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Lived Experience Parenting Recordings

Parenting children with complex needs requires great patience, extra time and a good sense of humour as you juggle your family, extended families, work and the educational and financial needs of your families.

Lived Experience Parenting ChannelThe Lived Experience Parenting Channel is a free virtual community to support kinship, permanent care and adoptive parents, carers and families.

Learn from other parents or carers how to successfully parent your child and overcome some of the challenges of working from home, home schooling, financial hardship and accessing professional support. 

Theories may not work in practice or we may not understand how they should or could be adapted for specific circumstances. Ideas and tips from others with lived experience gives us the confidence to become better parents or carers.

Whether its learning that ‘relaxer’ is the secret ingredient to managing extremely curly, kinky or frizzy textured hair, or finding out how to set up sensory play activities to build children’s confidence, learn from those that have gone before!

The channel features content in the form of audio or videos, or podcasts and webinars. 

Visit our YouTube channel to subscribe and be notified when we post new content.

Updates and new audio or video will also be communicated in our regular Communications Update by email.  Please share with other carers or parents and let us know if you have an idea for a topic!

Disclaimer: The resources presented on this website are not intended to override yourself as experts of your families and lives.  They are also not intended to replace therapy – they are there for reference and educational purposes only to support you on your parenting journey.

Melissa Christian was an early childhood educator who became an intercountry adoptive parent of 3 after a 15 year long journey.

There was time for lots of learning from Therapeutic Parenting to Circle of Security. However, something wasn't quite right post adoption.

A type of post adoption depression called matrescence. While she now had the perfect family, internally something was not quite right. 

Add to that layers of perfectionism expected of adoptive parents and its a formula for perpetual internal conflict.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Melissa Christian was an early childhood educator who became an intercountry adoptive parent of 3 after a 15 year long journey.

There was time for lots of learning from Therapeutic Parenting to Circle of Security. However, something wasn't quite right post adoption.

A type of post adoption depression called matrescence. While she now had the perfect family, internally something was not quite right. 

Add to that layers of perfectionism expected of adoptive parents and its a formula for perpetual internal conflict.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Vicki is a permanent carer who has 11 years lived experience of FASD with her 13yo granddaughter. Vicki navigated years of schooling and other diagnoses from ADHD to ASD before finally obtaining a FASD diagnosis at 9yo. It finally made sense!

The diagnosis explained why Ritalin (for ADHD) didnt work and also affected decisions around schooling (moving from mainstream to Montessori to home schooling) and how Vicki could offer support to her granddaughter (accommodating the disability and teaching choices and life skills rather than using lock and key to avoid food hoarding or food choices that have negative behavioural outcomes - such as from coke syrup).

Vicki reminds us that this "no blame" disability is permanent, that you are the best advocate for your child so if something doesn't feel right, change it, and remember NDIS support for FASD wont be taken away. Its a permanent disability so ask for what you think you need for your child.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Mitch and Rach spoke to us about the community kinship or village care model that they operate within to surround a young boy in care. They are the extended family to this boy who is in kinship care with another family.

Mitch is the Director of Complex Behaviour Change at CBC Change in Melbourne and has 30 years clinical experience. Rache is the Director of Resources at CBS Change and has worked in supporting adoptive, permanent and kinship carers with strengths based culturally sensitive case management.

Mitch and Rach have a wealth of experience to share to help with secure attachment. Simple things too like shared dinners!

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Vicki Skelley is a permanent carer who was looking to find a way to look forward to brighten her granddaughters future after a bleak FASD diagnosis.

Vicki wanted to support her granddaughter with a best friend, and also find a way to make an invisible array of disabilities visible to others.

The solution came in the form of Zara, a beautiful Italian Lagotto Romagnolo, a type of non shedding poodle, trained as an assistance dog by DogsforLife.

Vicki learned that you don't just turn up and receive a fully trained assistance dog. It involves weekly training and lots of rules, all of which are the childs responsibility, not the carers.

Did they succeed? Did they get funding assistance or NDIS support? Listen in or read the transcript to find out. 

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
What are the lifelong impacts of adoption on adult adoptees, particularly as they become parents themselves?

Dr Jenny Conrick is a Social Worker and Doctor of Philosophy, Melbourne University associate and educator, with a background in government and health sectors, adoption, out of home care and trauma.

Dr Conrick has been exploring the lifelong impacts of adoption on adult adoptees. In particular, adoptees as parents, and the impacts of trauma, post natal depression, attachment and life transitions.

Dr Conrick has uncovered some important areas that matter to adoptees, such as preserving the family they create and avoiding any secrecy, and the need to support adoptees in unravelling their experience and having specialised antenatal support.

And if you are a grandparent to your adoptees children, her research highlights the importance of stepping up and being interested and attuned. It matters more than you may think so get involved and show your interest!

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Dani Lucas completed her family through adoption and is a skilled trauma informed specialist. Dani shares with us her insights into finding and arranging therapy for children and in supporting others with complex trauma history, family violence and more.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Prenatal substance abuse may impact on attachment, resulting in behavioural issues that might be addressed with a few smaller efforts when babies are younger.

The topic of wellbeing in the caregiving space (kinship, permanent, foster or adoptive parenting) is important. Dr Stacy Blythe offers us advice, from research, that identifies how we might better impact attachment, minimise behavioural issues and improve outcomes when there has been prenatal exposure to harmful drugs, poor oral hygiene or other impacts on executive functioning.

Dr Stacy Blythe is well qualified to advise us on these topics. She is a a parent of 8, with 4 biological and 4 non-biological children, and also a registered nurse, associate professor in the school of nursing and midwifery and deputy director of the translational research and social innovation group at Ingham Institute (health and wellbeing that make sense practically).

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Leanne Winter is a clinical psychologist who specialises in animal and equine therapy and working with childhood behavioural, sensory and other issues. After 14 years in room based clinics Leanne ventured into animal and equine therapy in her paddock! Animal therapy offers a calmness to therapy: stroking and being with an animal reduces stress and the heart rate. Combine that with being in nature and magic happens!

While its not as simple as just walking around a paddock, often that is how it starts and something comes up in the conversation. Perhaps the children see one pony being bossy and they say that's just like this guy at school. Or perhaps its just the experience of doing things they may not do elsewhere, like jumping in puddles. Children learn about attachment and regulation and self awareness in a meaningful way. 

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Layne Beachley is one of the most successful surfers, male or female, in history with 7 world titles and 29 tour victories. Layne has an experience of a traumatic childhood and wants other adoptees to know they were accepted into a heart relationship

Layne Beachley is one of the most successful surfers, male or female, in history with 7 world titles and 29 tour victories. Layne is also one of the most genuinely unapologetically honest people around with an experience of a traumatic childhood in losing her mother at 6 and finding out she was adopted at 8.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Zahra Shire Culture and Grief

Zahra is PCA Families Client Services officer, is Australian born but of African heritage, and is passionate about outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, completing her studies in cross-cultural counselling this year.

They can also face prejudice within more than one cultural group. Zahra shares with us some of the norms, traditions or ideas that are part of the African culture, that may be relevant to consider in cross-cultural families to help with identity and cultural connection.

Zahra highlights some of the practices in the African culture may include:

  • men and women can have set roles: men work and protect and are strong. 
  • fathers firstly, and religious leaders secondly, decide who can marry
  • pain and vulnerability is hidden (trauma, PTSD or post natal depression) which leads to reliance on substance abuse and resulting overdoses
  • menstruation, pregnancy and pre-marital sex are not discussed
  • animals, particularly dogs, are to be feared as they carry disease and may bite
  • if a child leaves the home, no one looks at why the child left. They are simply exiled from the community
  • hair goes to the core of ones identity, to felt safety and connection, so spend time on it
  • skin colour can be a target for shame and bullying, so build their self esteem and join in with African communities to normalise.
Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Helen Barrett is a registered play therapist, clinical social worker, counsellor and filial therapist with a trauma history. Helen explains how play therapy works and offers real life examples of eating disorders & the need for reassurance.

Helen Barrett is a registered play therapist, clinical social worker, counsellor and certified filial therapist with a trauma history of her own.

Helen explains how play therapy works and offers some real life examples where trauma and abandonment result in eating disorders and the constant need for reassurance.

She explains the importance of the relationship where the therapist coregulates with the child to metabolise the trauma and widen the window of tolerance. An example of a child who has autism shows us the importance of mirroring and testing things in the playroom training ground before taking that to the everyday environment, ultimately reducing the intensity of meltdowns and transition times.

The importance of being congruent is discussed. If you are feeling anxious or angry, but pretending not to be, your child will see that and feel that something is not right, creating even more threat for the child, exacerbating even bigger emotions.

Helen wants parents to be more conscious of their own narrative and how that impacts the parent-child relationship.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Bobbi Cook Behaviour Management Therapist and Kinship Carer

Bobbi understands the demands of caring for those with additional needs from a trauma background as a devoted kinship carer to her 13yo grandson, and she suggests:

  • those from trauma and ADHD/ASD and others may have an impaired theory of mind, meaning you need to match them on intensity for them to understand and learn empathy
  • neurotypical triggers occur in Y2-3, Y6-7 and as puberty hits, but for children from trauma their chronological and developmental ages are what matters
  • children from trauma often have expressive language that is more advanced than receptive or intrinsic language, so get yourself a speech therapist
  • children from trauma will have sensory processing issues so get an Occupational Therapist to do an assessment to get NDIS support
  • for school refusal, ask your school teachers for 5 minute zooms 3 times a week, as only strong relationships will get them back to school.
Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Chrissie Davies Emotional Literacy in Children from Trauma

This week we learnt from Chrissie Davies, an adoptive and permanent carer, who has worked as a teacher and consultant (Calm the Chaos) to families impacted by extreme behaviours and trauma.

Chrissie explains the importance of kids from trauma in finding identity and self worth which comes from intrinsic motivation, nature, creativity, connecting and therapeutic parenting without punishment or rewards (PACE). It also comes from removing complacency and being flexible. 

Chrissie highlights how our nervous systems get replicated in our children, which means role modelling appropriate responses and consciously labelling emotions and actions are important, to raise children's consciousness. Choosing optimal learning times is important too.

Chrissie explains the 3 components to emotional literacy, including naming the emotion (do some mirror work), the physical response (such as red cheeks) and knowing what to do with the emotion (such as getting something to eat).

Be the family that talks about emotions and where it triggers your own trauma just sit with your child and breathe. 

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Bobbi Cook Behaviour Management Therapist and Kinship Carer

Bobbi Cook is a behaviour therapist with 30+ years experience and a very devoted kinship carer to her 13yo grandson.

Bobbi teaches us a few things that she learnt the hard way as a kinship carer! They include:

  • dont be anti-lables, the labels can help be a coathanger, a way for others to understand what your child needs
  • try medication if you are advised to, and look at how it affects their play, not their school work. Play is how they learn. School involves layers of trauma
  • take an advocate with you to meetings about your child, as others behave differently when you have company
  • disclose everything and communicate openly with schools
  • with behaviour management, use rules like when/then, don't ask questions/give instructions, avoid compensatory parenting or if you do compensate, name the process and feelings
  • take breaks and make sure you arrange respite, its not a failure.
Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
In TLSW children are offered support to dig deeper into their past with safety and support.

Anna Beeson and Elise Saunders are Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW) practitioners who have worked with permanent and kinship carers and adoptive parents in completing life story work.

They highlight the value of the work which comes from being curious and wondering together, a shared journey between caregivers and the child, uncovering more than one person's perspective and capturing the child's voice, their narrative once they make meaning of their history.

In TLSW children are offered support to dig deeper into their past with safety and support.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Chrissie Davies, an adoptive and permanent carer, teacher and consultant (Calm the Chaos) to families impacted by extreme behaviours and trauma wants you to understand children's brains so that you can be confident in the decisions that you're making

Chrissie Davies, an adoptive and permanent carer, teacher and consultant (Calm the Chaos) to families impacted by extreme behaviours and trauma wants you to understand children's brains so that you can be confident in the decisions that you're making.

Chrissie suggests that when you truly focus on relationships, trust and connection for your children, rather than control and punishment, they will respond more positively and you can save your time and energy for the big things, like sleeping, eating or speaking kindly and the lifelong skills that our children need.

Chrissie suggests you say yes more and start each day anew!

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Play therapy is a powerful tool where children can begin to heal by using metaphors.

Dr Eliana Gil has been on a quest to integrate trauma informed practices with neuroscience and has studied attachment based therapies like the Circle of Security and Theraplay. Working with Dr Bruce Perry, with a background in expressive therapies, Dr Gil is an advocate for various expressive therapies including Theraplay (along with many of her peers from Dan Hughes and Besel Van Der Kolk to Daniel Siegal and Stephen Porges).

She reminds us that those who love us hurt us, and this is why children need time and safety to move on from past trauma.

Dr Gil kindly shares with us real life examples of how traumatic experiences come up in the play, including examples of physical and sexual abuse, divorce, natural disasters, grief and domestic violence.

She reminds us that unwanted behaviours are not rejection, but questions that need to be depersonalised, and that children take a long time to heal but that it doesnt have to be permanent. 

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing has moved on from being "that tapping therapy" and is now one of the Medicare funded therapies that works so well with children from trauma backgrounds. Find out more about it from Maria Marshall - psychologist, naturopath and EMDR therapist and parent to 3 children, including one through permanent care. Some great tips on how to approach therapy and EMDR when the body "keeps the score".

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Hope and solutions that are trauma informed.

Chris has experience working in many fields, from specialist teaching in schools to homelessness, family violence and the justice system. Believing that she could be more useful, she set out to truly understand the brain and body, studying numerous therapies.

After all of her learning, it is the safe and sound protocol, a listening or auditory system that helps with calming and felt safety, that is Chris's favourite thing, with the potential to achieve felt safety following a 5 hour core component combined with therapy support. 

Chris has seen mute children start to talk, disregulated children reengage and children who are adopted or had a traumatic birth and start to life, start to repair their birth process. And she does all this with a sense of fun involving play, art and clay therapy too.

Enjoy the video and please comment to let us know what you thought.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources
Children's brains need to be primed for development. This may be because the brain is stuck in fight flight freeze or because milestones have been missed. Neuro Developmental Therapy can help prime the brain. Yvette Knights

There is often an element of a child's unknown history and underlying trauma.This can impact on relationships and development. Carers/parents may be doing all they can but nothing works because the children's brains haven't yet been primed for development. This may be because the brain is stuck in fight flight freeze or because milestones have been missed. Yvette Knights offers neuro development therapy, a physical therapy, that helps with rewiring the brain and meeting missed milestones. The science behind it is based on polyvagal theory.

This therapy can help with emotional regulation (manage and understand emotions), speech and language, motor development, organisational skills and problem solving skills, learning and balance. So for those with ADHD, Autism and similar this therapy helps too.Yvette discusses many specific examples of where she has made a difference in a child's life including food intolerances, anger and tantrums, coordination and bike riding, reading speech and language, self harm and more.

Watch the video and access the transcript and resources