Thanks for the great comments on my post about Eby andVBS. Beth left a comment that I would like to share,
Lisa, Thanks for sharing your story! You said a thank you to Karyn Purvis when you prompted eye contact with Eby. I am curious to know what this interaction may have looked like before Empowered to Connect and TBRI training. Are you willing to share that with readers?
Absolutely – I only wish we could sit down and I could talk with all of you for a few hours. There is so much to learn and I feel passionately about it! Anybody have a big living room and a huge pot of coffee?
Prior to learning from Karyn Purvis, Empowered to Connect, and understanding Sensory Processing Disorder, I would have been very embarrassed by Eby’s behavior. My own pride would have gotten the best of me and I very likely would have corrected him adding a twinge of shame to it all, “Eby, you know you can’t be so rough. I’ve told you this before, but maybe you just aren’t a big enough boy to come to VBS.” Can you see it play out? I likely would have been more concerned with parenting in a way that would seem right to the other parents than connecting with Eby and correcting him in a way that would actually teach him something.
Two years ago I had seen the acronym SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) tossed around on adoption blogs, but to be perfectly honest, I was so consumed with learning about trauma and attachment, that I chose not to delve into sensory challenges. It just didn’t seem that important to me. I knew Eby was too rough, too loud, prone to covering his ears and screaming in response to loud noises, and a “bull in a china shop.” He often hurt me unintentionally by knocking his head into my face. He avoided touch, hesitated to hug, and was very volatile at times.
One day we were talking with our children’s therapist while Eby was in the room. He wanted to show me something and as he came toward me he bumped roughly into me and hit my chin with his head. It wasn’t a big deal, but she had noticed these sorts of things in him and suggested we have him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder. She also recommended some books which proved to be very helpful.
I remember feeling that I couldn’t possibly learn about one more thing, read one more book, or manage one more appointment, but I am so glad we did. The best gift we received was the ability to reframe our understanding of Eby’s behavior – what looked like attachment challenges or aggression was actually a response to sensory challenges. Having sensory-aware eyes helped us tremendously! Meeting his needs requires some creativity and thought, but it is actually fun because when it works, we get a big payoff.
Two more quick thoughts, I specifically mentioned touching Eby’s chin because it is a great and simple tool. The “chin prompt” is a gift from Karyn Purvis. With my own children, I touch lightly under the chin, but if you don’t know a child well or don’t know how they’ll respond, you can put your hand under the chin, but not actually touch the child. Just the proximity and suggestion of touch are also effective.
Second, and probably most importantly, one of the Empowering Tools taught by Karyn Purvis and in the TBRI training is to “give voice” to children. It has astonishing and immediate benefits when we intentionally focus on our children and listen to them. We can use prompts like, “Use your words.” Karyn often says things like, “If you tell me what you need, I will move heaven and earth to meet your need.”
I’m finding that if I look in my children’s eyes, take their hands in mine, and say, “Tell me what you need,” they are initially surprised, but after a moment, they stop whining, crying, etc., and use words to tell me. You can bet that I then work hard to meet that need and I give them loads of praise for “using their words.”
This does not apply only to children – everyone wants to be heard. Giving voice is a tool that we can apply to every relationship we have.
That is the introduction to my post today which was going to be about how Ladybug had an amazing conversation about Sensory Processing challenges with a mother of a little girl, but I think I’ve gone on long enough!
Have a great day, friends. Let’s all watch for ways we can meet our children’s sensory needs – popsicles and the trampoline anyone?