#170 - A Conversation Around Parenting & Neurodiversity with Megan from On The Hard Days

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC September 15, 2021

#170 - A Conversation Around Parenting & Neurodiversity with Megan from On The Hard Days

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A Conversation Around Parenting & Neurodiversity with Megan from On The Hard Days

Raise your hand if you’re raising a neurodiverse child. Now, raise your hand if this experience has ever made you question your abilities as a mother. You are not alone! Even if it feels that way sometimes, when you finally talk to a mom who gets it, it can be a powerfully validating experience. Which is why today’s guest has created a special resource for moms raising out-of-the-box kids, where they can find support and encouragement from others who are going through the same thing.

The On The Hard Days podcast and community was created by Megan Champion, a mother of three, educator of 14 years, and supporter of struggling moms everywhere. As an introvert and recovering perfectionist, she strives to unite mothers all over the world who share parenting challenges and many hard days. In this episode, Megan opens up about her own parenting challenges and why she is doing what she does. We also talk about neurodiversity, the importance of finding positives on the hard days, and continuing to thrive, even when you don’t feel like you can. Tune in today to hear all this and so much more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Five secret questions with Megan: Michelle Obama, celery, good advice, books, and more!

  • Find out why Megan started a blog and then a podcast and how it has evolved over the years.

  • She shares a bit more about her children and her journey of raising a neurodiverse child. 

  • Early signs of her son’s sensory processing challenges, ADHD, anxiety, and sensitivity.

  • How Megan struggled with knowing what was “normal” and where and how to seek help.

  • The mental health challenges of raising neurodiverse kids that isn’t often acknowledged.

  • Megan’s advice for moms: you can’t show up for your children until you show up for yourself.

  • The importance of identifying and focusing on your child’s strengths.

  • Why giftedness is often misunderstood by society and the challenges that can come with it.

  • How connecting with your children on a personal level builds trust, makes your kids feel valued, and makes you feel capable.

  • Megan shares why she uses the term ‘out-of-the-box’ for neurodiverse kids.

  • Some strategies that have been successful for Megan’s son, including medication.

  • Understanding why kids can hold it all together at school and melt down when they get home.

  • Why neurodiverse children often struggle with making friends at school.

  • Professionals are amazing, but nobody knows better than you; how to advocate for your child.

  • Learn more about Megan’s podcast and her support group community, Mothers Together.

  • The power of empathizing with your neurodiverse children.


“I am not the person to give advice about raising the neurodiverse child. That's not my place. What I am here for is supporting the mother who is struggling, because that was me for years.” — Megan Champion[0:07:25]

“It's not just what society thinks of you as a mother. It's what you think of yourself as a mother.” — Megan Champion[0:19:26]

“It's a process of learning to accept yourself as a mother and to accept your child as they are. Then, once you get there – and that takes time – but once you get there with both accepting your child and accepting yourself, you're ready to parent them.” — Megan Champion[0:23:15]

“When you connect with [your kids] on a personal level, you are going to build that trust factor. They are going to feel heard and understood and valued. In turn, that will make you, as a mother, feel capable and enough and you're doing a fantastic job.” — Megan Champion[0:29:53]

“There is no handbook out there for a mother who is raising a neurodiverse child.” — Megan Champion[0:41:39]

“It [takes] a whole village. If you really are going to help the child, the teacher needs to be onboard, and the grandparents need to be onboard. It's a whole thing, and that can be super difficult.” — Megan Champion[0:47:46]

“You are the best mother for your child. There [is] literally nobody else who understands your kid as well as you do, and there's a reason for that. You were meant to have them and they were meant to have you.” — Megan Champion[0:54:09]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Megan Champion on Instagram

On the Hard Days

On The Hard Days Facebook Community

Mothers Together Support Group Community

The Explosive Child


All Things Sensory on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Facebook


Full Show Transcript

[00:00:01] RH: Hey, there. I’m Rachel.


[00:00:02] JH: I’m Jessica. This is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we’re on a mission to help children, families, therapists, and educators live happy, healthy lives.


[00:00:11] RH: We dive into All Things Sensory special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care, and so much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.


[00:00:25] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.




[00:00:31] RH: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to All Things Sensory by Harkla. You're listening to Rachel and Jessica, your good friends. Today is Episode 170.


[00:00:41] JH: We got to talk to Megan, who also has a podcast called On the Hard Days. This was a really great conversation. She really opened up to talk about her challenges, and why she's doing what she's doing. Oh, my gosh. It was just really great.


[00:01:02] RH: It was great. We're going to talk a lot about neurodiversity, and just finding positives on the hard days and figuring out that you can make it, and how to thrive, when you don't feel like thriving.


[00:01:18] JH: Which is a lot. There's a lot of that. Let's jump in.




[00:01:22] RH: Hi, Megan. How are you today?


[00:01:24] MC: I am so good. Thank you so much for having me.


[00:01:27] JH: We're really excited. Before we talk about all the things that you do and why you do it, we need to ask you five secret questions, so that our listeners know all your secrets.


[00:01:40] MC: I love it.


[00:01:41] RH: Okay, first question, who is one person dead or alive that you would want to have lunch with?


[00:01:49] MC: Oh, my gosh. That’s a good one. I would love to have lunch with Michelle Obama. That would be pretty cool. I would enjoy a talk with her about education and all the things regarding children.


[00:02:03] JH: Have you read her book?


[00:02:05] MC: No. I need to, and I do want to. I've heard it was very good.


[00:02:10] RH: Add it to the list in your spare time, right?


[00:02:13] MC: You know, yeah. Of course. I do. I do want to read it. Yeah.


[00:02:18] JH: That's a good one. Okay, the next one is would you rather eat broccoli, or celery at every meal?


[00:02:24] MC: Oh, my goodness. I actually like them both. We’re vegetable eaters in this house. If I had to choose, I would say, celery, because I do like a good salad.


[00:02:35] RH: You don’t put broccoli on your salad?


[00:02:38] MC: You know what? I don’t. I really don’t. With broccoli, we tend to sauté it, a little garlic, a little salt. Yes. Is this a cooking show?


[00:02:47] JH: Yeah, we're just looking for recipes.


[00:02:50] RH: Usually, we're hungry, or tired, so we talk about coffee and food.


[00:02:54] JH: I was probably hungry when I came up with that question.


[00:02:58] MC: Absolutely. I love it.


[00:02:59] RH: Plus, it tells us a lot about your sensory needs, too. We learn a lot about people.


[00:03:04] MC: Yes. Plus, the crunch of the celery for sure.


[00:03:09] RH: Exactly. See. What is the best piece of advice that you've ever been given?


[00:03:16] MC: Goodness. Goodness. It was pretty recently that I read – You know when I was listening to a podcast, I was listening to a podcast, and I heard this quote, and it has stuck with me since, and I tend not to remember quotes. They're hard to remember sometimes. This one has stuck in my brain: “Peace is my home, and integrity will take me there.”


It was like, “Oh, my gosh. That hits me in a weird way, but it makes so much sense.” I keep coming back to it. I take it as a piece of advice as well. Because when you are true to yourself, the wholeness of you, you will be at peace and you will find your way home. I'm going to go with that one.


[00:03:57] RH: I like that.


[00:03:57] JH: I like that a lot, too. It’s a good one. Yeah, we have some deep questions on here. I didn't know this –


[00:04:04] RH: You know, broccoli, celery, pendants and deep –


[00:04:08] JH: Yeah. Because even the next one is like, okay, so what book are you currently reading?


[00:04:15] MC: I have a stack. One of them isThe Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene, which I've actually read it before many years ago and did try out some of the strategies for my son. I’ve been reading it with a fresh look, now that he's older. I do see so much of my own child in his work, especially in the first few chapters. A lot of self-help, family help, survival mode for moms books right now. That's where we're at, this season of life, very much so.


[00:04:51] RH: Excited to dive into that in a few minutes. We have one last question for you. It's the most important question. What is your sensory quirk?


[00:05:02] MC: Oh, goodness. Do I have to pick just one?


[00:05:06] RH: You do. Yes. I know.


[00:05:10] MC: Goodness. I do have a few, but it would definitely be sound. Specifically, loud noises. To be very clear about it, it's my children screaming. That is such a sound that really bothers me. I actually put on headphones the other day during dinner, because it's something about both the sound itself and the reason for it happening. My children are in distress, or they're arguing with each other, or whatever. It just hits me in all the right places, I guess. I cannot stand the sound of my children yelling and screaming and shrieking.


[00:05:51] JH: That makes so much sense, though.


[00:05:54] RH: I can definitely relate on that level as well. That's what I struggle with. That's my sensory quirk, too. Now that everyone knows your deepest, darkest secrets, tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, how you do it, all those beautiful things.


[00:06:09] MC: Goodness. Okay. First of all, I'm an elementary school teacher. I teach fifth grade. I'm about to start my 15th year. I am still working full-time and doing the teacher thing. I have three children of my own. I have eight-year-old twins and a five-year-old. In addition to those things, back in January, actually, I launched my own podcast, after years of being a blogger and writing a lot about, first, infertility, and then raising twins, and then turned into a bit of reflecting on raising my son, who was very neurodiverse.


That was therapeutic. I enjoyed writing, but nobody reads blogs. Who has time for that? I mean, occasionally, occasionally. I mean, I'm not knocking anybody who has one. For me, it was not getting out the way I wanted it to. I took a total break and didn't do anything for at least a year. Then my husband said, “Why don’t you think about starting a podcast?” Okay, I guess.


I have a podcast, where I'm basically sharing what I've learned about raising my son through audio. I've also launched a support group community for mothers who are raising neurodiverse kids, which can dive into.


Essentially, I am not the person to give advice about raising the neurodiverse child. That's not my place. What I am here for is supporting the mother who is struggling, because that was me for years. It still is me to an extent. It's hard to raise a neurodiverse kid. My hands are in many different places, but it's been really, really rewarding and validating the last few months.


[00:07:50] JH: Can you tell us about your children?


[00:07:53] MC: Yes. I have three, like I said. My eight-year-old twins is a boy and a girl. Honestly, I used to always just think I had one neurodiverse child. As they get older, I think I might have two, or three. My son at a very, very young age, as a baby, showed some signs of a lot of different things. One was sensory related issues. In fact, and I don't know if you're going to talk about this later, but I can remember clearly, when he was in one of those little baby jumpers, jumping, when you hang it from the top of the – you know what I'm talking about, a doorframe. He's jumping, jumping, jumping. I took – both of my twins were. I took the tops of Brussel sprout containers that clear, super crinkly, whatever, paper.


I gave one to each twin. I was like, “Babies like scrunchy things. I don't know. I'm a new mom. I have no idea what I'm doing.” I handed it to them, and my daughter loved it, and she was crinkling it. She's fascinated by it. My son screamed so loud, it was like he was being kidnapped or something. The screaming that came from him, it hurt him. He was in pain. I took it away. I remember thinking, “That's weird. We have to keep our eye on that.” That was just the beginning. To make a long story short, over the years, he's not been through three neuropsych evaluations. One through early intervention, then as he got older.


He comes out with that laundry list of things that so many neurodiverse kids have. He's twice exceptional. He's gifted. He has anxiety, ADHD, sensory processing. He's highly, highly sensitive, strong-willed. He's a perfectionist. He's all of those things. It's been basically, the struggle, but also the journey of a lifetime in figuring out how to raise him, because it's not something that I had any knowledge of before.


He's got a twin sister, so that makes life a little difficult trying to meet his needs and hers. She's wonderful. She struggles with some anxiety as well, possibly some ADHD, but she's a wonderful sister. Then I have a little wild man, who's five. I just have to keep him from climbing the walls. That's basically, the way my house runs right now. It's total survival mode over here.


[00:10:12] RH: Wow. I would be curious to hear some of the early signs and early challenges that you noticed, even like you said, being a first-time mom, not having a clue of what you're doing. What were those red flags that you were like, “Oh, well, this is interesting.” My guess is, having twins and having a daughter who was a little bit more along the typical path, you could compare and contrast, which maybe that was a good thing, maybe it was hard. I'd be curious to learn a little bit more about that.


[00:10:44] MC: Yeah. I think, that's just in raising twins in general, it's hard not to compare. I still try to remember to not do that. They are totally different. Being a boy and girl twin, they're really – I mean, they just shared my stomach. That's all. They're completely different. For my son, there was that moment with the wrapper. That was clear. He also struggled – what’s hard to know was this, anxiety was this, sensory processing was this, ADHD. It's hard to know. They're all cut from the same cloth.


When he was 10 months or so, that's when the screaming started. He was screaming and screaming. One of the things that he was so frustrated about was that he never learned to crawl. He didn't scoot. He didn't pull. I mean, crawling can look like so many things. There was no movement from him whatsoever. He only could stand. When he stood, he would scream. I think, he wanted to move his body and he couldn't. I did not know that if your baby doesn't move at all, that that's a problem. If he went from standing to walking and he skipped the crawling. 


Long story short, early intervention told us that he had some problems crossing the midline of his body. I'll never forget when she came over to do an evaluation on him, and the twins were one and a half maybe. She said, “Do you have a little stool?” I got this little stool and I put it down on the floor. She said, “All right, no one's going to get hurt here.” Okay, my first time being a mom. I don't know what I'm doing. She sat my daughter on the stool. She said, “I'm going to gently just push her backwards, watch what happens.”


She gently pushed her backwards, and my daughter instinctively put her hand out. It was like, literally a foot off the floor, so no one was going to get injured. She put her hand out and blocked herself from a fall. She said, “Now watch. Watch what happens with your son.” Did the same thing. Did not put his hand out, fell straight back. She's like, “Yeah, that's a problem. Crossing the midline or lack thereof.” We did seek out some OT.


That was interesting. I had never heard of any of that before. The sensory thing continued with dogs barking, horns, beeping, certainly sounds. Then it grew as he became a toddler, into preschool, which were really hard years, into some sensory things, a lot around food. In fact, I would say, that one of his biggest food triggers, like for years, was that he could not stand when ice cream melted, of all things. When ice cream melted, he was – I think, it was a multiple issue thing.


On the one hand, the texture changed and he didn't want soup. He wanted ice cream. On the other hand, he was also mad that it melted, and he wanted it to go back to how it was before. He ended up being like that with a lot of things. If he accidentally spilled a cup of water and we'd say, “No. No big deal. We'll just get you more water.” He wasn't having a full meltdown about that. He was melting down that he couldn't undo his mistake. He couldn't undo what he did. That could be a whole bunch of things. This was age two, that he would say, “No, I need those,” in his broken toddler speech. “I want the bubbles back in” when you accidentally dumped them on the driveway.


The screaming, the screaming, screaming was the big, big thing. In the very first episode of my podcast, which is called ‘My Rock Bottom Parenting Moment', I share the story of he was three, just turned three and I had him and his sister and then my little guy was six-weeks-old or something, brand-new baby, and I was going to the beach. We were very late, of course. What happened was he had a breakfast waffle, a square one. He wanted peanut butter on it. It didn't exactly – when I spread the peanut butter, it didn't fill the holes evenly. One wasn't enough, one was too much and he absolutely lost his mind.


Of course, I was nursing, walking around nursing this baby. My daughter wants her breakfast, trying to go to the beach, and I did not know – this is a bit about parenting in general, but I did not know how to get him to stop screaming. I tried all these different strategies and nothing was working. I ended up saying, “Well, how about some fresh air.” I put him on my deck, which was right next to where I was, just a sliding door there. He, at three-years-old, went and flipped over on my deck furniture in his anger.


He was barely three. He literally had just turned three. The screaming continued. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. Stop. I don't want you to get hurt.” The neighbor came over to pretty much do a welfare check on my child. It was a nightmare. That was this turning point for me where I said, “Okay, this isn't normal. Something is wrong here.” I don't know who would believe me, because he looks “normal.” He's just screaming like a three-year-old might scream, but it's going on for hours, not half an hour.


Those are some of the things that we struggled with early on. That was a long answer.


[00:15:57] RH: No, I love that.


[00:15:57] JH: No, that's exactly – I mean, that's what it was. I think, you bring up a big point that I think a lot of parents struggle with of, who's going to believe me? Everyone else looks “normal,” but I know that they feel, I can feel that there's something that's not right, or that's off.


[00:16:19] MC: Absolutely. That's one of the things I struggled with for years.


[00:16:22] RH: Yeah. Also, knowing what is normal and what's not normal. When do you seek help? I feel like, so many families, parents listening to our podcast are in that season right now of what's normal? What's throwing a fit? What's a sensory meltdown? What's a behavioral meltdown? Who do I seek out help for? Can I? Is it worth finding help and getting help? I'm glad that you shared that, because I feel a lot of people can relate to that.


[00:16:51] MC: Yeah. It's hard to know when to get help. Also, I think, as a mom, and I don't think dads feel the same pressure. That's why I'm really gearing what I do towards mothers. The pressure is so extreme to raise a child who fits into the box in every possible way. That's the way that we were raised. It's traditional parenting. You will say, please and thank you, and you will pick up your toys, and you will be listened to, and you'll be quiet when it's time to be quiet. All the appropriate things that we say, this is what kids need to do.


When a child doesn't do that, there's something wrong with you. That's the way that we internalize that. We've done something wrong. I mean, I often had thoughts of like, I thought I would be good with children. I'm a teacher. I have been a babysitter and I worked in daycares, and then I am a teacher, I have multiple master's degrees, and I can't stop my son from screaming. What is wrong with me? There's something wrong with me. I wasn't meant to be a mother. Obviously, I have no idea what I'm doing.


When I reached out for help, and I think that's what you're speaking to, if a mother is already at that point in her mental health journey of raising a challenging, out-of-the-box kid, you're at this desperate point. You might go to the pediatrician. The pediatrician might say, “He's fine. He's normal. He’s two, he's three. That's typical.”


[00:18:12] RH: Wait it out.


[00:18:13] MC: Or you might then approach somebody else, maybe a friend, or family member who says, and I totally got this one multiple times, “Maybe you should just tighten your discipline, tighten your boundaries. You need to be more firm. You need to be clear in your direction. Be a gentle parent. Be a traditional parent. Be this, be this, be this, be this.” You try all those things, and nothing works. That's where you go, “Okay, I'm done.” That's the low point of motherhood in terms of raising neurodiverse kids.


[00:18:48] RH: So many things with that. I think, this societal pressure for mothers to raise perfect children is huge. Social media plays into that so much. Then, my other thought was not that long ago, autism was thought to be caused by poor parenting, specifically mothers, because mothers were the ones staying at home parenting. Obviously, that narrative has changed, but that is still embedded in our society, for sure.


[00:19:18] MC: Absolutely, it is. It's deeply embedded. That's one of the things that I'm trying to do in my own mission here is, it's not just what society thinks of you as a mother. It's what you think of yourself as a mother. When someone tells you, or at least I'm speaking for myself, but I think that this applies to many mothers. When someone says to you, “Maybe you should just be more firm in your discipline,” my automatic reaction is to go, “Oh, my gosh. You’re right. There was that time that I let him get away with X. There was that time that I wasn't more firm on Y. I went back on my word and I this, and I that, and I yelled, and I raised my voice,” whatever.


Because we start to lose our intuition. We start to lose our gut instinct. It goes out the window, because we are panicking, and we're also anxious and depressed and worried and stressed. Everybody else has their perfect children. Of course, nobody's kids are perfect, but it does seem like that when you're really deep down in the trenches of raising neurodiverse kids. It's this mental health piece that is not being acknowledged, or talked about, but it's also not being respected because, as a mom, you are supposed to show up to work right away. You are supposed to slim down and get your pre-baby body back and all of these pressures.


When you throw a neurodiverse child on top of it, where all the things you ever thought you knew about parenting don't work, it is a total – just a mental shift. It's very hard to come out of that. That's my mission because, I think, many moms don't even want to talk about it. They’re embarrassed. They're embarrassed to say, “My son is out of control,” because you're going to get back, “Well, what are you doing wrong?” There's a lot to unpack there, but I do think there's so much growth that our society needs to do around this issue.


[00:21:07] RH: You mentioned how strategies that you're working on to help other parents learn how to “parent” a neurodiverse child. Do you have any strategies that you could share with listeners that you have found to help not only you parenting, but mental health of moms going through the tough journey? Those three, four-year-old, those years that are really hard. Those are the hardest for sure.


[00:21:38] MC:They were the hardest. The preschool years were terrible. So terrible. I have PTSD just thinking of preschool years. They were really damaging. When I talk about advice for mothers, what you were saying both in raising the kids and also the mental health piece, for me, they are the same thing. I spent years thinking that I was a bad mother, that I was not cut out for this, that if only my son was being parented by another mother, I should say, by someone else, he would be doing better, he would this, he would that.


When you feel that deep down depression, really, and it's full of worry, and it's full of, how could this happen? There's grief in that, too, of also knowing that your child is not the child that you thought you would have. There's so much to unpack in that. When you feel those thoughts, and you really feel them, you can't show up for your children. You can't parent them, because you have not shown up for yourself.


What I'm really working on, and what I talk about, first of all, it's through exposure. My step one in my whole mission here is to grab these moms who are in hiding, because they truly don't believe anybody else has a child like theirs. Except, that's what I thought too, and it turns out, there's a ton of us. Once you get them out from hiding, they become brave and vulnerable and share their story, that's step one, to be able to talk about it and say, “This is happening to me, and this is bad. This is really bad.”


From there, it's a process of learning to accept yourself, as a mother, and to accept your child as they are. Then, once you get there, and that takes time, but once you get there with both accepting your child and accepting yourself, you're ready to parent them. That's going to look completely different from every mom. If they are showing up for themselves, they will show up for their children, and it will become a more peaceful household. That's really, for me, the secret sauce, and I have found that myself just by starting that process of going through that mental shift.


My son is still hard. Really hard. Really, every day. Every day, there are meltdowns. It has been a very long eight years. I no longer fly off the handle nearly as much, nearly as much. I feel more confident in the decisions I do make. I feel more firm in the decisions I do make. That's because I have accepted him. He is who he is. I've accepted myself. I am who I am. I'm good enough, and so is he. That's the secret sauce. It takes time to get there. It's a bit of a process, but that's my best advice.


[00:24:22] JH: I love that so much. I think, going along with that, identifying your child's strengths is very important. I mean, it's so easy to sit here and talk about all the things that our child struggles with. When you can sit down and identify what they're good at and focus on those pieces, it's so much easier to say, “Yeah, you are more than enough the way you are.”




[00:24:45] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company, Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs live happy, healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast, but we also have therapy products, easy-to-follow digital courses and the Harkla Sensory Club, to try to bring holistic care to you and your family.


[00:25:03] JH: Listeners of the All Things Sensory Podcast get 10 percent off their first purchase at Harkla, with the discount code ‘SENSORY’. We'd recommend checking out some of our bestsellers, the compression sensory swing, weighted blankets, or our course on sensory diets.


[00:25:18] RH: Here's the best part. One percent of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in-clinic therapy for their child.


[00:25:30] JH: Learn more about Harkla, and all we have to offer at harkla.co. That's H-A-R-K-L-A.C-O. Don't forget to use the discount code Sensory to get 10 percent off your first purchase. That's S-E-N-S-O-R-Y for 10 percent off.


[00:25:52] RH: The best part is all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping.


[00:25:59] JH: You really can't beat that.


[00:25:59] RH: No., you can’t.


[00:26:02] JH: Okay, let's get back to the show.




[00:26:05] MC: Yes. I totally agree. That was a turning point for us, too. Because ages one, two, three and four were so, so, so hard. At age four, we finally found out that our son had an interest. When he finally had an interest that he was good at, it was a total game changer. Because I could say, and I could believe, gosh, he's really, really hard in all of these areas, but he does have this cool thing. That was just the start.


We were gifted a world map. My father gave it to us and he's like, “I don't know if the kids are going to want this.” They were four. My daughter is like, “Why on earth would I want to play with this? This is boring.” I laid it on the floor and my son was automatically drawn to it. He did know a few. He knew a couple of the continents, or whatever. I don't remember. He knew a little bit. All of a sudden, he's pointing and, “What's that? What's that? What's that? What’s that?”


Within a few weeks, we taped that to his wall, and within a few weeks he had memorized almost every country in the world and all 50 states.


[00:27:07] RH: Get out. Seriously, at four?


[00:27:09] MC: Yeah. There's this video. Oh, gosh. I took this video of him once. It really was more about the memory than the geography. Geography, it was very cool. We learned, really, that he has a really good memory. He went to preschool, and they had a puzzle that was a map puzzle. He memorized the colors of the puzzle pieces for the 50 states and came home and asked for a blank map, and I printed him one. He colored each state the color of the puzzle piece from memory.


[00:27:41] RH: What? He for sure has photographic memory.


[00:27:46] MC: I don't know. I mean, I never looked into it to an extent. He still will say, I was just talking to them today about something we did when we were – oh, we used a marble jar, like a kindness jar when the kids were two or three. I said, “I think I want to try that again.” He's like, “Oh, yeah. Remember this color and that, and we did it here and there?” He does have a good memory.


He's gifted. He’s a gifted kid. Giftedness is a whole other topic that's totally misunderstood by society. Comes across as bragging. The truth is that gifted children are often, have really low self-esteem, low confidence, they're bored out of their minds, they're not stimulated, they're not thriving, and they become depressed and anxious. That's a whole other beast. We took him for his neuropsych eval for these meltdowns and sensory struggles and all of the things. The psychologist came out and he said, “Did you ever think that your son is gifted?” I was like, “What? No. But that's cool. Okay.” We've got this one thing. We've got this thing we can work with.


Finding your kids’ strengths, to bring it back to that, is absolutely crucial for your mental health as a mother. It doesn't have to be a gifted kid. Whatever. They're awesome at drawing. They love music. They love to dance. They like to play soccer, whatever. When you find that thing, you go, “Okay, there's my kid. There he is. There she is. I see them.” When you start to see them for who they are, that's when the acceptance process begins, and it only goes up from there.


[00:29:18] JH: I think, that can bring so much joy to just the relationship, like the parent child relationship, because you're going to have such a better time together to build your relationship, because you found that connection.


[00:29:31] MC: Yes, absolutely. That became just the beginning. He doesn't even care about geography anymore. That's long gone. It became, so he does have interest. Okay, what's your next thing? Oh, you like space. That was age five. All right, we're into space now. Let's go get the books. Let's do the thing. Let's go to the museum. Let's look for constellations in the sky, whatever. This is for all children.


When you connect with them on a personal level, you are going to build that trust factor. They are going to feel heard and understood and valued. In turn, that will make you, as a mother, feel capable and enough and you're doing a fantastic job. You were anyway. When you start to be able to focus on those good strengths, it really does help your own self-esteem and motivation to keep going.


[00:30:19] JH: You almost have to move past that expectation, and that box that you initially had put them in when they were born, and you have a baby and you’re like, “Oh, they're going to do this, this and this. They're going to be into the same things that we're into.” When you can push past that expectation and realize, “Who cares what they're into? Who cares what they do, as long as they're happy,” you find more happiness and being a parent that way.


[00:30:42] MC: Correct. That's why I often refer to my kids and other mother’s neurodiverse kids as out-of-the-box kids. We do this with all children, neurodiverse or not. People, mothers, fathers, everybody's trying to be stuffed into a box. Sometimes they fit, great. Sometimes they don't. When they don't, we have to reframe how we look at children who don't fit into a box. Can I keep trying to shove my son down in there? Sure. He keeps sticking an arm out, or a leg out, because he just doesn't fit.


Being able to say, “Okay, what if I got him a different box? Different shape, different size,” we go with this metaphor, so that he could fit somewhere, because he does fit somewhere. He is not the issue. Society is the problem.


[00:31:29] RH: That's a whole other topic right there. Oh, my gosh.


[00:31:32] MC: Gosh, you can do that for, yeah.


[00:31:34] RH: Hours.


[00:31:35] MC: It's quite the process. Yes, out-of-the-box children. Totally. They are out of the box. That's exactly what makes them unique and special.


[00:31:44] JH: Yeah, exactly. I love it. Can you tell us some of the strategies that you guys have used to help him successfully get through his day with all the challenges he’s experiencing?


[00:31:55] MC: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we have tried many over the years. Again, it wasn't even up until probably about a year ago, where I did this full acceptance process thing. Because this took a long time. Prior to that, we were trying all sorts of strategies that never worked, because they didn't fit his needs. They were just the strategies that other people told us that we should do. They did not fit. I mean, to this day, if you try the whole like, “Let's take a few deep breaths thing,” he's like, “Why? Why would I do that? That makes no sense.”


He and many other children like him, I'm sure, he sees right through the whatever you want to call it, he can sense authority trying to control him, and he can't stand it. If it's any top-down approach, not going to work. It's got to be something that we stumble on together, or perhaps, accidentally, or something he comes up with himself. We're only just now, age eight, starting to finally find some little tricks. To be honest with you, one of them is medication.


We did not start that journey until recently, just a few months ago. I have a different child now. I have a different child. It is a world of change, he was having between eight to 10 massive, aggressive meltdowns a day, to – we had three in the last month.


[00:33:22] JH: Oh, wow.


[00:33:23] MC: That's obviously, everybody has their different opinions on that, and that's totally fine. For us, this was desperate times. We are at the bottom, no clue what else to do here. On top of that, though, now he can access some more strategies that he didn't have before. He still gets – a lot of kids, especially if they're seeking that sensory input. He gets so riled up in his body that he has to let it out somehow. That takes some practice, because he often just used to say to me, he was five. I would be like, “Just punch a pillow.” He’s like, I don’t want to punch a pillow. I want to punch a person, so it hurts.” “Oh, okay, buddy. Well, that's not going to work.”


I think we need a punching bag. We're going to purchase that soon. For now, squeezing things. One of the things that I taught him to do – he didn’t do it all the time, but it is fun once in a while, is if he's really feeling that sensory need and he's in his hands, he gets some ice cubes and goes out on a deck and just smashes them as hard as he can on the deck. It does give this glass-breaking feeling. He's done that a couple of times.


It's so hard for neurodiverse kids. Something like, for example, wearing headphones out in public for certain things that might be loud to him, he won't do it, because he is super aware of other people noticing him and being different at all. He will suffer through and then come home and explode. That's how school goes for him. He keeps it all together at school and then come home and comes and just loses it, because he can't bear the thought, he wants to fit in so badly.


School can be hard. At least, taking breaks where necessary, going outside, fresh air always helps. Drinking some cold water. There's little things like that. Honestly, the biggest thing that is helping him is to find things, activities or whatever, that he likes. We've given him the tool belt full of deep breaths, and meditation, and this and this and this, and he doesn't want any part of that. If it's Legos, drawing, trampoline, and slide, or swings, my gosh, that boy has always liked that sensory input of a swing for his whole life. Those things might be strategies that he can choose from as his go-to, because he already enjoys them.


He's never going to enjoy meditating. It's not going to happen. At least, I don't think so. Those are just some of the things that are helping us through.


[00:35:57] RH: I mean, I don't really meditate either. I like the idea, but I don’t like it. My meditation is already different than sitting quietly. There's different forms of meditation, I feel like.


[00:36:12] MC: Absolutely.


[00:36:12] RH: I think, you brought up a really good point of how he holds it all together at school, and then comes home and loses it, basically. That is so common. We've talked about this before, where kiddos will hold it together at school, because they're in a social environment, and they want to be seen as another kid and have friends and experience that normalcy. Then, they get home where they can just let it all go.


[00:36:40] JH: Because it’s a comfortable, safe place.


[00:36:42] RH: Yeah. That's so common.


[00:36:44] MC: It's so common, yet also, so misunderstood by professionals. I mean, I had a counselor tell me, “He can't be anxious. Because if he was anxious, he wouldn't be able to keep it together at school. It wouldn't be just a home thing.” Man, was she wrong, first of all. I mean, I don't know. Child development 101. His desire to be accepted by his peers is stronger than anything else when he's in school, so he would never throw a fit in school, ever. He would just die thinking about how people would look at him, and what they would think about him.


What would happen is he barely gets off the bus. He would take two steps away from the bus, and he's done, or immediately gets into the car, and he's done. If, for whatever reason, we managed to make it back to the house, it would be in the garage. We could never get up the stairs. Just absolute screaming. That has gotten a little better, although COVID’s thrown a whole wrench into all of it. It was the kindergarten transition that he melted down immediately upon awakening every single morning, and as soon as he got off the bus, and every evening for the entire year of kindergarten, because – for many reasons. One of them was I'm sure, all those stimulation, the noise, the kids who don't listen, and they're yelling, and he hates – he yells all the time, but he hates when other people yell, because it hurts his ears.


That's pretty standard, I think, for kids like him. He was bored as well, and there's that whole gifted piece. He’s like, “Why am I doing this?” It was torture for him. Yes, your kid can hold it all together in school. There's a reason for that. Yes, home is their safe space, but it was so explosive and aggressive that, I mean, we could never live like that. It was traumatizing for my other two to witness this go down every single day.


[00:38:39] RH: How does he do socially? Does he have a lot of friends? Does he make friends easily? Or is that something that's been a challenge for him?


[00:38:47] MC: That's been a bit of a challenge for him, although it's gotten much better in the last year or so. He is an introvert through and through. Except not at home. Because when he's home, he's the dominant child who leads the way and everybody follows him, but out everywhere else, he’s very, very introverted. He has struggled to make friends. At preschool, he really did not. Kindergarten, no. First grade was a good year. Now he's starting second grade.


Last year with COVID, he and his sister were in the same class. I have mixed feelings about it, but it actually went really well. She's a super extrovert and social. She makes the friends and he plays too, and then he makes the friends that way. Now, that being said, they're about to split up and he'll find his way. I see this a lot with my own students being a teacher. Kids will find their – you will find your people. Sometimes it doesn't happen until college. You will find your people, eventually. He's tried playing with the first grade “jocks,” if you will. He doesn't like sports. He actually hates team sports, because he hates the pressure of the competition of doing the right thing and winning. That just absolutely throws him for a loop.


He doesn't want to play with the sports boys at recess, but he doesn't want to play with the girls who are playing with dolls, and he doesn't know what to do with himself, because there's no first graders who want to play chess, or checkers at recess, or work on a Sudoku, or a word search, or whatever. They don't want to do that. He has trouble finding his way. However, we have now made a couple of good friends between both my twins and we make sure to foster those healthy relationships. He's going to be the kid, I'm sure, like I am, who, you don't need 5 million friends. You just need a couple of really good ones. That's okay. Yeah, finding friends can be really hard for kids like him.


[00:40:39] JH: I'm just thinking about the whoever it was that told you that it wasn't anxiety, and then all the things you're describing and I’m like, “Hi, that's anxiety.” The pressure to fit in, the pressure of making friends and not knowing who to go, be friends with on the playground, and he's an introvert. I'm like, who's this person who shouldn't be talking to?


[00:41:00] RH: That's why we always recommend getting multiple opinions.


[00:41:06] MC: Yes. Everyone comes from again, there's the traditional parenting sense. Everyone has their own background. That was one of the hardest parts, especially if your listeners are raising a child who's got multiple struggles. I think of my son is this big tree, and each branch is a different thing. There's SPD and there's anxiety, and there's ADHD, and there's all these things. You don't always know, who do I go to? Because in the end, there's probably not one person for all these things. You might need a couple of different people to help with things. That can be stressful.


There is no handbook out there for a mother who is raising a neurodiverse child. If your child is showing these things, you might want to consider this. That does not exist. Every mother, I'm sure, can relate to this deep research, It becomes a full-time job on top of our full-time jobs. Researching, researching, researching. You find advice in all the weird corners. Some people say, you need more timeouts. You're in charge and you mean business. That does not work with my children, and it doesn't feel right with me. Or that can't be anxiety, because they're keeping it together at school. I don't know why she said that.


[00:42:19] JH: What’s her name?


[00:42:19] RH: We need to call her out. I’m just kidding. Let’s not do that. We're not that type of podcast.


[00:42:25] MC: That's hilarious. No. When it comes down to it, professionals are amazing, but nobody knows better than you. Nobody knows better than the mother. That's all part of the whole losing your gut instinct to your mother's intuition. You have to regain that, and that's the process of acceptance. When you regain it. Your flags come out so easy now and you say, “No, no, no. That's not right. This is what he needs. This is what he needs.” That's where the magic lies, I think. That can take a long time to get there.


[00:42:53] JH: Here's what I think, Megan. I think you need to write this handbook. You said it, and I just – you have experience. You're in it right now, so why not just add a book to your resume? Well, this would be a book that would take years in the making, because you have eight years to catch up on. Then as he continues growing and developing, you continue adding on to the book.


[00:43:20] MC: Yeah. I've thought about that minutes – Thank you. It's a great suggestion. Just add it to the list. I would love to write a book someday. Once I thought about a checklist, because I felt like I had to do so much digging to say, is this normal? Is this normal? Is this normal? The sensory, my son – oh, I forgot to mention, but he did a ton of rocking as a toddler. Such a stereotypical symptom of autism. He was tested for autism three different times, by three different people in his life. Everybody said, “No. He's quirky and gifted.”


I think, everything, there's just such an overlap, whether he is or isn't is, whatever. As a two-year-old, he would sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’, which is his favorite song. He would sit on the couch and he would bang his head into the cushion, but rhythmically with the song and I'm talking for months and months. He has not done that for years. That was a two-year-old to three-year-old thing, whether he needed the sensory input for whatever reason. This was who he was.


I thought to myself, what if there was a checklist? Where you could check off the boxes when you go to the pediatrician for that yearly appointment and say, “Yes, he rocks back and forth. Yes, he is really sensitive to loud noises. Yes, he is –” Now, as he gets older, “yes, he is super aware of what other people think of him, the tags on the clothes,” whatever.


That's something that I've considered is joined together some checklist for mothers to gather their information before they present it to a professional, so they don't end up spouting all of it off and think, “I forgot to mention this or that.” Again, add it to the list. I do think that might be helpful.


[00:44:56] JH: I love that. Especially because we talked so much about advocating for our kiddos. Like you said, no one knows your child better than you do as the parent, as the mom. If you can go into the pediatrician or the doctor and say, “Here's what I'm observing. Here are some videos. Here's some pictures. I need a referral to X, Y, and Z, bada bing, bada boom.”


You don't really leave it open-ended. It's, “No, this is what I'm noticing. These are the red flags, or the yellow flags. Send me on my way to who can help me.” Because pediatricians are great, but they don't specialize in all of these different areas.


[00:45:34] MC: Not at all. We found that with our pediatrician, for sure. In fact, they had an in-home counselor, like an in – not in-home, but in-office counselor. After mentioning the struggles we were having for years around age four, he's like, “Do you want to meet with this in-office counselor?” I guess. I met her once. She heard all the things I had to say and she said, “Well, have you ever thought about giving him two choices? Like, you can pick this. You can pick this?” I was like, “Are you kidding me, lady?" We neurodiverse mothers are schooled in traditional techniques. When I say, do you want A or B? You know I'm getting “I want C” for the answer. If I say, “Well, you have to pick A or B,” then he's going to throw a punch somewhere, because he goes from zero to 60. He doesn't want to be forced to choose A or B.


That was not helpful. We do find, and so many people say, pediatricians, they might just not know. Even, we took him to OT three different times. OT can be wonderful. She even said, “I’m not sure that this is what he needs,” when we were talking about emotional regulation, because yes, there's a sensory diet. Yes, there's a tool belt you can fill with all these strategies. When your child says, “Yeah. No, I'm not doing those things.” All right. Guess we need to find something else.


We know best. You are so right, we know best, and that's what you just have to continue to remember.


[00:46:58] RH: I think, that's really important too, of if you are in therapy, any of the therapies, and something's just not working the way you want it to work, or maybe you've been doing it for several years, it's okay to take a break. I think, that so many people out there like, nope. You go to OT twice a week for forever. It's like, no. You got to stop. You got to take a break. It's not forever. There's a lot of other things out there that can help.


[00:47:30] MC: Correct. That takes time to find those things. We still haven't found them all. By any means, we're really just found a counselor that I think he could have a connection with over time, so we're going to see, hopefully, just having someone to talk to. It's a whole village. If you really are going to help the child, the teacher needs to be onboard, and the grandparents need to be onboard. It's a whole thing. That can be super difficult. That can take a long time, too.


[00:47:59] JH: I mean, you're only eight years in.


[00:48:01] MC: Right. Oh, goodness. It’s been a long eight years.


[00:48:05] JH: I love all the things you're doing. Probably going to wrap up here in just a minute, but can you tell us more about the things that you're doing professionally, your podcast and your group that you have. Just tell our audience a little bit about that, so that they can decide if they want to join you on that journey, which I'm sure that they will.


[00:48:26] MC: Yeah. Well, I appreciate you giving me that opportunity. Thank you. The podcast is called On the Hard Days. The first season of it, I just share my own stuff; raising my kids, like that waffle story. It was therapeutic for me to vent about it. That's how it started. Then, as I started talking to other mothers who had similar stories, it was like, “Wait a minute, we're all in hiding here. Nobody wants to talk about it. What if, every week, a mother comes on my show, and shares her story? No judgment, guilt-free, shame-free.”


I have so many mothers wanting to share their story that I'm backlogged here. The truth is, is we all have the same story. Whether the kids are different and the symptoms are different and the struggles are different, but it all comes back to, we as mothers, feel inadequate, because our kids are hard, and we think we've done something wrong, and we think we're not meeting the needs of our kids. It's all by sharing, by building community, teaching each other. “Oh, you're really not alone at all.”


I have listeners who take notes on every episode, and they contact the mothers who speak and that's how these friendships begin. I've been lucky enough to be able to interview. I have a mom from New Zealand who is on. One from Sweden, one from Turkey. They all have the same story, which is the whole point. My podcast is very much a sharing is caring thing. I'm always looking for other mama guests who have a story about raising a neurodiverse child, because we all have a story, and they can reach out to me.


The other piece is that I do have a support group community. I pulled my people and I said, what are you really needing? Is it more professional advice? What is it? They said, “No, we want peer support.” I started a support group community. It's called Mothers Together. It is off of social media, no Facebook, no nothing like that. There's no algorithm. It's password protected. The mothers who join this are going to be put in a small group, pod squad, a small group support group, where we meet weekly on Zoom. Sorry about my giant dog barking in the background. We meet weekly on Zoom to support each other and just say, “Yeah, me too. I totally been there. I get what you're going through.”


Then there's a forum that goes with that, so they can really connect with other mothers all around the world, again, not social media at all. Mothers Together is cranking along. I've just launched it pretty recently, but it's doing great so far. On the Hard Days is my podcast. I appreciate it so much.


[00:50:56] JH: I love that.


[00:50:57] RH: So good. So helpful. Such a space that needs to be there. I'm glad that you're taking time and sharing your story. I feel that's so helpful. I'm going to subscribe and listen to those, because I just find those stories so interesting.


[00:51:11] JH: I think it is. I think exactly what you just said is it's so helpful to hear the stories from other people that you're like, “Oh, I know exactly what she's talking about. I'm not the only one.” It’s so important.


[00:51:27] MC: Yeah. I recently just had this mother, and I was like, “Hey, you've got this – Would you like to be on my podcast? I'd love to share your story.” She said, “I don't think this is – There's no real story here. I don't think people would want to hear this.” I was like, “Are you kidding me? This is the whole point. This is the whole point.” I'm very, very lucky to have been connecting with these amazing mothers all going through it. We're all in the trenches together.


[00:51:49] RH: So good.


[00:51:51] JH: I love it. So needed. All right, well, before we let you go, do you have any questions for us?


[00:51:57] MC: I would say, in terms of your advice, when you are hearing stories like mine, what is something that you feel, if I could have heard you five years ago, six years ago, what is something that you would have said to me? That may have given me some either advice, or a piece of hope, or something that would have given me next steps.


[00:52:20] JH: I already know mine. Do you –


[00:52:22] RH: No. You share yours.


[00:52:23] JH: I think, I probably mentioned this earlier, but it's finding out what your child likes. Finding out what your child likes, finding out what their strengths are, what are they good at, what makes them smile, because you have to be able to connect to your child on their level. So much of therapy is identifying challenges and deficits. What we really need to do is identify strengths and joy in their life. That's going to make it easier for us to connect with them, and it's going to make their days better, because you're able to give them that joy every day. That’s mine.


[00:53:02] MC: So good.


[00:53:04] RH: I would probably say, empathize. If you are just getting started in your journey, and you're realizing these differences, these challenges, these sensory challenges, I would have told you to empathize and to realize that your kiddo is feeling pain with these noises and these feelings, these foods and these waffle holes that aren't getting filled in.


[00:53:28] MC: There's a reason for it.


[00:53:29] RH: Something is missing, and he's feeling uncomfortable. To first, empathize and realize, “Oh, my gosh. I feel this. I understand.” Even though it's hard to understand. I always say, nails on the chalkboard. That visceral feeling that you get when those nails actually scratch on the chalkboard. That's what I want people to feel when these kids are going through these challenges. I think, if you can empathize with your child, with these kiddos, you're able to help them so much more in the long run.


[00:54:02] MC: I love that. The kids are who they are. We are who we are. I try to remind the mothers that I talk to that you are the best mother for your child. There literally is nobody else who understands your kid as well as you do, and there's a reason for that. You were meant to have them and they were meant to have you.


[00:54:19] JH: Yes. I love that, too.


[00:54:22] RH: So good.


[00:54:22] JH: We're both mothers, too. We've been through this journey and my child is almost eight. He's in second grade. I'm like, yeah, and those seven, eight-year-olds are feisty. It’s hard.


[00:54:36] RH: I don't know. My 11-month-old is pretty feisty right now.


[00:54:39] JH: He is.


[00:54:41] RH: What is that? What's that a sign of?


[00:54:43] JH: Character?


[00:54:47] MC: That's right.


[00:54:48] JH: Megan, thank you so much for talking to us.


[00:54:51] RH: Yes, we appreciate it.


[00:54:53] MC: Thank you so much for having me. This has really been so lovely to share the story from a different angle. We're all in this together. You guys, I truly appreciate you giving me the opportunity to be on.


[00:55:04] RH: Yes, of course, of course. We’ll put all of the details in the show notes, so if people want to get in touch with you, listen to your podcast, join the support group, we'll put all of that information in the show notes, so people can hang out with you and get to know you and follow you on social media.


[00:55:19] JH: Yes, that's for sure.


[00:55:21] MC: Yeah. Yes, definitely. Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate it.


[00:55:25] JH: Of course. All right, thanks, Megan. We'll chat with you later.




[00:55:30] RH: As I always start these, I’m like, “Oh, we just had an amazing conversation. Whoo!” I always say the same thing. That was so amazing. I loved that conversation. Every single time, it's so true. Megan is very inspirational. I love hearing people's stories. That could be my title. I’m a professional story.


[00:55:51] JH: We are storytellers. Not necessarily a storyteller. We share other people's stories.


[00:55:58] RH: So, we’re story sharers.


[00:55:59] JH: I just love listening to them, and asking questions, and hearing all the things.


[00:56:05] RH: I know that there's going to be a lot of people listening who relate to Megan and her story and who can empathize with her and relate to her. I think, everyone should go follow her on Instagram, listen to her podcast, check out her community that she's building and go support the heck out of her.


[00:56:28] JH: Yes, I agree. On that note, thank you for being here with us today, sharing your precious time with us and your ears. Thank you for leaving us review on iTunes. We appreciate that. Make sure when you're listening, if you're still listening, take a screenshot of the podcast, of yourself listening to the podcast and tag us on social media, mostly just Instagram @allthingssensorypodcast. If you're feeling crazy, tag @harkla_family, and @on.the.hard.days. Just go tag crazy. We want to see that you're listening and you’re loving this episode.


[00:57:07] RH: Thank you for being here and we will talk to you next week.


[00:57:09] JH: Okay, bye.




[00:57:12] RH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co/podcast to get all of the show notes.


[00:57:23] JH: We always have the show notes and links, plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone. If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the show notes, or message us on our Instagram account, which is @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you'll find us.


[00:57:43] RH: Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10 percent off their first order at Harkla. Whether it's for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code SENSORY, will save you 10 percent. That code is S-E-N-S-O-R-Y. Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now, so you don't forget.


[00:58:06] JH: We're so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a happier, healthier life.


[00:58:13] RH: All right. We'll talk to you guys next week.




[00:58:17] RH: Just a friendly reminder, this is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics and sensory integration. We do not know you, or your child. Therefore, we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.




While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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