top of page

Hopeless to Hope-filled

Part Three

Drumroll please...The (long-awaited) Punch Line!

Hopefully, you have been tracking with me thus far, having waded through the previous two posts, that spells out how we arrived in this particular time and place in our story, in order to get to the reason you are here. If not, feel free to pop back in when you have caught up.

I was contacted by a fellow mom of an autistic child about a therapy I had never heard of. The timing couldn't have been better, as I was fresh out of ideas. She said it was evidence-based and was going to be featured in an upcoming issue of Autism Advocate Parenting Magazine.

I took a quick look, instead of my usual 500-point inspection, as I was eager to grasp at a new straw offered by someone I trusted. I agreed to engage in 3 months of the home-based, parent-led approach, but did NOT buy into what I perceived to be wild promises. I was, however, intrigued by a controlled clinical study that reported 20% of children improved with their challenges so significantly in a mere six months that they no longer qualified for their autism diagnosis. Say, what?! I certainly didn't expect that to happen for us. Even ABA can't claim that, and it's the standard approach for autism. I just wanted to have hope again and would have settled for any improvement for the big challenges. I also didn't want to lose what made my daughters so special which was how they looked at the world differently, didn't care what others thought about them, and so much more. Would I regret getting involved with something called "treatment" again, which made it seem like they were broken? Thankfully, no!

Ok, so, it?

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Sensory Enrichment Therapy! What in the world is that? It's ok, I didn't get it at first either. But man, am I glad I know now! Here's the scoop. I met with this company virtually, they set me up in their system, gave me an overview, and had me fill out an online intake form. I was well versed in those from the whole diagnosis saga, but thankfully, it only took minutes, not hours. Then it formulated a personalized worksheet of four sensory based exercises (out of a possible 500+) for me to do at home with each of my daughters (each one a different worksheet as it is custom), which took less than 10 minutes a day per child, when it was convenient for me. The activities used varying combinations of common items and scents that were easily found kicking around the house or borrowed from a friend. We were to meet regularly with our coach for support and any problem solving, then report any changes we observed. I especially appreciated that there was an easy way to adjust the worksheet on days that had more been more challenging with life.

No, really, what is it?

It is neuroscience-based, born from established science in the area of environmental enrichment over the last few decades, that engages the neuro-plasticity of the brain. Scientists learned that rats could improve cognitively with a more positive, engaging, and stimulating atmosphere that would create neurological connections that didn't previously exist. It literally grows the brain, increasing serotonin and dopamine, in a gentle and enjoyable manner. It is implemented with a caregiver and helps their bond to grow (yes, please). It helps with attention, memory, picky eating, mood, behaviours, cognitive function, social skills, anxiety, sleep, sensory issues, emotional regulation, and more!

Let me point out that this therapy DOES NOT target any one behaviour directly, like a program plan would in ABA. The information collected on the child's behaviours and abilities are helpful to for the algorithm to choose which area of the brain to grow, without stressing the child. If you target an area of the brain that has challenges directly, it may cause overwhelm. Instead, we choose a strong area in close proximity to the area of challenge and activate it. That stimulates growth, building neurological connections nearby in the target area. Neurogenesis takes about two weeks, which is how often your worksheet changes.

The activities are always done when the child is relaxed, never upset, and is specifically designed to be interesting and enjoyable. Serotonin cannot be made when the body is in a stressed state. The changes and resulting improvements vary from child to child and cannot be specifically predicted, however there is a general aim and intention for goals. Sometimes sleep improves first, other times emotional regulation or other areas. The brain ultimately decides which connections it wants to grow at it's own pace with the provided stimulation.

The best part is, it doesn't have to be done perfectly! Progress can still occur if you miss a day here and there or modify the exercises with your coach. More good news, it helps other existing therapies be more effective and efficient! Who doesn't love getting more for your time and effort?! Where are my friends who run when they hear ABA? Did you make it? Ten zillion bonus points for you!

This is great news and also, why it is not just for autism. Who doesn't need more serotonin in their life? No prescription required! This is also really helpful for caregivers! I had a client start the program for themselves for 30 days first to help them find the margin they need to start it with their child. We are usually last on the list and there are not many supports that have this type of positive impact on the whole family.

I also recommend it for siblings of children with challenges as they are impacted and there are often limited resources available for them. If you're thinking what I was thinking, maybe you're not but here it is.... can this help seniors with cognitive decline and other similar challenges like depression and anxiety? YES! My husband and I are also testing this out for marriage support. Really, the applications seem endless.

So, what was so EPIC about your results?

This is what all the pomp and circumstance is about, right here. If I hadn't experienced it myself, I wouldn't have believed it was possible.

After only a few days, we started seeing slight changes in both of our children, randomly. Then in a couple of weeks, we were seeing transformation that moved us from years of crisis to catching our breath and genuinely holding onto hope, for both the near future and our children's long-term future. This is significant because historically change can be slow and labour intensive in traditional approaches.

On the 4th day, my eldest was revealing a silly side instead of her more serious, reserved self, and seemed more relaxed. The next day, she was still being goofy and actually cuddled me for a few brief minutes, which was EPIC because she is sensory avoidant and does not like to be touched, let alone hugged or snuggled. Over the next days and weeks, she would often just appear near me and ask what I'm doing, seeming to genuinely want to spend time with me, which had been rare. One time, she actually snuggled me! Ok, snuggled is a strong word. Laid beside me with a book while I worked on my computer, but there was no separation between us for over 30 minutes, so it totally counts! For my withdrawn, almost teenager that still carried resentment towards me from days gone by with the neglect that comes with a high-needs sibling, it was worth more than gold.

A day or so later, my youngest, who at 6 years old didn't yet sleep through the night, had moderate separation anxiety, and needs melatonin to fall asleep, did something remarkable. At the end of bedtime routine, she told my husband that he could leave the room as she was ready to go to sleep, BY HERSELF! Folks, that is what we call a miracle here. The consistently long, arduous bedtime, wrought with conflict had never seen the likes of this. I felt like I was in virtual reality, especially since her dad was her walking, talking security blanket.

More to that point, we really noticed over the next days and weeks that her anxiety had really died down when he would go to work. Previously, she would try to run outside and climb into his car, screaming and punching when brought inside. That was transformed into calm goodbyes while she played and then would wave, smiling at the window, telling him to have a good day sliding in a few silly faces.

Another couple days passed, and instead of the standard aggressive meltdown, my youngest simply cried. She had never done that before and was a massive improvement in emotional regulation. The next morning she read in her room, for over an hour, while her dad got ready for work, instead of trying to break into the bathroom with him, as usual. There is rarely a time in history I can recall her entertaining herself for 20 minutes, let alone an hour. Hallelujah!

A few days later, I asked my eldest to have a shower. For reference, this a task that is usually refused or requires multiple requests, sometimes even a meltdown. Similar responses result from asking her to brush her teeth, clean her room, or do homeschool work. Basically anything that isn't eating or playing. To my surprise, she just... got a shower. This is where I would love to insert a giant wow emoji or a GIF. I'm still picking my jaw up after that first time.

That night, she was giggling in bed after doing a specific hand and foot massage that took only a few minutes. It was incredible to see the immediate effects of an increase in serotonin. My heart was full in those moments and maybe a tear or ten in my eyes. It felt like a dream, and I didn't want anyone to pinch me.

The next day, the best thing happened. Remember my earlier description of daily aggression and chaos? Well, here is a direct quote from my worksheet report: "She seemed calmer, no issues during the day which is unusual, until evening which is typical." Did you see it? Calmer. No issues during the day, which is unusual. Wahoo! An entire daytime with no issues. NONE! You know those workplace trackers that count how many days without an injury onsite? I wanted to make one on the spot. I wanted to hang a giant number one on that board with flashing lights and music. What could be better than a whole daytime with no issues? How about a boatload more? Yes, after only a couple of weeks, my husband and I realized that we couldn't remember the last time she had a meltdown! We honestly couldn't! It was that moment that I knew that this serotonin approach was going to be the answer to our prayers and the hope that one day my fight-or-flight response may get a lunch break.

Another day, when I asked her what she wanted for lunch, instead of yelling at me one of her usual predictable foods she said, "Whatever you want me to have, mama." Um, say what? Come again? Can I get a double high-five from all the parents with children who have oppositional children or picky eaters? Thank you! Not only did she say it that day, she has said it several times since! Listen, it doesn't happen everyday but that is miles from where we were and I didn't have to sell my soul or break the bank to get there. She definitely has become more agreeable in general to trying more foods and it is continuing to improve. I'm especially thrilled that she actually sits for a meal, without a screen, and engages us in conversation. That's far from not being able to sit in her chair more than one or two bites (if she doesn't initially refuse it at first glance), saying she's full, while slamming on the piano and making loud noises so no one else can talk.

The following week, I did a thing. A thing I thought I would never be able to do. I went... on a daytrip an hour away... with both my girls... with no help... dun dun DUN! Not only did we have ZERO issues, but we had such a great time together that we stopped on the way home for little shopping trip for an hour and dinner out. WHAAAAT??? Friends, is any of this giving you a scrap of hope? Cause if it isn't, I really don't know what will. I understand that my children are verbal. Yours may not be. You may have different challenges than my girls. That's ok. It wasn't designed exclusively for children just like mine. I personally guarantee that if you follow the program, and do not see improvement in any way after the first 30 days, I will refund you every cent. All of it. I believe in it that much. Not just because it worked for me, but because I've seen it work for my clients (some without autism) and clients of other Sensory Enrichment Therapy (SET) providers. I also have access to consult with the pioneer and Chief Science Officer of Sensory Enrichment to troubleshoot and modify a custom program at no additional cost to you!

Closing Time

There are many more examples of mind-blowing results we had but this story is long enough already. If you would like to hear more of our journey, I would be thrilled to share it with you. For now, this is enough. Perhaps, way more than enough.

At this time, I am in my 9th year of homeschooling, attending one school part time to become a Nutritionist to add in to my consulting and a second school for a Care and Counselling program, because who doesn't need extra tools in their support toolbox? This means I can provide Family Wellness Services for a very limited number of clients at a time.

My goal is to spread the word for this amazing discovery. If I'm not the right fit for you, there are other providers. I'd be happy to help you find the right someone.

Sensory Enrichment typically costs over $500 USD per month to work with a therapy provider and not usually covered by insurance. If you can't afford that, don't panic or be discouraged! I'm fully aware many families cannot manage that in their budget. I don't want you to mortgage your house or get a second job to pay for it. Though I offer the program at $250 per month, I have a sliding scale option that can be utilized if needed.

No family will be turned away, regardless of income.

If you are a professional in a related field and would like to hear more about how to add this therapy to your services, please contact me or Mendability directly. For more information about clinical studies and further resources, check out or their YouTube channel.

Thank you for joining me for my story. I really hope that it was worth it and that it shines a ray of hope into your family's life. I look forward to connecting with you soon!


bottom of page