FTF: Finding My Inner Self by Diane Renna

This is October's First Things First article, but because of the SPD Awarness event, it didn't get posted!  But no worries, here it is!  This article comes from  Diane M. Renna, author of “Meghan’s World: The Story of One Girl’s Triumph over Sensory Processing Disorder,” Child Advocate, Reiki Master Teacher, Co-Founder of the Sensory Enriched Playgroup & Parent Learning Program©


Finding My Inner-Self
By Diane M. Renna

I can vaguely remember my Dad telling me to, “just go take a warm bath and relax and read a book.” It was about eight years ago. I could barely sit still myself and I thought, “There is NO WAY I would be able to relax in the tub; let alone read a book in it.” I tried…I think I lasted five minutes tops. I am sure the book was also related to how I could help my children to boot. I would often hide-away in the bathroom with my hands held over my head…praying for patience and help…”that this was not my daughter… please help us find help and get through this…I would help others in return.” I was overwhelmed and wanted to help my daughter. My husband, Lorenzo, and his partner, Diego, had a pizzeria 45 minutes away and they worked all day and night. He would help when he could, but mostly everything fell on my shoulders. I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. However, there was not as much information about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) then as there is now. I often had to drive long distances to get help. I was blessed to find therapists that worked with me and taught me what to do.

At this time in my life, my daughter was diagnosed with severe Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SPD) and she was attending an integrated preschool. We were starting our family journey to wellness. Meghan’s younger brother, Michael, also was diagnosed with a milder SPD and it did not affect his everyday life as dramatically as it had affected Meghan’s. Let’s face it…I was hyper and always on the go myself. I realized I most likely had SPD myself.

I devoted all my time and energy into helping Meghan and Michael. I read, learned, played, and grew as a person along the way. I applied the same traditional and alternative therapies/techniques for myself as well. Soon, we all started getting better. Believe it or not, I was even taking long Epson Salt baths and sleeping well. It took a long time, but it was worth it. If it wasn’t for other parents and therapists dedicated to helping children with SPD and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids/families, I don’t know where we would be. I never dwelled upon labels…in fact…most of what helped Meghan and Michael…were therapies/diets/techniques designed for children diagnosed with ASD. We did have fun too…we painted in the backyard; jumped on the trampoline and swung on the swings…a great sensory diet is fun for all!!

As time passed by, SPD was no longer a jail keeper to our family. We were able to start to go out and enjoy life. This time period was a period of adjustment for us; Mostly me. I had to realize that we were now able to go places and that I did not have to monitor every situation and environment for my children. They were happy and healthy and enjoying life with their family and friends. Meghan was no longer afraid of the world around her. Her auditory and tactile defensiveness had diminished. Michael was not as hyper and he was not always seeking sensory input. We even had the best vacation at Disney World. We were able to enjoy the fireworks, rides, pool, and all the food. (The first time we went; was not such a happy time.) Meghan and Michael bloomed like two beautiful, exotic, but different flowers. I even started to bloom myself. Life was not good…it was great!

Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to ask my children’s swim teacher, Kristy, if she could babysit every Thursday night so I could either go out with Lorenzo or go to a meditation class. (Kristy still babysits for us now. She has been a Godsend.) Now, I was really learning how to sit still and be quiet with my thoughts. More and more I was able to relax and get in touch with my inner-child/self. I became more spiritual and followed my guidance/instincts more often. I was guided to learn Reiki* and eventually to write a children’s book about my daughter to help validate children’s feelings and to share how she triumphed over her SPD.

During this transitional time of rediscovery, Lorenzo and I had another child, Gavin. He is four years old now and was diagnosed with SPD last summer. Presently, he is in his second year of an integrated preschool. He has come a long way and is just starting to blossom into his own exotic flower. Lorenzo too is starting to bloom at this time. Sometimes things can become overwhelming again and I did wonder…”why do we have to go through this again!?!” I do realize that I have to learn and grow more. Through raising Gavin, I have realized my life’s purpose. I realized that my tag line, “Giving inspiration and hope to children living in an over stimulating world,” has a great responsibility and I gladly accept it.

However, I do still have to remember not to let other things take up my time. Often, I get carried away with helping others. I also spend time helping Gavin…after all…it is his turn and my older children get jealous. They go off and have fun with their friends, but still want Mommy time. Lately, sometimes I feel like I have to fight for my inner-self time. Sometimes I feel like an octopus being pulled in eight different directions. I want to feel at peace and then get annoyed if someone pops my serenity bubble.

Presently, I am a Reiki Master Teacher and hold a weekly Reiki Circle in my community with two friends. Guess who’s been attending…some mothers of special needs kids and professionals who work with these awesome children and kids as well. I am still evolving, growing, and learning. I meditate often and my children respect this time that I take for myself. I have been fortunate enough to share what I have learned with others and to teach them how to find inner peace, self reflection and self love. I am grateful for this because my journey and that of my family’s has not been in vain. Our triumph has been a guiding light for others floating in a similar boat. I thank God for listening to my prayers and I will gladly share our story so others can become healed as well.

Life is a journey. Ultimately, if we connect and find that inner-peace/guidance…it just flows better. It is important to carve some alone time to reflect and just Be. I am constantly guided to learn, share, and grow. I realize my purpose and am passionate about it. Our journey with SPD has been a blessing; not a curse. My family has grown immensely because of it. It has brought us closer to the truth, nature, God, and each other. Life is what you make of it. Stay positive and Believe.

* Reiki (ray-kee) is an ancient rediscovered natural healing technique involving the placement of hands onto or above the body. It is a Japanese form of stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing and balances the mind, body, and spirit.


Patty O. said...

Great post! It's interesting, because I was just thinking about how my sensory issues affect my kids. I need to explore this!

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