9/5/18 #SameHere Hero: Tia Aja

Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: Tia Aja
Couple of things on this post – 1) it’s the first time we’ve used 3 days in a row specifically for Hero Stories. We’ve been overwhelmed by the responses from around the world, for folks looking to share, & if you look at the diversity related to the last 3 stories shared, its quite phenomenal – ethnicity, geography, gender. 2) I met Tia through Practitioner Alliance member Kim Barthel & her husband, Bob Spencley. They do a lot of traveling w their trauma work, & has met Tia when in Asia & became fast friends. It was therefore an easy intro when I went to Indonesia, to meet up with Tia. She laughed as others in the busses in Indonesia laughed at how different I looked as a 6-4 white dude w a backwards hat…but we had a ton of fun.
Tia is PASSIONATE about helping kids w MH complications & learning disabilities. It comes from her own childhood & now after learning much about herself, she is paying it back. Welcome to the Hero Alliance, Tia!
“I was always the kid who couldn’t sit still, always needing to move. My friend used to say to me – as long as I keep my feet on the ground, I won’t have any lack of energy because I’m always being ‘charged.’  Exploring the neighborhood became my daily activity. Sometimes I came home w scratches or my body covered by mud. The subject that I struggled w most back in school time was arts & crafts. I often got punished because I couldn’t finish projects on time.
I had conflicts w friends mostly because of the way I talked. I had a loud voice, no filter.  When I had an opinion I rarely consider others’ feeling, & then I’d get frustrated because people didn’t understand me. Interaction w others became very challenging in my teen yrs. I never realized that I had a different way of thinking.  Later I found out that my brain was wired differently than ‘most.’
My family moved to another city when I was in the 1st grade. All my friends used Javanese when they talked to each other & the only words in that langue I knew were yes & no. I couldn’t communicate w my classmates & they wouldn’t play w me because of it. It was stressful because I loved playing w others. It was also difficult because in my brain, I kept switching from one idea to another.
Being in large groups always made me anxious. I was more comfortable w small groups or just being alone. Being different though, became part of my identity during my school time. I was labeled as the ‘weird kid.’  I used to talk to myself when no one was around me & that self-talk helped me to reflect on my behavior. I began over-thinking about anything that related to human connection. It has become the most interesting topic to me in my professional life.
During my study in occupational therapy & psychology, I learned about myself further. I became more aware about what happens in the brain/body & the reason behind my specific behaviors over my childhood & life.
In my professional life, kids who struggle to learn have become my interest. It’s not just because I am an occupational therapist, but also because I can feel & relate to their struggle. Kids w anxiety problems have become my biggest focus & concern. This area gives me satisfaction when I can help these children to overcome their anxiety & become functional in their classes.
Back when I was a child, I was struggling to form relationships w others. I became very frustrated when relationships didn’t work. They said that I was selfish, insensitive, & had no empathy. When my psychologist friend unofficially diagnosed me w ADHD based on her observations, suddenly all the events & experiences of my past made sense.
The relationship w my friend & my diagnosis has definitely helped me a lot.  I’ve since changed the way I communicate w my parents. I used to blame them for every bad thing that happened to me. But now I’ve literally forgiven them & don’t blame my struggles on their parenting style.
I now put them first before anyone else. I found after making that change, forming relationships w others has become much easier. I’ve started to feel okay when I am not fully okay.  I’ve become comfortable in my own skin.  I’m still nervous when talk in front of large groups, not being able to sleep the night before. I still have that flight of ideas swirling around my head, & still can’f sit completely still, but I enjoy the process of learning about myself & feeling more comfortable.
I like to share my knowledge w others. I conduct sharing class for my fellow colleagues for free every week. I enjoy helping people to be able to help themselves. During the process, I’ve found that I really love when I push myself to think harder, trying to make sense of situations for others. I am addicted to sharing & helping others.
Honestly, I have no idea how people will react to my #SameHere story. I don’t have any expectation; I just wanted to share it & help whomever I can!”

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