Amy Richardson’s Fashion Brand, June & January, Is for Sensory Kids—Like Her Son
By PJ Feinstein
Like many moms with sensory kids, Amy Richardson had never heard of sensory processing disorder until her son, Eli, was diagnosed with it. In fact, she never even considered that Eli might have sensory issues until his kindergarten teacher mentioned it at a parent-teacher conference.
“It was sort of like a light had gone off, and it made sense of the other things we would see frequently at home,” she says. For the next six months, Amy and her husband, Nathan, searched online for strategies to help Eli manage meltdowns and other challenging behaviors before deciding to connect with an occupational therapist. Six months after starting OT, Eli was officially evaluated and diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD), which came as a relief to Amy because now they could put a plan in place to help her son succeed.
Eli is sensory seeking, “meaning he puts everything and anything in his mouth,” explains Amy. He’s pretty much bitten off all of his fingernails, she says. Being sensory seeking also means that tags and tight clothing don’t bother him. However, Amy, the CEO of June & January, understands that other kids with sensory issues might be sensitive to them, so her clothing company designs super soft children’s apparel without tags.
Additionally, Eli has ADHD, which often co-occurs with SPD and shares some of the same signs. For example, Eli frequently gets angry in response to good news or surprises. “The misfire of his reactions to happy things is also super frustrating and can be upsetting when we want to celebrate together, but we’ve learned to know that his initial reaction is not typically his true reaction to something,” says Amy, who also has a daughter, Juniper, age four.
After several years of therapies, parenting groups, and even podcasts, Amy and Nathan now feel better equipped to help 8-year-old Eli deal with meltdowns by distracting him or talking him through them. “Though sometimes just walking away and letting him relax on his own is the best we can do,” she says.
What's one thing you wish people knew about your son?
That he may seem a little disinterested especially in classroom settings, but he’s actually got a 131 IQ and is a genius. :)
How do you find time to take care of yourself?
I NEED to spend an hour each day working out. It makes me feel human, and it’s my alone time and my zen time and hard work and relaxing all at once.
Where is your family's happy place?
The ocean. Any one will do.
Who are your 3 favorite moms to follow on Instagram?
Not a mom, but a parent -- I absolutely love Jeff Mindell (and his wife, @studioDIY is pretty great too). I adore Elsie Larson and have loved watching her become a mother, and Hey Mama Case, who is an old friend and is truly one of the best women and mothers I have ever met.
What are Eli’s favorite apps?
Mightier is a really great app for kids with sensory issues and comes with a heart monitor to help them control their emotions in certain situations. It’s really cool!
What TV shows, books, and/or podcasts are you loving right now?
I am a big podcast fan. I love Tilt Parenting, which is a great podcast for parents of neuroatypical children, and Strange Bedfellows which is an awesome podcast by a sex educator that talks about life, sex and politics. My kids love Tumble and Brains On! -- both are science podcasts for kids.
What 5 words best describe you?
Impatient, bossy, forgiving, motivated, thoughtful
What advice would you give a new special needs mom?
For me, so much of the fear and worry was in the unknown of what was going on with Eli, what it would mean for him long term, and especially how it would affect him socially. But once we had diagnoses, it was so much easier to move forward and implement tools and therapies to help him succeed.
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