My story started when I was flicking through the careers book in high school trying to figure out the direction of my life. I knew I loved kids. I could engage and relate to them easily thanks to my upbringing as an only child where I had to learn these skills fast or reside playing alone. However, 30 kids at once was not something that appealed to me, so a classroom teacher was quickly ruled out. I take my hat off to all the incredible teachers out there!
I was drawn almost immediately to the “Occupational Therapy” blurb; despite not fully understanding what it involved. I rolled into university straight from high school and it wasn’t until my third year of study that the penny dropped and I understood what Occupational Therapy really means (read more here). I thrived in my paediatric placements but was only just surviving my adult placements. It was clear that my passion was the little guys.
In my fourth year of university an encounter with an incredible little boy, while on placement at a Kindergarten, changed my perspective and my families’ life forever. I met a boy who had been through multiple ‘failed’ foster placements. I knew my parents had always wanted to have more children yet were unfortunately not able to. The rest, as they say, is history. My parents became foster parents. This little man taught me so much more than I could ever have learnt from a textbook and I soon realised and gained the perspective that I was no longer the therapist looking in but the sister looking out. I have watched my parents love him unconditionally, support him through thick and thin, and most importantly fight for him as they still encounter obstacles with ‘the system’. But it occurred to me - who is fighting for them? It’s a tough gig being the parent of a child with challenges. Seeing what my parents have been through has opened my eyes to the need for better outcomes and better support.
My first step out of university and into the working world was through the doors of Novita Children’s Services. I jumped into the deep end and loved every minute of it. I had incredibly inspiring clients, parents, co-workers and supervisors yet the time to move on came when I got my first whiff of ‘sensory processing’. This led me to my role at Occupational Therapy for Children where I was buying more textbooks than I could read, receiving top class supervision, creating my own programs and seeing incredible changes in the kids I was working with. I knew what to do, I applied it and these children were making great gains. Yet the missing piece was understanding how that change was occurring within the brain. My neuroscience nerd was born.
After an exciting decision to scratch our travel itch, my partner and I packed our bags and headed to South America. For adventure yes but then I had also been accepted as one of eight individuals to complete the Sensory Integration Training through the University of Southern California. This is the crème de la crème of trainings. What does that mean? It means I could learn the 'how' Sensory Integration Therapy makes such tremendous changes. I was in true alignment with my passion and purpose.
I then travelled my little heart out on the way to London where I worked within a Private Sensory Integration Practice in the middle of Marylebone (that was fancy!). When our visas were up, we moved back home to Adelaide and I continued to build on my experience and expertise helping the many families that struggle to cope with the life that sensory issues creates at Adelaide Paediatrics.
However, the burning desire to create something that could truly change the lives of children and families became too strong to ignore this year and try as I might, Motivate Kids seemed to almost birth itself.
Motivate Kids is not just an Occupational Therapy Private Practice. It is a place where we build on strengths and close the gaps in development for children who experience challenges of all kinds. It is a melting pot of international experience, backed by research and underpinned by personal growth. Providing assessments, therapy plans, and therapy is like our bread and butter, it is the foundation to the clinic, but its just the beginning. My vision for our children, their parents (biological or foster), and the therapists who work alongside me is so big it scares me but I know in my heart that it’s time to step up to the plate and play big.
It’s also time for Motivate Kids to create a change in pace for so many mothers living with ‘Rushing Woman’s Syndrome’ (thank you Dr Libby Weaver you have opened my eyes), a change in the rate at which progress is made and sustained for our kids, a change in the way therapy is provided, a change in the way professionals communicate with each other and are trained, and a change in the way we view our journey through this thing we call life.