Featured Friday – Sophilia’s Storyby Featured Friday | 1 year ago
Hello, my name is Sophilia Lark-Woodbury, and I want to share with you how I became founder and creator of The Happy Meetium™ – a healing arts company that provides holistic creative-expressive services to help moms of children on the autism spectrum to alleviate distress.
On August 17th, 2012, my son, Soaron Seuss Woodbury was born. It was a great time in my life as I had waited nearly a decade to meet this special little man. From the moment my husband and I left the hospital with the newest (and cutest) member of our family, to our son’s first birthday, everything was smooth sailing, minus the sleepless nights of course. However, shortly after our son turned fifteen months, we noticed he started behaving differently. Prior to fifteen months old, he was pointing to items of interest, starting to say words, and behaving well enough for us to take him to the movies and get through an entire film. But at fifteen months, his behaviors became very odd, erratic, and unpredictable.
He was withdrawn and quite irritable, and we watched in horror as he slowly retreated into a world that we knew nothing about. I felt helpless and greatly distressed, and soon depression set in. Each day, I tried to engage my son and get him to do the things he used to do, but he only seemed interested in spinning the wheels on his toy trucks or staring at my bookcase. He had stopped pointing, saying words, and laughing, and started having multiple tantrums a day. But, I didn’t give up. I began doing research and found valuable information on the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s website that helped me make the decision to get our son formally evaluated for autism.
Although we got early intervention services started quickly, we had to wait almost a year for our son to undergo official testing by a developmental team. Then finally, on May 12th, 2015, our son was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder with delayed milestones and receptive-expressive language delay. I was gutted. The developmental team did their best to quell my fears about my son’s prognosis by providing me with follow up resources that would help to remediate many of his social, communication, and repetitive behavior deficits; however, there was one glaring hole in the resource list: No information on support services designed to treat parental distress directly related to parenting a child on the autism spectrum.
As a professionally trained mental health practitioner and researcher, I consulted the empirical literature and found that mothers of children with autism and developmental delay often experienced higher levels of distress than mothers of typically developing children. Because of this fact, researchers suggested that mothers and their families needed services that specifically treated distress and enhanced well-being. After searching without much success for the type of parent distress program described in the literature, I decided to create a program that used a peer-mentor model as ancillary treatment for stress and depression in moms of children on the autism spectrum. I first applied the program to myself and saw immediate positive results. This strengthened my belief that the program could possibly benefit other moms who shared similar struggles.
I currently focus on using the naturally occurring parent-to-parent rapport based on shared experience to employ creative, art-based healing techniques such as music, poetic performance, writing, art-making, play, and natural care methods that I share through my blog, podcast, and soon, YouTube channel to help moms reduce distress and become their own healing artists. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you and your followers. It is my hope that people will be inspired, and in turn, will pay it forward to inspire others.
For more information on Sophilia