My name is Nichole and I am a mom, wife, and occupational therapist. I am amazed how these roles bleed into one another. I must have been born an OT, because the moment I got into OT school and started learning how to be an OT, it seemed to already be a fundamental part of my thinking. I have always tried to figure out how people could function better in their lives. I remember, as a kid, always wanting to stay a part of the adult conversations at get togethers, and thinking about how individuals were handling situations and then giving advice based on where I heard people were struggling. It wasn’t always about the psychology of how individuals were handling a situation, necessarily, it was about how they were connecting with life. So entering OT school, receiving training, and working these last 14 years in Occupational Therapy I have come to believe that people are happiest, most fulfilled, productive, and content when they are connected to life. And ultimately this is the what occupational therapists do.
Being a wife and mother have been the best, most wonderful roles that I have had the privilege of having as an adult. I could not possibly imagine my life without my wonderful husband and three beautiful kids. J, H, and I ( we didn’t realize until the last one, we were naming the kids in alphabetical order :)) are the heart and soul of our family. They are the perfect little people to have been given to my husband and I. Each of their uniqueness has give our lives such texture and we have learned so much about ourselves and them through the wonderful, difficult, struggle of parenting them.
J my eldest son, is a responsible, smart, witty, young man. J has had much difficulty with his gastrointestinal system and after all kinds of testing, years of struggles with potty training, chronic constipation, and just painful eating for my guy, we discovered he had Celiac disease. This is a severe “allergy” to gluten. Basically his body cannot process the gluten protein that is found in wheat products. This was a painful process for our family to figure out, but understanding his system and working with our doctors ( both naturopathic and allopathic) we have been able to keep J happy and relatively healthy. Exercise, stress management and of course diet have played such a big role in his health. These things keep him functioning happy and healthy
Our Beautiful Daughter H has truly blessed us in so many ways. Right from the get go we noticed she interacted in the world much differently than her brother. Many of her differences we explained away while she was young with several of her health conditions that she had. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but some serious. Between RSV, seizures and neural inflammation that caused by a virus in her Central Nervous System, ear tubes and tonsillectomy, we really just had our hands full keeping her healthy and happy until the age of 3. By that time, little I had come along, and we started noticed that H didn’t talk as much, liked things just so and she didn’t really socialize with her peers. As you can probably see where this is going, H was diagnosed with ASD, Autism spectrum disorder, several years later. After many struggles in school and a large lag time in getting her into a program at our state children’s hospital, she was diagnosed with High functioning ASD. Being an OT, this diagnosis was little “ the best of times and the worst of times” for me. I was thrilled to finally have so much explained and validated with my own assessment, and I also fully understood the battle that my sweet, sweet girl would face in growing up and accomplishing her dreams. Much of the information I have learned since the diagnosis, has’t been the nuts and bolts of dealing with ASD, that I knew, but really dealing with ASD as a family, what it is like to the the patient and family and not the therapist. If you ever want to be humbled as a professional, you have a child with special needs and your realize a whole new level of empathy, of knowing just exactly what it is like to be in the trenches. But we HAVE learned so much, and much of which I hope to share with you as well.
Little “I” as we call him has most definitely been the exclamation point at the end of our sentence. This kiddo came along just in time to totally take our world and turn it up side down. He is full of energy, is sweet and loving, the best snuggler, can deliver a one liner in the middle of a serious conversation – just so we remember what is important in life. He has been the one that has put a full stop to our family, in so many good ways. He is literally the perfect kiddo to end our kiddos on. I am always amazed at how we could have three such different children , by the same two parents. “I” has just started school, and I am seeing that he has many of the same learning issues that H had with learning letters, phonics, and reading. We suspect with both of them, that they have either dyslexia, or some component of this. Its early with little “I”, so we’ll wait and see, but there were some great resources (See this site http://www.child1st.com/#_l_1r and read about how these products help H and are helping little “I” now ) that we used with H that changed her from being a reluctant ( we are talking book throwing and crying ) reader to an avid, can’t get the book away from her, reader. So I am hopeful that these will be helpful with Little I””. In the meantime, he shares my passion for all things tiny, and swears some day he is going to build me a tiny house!! I can’t wait!
My wonderful Husband has been with us through out all this craziness. In fact we are high school sweethearts. I would never imagined I would end up with the boy I fell in love with in high school, I am so glad I did. He has been my best friend, my cheerleader, my nurse, and my partner. I am so lucky to have him. And in all of that. This whole thing that we are doing as adults, marriage, a family, it is darn hard, so we have had to learn how to work together, to raise our children together, and work ( like as in careers) together. That is a lot of togetherness.. and while I believe this has been the secret to our success, it has been work, work with great reward! And as it goes in our family, Husband has many of the same sensory issues that H has as well. Being an OT has sure come in handy when I have had to buy multiple pairs of socks, all to find the right tightness… and then getting over the multiple times per day socks have to be changed ( 4 in total!!!!) My understanding how the sensory system work has put it all in perspective. ( If you want to understand more about how you or a loved one can understand their sensory system read more Here-coming soon ).
And as perfect as my little family seems on paper, ( and they are pretty great in real life) we definitely have our struggles, and I want to share some of the great information we have learned on our journey in hopes that yours might be little easier. Enjoy!