How did you become an author?
It’s funny actually. I had just graduated college with an art degree, and I wanted to do something to help my Mom’s company, which had launched recently at the time. She asked me if I could write a book for her company and I agreed. Then “My Friend EEPWORM” was published and became a hit among everyone who read it! I was so excited that I had to keep going and make this a series. So I wrote my second book, “EEPWROM’s Emotional Day” and I’m going to be writing more. I hope to have a very long series of eepworm™ books.
What kind of book is EEPWORM's Emotional Day?
In my book, my character called “eepworm” learns a hard lesson about acting on anger. I’m hoping children can takes these lessons to heart and start learning the skills that eepworm is teaching. Each book comes with a eepworm® toy, so that every child has a tool to help cope with emotional hardships. Since the first few years of a child’s life is so important, it is ideal that they learn emotional regulation skills early. I’m hoping eepworm toys can help them feel better, so they can grow to live happy, fulfilling lives.
How did you think of the whole idea of eepworm?
It all started when I was 5 years old. I was emotionally dysregulated and needed some extra tools to help me feel better. However, I did not have access to any good tools so I invented my own. I created eepworm as my own imaginary character of sorts and later I found a toy that was similar to my character. When my Mom started ECS, she wanted to commission me for a book, so I wrote a book about my favorite original character, of course. After I wrote the book, I found it imperative to make my own eepworm toy and share it with the world.
Can you share more about your struggles with emotions as a child?
When I was a young child, I had very intense emotions to the point where I was unable to function during an episode. I’ve learned that when I was overwhelmed, my body would enter fight or flight mode. There were a few main situations that triggered the stress response almost every time: loud noises and touch. Since I have hypersensitivity, any input that seemed normal to neurotypical people was painful to me. So if someone tried to touch my arm, it was instant panic. Another thing my brain had trouble with was transitions. Even transitioning from light to dark was hard when I was very young. I learned several coping mechanisms later in life that I try to teach children today.
How can you help young children learn about strong emotions?
I want to share with children and adults the tools and techniques I learned growing up. Some of them are things the guardians/teachers can do and others are things the children can do. For example, teachers can give several warnings before a transition or avoid skin contact. Individuals with disabilities can learn to recognize when the body is entering fight or flight mode and how to self soothe. My favorite self-soothing tool is the eepworm. Eepworm toys have helped me so much as a child and even as an adult. I hope they can help children and adults around the world who are struggling with strong emotions.
What are some ways you think eepworms help kids?
Eepworm toys are really great tools for self soothing and emotional regulation. They are also amazing friends for children who feel like they need someone who cares for them. They are super soft to the touch feel like a hug in your hand. Children with autism love this toy because it is such a tactile object. Also, I have plenty of adults who love eepworm toys for a tool to self soothe as well. I still have my eepworm toys and they help me so much.
What do you see as your primary purpose?
When I was younger, I knew right away I wanted to be an artist. However, when I was in middle school, I felt hopeless and my dream was lost. But after learning to cope with my mental health barriers, graduating college with a BFA in Studio Fine Arts, and creating my first book, my hope was reinvigorated. My children’s book, “My Friend EEPWORM” was so well received by children and adults that I found new purpose in helping others. I then wrote my second book, “EEPWORM’s Emotional Day” to help children with learning the skills to handle strong emotions.
What kind of presentations do you do?
I present to early childhood caretakers, parents and teachers about how it felt to be a child with special needs and what they can do to help children that need extra help. I also talk about the skills children can learn in early childhood that are important for emotional regulation. I also present to older children as an inspiration, in hopes that they can become their own success and author too.
What was your favorite moment during your presentations?
My favorite moments are when people come up to me and say that I touched their heart in a special way and that I made a difference in their classroom or life. I always love to help others an seeing their gratitude really helps me smile.
Are you planning more eepworm projects?
Well, I am always updating eepworm’s social media and websites, but I am also working on the next projects. I am currently launching a YouTube channel for eepworm and hope to start on the next book. You can find out about everything on eepworm.com.