Ignite Your
Family

When I first began to collaborate with the psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors of Unique Learners, I observed that it was not about just supporting the individual learner but the family as a whole.

A doctor referred my first two families in January 2001. The two young clients, both boys, happened to be first cousins: one was 11 years old and the other was on the edge of being a young adult but was still very much a teen. Both boys had completely different struggles and needed very different types of support to get back on track.

For the 11 year old, I was jointly hired by his public middle school and his family to homeschool him from January through June. He then went into a private school for children with learning differences. The older teen had Aspergers and needed a great deal of help to feel comfortable and confident in life socially and emotionally.

Both boys suffered from extreme anxiety and low self-esteem with little self-confidence in school or in their lives. The families, especially their mothers, were under a great deal of stress having their lives disrupted by the struggles their children experienced on a daily basis and this rippled through the family. The two boys, both Unique Learners, played a very specific role in their existing family dynamics.  Their siblings and parents all had their own thoughts and feelings about each Unique Learner and the pressure the family was under because their Unique Learners were stuck.

In this facilitation work, I provided the 11 year-old:

  • A learning environment that alleviated stress and allowed the student to feel more relaxed
  • A way for him to trust this new learning environment, himself as a learner and me as his learning coach
  • Significant adjustments to how lessons were presented and taught to his strengths and interests to keep from triggering the trauma he had experienced in school
  • The space for him to enjoy the process of learning, which he did
  • Emotional preparedness to learn again from a safe place and the ability to believe in himself as a learner
  • A way for him to feel he was heard and could contribute positively to others, especially his family
  • An understanding of the intricacies of his own personal learning style so learning could take place with more ease
  • The possibility for him to value himself and own his voice, strengths and talents, which he very much did

The 19 year old was a more layered case because the trauma he had been experiencing in life and school had been going on for many more years. He did not trust people, life or himself.  In order to survive, he spent a great deal of time alone. He was paranoid. His social interactions were limited to middle of the night anime and gaming chat rooms. Occasionally, he would attend family dinners/get togethers that always seemed to end up not going well. The family often had to leave public places during the middle of dinner because my client was having a panic attack or utter meltdown.

He was and is a very bright and spirited young man with a huge heart and, the truth is, this young man was brilliant but had not been set free from the many experiences that had traumatized him. I felt like I was “Annie Sullivan” to his “Helen Keller” situation and we were able to get to a place where he was living on his own, connected with his family and his community and enjoy having a social life.

In his facilitation sessions, I provided the 19 year-old:

  • Support for him in experiencing daily life with less stress
  • A way to approach basic social interactions that felt comfortable for him
  • Help to find independence from and healthier interactions with his family
  • Ease for his extreme anxiety and social phobia
  • Daily lessons that included how to grocery shop, going to the doctor, movies, restaurants and trips
  • A knowledge and practice of how to be safe out in the world
  • A greater ability to communicate with others
  • Freedom from his longtime traumas
  • A boost to his self-esteem and movement out of depression
  • A great deal of time modeling what to do and say in all kinds of life situations
  • Different ways of thinking about his experiences so he could feel good about himself and the world
  • The space for him to become more independent

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These stories are just two of my experiences working with children who learn differently – what I call Unique Learners.  My work started here and has transformed over time to also include young people who have a unique learning process or don’t test well and tend to fall through the cracks for a variety of reasons.

Every family I work with is different but I know there are parents out there who are like me and those I have supported over the years.  You so want to support your son or daughter and see him or her happy and feeling good.  You want them to experience pride and joy and feel good about themselves.  You want to get them support but don’t know where to turn. Many of you have been trying to find help for so long now, that you don’t know whom to trust with your son or daughter and with your family as a whole.

I am here to say that I understand. I am here to support you in this process. I am an innovator and I like to think outside the box. I will meet your Unique Learner where they are at and help them to see their own brilliance. Together, we will all ignite their learning and your family back to wholeness.

Lindsay-Prospect“I first met Michele a dozen years ago when my children were ages 10, 8 and 5.  My oldest, a boy, had been diagnosed with sensory integration issues as a toddler, received many therapies and was doing well.  I thought I was a fairly educated and competent Mom from going through that process with him and not only surviving it but also seeing him thrive with the extra help.

But my middle child, a daughter, was a whole different challenge.  She was experiencing a lot of difficulty at school socially.  She was a very high academic achiever but could not seem to navigate the rules of the game socially with other girls.  She would seem okay at school but would come home angry and hurt and take that frustration home to roost, creating an atmosphere of volatility in our home that affected all of us. We tried therapists and testing to determine and label what was going on in an attempt to better help her. We endured label after label, from Asperger’s to anxiety disorder to oppositional defiance disorder.  None of them seemed to fully fit, and yet, she seemed to have aspects of all of them.

Our home was becoming a battleground where she wounded with words and sometimes physically. Her anger pervaded so many of our family activities that we would have to resort to responding with punishments like time-outs and removal from settings to control her impact on her siblings. I knew we weren’t handling her well but despaired of knowing how to respond to her better. I was gradually becoming a weary and defeated and resentful mother and the strain of managing her was impacting my marriage.

A marriage counselor who we sought to help our family gave Michele’s name to us. At the time, Michele conducted her consultations with home visits in the belief that a child does best in their own safe environment and also for her to be able to see the family dynamic, which is always part of the equation. I knew the first time I met Michele that she was going to “get it”.  It was the undefinable way in which she listened to all I said and connected with me.  I sometimes think that she supported me during those next few years as much as she supported my daughter. She came weekly to meet with my daughter and would always check in with me first to get the current pulse of the house and what had transpired during the week before heading off to a private space with my daughter.

Ultimately my daughter learned from Michele how to navigate social situations. She had a confidante to talk with who helped her through the difficult pre-teen years. She started to have friends and understand that people will still sometimes disappoint you even when you have done nothing wrong. She formed a small but close group of girlfriends that stayed close for their high school years. She is now a junior in college at a top school.

I credit Michele with helping us save a brilliant young girl from the pits of low self-esteem, raise her up to be able to cognitively understand relationships and not just survive but thrive and celebrate aspects of herself that are unique and different and part of why she is so wonderful. Our family has slowly and steadily healed from those years, yet we did so without forfeiting her taking responsibility for her impact on others.  She doesn’t get a pass when she says something “too honest”, but we do have a sense of humor about it now that we never would have been able to have without Michele’s bringing us that perspective – the perspective of her being unique and brilliant and perfect.  After all, we are all beautiful in God’s eyes; it’s the rest of us that have trouble seeing it!”

– Lindsay P. (Parent)

Lindsay-Prospect“I first met Michele a dozen years ago when my children were ages 10, 8 and 5.  My oldest, a boy, had been diagnosed with sensory integration issues as a toddler, received many therapies and was doing well.  I thought I was a fairly educated and competent Mom from going through that process with him and not only surviving it but also seeing him thrive with the extra help.

But my middle child, a daughter, was a whole different challenge.  She was experiencing a lot of difficulty at school socially.  She was a very high academic achiever but could not seem to navigate the rules of the game socially with other girls.  She would seem okay at school but would come home angry and hurt and take that frustration home to roost, creating an atmosphere of volatility in our home that affected all of us. We tried therapists and testing to determine and label what was going on in an attempt to better help her. We endured label after label, from Asperger’s to anxiety disorder to oppositional defiance disorder.  None of them seemed to fully fit, and yet, she seemed to have aspects of all of them.

Our home was becoming a battleground where she wounded with words and sometimes physically. Her anger pervaded so many of our family activities that we would have to resort to responding with punishments like time-outs and removal from settings to control her impact on her siblings. I knew we weren’t handling her well but despaired of knowing how to respond to her better. I was gradually becoming a weary and defeated and resentful mother and the strain of managing her was impacting my marriage.

A marriage counselor who we sought to help our family gave Michele’s name to us. At the time, Michele conducted her consultations with home visits in the belief that a child does best in their own safe environment and also for her to be able to see the family dynamic, which is always part of the equation. I knew the first time I met Michele that she was going to “get it”.  It was the undefinable way in which she listened to all I said and connected with me.  I sometimes think that she supported me during those next few years as much as she supported my daughter. She came weekly to meet with my daughter and would always check in with me first to get the current pulse of the house and what had transpired during the week before heading off to a private space with my daughter.

Ultimately my daughter learned from Michele how to navigate social situations. She had a confidante to talk with who helped her through the difficult pre-teen years. She started to have friends and understand that people will still sometimes disappoint you even when you have done nothing wrong. She formed a small but close group of girlfriends that stayed close for their high school years. She is now a junior in college at a top school.

I credit Michele with helping us save a brilliant young girl from the pits of low self-esteem, raise her up to be able to cognitively understand relationships and not just survive but thrive and celebrate aspects of herself that are unique and different and part of why she is so wonderful. Our family has slowly and steadily healed from those years, yet we did so without forfeiting her taking responsibility for her impact on others.  She doesn’t get a pass when she says something “too honest”, but we do have a sense of humor about it now that we never would have been able to have without Michele’s bringing us that perspective – the perspective of her being unique and brilliant and perfect.  After all, we are all beautiful in God’s eyes; it’s the rest of us that have trouble seeing it!”

– Lindsay P. (Parent)

What is Ignite Your Family all about?

Ignite Your Family is a group program where we come together and know we are not alone in this journey to support your Unique Learner. As we witness and share each other’s stories, we hold the space for you to process, learn and gather hope for your family and positive outcomes for your child.
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How does Ignite Your Family work?

Ignite Your Family is an innovative approach and container to further your child’s growth and encourage family harmony. This program will help create a safe space to explore unique solutions for your family’s well being. Our sessions will happen over the phone and Skype or group chats. You will have deep support from me through email and a way to connect with each other through a private online forum.

Program Details:

  • 6 families
  • 12 weeks
  • Private 2 hour intro session with Michele for each family
  • 6 Private 1.5 hours family sessions with Michele
  • 4 Private 1.5 hours student sessions with Michele

Program Investment: $6000.00

50% deposit to reserve your space

Payment plans available

Each session offers one family scholarship.  If interested, please apply for our Ignite Brilliance Scholarship Program here.

You will come out of this 6-week “en-light-ening” and compassionate program with the clarity, confidence and tools you need to find your child new ways of coping and shining, both individually and in their community.

How do you facilitate this program?

I am confident that we can find immediate and ongoing relief for your family through my customized approach and tools.

One element that sets my work apart from other professionals is that I fully believe in the power of our thoughts, words, and actions – and in how changing these will enable your family to find new ways of being there for each other. We will spend a great deal of time on this to help build a better foundation for your family to support each other and move forward with new ways of communicating.

I have been doing this work for over 20 years and I have developed a process of discovery and tool-building that helps families remove stumbling blocks so they can move forward together. (For more information about my professional background, click here.)

Who can
benefit from
Ignite Your
Family?

This program is for families seeking community and answers. Whether your child has challenges with processing, decoding or encoding, language difficulties or social, emotional or behavioral challenges, we will cater the work to their strengths through our private one-on-one sessions. If you are ready to be part of the solution for yourself, your family and your child, Ignite Your Family is right for you.
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Why does this program work?

Ignite Your Family works because we allow the space for you to feel unsure while providing the possibility of hope. We welcome you into this program with all of your doubts and fears. If you’re fearful or uncertain about uncovering any part of this process, that’s ok.

Even if you are at your wit’s end, we invite you to take that first step and bring your uncertainty with you. All family members are welcome and honored in this process. Feeling our way through it as a group and in our private sessions is exactly how we will forge a new path to the brilliance you all bring to the table and the world.
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Are you ready to Ignite Your Family?

Some kids just don’t feel like they fit in because of how they learn, take in and process information or experience life. These kids usually end up with labels. Labels like having learning differences, being special needs, ‘twice exceptional’, having a high IQ or being gifted.

Being labeled with any of these qualifiers can feel heavy for any kid. The extent to which they can let go of all that weightiness is the extent to which they can shine.

We are here to lift off the weight and instill hope for kids and parents who feel like giving up, but are still hoping to find a way to share their gifts and shine.

Ready to get started?  Please contact us here via our contact form.

 

 

 

To your brilliance,
Michele

Appreciation from Uncle, Bill N.

“Dimitri, my nephew/Godson always seemed to me a unique intelligence – defying conventions of traditional learning. He was, for example, a math whiz who arrived at the answers without delineating process – although he could when pressed.