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By Chantelle Hyde, a Foundations Certificate Program Learner.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, there were 14 different things wrong with me. I started to experience a shutdown of my body. My legs would randomly stop moving when I was walking. I had serious nerve issues in my wrists and hands, and chronic pain that travelled throughout my body. Eventually I learned that I had developed an autoimmune disorder, but where did this begin?

As I was going through my Self-Reg Foundations courses it was profoundly interesting to learn that autoimmune disorders can originate in chronic prolonged states of stress in the body, and chronic states of fight or flight. This was certainly the case for me. I was in an incredibly difficult relationship that drained every bit of energy I needed to maintain my day-to-day well-being. I was worried every day about how things would be once the baby was born. There’s no question that my poor unborn daughter experienced this state of stress along with the effects of the increased stress hormones in my body. It was evident from her heightened startle response, and her nightly ritual of crying relentlessly after she was born.

Further stressors included the 2008 recession which hit when my daughter was only three months old. I lost my job, we had to downsize our home and so we had to move. It was an unbearable time.

If things were going to change, I needed to reflect on my own stressors and address my nervous system state. Eventually I was able to reframe my thoughts on everything in my own behaviour and state, which helped me to recognize my most significant stressors. First, leaving the relationship was necessary. That reduced a great deal of the stress. I was then able to focus my attention on reducing additional stressors for myself and for my daughter, who, as I learned along the way, turned out to be autistic.

The neurobiological stressors that can accompany autism are significant on their own. We still also had several stressors that were difficult to address in our busy, urban, isolated environment, with little to no support. I also realised that I needed to identify behavioural attractors that had developed in both myself and my daughter in order to help to change the trajectory for us both. This meant also seeking new self-regulating activities.

Moving from an urban area to a natural environment full of restorative, engaging activities in nature changed our lives drastically. We both thrived being immersed in nature, getting physical activity in an environment that encouraged it, and moving away from the very busy, negative urban environment that we had become accustomed to. We also found positive social support and connections. And after losing the last of our autism interventions in Ontario, we found support and solutions in British Columbia. Both of our nervous systems benefited to an immense degree.

Looking back now through a Self-Reg lens,these experiences prove to me exactly why Self-Reg works. You can feel it!

Explore more Parenting blogs and Self-Reg resources HERE.

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