Transformative Parenting: Nurturing Hearts and Minds

This blog is a heartfelt dedication to all those caring for individuals with "special needs." Welcome to our community of shared experiences, support, encouragement, heart connections, and celebrations. Today, I'll share a story about my journey with my son, who was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, and how NonViolent Communication (NVC) and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) transformed our lives.

A bit of background: My son, Rylan, was given many diagnoses, one being a math disability in the first grade. This revealed he experienced a working memory deficit which was critical for math. I learned that he had endured isolating experiences where he was made to sit at his desk with a timer. The teacher's intention was to help him focus. But it heightened his anxiety, especially being separated from warm relationships.

Let's explore how stress affected Rylan through IPNB. Panic flooded his system with hormones, triggering his survival mode. Cortisol inhibits the hippocampus, which stores learned material and connects it with existing knowledge. The logical prefrontal cortex is also affected, making calm problem-solving difficult. His emotional alarm system, the amygdala, was activated, and he was primed for fight, flight, or freeze. This is not conducive for learning new information.

Rylan and I worked on interrupting this pattern in order to nurture and create new neural pathways in his nervous system. Interrupting means responding to his triggered reactions with resonant empathy, tracking his needs while prioritizing connection. This practice gradually replaced his old patterns with new experiences, fostering resilience and calm in his system.

Interrupting allowed Rylan's prefrontal cortex to restart and another hormone, GABA, then calmed his emotional alarm system. His hippocampus came back online, enabling him to learn.

Now, back to our story: One day we were at the kitchen table, and I read out loud about subtraction. Rylan panicked, throwing his pencil. But amidst the turmoil, he actually paused for a moment.

I spontaneously celebrated his pause, naming it his own "pause button" being developed. We high-fived and sang a celebration song. Rylan even changed the lyrics of the song to celebrate me, showcasing the power of connection in his transformation.

My goal was to create a consistent sense of safety, allowing Rylan to slow down in order to see and explore options during triggers. We created rewinds, or post-hearsals, envisioning how experiences could be different, reinforcing connection and presence, and we had fun doing this together!

Choosing to stay connected and present for my son provided a different model for him to be empowered to learn, especially when presenting with "special needs." Learning thrives in an environment of physical and emotional safety. The neuroception of safety allows children to regulate and learn at their own pace, while consistent caring support helps them return to regulation when triggered. 🌟


If this story resonates with you and you are seeking support or looking to join a community, I invite you to reach out to me. Whether you need personal support or are interested in joining my small group classes, we can create a warm, supportive environment together. Let's experience the power of connection and growth in community.


50% Complete