SPD Symposium Wrap Up (1 of 3)

Marla, Hartley (I hate this photo of me...), Katy and Carrie
Special thanks to Brian Mengini for the photo!

Last weekend was an incredible whirlwind of fun, excitement, education, laughter and connection. I cannot do it justice in one blog post, so I am breaking this down into 3 parts.


I got up at the crack of dawn on Friday morning, close to 5:00am. For the record, this is too early for me. I am not a morning person. BUT, on this day, I was.

I was happily the first out of bed, and showered in near darkness while my husband slept. I had this strange little twinge of working-mommy confidence. The roles were reversed. And I liked it.

After dressing in clean and nice clothes (an oddity after being a SAHM for so long), and packing the last of my toiletries for the 30 minute drive to the conference (yes, I stayed in a hotel), I woke my husband.

“Jeff” I whispered, “Jeff, can you help me carry these things downstairs?” I asked. I really just wanted him to get up and say goodbye to me. Selfish, I know.

He got out of bed, and grabbed my suitcase, while I listed the other things in the house that needed to go in the trunk too: My box of books, the crate of giveaway items, the flyers for the SPD Parent Dinner and of course, a 12 pack of Diet Pepsi for the hotel-room fridge.

He obliged.

I made it downstairs, grabbed my purse, my camera, and walked to the car. It was parked in the driveway, with the trunk open so I could reach in for a cold Diet Pepsi. I took two. I stood there in the dark driveway, in heels and my coat, hands full and looked at my husband standing in his sweats on the porch.

And I had a panic attack.

“Jeff” I whispered, while motioning with my hand that I needed him to come to me. “Take this, I am having a panic attack.”

With that, I dropped to the ground, hunched over trying not to vomit, while my head spun and my heart raced and I started the chanting that my therapist had taught me years ago….

“Are you OK?” My husband asked, “What is going on?”

“I am just nervous.” I said.

And I was. But not nervous for the conference, nervous because in the last 8 years I have NEVER SPENT THE NIGHT AWAY FROM HOME ALONE.

I ushered the panic attack away with emotional coaching, and went back inside to clean off the mascara that was running down my face.

Then back to the driveway where my husband stood, holding my purse and my Diet Pepsi, with the door to the car open, warm, and running. I kissed him goodbye, and got in.

It was 6:30am and my weekend had just begun.

I arrived at the conference, handed my car over to the valet (I would never find it if I parked it myself), and rode the escalators up to the 3rd floor.

I walked in and surveyed the surroundings to find Carrie Fannin since I was going to be working the Sensory Planet table during the conference. At first I didn’t see her, then I caught a glimpse of her to the left and turned to make my way when I heard,

“Hartley Steiner! I know you!”

When I looked around I saw a grinning face that I immediately recognized too – Marla Roth-Fisch. She was walking towards me, arms open wide and I hugged her. She introduced me to Katy Miller, by saying, “This is Lucy’s sister” and Katy with wide smile and a laugh added, “I’m the Chairman of the Board too.” We all laughed, and their warm humor immediately made me feel included and welcome.

That's Laura in the middle!!
After chatting with Marla and Katy, I left to touch base with Carrie. We sat at the table, spread out the amazing new SPD Awareness Calendar that Carrie and I have spent the better part of 18 months coordinating, fundraising for and producing, and set down the 50 copies of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School that I had brought. I was happy to see my friend and our SPD Parent Connections WA support group member, Laura, who is the one I called in my article It Will Get Better. Which is 100% a true story – and I am always happy to see her smiling face.

As we stood there getting our table ready, someone else I immediately recognized walked up – Dr. Lucy Jane Miller – and she was coming to talk to me. Yes, to me. Little old blogger mom me.

She introduced herself and gave me a big squeeze! After that, I was walking around chatting with her as she introduced me to other members of the SPDF. I couldn’t help but think that my life was seriously cool.

The conference was officially starting!

The day was filled with talking and connecting with Occupational Therapists, Doctors, Psychologists and professionals. Since the first day was dedicated to professionals, there were few parents. But, I was blown away at the number of doctors and therapists who were also parents of children with sensory issues. What an amazing gift they have to give their clients – understanding both sides of the SPD therapy coin.

I was greatly anticipating the end of Day 1, because it would be marked by meeting Integrated Listening System’s CEO, Randall Redfield over a glass of one of Washington's finest wines, DeLille's D2, followed by the Speaker Event hosted by CHILD. If there is anything I like to do, it is talk about SPD and drink wine AT THE SAME TIME. That my friends is the definition of 'win-win'.  And I am pretty sure I am implementing this as a rule for every business meeting from now on.  Just sayin'.

I met Randall and talked with him about Matthew. It has been difficult to find a therapy route with Matthew. He so high functioning, that ABA is out, we use some of the ‘theories’ of RDI, but primarily our focus with Matt is Occupational Therapy to benefit his sensory system, motor skills and hence attention. With our OT on maternity leave (CONGRATS Kelly!!), I had been wondering what to do with Matt this winter to keep his progress moving forward. I am concerned, as you all know, about Kindergarten next fall, and didn’t have a good grasp of what I could be doing to help Matt prepare.

Until this meeting.

The information on Integrated Listening System, and the strong possibility that Matthew could benefit in so many ways: Sensory, attention, focus and speech/auditory processing, had me excited to learn all I could about iLS. I left that meeting optimistic, empowered to actually do something to help Matthew. I am starting Matthew on Integrated Listening System's program next week under the advice and supervision of a iLS trained instructor (the amazing Doreen Hunt). I will keep you all posted, and please keep your fingers crossed for me that Matthew is cooperative and that my time management skills meet the challenge.

The conversation ended, and after looking like a complete idiot by insisting on getting my car out of hawk (valet) before dinner, just to drive it literally around the block and park it not 100 feet from its original place, we were off to the Speaker Event.

Let me say that the people, who were speaking at the conference, were as equally friendly, helpful and kind at the event as they were during their lectures.

I left there to head back to my hotel. It had been an incredible day, and although I was exhausted from 15 hours in heels, I wasn’t sure I could sleep.

I was surprisingly NOT stressed out about being alone, even for the first time in 8 years, but didn’t sleep at all.  My head was spinning, a million things on my mind, the least of which wasn’t sleeping through the alarm clock!


Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Sounds so exciting! I know how strange it is to leave home ALONE. I did it recently and it's... weird. Good for you on gathering your courage and continuing forward. Glad you had such a great time!

Anonymous said...

first of all - YAY for the first night away!!! That is awesome in itself.
What an amazing first day. I can't wait to hear more about it. Wish I could have been there!

John and Allie Fields said...

Very cool! I can't wait to hear how the iLS works out.

Hartley said...

@Tracey -- It is weird, isn't it? I think the 'idea' of it was obviously much worse than the actual 'doing'. It was good for me. TRULY. : )

@Alysia -- I wish you could've been there too -- hopefully I'll see you in Austin in April!

@Allie -- I will definitely keep y'all posted on the iLS program -- fingers crossed!


Chynna said...

Great start to your 'Wrap Up'!

I had the EXACT same anxiety with leaving the kids to see RINGO. I thought about them the entire time but it was good for all of us.

And we've had SUCH great results from iLs...moreso with Jaimie than with Xander. I can't wait to hear about how it works for Matt.

Can't wait to read more!


Gina @ Special Happens said...

Being alone...overnight....wow! Yes, that's actually a monumental occasion. It must have felt so warming to see so many people you're familiar with...even if only online initially!

Patty O. said...

This is so cool. Thanks for sharing; it's the next best thing to being there.

I think you will like the iLS--we do. One thing we did to help the kids cooperate was I bought them a couple special toys that they could use only while doing listening. They have to do their exercises first and then after that, they can continue listening (the exercises only take 15 minutes or so) they can take out their special toys (legos for Dan and special art supplies for Char). It has helped so much.