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What is your life’s purpose?
My purpose in life is to allow myself to be present to the voiceless and guide them to find their voice in order to be empowered in the gift of who they are.

How are you living your purpose?
By allowing myself to continue in the journey of healing through positive physical, spiritual, and mental health, I am then able to guide others.

I guide those who are literally without their voice due to a neuro- developmental challenge, to their parents and caregivers, along with those I meet in daily life who are seeking to find their voice to be empowered in the gift of themselves through positive communication and interpersonal relationships. Using a therapeutic approach that focuses on the whole child, the whole family, the whole brain, one step at a time, we engage a person’s ability to use their voice (or for some, a computer-generated device for voice) to express themselves, their feelings, their academic capacities, and enhance their inter-personal relationships.

By engaging a child who suffers global dyspraxia in understanding their true ability and the work that it takes to meet their true ability, they become self-advocates and leaders in their class. By journeying with a parent through their grief process of having a defined neuro-typical child, they find their own voice to realize that typical may be defined by a number, but relationship is what makes a person. Through teaching a graduate student the ability to be present through relationship, and not just administration of a standardized quantitative analysis of a person, they see that a child can develop more fully in their communication capacity, even if that’s not measurable by a test. This is purpose with a passion in human growth and development.

How did you find your purpose?
Since I was a child I have always been fascinated and interested in the person who could literally not speak, and the diversity of the cultures in our society. Because of my own anxieties and fears, I chose to stay at home for college and commute. As a result, the program offered at our local State University that met my interests was Speech-Language Pathology. I entered the program and loved it from day one.

Within five years after graduation, I was married and divorced, and realized I needed to delve deeper into coming to know my own self. I took a year sabbatical from my job as an administrator, moved to the inner city of Cleveland, and came to know people who have nothing to live. By listening to their story, showing understanding, and engaging them to embrace a new approach to life, I was able to help these oppressed people find their voice and regain their self-worth, learn positive communication, and develop healthy relationships. Through being present in their lives, I actually found who I was, as I engaged my own spiritual direction-psychotherapy and cranio-sacral therapy. It was through this healing journey that my purpose in life moved to a deeper place within myself and the world around me.

What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
First and foremost, find mentoring with a person whose education, life experience, and approach to life provides a place of listening and guidance. Second, I cannot imagine finding my purpose outside of my deeper inner spiritual and psychological healing journey. Finally, trust that your passion is your purpose, but it will take inner work to find, accept, and engage your passion.

What resources do you recommend?
I strongly recommend working with a Health Cranio-Sacral Therapist to clean out the cobwebs that are in your way of purpose. Upledger Institute is a resource for this healing professional.

Listen to your body, and the little voice within that is positive and good. Spend 20 minutes a day in quiet meditation; this allows the body to stop and feel peace. Eat healthy to feed the physical body with nutrient rich foods. Engage in some form of exercise-I prefer a brisk 3-mile walk at the local metro park daily.

Books I recommend:
For physical health: the works of Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. David Perlmutter
For spiritual Health: the works of Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, Fr. Thomas Keating

To understand my work:
Sensory Integration and the Child by A. Jean Ayres
The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth by Stanley Greenspan, MD
Conscious Ear by Alfred Tomatis, MD
Navigating the Therapy World

Connect with Mary Padula, MA, CCC/SLP
Email: slp@pctohio.com
Website: Person-Centered Therapies
Book: Navigating the Therapy World

Mary is a 30+ year Neurodevelopment Speech Language Pathologist with her focus on clinical methods and the integration of the neurodevelopment approaches in the home and school setting. She has completed specific post graduate education in neuro-developmental models, sensory motor development and integrative techniques, behavioral development and positive behavioral approaches, and specific person-centered approaches. Her most recent book, Navigating the Therapy World, 2015, focuses on the necessity of integrated approaches to positive communication and emotional development.