Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

When I saw Silvia Simpson's (of Silvia's Photography)  photograph of my daughters (above), I new it was time to start creating my vision of Sensational Children. The picture just screamed, "SENSATIONAL CHILDREN"and everything that needs to be done to make sure children remain sensational!

Dr. Gabor Mate writes about how the disfunction of the world can be mirrored in an individual (In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts). When I learned about my son's disorder, sensory processing disorder (SPD), I recognized much of what was lacking in society's common practice of child rearing….Sensational Children (for me) was always more than "just" advocating SPD. It's about treating all children with the respect they deserve.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to practice mindful parenting and consciously download (into our children) information that will serve our children? Much of what we do arises from automatic programming that bypasses conscious awareness and may even run contrary to our intentions. Decisions that we may believe to be freely made can arise from unconscious emotional drives or subliminal beliefs. They can be dictated by brain mechanisms programmed early in childhood and determined by events of which we have no recollection. In the real world, choice, will and responsibility are not absolute and unambiguous concepts. People choose, decide and act in a context. That context is determined by how their brain functions. Brain development is influenced by conditions over which the individual, as a young child, had no choice whatsoever (summarized from In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts). If we are responsible for the programs that are downloaded into our children, let's download healthy ones.

Through my parenting workshops, parents will learn the skills for supporting their most important work; their children. I'm certified to teach Positive Discipline, and the Bringing Baby Home and Emotion Coaching Programs from the Gottman Institute. I would love to teach them all….all the time….but as a parent myself, I'm balancing my love for sharing these wonderful concepts with others to implementing them with my children. And implementing them takes most of my time. My children need me. And my experience as a parent can only add to my usefulness as a facilitator.

Our children need us to be mindful of our parenting, they also need time to connect with others and time to unwind, time to integrate their experience while they play out what they hear and see; time and a safe place for their creativity to blossom. I want to create a space for children to do just that; and as a life-long artist, I can't think of any other place than my art studio. Elliot Eisner, Art Education Researcher and Scholar, says, “The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source.”  Through creativity, our children learn adaptability, what Dr. Shimi Kang (writer of The Dolphin Way) admits is the number one skill our children will need in the 21st century. Sensational Children would not be complete without Sensational Art. But I'm not sure what that will look like yet.

As I work through the licensing criteria (for my whole vision of Sensational Children), things keep changing. Doors close, but there are still so many open. The process of bringing my vision to life is not a straight path; it's organic and changes. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” I trust my vision will take the shape it needs to; also, I trust that my journey (itself) will spark (in many) the realization that raising children (that children themselves) are THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

'Twas the Night Before an SPD Christmas

'Twas the Night Before an SPD Christmas
By Patty, her husband and Hartley

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The snack packs, arranged on the counter with care,
In hopes, on our journey we’d be well prepared.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Chex Mix danced in their heads;

Ma in her hoodie, and I in my sweats,
were to put away pillows and therapy nets.
When in the back room there arose such a clatter,
I ran at full sprint to see what was the matter.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a puzzled old man buried up to his ears,
(In scooter boards, swings, and small colored spheres.)
Poor devil had brushed ‘gainst our therapy stash,
When it came down around him it made such a crash!

He recovered with grace, so lively and quick,
That I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
"What is all this stuff that you people collect?
Are you Circus performers?”--the old man interjects—
"I came here with toys, for the boys and your girl
But looking around I think ‘what in the world?’

This room that would normally have children’s stuff
Is packed to the gills with equipment enough
To start your own CIA torturing session!
Tell me I’m wrong and you’re not!” (oh good heavens!)

My wife and I snickered and held out our hands,
And reassured Nick we’d had no evil plans.
“Our kids have a condition; they have a hard time—
They yell when it smells and they climb up the blinds.

At first we didn’t know just what to think,

But eventually found an OT who could speak
To their curious quirks and aversion to crowds
And toothpaste and barbers and things that are loud.”

St. Nick answered back, "So, then they misbehave?"
We answered with, "Actually, no, they're really quite brave.
Kids with SPD deal with all kinds of things,
Like big hugs, itchy tags, and loud alarm rings,
Or can't get enough and spend hours on swings.
You see, our children are sensitive to all that life brings.
Yet do very well with a consistent routine.
But it isn't bad behavior you see when they yell,
But rather a problem that is hard to tell.

Our kids work hard, at therapy and play
Spending hours and hours and hours each day
Trying to find ways to control their bodies,
And working hard not to look naughty.
But what they need is understanding, and some help along the way,
Because our kids amaze us, each and every day."

The old man looked surprised, at what we had shared,
Small children with parents who did what we dared.
To seek out help, and look far and wide,
Turning over each rock, letting nothing hide.
Until we found what they needed, what would make them feel whole,
For families like ours St. Nick couldn't leave coal.

So, Nick with the bundle of toys on his back,
Frowned and thought, then sullenly sat,
(And mumbled to himself which took us aback):
“I’m quite at a loss, I don’t know what to give
To children who struggle while trying to live
In a world that is already noisy and bumpy
And twisty and scary and thorny and jumpy—"

Then he rifled again through his sack and reposed
While he tugged at his beard, and scratched at his nose
(And he huffed and he chuffed and he shifted his clothes)
Then with a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
He drew the sack wide till the seams popped some threads,
Dug in his hand and pulled out a small box
(With very small writing) --but before he could talk
He ungloved his hand to wipe soot from his eye
(Or was it a tear? Or perhaps a sty?)

So he bid us farewell, and went back to his work,
He filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
While giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

I said to Ma, as she turned towards the tree,
"Who knows what St. Nick left us, we'll have to see.
Yet we gave him something great, I say with fairness,
We sent him on his way with a new found Awareness."
Which is a gift to our kids, in a different kind of way,
Because when all understand SPD, that will be a new day!"

Now we looked o’er the copious gifts left behind,
The tiny collages of paper and twine,
The moon-sparkled ribbons, the plastic that shined,
We spied the small box for the children to find.
“The best gifts can be pretty small--” Ma started then said,
“But our best gifts of all are still snuggled in bed.”

This Holiday season, you SPD Fathers and Mothers,
You cousins and nephews and sisters and brothers,
When you wake in the morning and throw off the covers
(And tear into presents while everyone hovers)
Do you think ‘Will I get what I wanted this year?’
Or realize ‘all that you need is right here!’
You might think it’s corny, but surely remember
Your children are better than any gift in December.

And in case you were wondering what Santa had stashed,
It may not surprise you, it might make you laugh,
“What did the children receive?” you may ask?
Well, when the snowy chips are down…
…Even Santa gives cash.

Merry Christmas to all and to all

Monday, October 27, 2014

How To Love Your Daughter

Written in collaboration with my eight year old, Kate McLeod.

We were all still sitting around the dinner table one evening, after dinner was complete, table half-cleared…… talking about my future blog posts and how most of them would require years of personal development before I could tackle them…..Kate stared dreamily, eyes glazed and grabbed paper and pen. Twenty minutes later, she stood up and said, “I have it….this is what you should write on your blog….”

 “How to Love Your Daughter.”

She (Kate) said it should be a list of things that I do to show her (Kate) how I love her. This list would include:

  • Spend a lot of time with her
  •  Do her favorite things with her
  •  If you’re busy, give her a clue….that you’re busy and can’t help her
  •  Love and support her
  •  Every day, if she is getting you frustrated, smile and count to ten….then ask her what she wants.
  • Tell her, I love you more than you do
  • Tell her she is as graceful as a butterfly
  • You are as sweet as a loving bird eating candy!

And there it is!

And this is where the inspiration for my first free printable was born.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

just a thought on bullying….

After watching this, it's clear why we try to raise resilient children, so they aren't damaged by bullying.
What do we do about the bullies?

The bullies are the normal children…who are getting along just fine….they could be your children/my children. We need to be conscious about raising children that are respectful of themselves and others. We need to remember that empathy is learned….children will not pick it up if they don't see examples of it in their caregivers. Children learn from example, so it's not about the bullies, but it's about how do we (the adults) change? Society will not change until each individual decides to work on themselves; we all have to work on becoming better people. That is the only way we can create a better world.

And this is why I teach parenting….so that (us) parents can get together and have that conversation about how we're going to change so that we can raise children into the adults we hope they become.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

a letter from the SPD foundation

We have an unprecedented opportunity to prove occupational therapy works for SPD. 

Last summer Drs. Marco and Mukherjee, researchers at UCSF, published a study (see #1 below) documenting differences in MRI scans of brains of children with SPD from the brains of children with Autism and ADHD. They are ready to collaborate with the SPD Foundation and STAR Center to conduct MRI scans before treatment and after treatment to see the actual differences in the brain from therapy. What an exciting opportunity... and timely! Last week The Washington Post (see #2 Below) reported that "Most experts believe OT can help children with sensory processing issues, but some, ... caution that there's little scientific evidence to prove it."

It's time to PROVE IT! We need your help!
If everyone receiving this message donates $10 we can fund this study and get real answers about therapy. It's really easy to do.

That's it!

Please, please donate $10 or more today and help show the real impact of therapy.

Thank you!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Is Your Daughter or Son Struggling to Achieve their Potential?

Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School believes "every young person can succeed if given the right tools and learning environment. For over 40 years," they "have been offering an intimate, supportive private school for students with needs not typically addressed by a traditional school setting. Visit" the school "and discover how" they "can help overcome obstacles and create a path to success."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Parenting the Positive Discipline Way

positive discipline
register now for the workshop starting next week at 
(new time!! 7:30)

CE Hours Granted

May 6, 2014 - 7:30-9pm

May 13, 20, 27 2014 - 7:00-8:30pm

Elizabeth Musto Room, 1950 Marine Drive

Positive discipline is based on Adler's belief that all human beings are equal and deserving of being treated with dignity and respect.

Parents (and teachers) have an obligation to provide opportunities for children to develop responsibility and motivations. We can turn the challenges we have with our children into the opportunities to develop the characteristics and life skills we want our children to possess. We'll learn how in the 4-part workshop series starting next week at 7:30!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Workshop - Raising a sensory smart child

Understanding Your Child's Psycho-Educational Assessment

Kenneth Gordon Maplewood school
Thursday, May 1
7 pm, Library

A little fuzzy on the meaning of the terminology used and the data generated in the report of your child's psycho-educational assessment?  Just what are the report's implications for his or her educational performance?  Get your questions answered so that you are in a better position to advocate for your child's educational needs.

Presented by Dr. Barbara Holmes, an adjunct faculty member with the School Psychology Program at UBC, school psychologist, former special education teacher and counselor, and the supervisor of our school psychology intern, Virgina Tse.  Virgina and Carleigh Kula, a learning resource teacher at KGMS will join Barbara.

Open to the public. RSVP at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Positive Discipline Workshops

Summer’s Coming!
Are you ready? 

for the....
whining.... temper tantrums.... power struggles.... sibling conflict.... THE ATTITUDE....
....and the shouting, nagging, bribing and punishing?

or is it time for a change? 
start this summer differently.... 
Learn some common sense solutions....
In a four session parenting class based on 
the best selling Positive Discipline books by Dr. Jane Nelsen.

Tuesday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm
May 6, 13, 20, 27

single $80; Couple $120

Not Sure?
Try the Free Introductory Class
April 29, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Protein and Veggies for dessert?

This dessert was a success! My kids won't eat eggs….at least they think they don't eat eggs. This frosting (commonly known as the 7-minute frosting) is made with egg whites. Shhh….

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thriving Through Illness - workshop


Anthroposophic Medical Offerings with Trish McPhee, RN, MSN, FNP-c {
An Introduction to Anthroposophic Medicine
Fever, coughs, nasal congestion, head colds, ear infections and belly upsets are our body’s efforts at maintaining equilibrium. Supporting our children through these balancing illnesses is essential so that they may re-form their being to better meet the world. Join us for an afternoon of exploration into the essential power of illness and the appropriate convalescence. Learn why this is crucial and what can happen when it is inappropriately managed.

Practical Applications of Anthroposophic Medicine in the Home – A Workshop February 22-23, Saturday, 8:30AM – 5:00PM and Sunday 9-1

All-day workshop fee: $150, includes supplies. Pre-registration required.    
Learn practical applications and gain confidence in how to manage common ailments by discussing and experiencing the practical applications of wraps, compresses, inhalations and baths. You will gain confidence in caring for the sick at home while also learning when to seek help. Upon completion of this day, you will take away practical skills and the necessary understanding of how to manage common illnesses with confidence and knowing a renewed strength will follow. You will go home with some starter supplies all the information you need to create your own home healing kit.

Topics and hands-on experiences will include:
~Creating a healing environment using the Four Elements~
~Topical applications of wraps and compresses ~ Inhalations ~ Therapeutic bath demonstrations~
~Managing the essential convalescence ~ How to create your own Home Healing Kit~

Sponsored by LifeWays Childcare Training as an open course for the public

Vancouver Waldorf School, Early Childhood Centre, Red Rose Kg

For more information contact: 604-375-2979
 { Trish McPhee is a Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner. She has three Waldorf-educated children (two grown). She has been working out of Anthroposophy for 17 years, has taught at Rudolf Steiner College and worked at Raphael House in Fair Oaks. She resides in Grass Valley, California where she works as an Emergency RN and is a private practice NP.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sensory Processing Disorder to the Rescue!

Marc Landry (occupational Therapist) presented "Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder, Promoting Self-Regulation, Supporting Stress Management" at Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School on Friday January 24, 2014. I spent years trying to understand and help my son (John) with SPD…and I wondered if I could (maybe) miss the talk, save on the babysitter, and just stay home. I'm glad I didn't. Marc Landry is a great speaker….and he brought to light many things I've forgotten!

John has been attending Occupational Therapy for 6 years; it's helped him keep his sensory needs within a "normal" range…making our life at home much easier….that's my excuse for forgetting….
I've been using discipline to redirect misbehaviour. And what's wrong with that? Sounds good…except, is the behaviour really misbehaviour? I've been defining it as such….but I've forgotten that behaviour is a form of adapting and what I may call "misbehaviour" is just my child's way of adapting to his/her environment.

Interesting how things seem to fall together. I'm taking the the 52 Parenting Tools in 52 Weeks Challenge with Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelson. This week's parenting tool is "Listen". And I've  realized that I've been reacting, correcting and trying to fix the behaviour without "listening" at all levels. I'm also reading (finally) the Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. Reminding me that I must "connect before directing"….but I'm "surviving instead of thriving"….

I'm grateful for all the reminders this week. But before I lose you….I'll try to explain what I've forgotten and what Marc Landry helped me remember with an example.

One of the reoccurring "misbehaviours" and cause of "disharmony" in our household is 7 year old Kate's demeanour during mealtimes. Limbs and hair everywhere…..she can't sit still…she keeps getting up to give me a hug…, it's not cute….we're trying to teach her manners. Kindly reminding her about the importance of good posture will sometimes lead to a power struggle….Richard says she's improving….but I've been feeling like we're missing something….like we don't have the whole picture…how quickly I forget!

Kate has always benefitted from my knowledge in sensory processing and I've always felt like I've deflected what could have been possible problems by meeting her sensory needs…and that's the missing piece! Knowledge in SPD is a positive parenting tool for everyone! Since we've moved, many sensory toys have not been unpacked and Kate was the biggest user….She has always needed regular proprioceptive feedback, but monkey bars are gone, trampoline is gone…where's the bean bag?

So where does Kate sit in the Sensory Modulation Continuum? She's Hypo-responsive…needs to fidget to bring herself to a learning state. She has signs of low tone as she lethargically leans on the dinning table with her head falling into her plate….then she'll jump up and give me a hug to satisfy her proprioceptive need…..

So what do we do? We need to get the trampoline back, the monkey bars…..get Kate to monkey around before supper. Maybe, she needs to sit on an exercise ball or wrap heavy elastics around the legs of her chair, so she can fidget with her feet. Maybe, a bowl of fidget items on the dining table.

And how should I deal with her constant munchies? We're always fighting about snacks before supper….She's not starving….she just needs oral stimulation. Maybe, she could have chewing gum after she's done her after school snack.

Sensory Processing (Disorder?) to the rescue again….

Monday, January 20, 2014

SPD in the Classroom: Overview of SPD Subtypes and Strategies to Increase School Participation

SPD in the Classroom
 Live Presentation This Week

RSVP today! 10 FREE seats available to attend each lecture in person. Or tune in for the LIVE WEBINAR BROADCAST for $15.
These informal sessions focus on topics of interest to those impacted by sensory challenges. Learn tips and suggestions directly from the staff of the STAR Center. Individuals, parents, and professionals will benefit from these informative sessions. Join us for the next presentation on Tuesday, January 21 at STAR Center in person or view the live webinar online.

Lecture 4
SPD in the Classroom: Overview of SPD Subtypes and Strategies to Increase School Participation
January 21, 2014 ∙ 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Mountain Time (8:30-10:00 ET)

SPD effects at least 1 in every 20 children - that's one in every classroom. It is often misdiagnosed as ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or Autism. Even more common, SPD is not diagnosed as a disorder at all... instead the child's issues are attributed to "bad behavior," "poor motivation," or "social-emotional problems." Understand how to recognize SPD in the classroom and learn how to use A SECRET to support children with SPD in the classroom setting.

Join Mim Bartos, OTR and Vincentia Ferrari, OTR, experienced therapists at STAR Center, as they discuss this important topic.

Blog Archive

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects at least one in twenty children. Children with SPD don't process or experience sensory information the way other typical children do; therfore, they don't behave the way other children do. They struggle to perform tasks that come easier for other children. Consequently they suffer a loss of quality in their social, personal, emotional and academic life.

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is dedicated to continue their research into the knowledge and treatment of SPD, so that, as Lucy Jane Miller writes in her book "Sensations Kids", "the millions of sensational children currently "muddling through" daily life will enjoy the same hope and help that research and recognition already have bestowed on coutless other conditions that once baffled science and disrupted lives."