediately wanted to go move and make accommodations. A sweet soul, I knew that she was well-intentioned. I shook my head however acknowledging I didn’t want her to move, this was a teachable moment. Another woman was watching as well and identifying my son’s fear. Again, I shook my head at her as well acknowledging I didn’t want her to identify with my son’s fear. At that very moment I looked at my son who stood frozen and said,  “This is where you choose power or fear. Which are you going to choose?” The second woman looked shocked by how I was speaking to my son thinking because he was with Down syndrome that he wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t get it . Oh contraire! He responded, “Power!” That’s when I took the opportunity, smiled, nodded and said, “ Okay, take a deep breath look at the dog and tell him, I am more powerful than you. You don’t have to say it aloud you can say it in your head…Now take another breath and walk!”

He did it! It was a most transformative interaction not just for my son or myself, but also for the two women who were standing and witnessing this experience.

After he passed the dog I knelt down and looked at him as I pointed to his heart and said “ I am so proud of you! And you should be so proud of you! You shine! You chose power! That should warm your heart.” When I saw the two women’s faces they were smiling, beaming in approval.

It is in these simple moments, I recognize that we as adults need to do the same: recognize our fear, own our own power and strength, and move ahead. We also need to remember not to allow other people’s perceptions of us to identify who and what we can do. When we do that as parents, we effectively show our children how to do the same.

It is IEP season. And for those of us with children with additional needs this is a very stressful time. It feels to some of you that it’s time to “fight” for what your child needs.

I would like to share my point of view because I was recently asked to meet with relatively new parents to the process. These were additional needs parents stressed in anticipation of what to expect. My advice is: you are not fighting, you are advocating. There is a difference.


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