The Two Days That Renewed Me as an SPD Parent
Last year I attended a two-day event that renewed my fighting spirit like no other. I felt as if I'd been bathed in waters that brought my spirit to life again. There are days in our individual communities when we have to fight such an uphill battle that we forget about our villages. I spent two days surrounded by "my village". Everyone there spoke my language, cried my same tears and celebrated my same victories. We were all fighting the same fight for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
What was the event that inspired and renewed me?
My organization networks and helps families in the Kansas City area with Sensory Processing Disorder. I decided to attend STAR Institute’s symposium because I knew I would have the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals. On top of that, let's just get real, who could pass up the opportunity to be in the company of Dr. Lucy Miller?
The symposium in Denver offered two tracks. One was more strategy focused for both parents and therapists and the other one was a research track. I opted to take the strategies track first hoping I could snag the research articles at a later time which I was able to do.
I hit the road early on Friday morning towards the conference venue, and I was giddy with excitement. I knew that I was about to see familiar faces and, most of all, I was going to be back in a room of hundreds where everyone was SPD-friendly. They get it!
Upon arriving, I checked out the exhibitors and found a ton of things that I "needed". There were so many companies there that support SPD and make life a little easier for our kids.
At the opening session my hero walked on stage, Dr. Lucy Miller. Her passion for SPD is endless, and she fights for individuals with SPD like nobody else. Yes, I cried when I saw her. She'll never know the number of lives she has touched and changed. But wait! Who's this new Virginia Spielmann? Jury's out I thought. She's not Dr. Miller (keep reading please because you'll find out that she actually is).
I attended multiple sessions over the next two days. Diana Henry always amazes me. Her depth of wisdom and years of experience in this field are priceless. A panel of STAR Institute Occupational Therapists led a discussion that was so beneficial to everyone. One OT shared her own personal journey that was incredibly touching. It was the first time she had shared it in public and it was moving to all of us there. The list goes on and on regarding the amount of information that was shared. The speakers were spot on.
One of my personal highlights occurred while waiting for a session to start. I was digging for a peppermint in the candy dish on the table when a woman sat down next to me. I looked up to say hello and holy cow, it was Carol Kranowitz! Good thing that mint wasn't in my mouth already because I would have inhaled it straight down my windpipe! It just got better when she remembered who I was, and we had some amazing conversations over the next few days. Those of you that have read The Out of Sync Child along with the rest of her library know what an amazing woman she is. Carol is another that has fought for individuals with SPD for years and never gives up on the battle. She's another hero of mine and one who will never know the impact she has had on the SPD world, our families and kids.
At the networking luncheons we had various conversations about adolescents and teens with SPD, service animals and SPD and a slew of other topics we could check out from table to table. It was so wonderful to chat with therapists of all types, fellow parents and others that were just there to learn more. I kept thinking that I wish every disorder that exists had the opportunity for this many brains and champions to sit down together and figure out how to make the world a better place for those affected by their disorders and diseases. The ideas that came out of those table discussions were invaluable.
I was truly honored when I got invited to attend the Speaker's Dinner on Friday night. I could barely eat as I sat in the company of people I'd only read about in books. My most embarrassing moment was speaking with a lovely lady for quite some time while we ate. I then apologized that I hadn't introduced myself and asked her name. She said it was Dr. Margaret Bauman. Again, thankfully I didn't have food in my mouth so I didn't choke. I was sitting next to the woman who established the Autism Research Foundation! This folks, was my equivalent of attending the Academy Awards. These are my stars and that was my Hollywood.
So, back to this Virginia Spielmann. Who was she?
She seemed nice with a really cool British accent, a great sense of humor, and it was obvious that she was an SPD genius. By the end of the conference I had been able to catch her here and there as she sprinted around overseeing this amazing conference. Virginia, my friends, is another Dr. Miller. She is here and she is fighting for us. She moved from Hong Kong to take the job at STAR Institute. She was handpicked by Dr. Lucy Jane Miller and we couldn't be in better hands. This had been a real fear of mine because I knew that Lucy would eventually want to retire. Who could possibly step in to replace her? Well, we’ve found her. Virginia and Dr. Miller together are a force to be reckoned with and we are very blessed.
To see the passion of the STAR Institute therapists and staff, OTs from around the globe, fellow parents, leading researchers and countless other individuals was awe inspiring to say the least.
Tears flowed as I pulled out of the parking garage that day. The same tears that I had cried as we left the intensive treatment program with my son at STAR Institute almost six years ago. Tears filled with thankfulness, joy and a little sadness to know I was going back home to continue the battle somewhat alone. Most of all though, my tears were filled with hope. Hope and reassurance that we are making progress with SPD. More and more people are hearing us and seeing our kids. So keep up the fight; help spread the awareness. Most of all know that you do have a really, really awesome village.
If you are looking for SPD treatment for yourself or your child fill out a child or adult intake form now to be treated at STAR Institute Treatment Center or search our Treatment Directory to find services in your area.
Registration for STAR Institute's 21st International 3S Symposium and Pre-Symposium Parent Workshop in Atlanta is NOW OPEN! Find out more information about these events and register here.
Can't attend in person? Register for the livestream of the Parent Workshop here!
Meggin has recently achieved a long term goal of founding a non-profit organization, Sensational Hope (www.sensationalhope.org), which provides community awareness about SPD in the Kansas City Metro Area. It connects families as well as assists children with SPD in the purchase of needed therapy equipment. Meggin resides in the Kansas City area with her husband of 15 years, Erich, her two sons, Bryce and Jackson, her two furry children (dogs) Chance and Sadie, two Rabbits (Max and Bailey), and last but not least, 10 fish. Meggin is honored to blog for the STAR Institute and is looking forward to connecting with other SPD families.