I met Jessica, the Co-Host, on Instagram many months ago with our love for health and fitness. She’s an amazing mother to a young boy, passionate about fitness, and passionate about helping families with Sensory Processing Disorder. She’s an Occupational Therapist along with The Sensory Project host, Rachel, and with their combined credentials they give out advice and hope to families newly diagnosed.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
Jessica – I’m a mom, a COTA (certified occupational therapy assistant), a health and wellness advocate, and I co-host a podcast – The Sensory Project Show – with my friend and fellow entrepreneur Rachel!
Rachel– Hi! I’m Rachel, COTA/L, AC, and I created The Sensory Project! I love helping others, creating all the things, and staying busy. Jessica and I have been podcasting since June of 2017 and it has been such a fun adventure!
What do you all like to do for fun?
Jessica – I’m a big outdoor fan so I love swimming and hiking. I love to dance, play games with my son (who’s 5), and hang out with friends. I work as much as I can – learning and researching new ideas and procedures, coming up with new ideas for the podcast, and always working on my health and wellness. I actually think I’m pretty boring (haha!) because I sit around on my computer and my phone A LOT – putting ideas together, writing outlines, and connecting with people!
Rachel – I also love the outdoors and sports! My husband and I have a golden retriever, Crash, and who is basically our fur child. When I’m not working, I am hiking, creating, working out, baking sweets, doing archery, and hanging out with family and friends!
How did you meet?
Jessica – We went to school together! We both attended Brown Mackie College to get our associates degrees in Occupational Therapy and then we ended up working at the same outpatient pediatric clinic for several years! The idea for a podcast came from a conversation about other podcasts and how we couldn’t find any podcasts about pediatric OT.
Rachel – Actually, one day while we were working together, I said I wanted to create a podcast about OT for families, and Jessica (jokingly) said, “I’ll do it with you.” But clearly she wasn’t joking! (Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you know Jessica haha!) It wasn’t long after that conversation we got together outside of work and started planning it. That’s one of my favorite things about Jessica. When she sets her mind to something, she does it and she does it 100%.
Jessica – Honestly Rachel is one of the most passionate people I know and I’m so thankful to be on this journey with her!
What is the story behind The Sensory Project?
Rachel – The Sensory Project started when I decided I didn’t want my clients to wear hideous weighted vests anymore. My mom and I decided to use recycled vests and sew pockets and weights into them to create fashionable weighted vests, so kiddos didn’t stand out as different or ‘weird’ while they are trying to regulate their body with sensory input. We started sewing them and sold them on Etsy, as well as weighted blankets, weighted eye masks, weighted handwriting helpers, basically #allthingsweighted! We have been working with manufactures to help us grow and meet the demand, so we have a new line of weighted vests and are coming out with some more products soon! I knew I wanted The Sensory Project to be more than just sensory products, I wanted it to be a place for education, resources, and products. The podcast has been so helpful to reach more people in need and offer free information to families, therapists and educators, which is the ultimate goal!
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and many other problems may impact those who do not have effective treatment. (https://www.spdstar.org/basic/about-spd) That’s the “technical” definition! But really, SPD manifests itself in so many different ways! The website that is quoted above has some great information and of course, check out our podcast to learn even more
What is your advice to parents with children newly diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder?
Reach out! Find a community on Facebook, reach out to other parents. Be very open and honest with your therapist (if and when you get into OT and / or speech therapy), ask all the questions and don’t be afraid to ask for more, advocate for your child in all environments, and always focus on working as a team with the therapists, counselors, doctors, and teachers. Do all the research you can! ALWAYS remember how much you love your child, how much they love you, and be patient and understanding. If your child is struggling with SPD, empathize with them. Imagine nails on a chalkboard, that feeling it gives you- they might have that feeling all the time with normal, everyday activities!
Is there something I should’ve asked but didn’t?
Just remember there is a reason why your child is acting the way they are, or doing the things they do. Don’t just always assume it’s a quirk, they’re being “bad,” or assume they will grow out of it. Research and help them as soon as possible. Early intervention is the best way to help your child! And trust your gut!
Where can my readers find your podcasts?
We are on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher – The Sensory Project Show. We are also on Instagram – The Sensory Project Show – and Facebook. Reach out to us through email or messaging – ask us questions, let us know your thoughts, suggestions for future episodes, and definitely leave us a review on iTunes!
You can find these lovely ladies at:
Facebook: The Sensory Project Show
Blog: The Sensory Project Show
Do you know of any other Podcasts that help Special Needs families? Please let me below!