There was a series of unfortunate events that led me to Providence – literally, Providence Speech and Hearing Center in Santa Ana, California. How it all came about would take too long to explain. It was supposed to be a three month job teaching preschool in their program that served children who received services in the center as well as typically developing children whose parents worked in the center or across the driveway at Children’s Hospital Orange County. I stayed for five years, changing my major from Child Development to Communicative Disorders. My dream at the time was to get my SPED credential and teach in a Communicatively Handicapped, as they used to call it, classroom. Well, God has this funny way of giving you exactly what you need and not always what you thought you wanted, right?
It panned out like this: while there I met and was able to collaborate with amazing professionals in the fields of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Child Psychology, Audiology and Speech Pathology. Generous with their knowledge, incredibly patient and devoted professionals who inspired me every day. And then there were the children and their families. My heart. They were and are the best teachers of my life. They taught me how to be the mother of my daughter, my non-neurotypical daughter. My gratitude is so profound that I cannot type this without crying.
My daughter has severe Sensory Processing Disorder. I knew when she was 8 months old that she was not developing in a typical way or responding to sensory (8 senses) information appropriately. I knew she wasn’t just a “late bloomer” or “fussy”. I agreed to give her until her birthday to “panic”. On her first birthday, her pediatrician gifted her with a referral to a specialist whom I had contact with through my students: Certified Brazelton Examiner, Physical Therapist, researcher with the most incredible knowledge about neurology and the vestibular system. His name was Tim Healey. We began our journey through PT, OT and speech/language therapies and the Battle of the Bureaucracies (which continues to this day).
That was over 20 years ago. What are the gifts? Knowledge for sure, a keen eye for students who are sensory-sensitive or sensory-seeking, but mostly deep compassion and empathy. It gave me focus and made me look closely at my why.
Nothing is black and white. Paths are not linear but meandering journeys with treasures hidden in the darkest places.