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Welcome to the Nest...

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Check out my latest
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...where you will find compassion, safety, and information that will help guide you on this new path to discovering what your kids’ challenging behaviors are trying to communicate.
 

I use the current understanding of relational neuroscience,  Attachment Theory, Child Development and play that is all rooted in neuroaffirming and trauma-informed practices to support families and caregivers.  Through empowerment and collaboration, we can find solutions that work for your family’s individual needs.  My holistic and integrative mindset comes through education, connection, and co-regulation of our nervous systems and “body up” approaches to reducing stress behaviors.  In the “nest of warm relationships,” I hope you experience feelings of safety and find the guidance you are looking for that will bring joy back to your own nest.

The Mehrit Centre
Self-Reg. CA


The Alliance Against
Seclusion & Restraint

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)Therapeutic Listening System- A Journey to Better Nervous System State Regulation

Trauma & Its Impact on Individuals with Neurodevelopmental Differences

"Beneath every behavior there is a feeling.
And beneath each feeling is a need.
And when we meet that need, rather than focus on the behavior,
we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom."

-Ashleigh Warner
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"The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health
intervention known to mankind”  
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Why Crow's Nest?

The crow puzzles many.

The crow is often considered mysterious and misunderstood, like many of our children, especially our autistic and neurodivergent kids.   But just like the crow, our children are intelligent, watchful, and have powerful foresight. In Native American folklore, the crow is consulted for wisdom in times of need.  Crows build their nests high in the trees, giving a perspective of their surroundings unlike any other.
 

Meeting children where they are.

When we see our children with neurodifferences, (such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, learning disabilities) through a neuroaffirming and trauma-informed mindset, we see their individual differences not as deficits to fix, but as integral to their being and to encourage and support them in developing their self-autonomy.
 

This is even more important for our kids with challenges in specific areas of life.
 

Neurodivergent children experience the world differently. 

Our kids with brain wiring differences may have nervous systems that cause them to experience their environments differently than a “neurotypical” brain.  As a result, families/caregivers and educators may see “behaviors” in situations that don’t make sense.  Until we understand individual neurology and the child's experiences, we misunderstand how best to support the child.  This creates more challenges, making it harder for the child to self-regulate, and be attuned and attentive to their surroundings.  Many families face this challenging circumstance, including my family.

Importance of caregiver connections.

Our kids can feel safe and be present to engage, learn and thrive through compassion and co-regulation with a connected caregiver.  This is not achieved through reward charts, clip charts of behavior, punishments or coercive means.  In fact, coercive anything will escalate everything.  

Working with our kids.

Our kids with challenging behaviors need us to work with them to expand their “window of tolerance” (Dr.Dan Siegel, MD) allowing them to be more flexible, present, and able to access their higher brain function so they can learn, inhibit impulses, reason, make decisions, and gain necessary skills that support them throughout their development into adulthood.

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"When we know better, We do better"

-Maya Angelou

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My Approach

I am a wife and a mom to three neurodivergent kids, each with their own unique needs. I have learned to advocate and support each of them by essentially creating their own individual “playbook.” We sought help for our challenges, but something was always missing. What was missing was the lived experience of professionals and the understanding of brain science of development, attachment theory, and very importantly, trauma-informed approaches to supporting our children. I have spent the last 18 years educating myself to be a better parent and advocate for my kids. I have also spent many years helping support caregivers and families using the most current brain science of development, understanding of relational safety, trauma informed and neuroaffirming practices to bring this knowledge to families so they have more effective tools in their caregiver toolbox. I learned about trauma, developmental trauma, complex trauma and its impact on brain development because of my own medically fragile child who suffered “pre-verbal” medical trauma: During his very early development, he was impacted by traumatic medical experiences that are like an imprint left in the unconscious brain. Trauma is defined as the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual's ability to cope, leaving them powerless. Dr. Gabor Mate, MD defines trauma as “not what happens to you, but what happens inside of you as a result of what happened to you”. It is a disconnection from self. Trauma can adversely impact one’s brain development. This adds another layer to an already complex child. Research has shown that chronic early childhood adversity and trauma can have a lasting impact that can be at the center of many challenges a child may experience throughout their life. This becomes even more important to understand when working with anyone who has neurodifferences, such as autism, ADHD, Tourette’s, learning challenges, Sensory processing challenges, etc. When an individual experiences the world differently, we must appreciate their unique experiences and support them in the areas they may struggle in. There is no "one size fits all" approach. It must be tailored to meet their individual needs and differences. Behaviors are not something to manipulate. Like an iceberg, behaviors, no matter how big or small, are information leading to what is lying beneath. The behaviors are just the tip of the iceberg we see. So much more is occurring under the surface that needs to be understand to appropriately support the child. Behaviors are information to approach with curiosity. Observing these behaviors with curiosity allows us to see our child as struggling and needing support, rather than being difficult or defiant, and thus, needing punishment. Growth is never achieved through control or coercive means; but through relationships, compassion and shifting the focus from something to be “fixed” to curiosity. It is through a neuroaffirming, holistic mindset that involves movement, sensory experiences, play, co-regulation and felt safety that leads to healing. It’s not what we do, it’s how we are with the children. This starts with relationships and education. This is the paradigm shift our children need adults in their life to make so they can be their most authentic and best versions of themselves. There are no bad children, just children with needs we may not understand until we dig deeper. Our children are not mini adults, their brains are still developing. In fact, full development doesn't occur until their late 20’s. Our expectations of them are not always appropriate based on their individual development and needs. Society’s antiquated norms have engrained us to think children can always control their behaviors, and if they just try harder, they would “behave” better. However, children are often brought to counseling offices or other professionals because of “‘symptoms” (i.e. behaviors), which in reality are the child's best attempt to survive in an environment that causes them stress. The result is what adults call "behaviors". I consider them "signals". I work with caregivers to help discover the individual needs of their child and how to dig beneath the surface by being a "stress detective". My foundation starts with believing caregivers know their child best and are their child's best advocate. My goal is to empower and guide families toward solutions that work for your family. My own lived experiences of navigating both the educational system and medical systems to meet my kids' needs have led me to this point and, despite the challenges I have found it crucial to enjoy the ordinary moments that are often overlooked when families face extraordinary circumstances. It is through our own regulated presence that we can find moments of joy and connection with our children. Through the years I have taken to heart what Dr. Bruce Perry, Trauma expert says, “People, not programs, change people.” In relationships we find healing. Through shared resources, guidance, compassion and advocacy I can help families find connection, harmony and help bring positive growth to your own nest. Your nest of felt safety.

*****The expressive arts I teach is not therapy as I am not a therapist.

"You don't have to be a therapist to be therapeutic". 

I provide a therapeutic environment that involves a multi sensory rich approach to support development and the creative process.  I use neuroaffirming and whole child centered practices that meets a child where they are developmentally and invites engagement which can support the relational safety that humans need to co regulate their nervous system.  I utilize multiple modalities that invite self expression, opens the creative process, and honors what feels supportive to the individual.

 
  • Expressive arts is about the process; not a product.
  • It's about building a connection through the creative process.  
  • It's about supporting an individual and their individual needs.

    It's about enlivening our senses that promote development and bringing joy into our lives.

What is Trauma Informed
Expressive Arts Therapy?

Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy is a specific approach to traumatic stress developed by Dr. Cathy Malchiodi that integrates "brain-wise" arts-based interventions and embodied awareness concepts to support trauma reparation and recovery. Expressive arts therapy [the combined use of art, music/sound, dance/movement, enactment/improvisation, storytelling/narrative, play, and imagination] is the key psychotherapeutic strategy when addressing traumatic stress. It also integrates current best practices in trauma-informed care with what is known about how the expressive arts and play assist in trauma reparation and integration. 


 

Behavior is the language of trauma.

 

Children will show you before they tell you

that they are in distress


-Micere Keels

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