When working with children I have the unique privilege to see a glimpse of their experience of the world through play, art, games, and other therapeutic activities.
I connect well with kiddos who are high energy and wonderfully quirky. Oftentimes, children who experience big feelings or are behaviorally challenging feel misunderstood or unheard. I enjoy learning about their unique views, experiences, and interests and working with their parents and teachers to best support them.
This illustration by Lim Heng Swee is one of my favorite ways to visually demonstrate the importance of supporting children in a way that fits their unique strengths and fosters their sense of confidence, belonging/purpose, and significance. If this hedgehog was put in a role where it had to make balloon animals it would be set up for disaster. This is similar to putting a child with sensitivity to sound in the middle of a loud school assembly. Or instructing a kid who experiences hyperactivity to sit quietly for an extended period of time.
If we were going to ask the hedgehog to make a balloon animal we could help him by covering his quills with a shower cap. A child with sound sensitivity could enter the assembly after the other students have been seated and quieted down (and given the option to read in another space if the room becomes too loud). A child who experiences hyperactivity can hold a fidget when expected to stay seated or have an option to walk to the water fountain when they need a break.
Being a preteen is often a time characterized by tremendous change. It is an honor to support preteens during this transitional and special time, from coping with anxiety to building confidence and self-esteem to dealing with the onset of puberty(!).
Teenage years are developmentally a time for trying out new ideas, styles, and building an individual identity. This often results in teens pulling away from parents and feeling an increased need for peer connection and approval. Having a space for teens to vent, be heard, talk through challenging situations, and not be judged is incredibly important. I am very fortunate to get to hold this space and provide support during this often tender time.
Being a parent is one of the most important, rewarding, and challenging roles in life. As a trained Positive Discipline parent educator, I love supporting parents as they work to better understand and connect with their children. When working with parents, I respect that they are the experts on their child and their family and enjoy my role as the mental health professional who provides insight, psycho-education, and some helpful tips/tools!
I have had the privilege to work with people with special needs and their support systems in a variety of roles, including counselor, registered behavior technician, behavioral therapist, tutor, mentor, and Special Olympics volunteer.
My experience has shown me that while most programs for people with special needs focus on developing social skills and honing abilities necessary for independence later in life, there are very few resources to support the emotional challenges faced by people with special needs and their families. As a counselor, I help people with special needs further develop coping skills for life’s stressors and provide emotional support all people require during challenging times.
Sibling relationships are typically complicated and sometimes challenging. Siblings of people with special needs often experience additional complex situations, such as witnessing or being a target of their sibling’s challenging behaviors, feelings of jealousy or resentment over the additional parental attention received by, and explaining their sibling’s differences to others. I strive to help siblings understand their brother or sister’s diagnosis, how to explain it to others, and build their own positive sense of self.
As I stated before, being a parent is the most important, rewarding, and challenging roles in life. Parents of people with special needs often experience additional responsibilities, such as managing challenging behaviors, finding clinics that provide needed services, taking their child to appointments, and advocating for their child’s rights in the community. I support parents as they process the complex feelings often associated with finding out one’s child has special needs; build coping strategies for stressful situations; and understand the importance of self-care, self-love, and self-compassion.
I have had the unique privilege to work in schools and daycares providing mental health care, observations, consultations, and behavioral support. These experiences have given me helpful insight into ways teachers can successfully and reasonably support kiddos with a range of needs in their classroom.
Kids spend a large amount of time in school/daycare. Teachers do a tremendous job to support their students but in such an important and often times demanding job, mindful feedback from a mental health professions can be beneficial to both the teacher and students.
There are a variety of scenarios in which a child may need additional support in schools. One of my greatest passions is advocating for children’s rights and needs, whether it is for a child’s learning differences or emotional well-being, from writing letters to attending meeting,