The Shine A Light On My Feelings tool was created by Kate Drummond. Kate is a sensory integration certified occupational therapist, and this tool is the organic outgrowth of the work that Kate has done in her practice with children since 1997. A large part of Kate’s work has been to help children with sensory processing differences. Many of these children experience sensitivities to a variety of environmental factors, such as touch, noise, and even movement. These children also tend to be very emotionally sensitive and highly empathetic, which leads them to have difficulty with emotional control and sensory modulation—often times presenting as meltdowns, or emotional shut down. It was for these children that the Shine A Light tool was originally developed.
For many years, Kate has focused her work on improving self-regulation strategies in children. She, and many of her colleagues, have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of children experiencing anxiety. There are several reasons why this may be happening, including busy lifestyle, increased amount of time on screens, decreased amount of outdoor physical play, and/or increased amounts of convenience foods with little nutritional value, to name a few. Knowing that this is affecting many children today—not just children with sensory processing differences, or children presenting with other diagnoses, she long wondered how to share her knowledge of how to support the body’s central nervous system with a larger audience.
After initially developing the Shine A Light tool, Kate began to use it at home with her own three children. She saw an immediate positive effect: her children were able to express themselves better through using the tool. Simply the act of reading and writing can calm a child down, and take them out of a more reactive brain state. She saw, as a mother, how this tool facilitated communication constructively, and saw her children’s intense emotions quickly become easily diffused—whether or not they chose to use a strategy at the end of the guided questions on the board. Many children may use many of the strategies listed at the bottom of the board, without knowing them to be “strategies.” When children can identify them as strategies, however, this awareness alone seems to make the strategies all of the more powerful.
Seeing the positive effect on her own children, she created a Shine A Light tool for the classroom. Several classrooms, both in public and private schools, began to use the tool. Children began using Shine A Light during times of stress and conflict, and were reportedly able to resolve conflicts between peers without teacher involvement in an appropriate manner.
Shine A Light was created out of a desire to provide a tool that will allow children to express their feelings and emotions without being judged for them, and then to give them the freedom to make a healthy self-regulation choice to help them feel better. This empowers the child to be able to become more independent, and introduces a number of healthy strategies that, with repeated use, can carry them into adulthood.