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Episode 64 - Sensory, Stress, & Behavior

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Welcome to the show notes for the Episode 64 of the OT School House Podcast.

Today, I am welcoming Olivia Martinez-Hauge, MFTA, OTR/L, back to the podcast . Olivia is a school-based OT, a parent of a child with special needs, and a soon to be licensed marriage and family therapist as she furthers her education to support children with special needs. In this episode, Olivia and I are going to provide updates as to how this year has gone compared to our expectations back in August. We will then dive into some pressing issues like person first versus disability first language, ableism, non-preferred activity goals, how OTs address behavior, and how stress plays a role in behavior. You are going to love these discussions

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OTSH 64 transcript
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Amazing Narrator 00:01

Hello and welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast, your source for school based occupational therapy tips, interviews and professional development. Now to get the conversation started, here's your host, Jayson Davies. Class is officially in session.

Jayson Davies 00:19

Hello OT schoolhouse crew and welcome to Episode 64 of the OT schoolhouse podcast. My name is Jayson Davies and it is a pleasure to be here with you right now. Wherever you are, whatever time of the day or night it might be. Thank you for listening in to this episode. Today we have another special occupational therapy guest on to talk about how she is handling this crazy 2020/2021 school year. And this is actually going to be somewhat of a follow up episode to I believe it was Episode 54 where we talked about plans to start the school year during a pandemic. So today I am welcoming back to the podcast the energetic and passionate Olivia Martinez-Hauge. Olivia is a school based occupational therapist, a parent of a child with special needs and a soon to be licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, as she furthers her education to support children with special needs and just want to give her a quick shout out and nudge I know she's trying to get through her hours that she needs and the pandemic is not helping but she will soon be licensed you will get done with her hours. And she will get there. in this episode, Olivia and I are going to provide updates as to how this year is going as compared to what we kind of thought it might go back in August and September. I'm sure all of you are experiencing differences from what you might have expected to where we are now. After we catch up with Olivia on how the school year is going, we're also going to dive into some pressing issues like using person first versus disability first language ableism non preferred activity goals and how OTS adjust behavior and how stress plays a role in behavior. You are going to love these discussions, I guarantee it, her energy, just like make some topics that can sometimes be a little draining. She just brings the energy in and we have a great time talking about some good stuff. So now before I want to get into this interview with Olivia, I have to reveal a secret with you all. And that is that Olivia is not only a guest on this show, but she is also going to be one of the five guest speakers along with myself at the back to school conference in August that I am preparing right now. At the back to school conference, Olivia will be presenting her topic titled it's not sensory, it's stress. And this presentation she plans to focus on current research on stress and the brain. She's going to help us unpack challenging behaviors and examine why they are occurring, the power of being trauma informed and what we can do about it. This presentation will give you tangible information you can apply to your caseload right now and you will gain knowledge to help you lead IEP teams and meaningful conversations, develop whole team interventions and provide the families with valuable information. And she's going to help us better understand trauma and aces or adverse childhood experiences, chronic stress, the polyvagal theory, top down versus bottom up behaviors, emotional regulation, intervention strategies and more in her two hour engaging discussion. Be sure to check out all the OT schoolhouse back to school conference has to offer and sign up at or grab the registration flyer and ask your employer or district to allow you to attend. I will be announcing the remainder of the speakers for the conference all month long. So stay tuned to emails and the podcast. We have less than six months to go before the conference and I am super excited to interact with all of you in this first ever OT schoolhouse back to school conference. Again, the theme if you don't remember it, I think I mentioned it last time is promoting independence in education. So all the speakers will be talking about how we can make our students as independent as possible in the educational environment they are in. And just one last time remember to check out to learn all that the conference has to offer to you. Alright, so without any further weight or anticipation, please help me to welcome to the show. Olivia Martinez Howdy. Hey, Olivia, welcome to the OT school house podcast. How are you this morning?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 04:22

Good. Thanks for having me.

Jayson Davies 04:24

Yeah, definitely. You actually were on the podcast once before also in our lives back to school. It was just a video that we talked about.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 04:33

That's right. That was I feel like that was a year ago, two years ago. And it was only what four or five months ago is a school year.

Jayson Davies 04:41

We got on with a few people and we just talked about what the plans were going forward with COVID

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 04:47

Yeah, that was fun. And also, I don't know, did any of that stuff work? Okay, I was just gonna ask you might have thrown all that stuff out the window and just survive each day. I agree. You know?

Jayson Davies 05:00

Let's start there actually, because you are a school based occupational therapist, we'll get a little bit into your background. But while we're on this, I want to talk about it. Yeah, I think we were talking about how we would do evaluations would kids be coming in? Or would we be doing that on on zoom? How to do treatments where we're going to send packets home? What were we going to do? So, you know what, let's start right there. It is January, something, what have you been doing the last six months for your virtual, whatever it might be therapy sessions,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 05:30

holy cow. Okay. So it's just, it's been a little of everything. And just in in pure, you know, in our pure OT profession, it's, it seems like, you've got a treatment plan, you've got these ideas. And then you've got to be flexible, and throw those things out the window when they don't work, or, you know, whatever. And so, it's been a little bit of everything. So we send we send home packets, which has been nice to have, you know, tools and things that you know, the student has right off the bat. So you can just say, Hey, take out your potty or take out whatever, this is what we're doing today. So that's been really nice. A lot of a lot of actually push into the class put quote, unquote, push into the classroom, observing the students within their classroom setting on their their Google classroom setting, and then giving the teacher some strategies and some ideas and talking about, you know, what I'm seeing and what I'm observing with the student at home. Yeah, it's just been a lot of different things.

Jayson Davies 06:43

That is great that you bring that up. I have a lot of people asking me on Instagram. So for all of you that have asked me this question on Instagram, I'm going to ask Olivia right now. Always have the answer. But Olivia,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 06:57

break it down. Uh huh.

Jayson Davies 06:59

How does that specifically look like when you observe a child? I want to know the process of how are you planning for that? And then how do you follow up after you observe a child in the classroom? Because you just said you're kind of observing them in their Google Classroom, their zoom classroom? Yeah. What goes into that process? Are you reaching out to the teacher or the parent beforehand? Or, or walk me through the three or four steps that that takes?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 07:24

Yeah, so you know, what, you know, what's interesting is I think this COVID thing has really open things wide open in terms of what, what is working and what is not working. And so I'm seeing a lot of students transition from, you know, non COVID times into home, and getting lost and not really knowing what to do. And we get to start to see like, Oh, this kid's really dependent on on a lot of prompts, you know, that we're giving in school. So it's giving us an opportunity to really look at what the kids are, are able to do and what supports they need, and what supports maybe haven't been working the way that we think they're working. Yeah. But OTS are master observers, right? We see everything. And so I just have my little handy dandy Notepad, and I drop into class, and depending on the teacher, depending on the class, I might keep my camera off. Certainly, my microphone off. And, you know, I'm just watching that student, like, how much movement or how much sensory input is that student needing in order to attend and engage in that, in that learning process? Is the student looking at the screen? Are they are they more comfortable not looking at the screen? And so I'm doing a lot of consultation like, hey, let the kid sit on the floor. If he wants to sit on the floor, don't call him back to his seat. That's okay. The main one of the biggest things that it seems to be sort of depending on what your how, you know, Richard, you're going to be his camera on or camera off, or students. And so a lot of students are having a really hard time with camera on and it makes sense. Because if our kids are in a classroom, what are they doing? They're sitting in, let's say, Johnny's three rows back and he's sitting, he's looking at kid the back of kids heads. He's not looking at 24 sets of eyes staring back at him, which is what's happening on Google Classroom. And so and, and depending on a student's perspective, that student may think every one of those eyes are looking at him. And so I'm allowing the student to tell me There camera up. So maybe it's just the top of their forehead and up or even higher. And the way you get that child engaged or know that they're still there is a is a high thumbs up, you know, or, or a raising of the hand. Yeah, I'm still here, encouraging the child to use the chat function. And so, you know, some of my teachers are like, they're not turning on their camera. Okay, but they're there. And they're participating. And, you know, so yeah, that's sort of my take on that.

Jayson Davies 10:30

Yeah. And I've had some, I mean, I'm sure we've all had our stories. I've had kids that I can see in the reflection of their glasses. They're watching a YouTube video. I've had kids where you know that they're sitting at a table, like a dining room table, and their toys are just spread out all over the table?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 10:47

Are there 16 other people in the room and four of them are also on a distance learning and you're hearing 16 different ones? Yeah, it's

Jayson Davies 10:57

My favorite is when I can hear I can hear the sibling. Like, I have two kids, right. I had two kids and their brothers and I had both of them. And I could hear one speaking to the teacher over the air. And yeah, funny. But it's a challenge.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 11:12

If we're feeling challenged, what about our little guys, you know, our kids? And no one, no one said, Hey, is distance learning developmentally appropriate for you know, for a six year old, a seven year old or whatever, it's, it takes a lot of organization, it takes a lot of sequencing. And some of our adults took, you know, a huge learning curve to even figure this out. I did I can I can I say that I can land a plane with zoom. But with Google Classroom? I am. I mean, you might as well, it's just Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how to do. Classroom.

Jayson Davies 11:48

Yeah. Much, much better with the zoom as well. Yeah. So let's move forward, then. So you just observed the kid, you saw some of these things? What do you do now?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 11:59

Oh, you know, and this gives me an opportunity to talk about the stuff that I see if I know that student well, that I can correlate that or show teachers the difference between what is happening in the physical classroom, and what is happening in a virtual setting. And what I'm hearing is a lot of a lot of our kids, and, you know, some of our kids are really, really struggling and this platform is not good for them. Some of them are thriving, and their focus is is better, and they're whatever. So this gives us otas the opportunity to say, hey, you want to know why? Because it's there was a sensory issue in that classroom, that student now at home, it's quiet, it's predictable, there's less social stress, there's less just stress in general. That's why we're seeing this increase. So we can begin the conversation of well, what can What do we need to change when the child comes back to our classrooms, but also, you know, having teacher noticed that, but then also, you know, just sort of more of the physical, logistical parts of it, if, if a teacher pulls up something with like, a lot of words, or a lot of writing, and I know my student has trouble with visual perception or, or pairing auditory with, with watching with visual, then I help that teacher set, you know, take everything off that page, use a highlighter and circle what you're talking about. It's, you know, increased the cursor, make that really huge and big and colorful. So it's so bizarre that I'm giving strategies about how to change up their Google Classroom. But that's, that's where we are right now.

Jayson Davies 13:56

Yeah. All of us became technology specialists very quickly. Yeah. Well,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 14:01

yeah. And my accommodations are has to do with increasing the cursor, so my students can see what you're pointing at.

Jayson Davies 14:10

Oh, man, that's great. So you talked a little bit about working with the teacher on there? And what about working with the parents? Are you also working with the parents at all?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 14:19

Yeah, it's, it's difficult because it's a fine line. Because, you know, I have three kids at home distance learning and parents are under quite a bit of stress. And so it's a fine line of supporting the parent, but also not making them feel like they have to step into the role of a therapist or a teacher or whatever. And so it is, here's some, here's some information and I'm going to be real gentle about it. And it's not like you have to do this or you have to do that. But rather like where are you seeing Where you can support? You know, me asking the parent, like, Where are you feeling where you need, where you need a little bit extra support, I can help kind of build that in for you. But it is hard because it's parents are stressed. And this is not something that they typically do. You know,

Jayson Davies 15:20

definitely you get that deer in the headlights look on parents sometimes.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 15:24

I don't blame them. I don't blame them. It's like, wow, what do you want me to do? And you know, for me, I don't want to change up the dynamic of my of my household. And so my relationship with my children is so important that I don't want to engage in an argument with my kids every single day about whatever. And so you know, it's, we still have to download that we're within a worldwide pandemic. And we'll just, you know, we'll come out of this and we'll figure we'll figure it out.

Jayson Davies 15:55

Yeah, and so I think that's probably a good time for me now to, to let you actually introduce yourself a little bit, we just like dove right in. We want to let you share a little bit about your background as an OT how you decided to become an OT and where you are in your OT career right now.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 16:14

Okay, so you're asking me to recall ancient times. So I've been in I've been an OT since 1999. And all within the school setting. by choice. I just felt found school setting and I I haven't moved from from there. And so why did I choose OT I mean, I was pre veterinarian, which some people can say like, you know, animals, kids. But yeah, I just thought that is not for me, but I loved science. And I loved being creative and inventive. And I although I've gone on to graduate school and get a degree in clinical psychology, and I'm trying to finish my license for marriage and family therapy, I'm almost there. Um, I still have a passion and a heart and my first career and and loved part of my profession is going to be ot. And I think it comes down to there's no other profession that just mixes in a relationship and empathy and creativity and science and just mashes it all together. And that, that I think that was the perfect formula for me. And so what else did you ask me? Where am I at now?

Jayson Davies 17:45

Wherecare you at right now? And you started to kind of go down that road with lmft. Yeah, yeah.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 17:51

So yeah, so I still work in a school district 40 hours a week, because let's face it, I have to pay a mortgage. And I'm working towards my, my marriage and family therapy license, but I still have a full caseload, you have to do 3000 hours. And so I've carried a full caseload and my passion in that part of my life has been to work with parents of children with special needs, or neuro differences. I'm a parent of three kids, two with neuro differences. And so I bring a unique experience to that. And then I've started seeing autistic children slash adults. And I, I love that I love that focus, and it just and everything, my OT and my MFT life just informs each other. They're just constantly talking back and forth to each other. And so I'm, I'm, I'm learning so much. I'm always learning. I'm always making mistakes. And so yeah, I just I love. I love everything about both professions.

Jayson Davies 19:14

Yeah, and I'm sure you're able to kind of blend those and are actually want to talk more in a minute about how you're working with autistic persons. But I actually want to dive back because I know people really want to just hear how me how you how we're all surviving right now. And so we talked about observing in the classroom. How much would you say IEP goals? And now we're coming out to the point where most IEP goals now were developed after March 13 of last year, but were you struggling with trying to figure out how to work on IEP goals in a virtual setting? Or are you trying to work on IEP goals still, or is that kind of almost out the window now because Think that

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 20:01

You are asking you are asking possibly the wrong person? Because I'm constantly going to these IPS and saying to myself, Wait, am I writing this goal? Where am I writing this goal for? I could not conceivably. And right. Okay. I will just say this, this is my like, lean into the microphone. Oh, cheese. Do you ever feel like Pete, like, things don't apply to you? And you're asking questions that people just don't understand. But you're like, but I'm the OT, I need these answers. And, you know, it's like, the psychology the teachers, the speech servers, everybody goes, they it makes sense to them. But I'm like, this doesn't apply to Oh, this is weird. How do you want me to think about this? So yeah, I'm always asking like, well, I see. So the student is under significant stress and sensory overload in their classroom. But I'm observing the student who is full on doing their activity, participating in the class, and doing their work at home. So am I supposed to write a goal for home? Or am I supposed to write a goal for school? So legally, I understand that we that the IEP is written as though they're going to be in school tomorrow. Yeah. So but I think that just stretches ourselves to look at the bigger picture and say, Okay, this child, then if the child has issues at school, but not at home, then this is a sensory regulation goal that we can write. And we're going to have to be creative and write it so that it addresses the academic portion, but also is general enough to address now? I don't know if that's an answer at all for you

Jayson Davies 22:06

And you started with that with I'm asking the wrong person this question, but I do not agree with that premise. Because I am right there with you. You are right here in Southern California. You're in Southern California, too. We have been told and I don't know if this is a nationwide thing, but we have been told right goals as if the kid is going to be in class tomorrow. And that that's not the case. Have you have you have any of your kids come back to classes?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 22:31

No, we are we're completely virtual. We started to we've started to dabble in, in person assessments, but with the uptick, um, I think they're still saying we can do but it's if you can do an online assessment, do it. I think that's where we are because our numbers have skyrocketed. December and now into January.

Jayson Davies 23:00

Okay. Yeah. And the district that I was in previously, they were doing assessments in person already, they've been doing that since even the end of last No, the beginning of the school year is when they kind of started doing that. And we have or they have brought back moderate to severe classrooms. Okay, so they have done that now. But there are all your RSP students, they're still learning online. And that really applies for what you're talking about observing in the classroom. Because those kiddos are seeing them virtually working potentially on a fine motor skill. They're not doing any fine motor activities at home right now. They're not any writing at home right now. Everything is basically online, Watch and learn. And then a little bit of typing to show that you can do something, right. And that's really they're not using scissors at home, they're not doing writing, it's all it's all computer based. So

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 23:55

and that's when you go and you ask somebody and it's the end that, you know, like administration or whatever it's like I don't know, an agenda, right, a general goal that will address things when you return.

Jayson Davies 24:09

Exactly. No, that that's exactly what's going on right now. And I think everyone's kind of struggling with with at least part of this. anywhere really across the nation. Some kids are some kids are back, some are not. And we're expected to write goals as those school is in session in the classroom tomorrow, without social distancing without wearing face masks without wearing any pp. Yeah, this is crazy. So yeah. All right. I want to move forward. Something you said earlier. You use the phrase that you are working with autistic persons now. Yeah. And before we dive into what that might look like, I want to ask you I don't even know how to ask this question person first language. When we were in school. When I graduated from OT school in 2012. Everything was used person first language use person first language that is changing in the world as well. The last few years. Yeah, don't worry about that.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 25:03

Yes, I'm so glad you asked this because I'm in my, in my quest to learn everything and want to just make sure that I'm honoring and respecting the kiddos and the people that I see. I'm learning a lot about ableism. And which is, you know, I'm a terrible definition giver. So it's, it's just the neuro typical, assuming that neuro typical is best. And assuming that those who are neuro diverse or new nor neuro different, want to be neuro typical want to be fixed, or that neurotypical is, is a goal to achieve. And so I think when we went to school, particularly when I went to school, we were told that we use a person with autism. And so what the autistic community is teaching us, and by no means am I a spokesperson. So go to go to like Facebook page, autism level up is a fantastic Facebook page, every OT needs to be hooked into that. And then the therapist, oh, neurodiversity collective, Oh, my gosh, the infographics and the stuff that they have, there is fantastic. But basically, what autistic individuals are teaching us and telling us is, we that is our identity. And to put that as, as a second, you know, as person first and then and then my autism, that that isn't working for them. And that's not respectful. And so I but I still catch myself person, you know, a child with a with autism. But now I have to say, autistic child. And so I'm so glad that, um, that social media is being used for some good in that area.

Jayson Davies 27:16

Yeah. And you know, it's interesting that just as you're talking about that, I always hear this in reference to autism, we never really hear this in reference to people with other disabilities. Like, I don't know, I can't even imagine you say autistic child, Down syndrome child or child with Down syndrome, like you never hear about it. In other communities, there seems to always be within the autistic community, that people talk about it. But I don't know if it's different from one community to another community, does someone with a different type of developmental disability or any disability? Do they prefer it the other way? I don't, I don't expect you to have the answers I'm just kind of thinking about. The autistic community is a very connected community. And I don't think that you can necessarily generalize the autistic community, with people with schizophrenia community, or something like that. And so I'm sure it also varies from different from community, to community.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 28:13

I, I think we, because in school, in the school setting, the majority, at least for me, the majority of my caseload is autistic children. That's where sort of my my attention goes. But certainly, there is a conversation to be had about any disabled person and, and, but it as and this totally goes back to our profession, and the why I love it is we must listen to their story. And we must glean from their story, what are their meaningful activities. And it is not for us to change those meaningful activities. And I think in school, in school setting, you know, we look at a child with mercy, I was gonna do it, we look at an autistic child and their act, their activities, and we go, Well, those aren't meaningful, or those aren't functional, or those aren't purposeful. It's not for us to define those are meaningful activities for them. And so we need to support them in, in in their school setting, but also support them in their meaningful activities.

Jayson Davies 29:34

Yeah, and you know what, that is perfect to just continue to move on that side. We actually, because we wanted to talk about sensory behavior a little bit about that. But let's start there. Occupational therapists, we look at meaningful activities. And who is who is to decide what is a meaningful activity or an individual in an IEP? Do you feel like you really have to explain or how do you think Explain that to either someone who is on the team, a district employee, or to a parent, you know what, this is why I'm making this goal? How do you explain what a meaningful activity is? And why you're why you're developing or why you're choosing this type of goal?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 30:18

So, um,

Jayson Davies 30:23

I know the is a hard question. Yeah,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 30:25

it's a hard question. Because you know, it, there's so many layers to it. And I think that for, for me, like, I would say, in the last two to three years, my my practice has been up ended, but in a good way. And I have completely shifted my paradigm, and completely shifted the way I treat, and I'll tell you, and, and parent, and it is, and it has really changed my life, I am no longer, you know, I'm not stressed as a parent. And in terms of being a therapist, I don't stress about things as much as I used to. Because I felt like, in the back of my mind, I had to fix. And now I just am I'm, I am part of that child's team, what and that child is my coach. And so I am taking that child's lead, no matter how young No matter how much support that child needs. But and so I try to bring that into an IEP setting. Now, I think I've said this, and maybe some courses that I've taught or whatever, but I just want to like Control Alt Delete, and the IEP process is so it is so hard to really establish a relationship with this very legalistic IEP document sort of situation. And so I just engage in a conversation in terms of what is what is the child telling me is meaningful? And how can we how can I use a strengths based approach to a write my report, and B, write those goals? And then C helps the team in collaboration, utilize those strengths to develop the child's academic skills even further?

Jayson Davies 32:36

Yeah, definitely. No, I think that's a fantastic answer. You know, there is no one size fits all answer for what is meaningful activity and how you develop those. But I think you hit it on the nail, and I liked your analogy that you use there about you being on the same team as a kid and in the student being your coach. Actually, I think that's amazing. Because really, that, in a way, basically, you're saying that those observations are super important, and understanding where a kid is and what they prefer.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 33:04

Totally, totally. And, you know, I think I think it along the way, OTS have been sort of quieted by, by other professions, not purposefully and not, you know, I respect other professions, but I think, OTS in general, we were not great at collecting data. And, and so and some other professions have come in and are like, you know, this is science, and this is data driven research. And somehow, at least for me, I will, I will speak for myself, somehow I thought, well, then my observations must not be valid or valid enough or whatever. But the fact of the matter is, just because there's data doesn't make that approach, right, or ethical. And so, I've really, really gone back and shored up what I know about what I know about what I know, and that my observations are real and valid. And, and I can and I can connect those observations to science and what I know and what I know about sensory and what I know about, you know, stress and all of that stuff.

Jayson Davies 34:32

Yep, we're headed there. Okay, so, you talked about different types of goals and other professions and something that comes up in IEP is a lot is a certain type of goal. A goal for a student to complete a non preferred activity.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 34:49

Oh, oh, yeah. Haha.

Jayson Davies 34:51

So tell me about

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 34:53

You said the words, you said words. So, so I for the longest time SAT, and these are PS, and I, you know, didn't I paid no attention to, to those kinds of goals, and I was also using that language and non-preferred or, you know, compliance driven language or, you know, those kinds of terms. And I thought nothing of it. But as I have sort of turned this corner and adopted this new paradigm, and under a new understanding, and by the way, I can sit in a whole bunch of shame, about, you know, the, the, you know, not doing certain things prior in my career, and I can, I can sit there and I can go on, but rather, I will channel that shame into getting on my soapbox and talking to as many OTS as I can about how we don't have to, we don't have to accept that language. And so, yeah, I mean, using the using the non-preferred term. As OTS, we should be sitting there and saying, Well, why is that activity non preferred, if you're talking about a writing activity, then I can tell you all about why Johnny does not like that activity, or that it's, quote, unquote, non-preferred, it's because there's learning gaps there, there's huge skills missing. And so the, the, the problem or the or the, the potential, um, dare I say, damage that we do, by by saying that so and so will, will participate or will comply with a non-preferred activity, that we as OTS and the team, and the child suffer, because we lose the opportunity to identify a the need, that's missing the, the, the support that's missing and, and be, we lose the opportunity of addressing that. And then also, we lose the opportunity for that kid to advocate for themselves about what is hard, or what is what, what is happening. So if you have Johnny, who, who, in whatever way, he's choosing to do this, whether it is a PE, teacher, this is hard, or, you know, banging on that table or throwing the pencil, if we're not recognizing that that is a way for Johnny to communicate to us, then Johnny will stop communicating to us. If he knows, well, hold on, I've been doing this stuff and no one is paying attention to me or there's planned ignoring of my behavior, then Johnny's gonna stop raising his hands, right, we stopped, then we stopped reaching out to the people and then, you know, in high school, then we start writing goals, like Johnny will advocate for himself. Well, we didn't do that we didn't help him do that back in third grade. And so I'm, I as an OT, I'm done thinking of kids as manipulative or trying to get out of something or non-compliant or whatever, I'm done with that. And so instead, Yeah, go ahead.

Jayson Davies 38:41

I was just gonna say, I love the quote, I can't recall off the top of my head who said it, but kids will do well, when they can.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 38:46

That's Ross Greene. Yeah,

Jayson Davies 38:48

Yeah. Okay. So you know, it's he will do well when they can and when they can't, that's when you're going to see behaviors, you're gonna see noncompliance, you're gonna see, they're trying to tell you, I can't do it.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 38:58

I can't do it. This is hard. This is hard. And here we go back to sort of the ableism stuff as we hold our most vulnerable population, our most the population that we need to come alongside most, we hold them to a different standard. And that's just not right. That just simply isn't correct. And so we, if, if a student needs help, then we need to help them and it isn't, you know, if you have I forget where the quote was, either on Facebook or Instagram stuff. I'm not I'm not on tik tok. So I don't know. But someone said, and excuse my language, but like, if I have a shitty day, no one says you're having behaviors and you're saying I had a bad day because I don't feel well. You know, my dad is sick, I'm stressed out or Whatever. But as soon as one of our autistic children or just you know, someone on our caseload is reaching out, then all of a sudden, it's behaviors. And so that's why I like to say it's not, you know, it's not behaviors, it's stress. It's something finding the why.

Jayson Davies 40:23

Yeah. And I love that behaviors is always used as a negative connotation, even though every single thing is a behavior. But, yeah,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 40:32

Also, and also, you know, the, the part and forgive me for also, you know, stepping onto the soapbox for a moment, but the fact that I get frustrated when, when, you know, maybe the IEP team is talking about behaviors, and we're not part of the discussion. I'm, I'm a behavioral specialist as well. So are you. Yep. So is every so is anybody OT that is listening. I don't know who else listens to the podcast, but I'll just talk to the OTS to you awesome. Okay, hi, everybody, you are behaving, you are a behavioral specialist. And you know, whether or not you want to take home or not, but we know about behaviors, and we know why they are happening. And so that's where we need to come to these IEP meetings and say, This is why this skill or this this activity, quote, unquote, is non compliant. This is why that child is eloping. It's not good enough to me to say, you know, so and so is eloping. Why? Why is

Jayson Davies 41:44

That, everyone listening?, Rermember what she just said? Because that is your question in an IEP, when someone says that the goal is for the child not to elope or Yeah, you just need to ask, why is the child eloping and the team you can have a discussion about that?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 42:02

Yeah, and we shouldn't be stopping meetings when when the goal is for eye contact.

Jayson Davies 42:09

I mean, I haven't had one with eye contact in a long time, but I'm sure other people are still having those

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 42:15

eye contact, and then don't get me started about appropriate, you know, appropriate play or appropriate, whatever or functional, whatever. Because our kids are talking about adaptive responses. You know, a lot of the terminology I hear is, quote, unquote, maladaptive. There's nothing maladaptive about my student having a meltdown, when the bell rings, you know, that's an adaptive response. That is that is that child's, you know, sensory system and, and stress signals, and that that brain is working correctly saying to that child, you're and this is this is danger. You know, and so we should be having conversations about those things. And it but it's hard, because these are, we're, we're in meetings, with colleagues and with parents, and so trying to have those conversations, you know, in different areas, in consultation with teachers and that sort of thing.

Jayson Davies 43:28

Yeah, and I want to challenge you, for the sake of everyone listening here, just a little bit, I want to, I want to ask you for a storytime or an example, of maybe a goal that you had, maybe let's use your kids, because it's a little less outside the realm, but have a goal that maybe you had a few years ago, and how that has changed to now with your changing.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 43:54

Yeah, I mean, that's that kind of is easy. I mean, I would, I would put myself on a goal. And I might do it now. But I changed the wording or I'm changing the modality that I'm using. And so you know, a student will demonstrate Oh, gosh, now you really put me on the spot. Improved, like sensory regulation to participate in a in a imitation song situation, right? Like you wanting the child to imitate the song, whatever appropriately. And so what that has changed too. Well, what about that scenario, that scenario where where Johnny is sitting in a seat and have and being asked to follow you know, the classroom directions or invitations or whatever, I am doing a terrible job. Bringing this home. So I guess what I'm saying is I'm really going way down deep finding out what is the what are the the

Jayson Davies 45:11

task analysis? Yeah, what's the analysis?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 45:14

Right? What is the skill that's missing? And people are like you weren't doing that Olivia? Well, it gets hard, you know. And then, and then also, there's that fear, too, of, oh my gosh, and I'm gonna write seven goals, or I'm gonna, you know, or, or maybe this isn't quite, maybe this isn't quite the sensory processing, or the sensory integration, stuff that that is under my scope. But this is something else. So like, if you've ever said, and I used to say this, maybe this is bringing it home for you. If I used to say, I used to do an assessment and go, wow, this is not a sensory issue. This is behavior. Okay. And I have stopped saying that, because the, the message there is that, Oh, this is behavior, I'm going to hand this off to someone else that knows behavior. And instead, I'm saying no, no, no, I know behavior. And, and there is a, there's a stress component here, there is something going on, that is related. I may not be the main interventionalist on the case for this, but I can help the team understand why this is happening. If that makes any sense. I feel like I totally skirted your goal.

Jayson Davies 46:50

Talk about the assessment, which is even more important. I think that that is and it led to this this question now. Okay, how do you work on behaviors differently than a different professional might?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 47:03

Okay, so it starts with that assessment. And so, I look at I, we, we still are as OTS are going to be detectives, when we're doing that assessment. And if, if everything that we're looking at, we're saying, well, this is this is interesting, this is not a fine motor thing, this is not a visual motor thing, this is not a gross motor thing, where, but but you're still seeing issues with attention or focus, or behaviors in the classroom. Um, I do a really strong sensory processing assessment. I utilize that that and I know that sometimes as OTS we fear using, like a an assessment, like the sensory profile or the SPM. Because we're like, oh, man, we don't want to uncover anything that that might, you know, keep us keep us here longer. But I really utilize those tools to help build that profile of that student, because that's what it is, it's a profile of that student, it's giving the whole team information that is so vital and important. And so then I use that information, and I break down for the team. And a lot of times it's in a chart form. So if the team is saying, This kid gets up and leaves the circle, time, that I'm looking at that sensory profile, and what I know about this child's ability to process sensory information, touch, vision, auditory, whatever, and I go, Hmm, there's an issue here with auditory. And so then I so then in that in that chart, I say, here's what you see the child get up and leave. This is what this is the why this is why this is happening. And here's an intervention for you. Here's a strategy. And I break that all down for the for the teachers and, and so then I say, try it. So if that student is auditory, whatever, maybe call that child a little bit in front of his peers a little bit in back of his peers, to keep that auditory, let's use some headphones or whatever. And so let's look at those at those things. If it's, if I feel like it, this is a not so much just sensory issue but more of an issue of anxiety and stress that is coming from something To the child and the child's parents are not in the house, they just got a divorce, the child is not, doesn't have any food, there's concern about where the next meal is, or, you know, or simply put the child is, you know, maybe he doesn't have a great relationship with his parents, and, you know, the stress and anxiety are coming from some other realm. And I still am part of that, that conversation, and I'm like, you guys, that stress, anxiety is going to have our child more sensitive to sensory input. And it's going to make it difficult for them to learn that child, if you guys are familiar with the zones of regulation, that child is not living in the green zone, they're living in yellow, blue, or red. And if we know that the child is living and yellow, blue and red, and they're not ready to learn, and so how can we help the team? And maybe that is the psychologists coming in and helping with that part of it, or the teacher just changing things up? And so it's not always me providing intervention, but rather, how can I help the other team members look at what is going on differently?

Jayson Davies 51:21

Yeah, and that gets all into the was I gonna say, Knowledge Translation and doing consultations collaborations with other professionals, just to provide your expertise? Yeah, no, definitely right on, and just wait, you haven't had kids come back yet? Wait till the kids start coming back on the campus, trust me, we've have behaved. I mean, I really is it's it's behaviors that they had gotten over a few years ago, from all the therapy sessions that they have been receiving all the difficulties that we had kind of been getting past, a lot of them are now returning. So

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 51:59

I don't I don't doubt it, because it's, it all comes down to relationship and feeling secure and safe. And not just do not just do I think they feel secure and safe, secure, and safety and, and, you know, all of those things. That's, that's subjective. That's for them to decide not for us to decide. And so, you know, all of those therapeutic interventions where someone would say, you know, oh, I'm, I'm doing this, you know, I'm doing this on planned ignoring or whatever. It's, the child has no idea what you're doing. But are they perceiving what you're doing as something safe and secure? And, you know, are and regulating and that sort of thing? It makes no difference if you just think that?

Jayson Davies 52:54

Absolutely. All right. Well, we've actually been on longer than I actually would be. And that no, that's perfectly fine. You and I, I won't go into the specifics. But you and I are going to be working kind of closely together over the next few months, maybe a year. And one of the things that I know you are completely passionate about, and you kind of teased it a little bit here and there in this talk. But I know you could go on for hours about this is sensory stress and the polyvagal theory. And so I actually want to give you just a quick minute, not even a quick minute, feel free to go on. But tell us about the polyvagal theory and kind of how you use that or Yeah, or does it fit on forever?

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 53:37

Okay. Um, so I and I just got the dreaded message that my connection is unstable. Are we still okay, we're gonna sound fine.

Jayson Davies 53:45

Yeah. Okay.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 53:46

So I by no means and this is where I get stressed, talking about the polyvagal theory. Because I by no means I'm just the conduit of, of, of getting the information out. So people you want to follow are like Steven Porges, who's the father of the polyvagal theory, and Mona Delahooke, who I'm lucky enough to call a friend and a mentor, wrote the book, beyond behaviors, which is, by the way, OTS, that is the book that I, my work wife, and I make our interns read before coming to intern with us now. And so if we go way back into biology, or whatever class this was, so the, the vagal nerve, the vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve, and it is the only nerve that leaves the brain. And so I used to say it's the only nerve that leaves the body but that was not it just like came out and that's not correct. And that's really creepy. So It's the only nerve that leaves the brain. And it branches all in it innervates all kinds of things, all kinds of organs, and most importantly, it innervates the heart and the lungs and the stomach. And so what does this all mean? That when, okay, so, so the one branch of the vagus nerve, which is the, the ventral part of it, I won't go into too much beyond that is the parasympathetic. So we know that parasympathetic keeps us regulated keeps us calm. If we're, if we're color coding it, this would be the green zone, this would be the ready to learn, this would be the the, you know, ready to make social connections. And, and when we're regulated, that's the parasympathetic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, and if we're color coding this, this would be red. So the red zone fight or flight, this is the so yeah, so the red zone sympathetic. There's also another parasympathetic portion of the Vegas nerve. And will color code this as blue. And this is the freeze. So this is just like Blue Zone freeze shut down. And, and that kind of Blue Zone situation. So when we're under stress, when we come under stress, the parasympathetic releases the break, and we go streaming down the hill, into either the red zone or the Blue Zone. And it happens without our knowledge, and it's something that we cannot control. And so this then goes back to all of those goals that we talked about, like the eloping and the compliance goals, and whatever those goals assume control. And what we know of like, the, the, the polyvagal theory, and also just what what happens under stress is we're not in control. And so that brake releases and all kinds of things happen, our heart starts speeding, everything starts happening. And so, um, you know, that's where I said that it's quite adaptive to flee the scene. And so I'll give you just this one little analogy that I use that. Okay, so everybody knows the ring doorbell, right? Oh, yeah.

Jayson Davies 57:49

Yeah. I just got a notification for one.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 57:52

Did you? Is it Amazon? Or is it

Jayson Davies 57:54

Who is it? It's at the cabin? And so my parents are there. So every time they walk in and out? Yeah, anyways.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 58:02

Right. So well, this is a great, great analogy. So the ring doorbell does not have discretion, it goes off, right? Whether it's Amazon or where that whether or not it's masked intruders. ring goes,

Jayson Davies 58:18

Yeah, if it's a person,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 58:20

if it's a person, it goes. And so that's, that is what happens. And so with our with our autistic kids who are at baseline really stressed right at baseline, a stress happens. And that stress could be a math quiz. Or it could be, you know, someone just brushing up against them and the ring doorbell goes off. And, and, and the brake releases, and now we're careening into fight or flight or freeze and shutdown. Now, as OTS Our job is to help with regulation and help with CO reg. So, so OTS, you come alongside you co regulate, you connect, and you help that child or person, you know, reregulate and or or learn how to regulate. And so yeah, so that's how we, we can help. We can help our community and that in those kids that we see. identify what's going on. And so what I do sometimes is say, you know, don't let the train leave the station and help narrate what's going on and help walk through this very stressful event. But some of some of our kids their default setting is releasing that break and immediately going red or blue. And so, um, yeah, just helping With regulation and that, in that scenario, I don't know if that even answered your question

Jayson Davies 1:00:08

I think you answered it so thoroughly that you got to a point where,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:00:12


Jayson Davies 1:00:13

but that is right on

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:00:14

Period. There you go. Yeah,

Jayson Davies 1:00:17

it was funny. Actually, I am a techie person. So as you're saying that in making the ring analogy, in my head, I went beyond that, actually, because the ring doorbell a lot of people actually connect the ring doorbell with other things. And so what happens is, yes, the ring doorbell it sees that person. And the same thing happens in our bodies. The ring doorbell says sees that person. And then it sends a message to every other camera, hey, start recording, and it sends a message to the door to lock. And it sends a message to potentially like an alarm system, maybe it's sending a message to downtown at the sheriff's station, say, hey, come look at my house.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:00:53

So you're describing then the kids that I use the term hyper vigilance, I use that often when describing our kids. Because if you're right, if your ring doorbell, and your now brain is trained to everything's a threat, and everything's a, you know, whatever, then you are now sitting in a classroom. And you're, you're supposed to be learning math. But instead you're hypo, you're hyper vigilant for what's coming, what is going to come next what's happening next. And, and chronic stress is so unhealthy, not only for adults, but for our kids to sit in chronic stress that I asked other professionals like when you take when you're thinking of that one kid on your caseload, how often do you think that child is in a stress response? And if the if the person is, you know, honest with themselves and that the child is in chronic stress, a majority of the day?

Jayson Davies 1:02:05

Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And you know what, as you're talking, I also remembered that you shared with me a very useful polyvagal chart. And I will be sure to post a link to that you can get it really easily just by googling polybags.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:02:18

You haven't read readily.

Jayson Davies 1:02:19

I have it, and I will add it to the show notes. So I'll put a link to probably find one of the Steven Porges or something I'll just link directly to I think he has it on his website. So I'll just probably link straight to there. But all right, well, I think I have to cut us both. I know you and I could talk forever. Sure. I want to thank you for sharing so much value. This. Well now it's afternoon. Yeah, so much. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else you'd like to share today with everyone who's still listening? Which I think a lot of people are probably still listening because well, you have given so much. Is there anything else you wanted to share? Maybe contact information or anything else like that? Yeah,

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:02:59

I mean, people can find me on I'm, I'm so not text, not social media savvy. So you people can find me on Facebook, under Olivia Martinez-Hauge. And then you'll find like, I guess I'm OTR whatever that Facebook page, you can you're more than happy to, to ask to be invited to my personal Facebook page. But I don't think you want to see you know, grandma's 90th birthday party but my other my professional one.

Jayson Davies 1:03:30

People may want to see your watermelon eating.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:03:34

Well, that's on Instagram, which is totally public too. Basically what Jayson's referring to is that my my children are addicted to watermelon. And so each year we try to top our watermelon consumption, which is on average a watermelon a day, from June 1 to like when we see pumpkins arrived at Vons.

Jayson Davies 1:03:58

And to the point that like they actually have like news outlets like contacting them about this. It's not just like, Oh, we eat a watermelon a day. It's like we eat a watermelon every day to the point that abc news wants to come.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:04:12

We love watermelons what can we say? But people can find me on on? Yeah, on Facebook, and then on Instagram, which I will do better at posting professional stuff. But um, yeah, and I look forward to doing more stuff with you, Jayson.

Jayson Davies 1:04:30

Yeah, definitely. And check out the link. If you're listening, check out the link to the show notes. We'll have links to all of those things that you just pointed out to make it easy for you so well. Olivia, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining me today. And I'm looking forward to working with you in the future.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:04:45

Yeah, yeah.

Jayson Davies 1:04:47

All right. Well, take care. Thank you, everyone.

Olivia Martinez-Hauge 1:04:49


Jayson Davies 1:04:55

Alright, everyone. I hope you enjoyed that chat with Olivia and yeah, she's just amazing. She's got all the energy in the world a bunch of information and I cannot wait for her presentation about stress and sensory coming up in August. If you enjoyed this conversation and you would like to hear more from Olivia, be sure to check out and sign up for the OT schoolhouse back to school conference in August. Until next time, keep being awesome. All right, take care. Bye.

Amazing Narrator 1:05:24

Thank you for listening to the OT schoolhouse podcast. For more ways to help you and your students succeed right now head on over to until next time, class is dismissed.

Be sure to subscribe to the OT School House email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs.

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