Empathy & Self-Care: Feeling Every Emotion a Little Too Deeply

I once came across a quote that read, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply” …words that resonated in my gut and thumped in my chest the second they ran through my brain.

I am empathetic. No, I am not bragging, I am admitting a struggle I have battled for years; both a blessing and a curse in my field of work and in my daily life. I avoid movies that may have an overly sad or heartwarming part, I fast-forward commercials that could cause me to feel a certain way, I avoid people I love when they may need me most because it hurts my heart too much to see them that way. I laugh often, VERY often, and cry tears of joy and sorrow more times per week than I can count. I love hard, and with everything I have to offer, even sometimes more than I can afford to spare.

 A cycle of crying, laughing at myself crying, crying at my lack of emotional control and then spilling tears of laughter down my face at the ridiculous rhythm that is my empathetic self. 

However, it isn’t always so easy to mask and when working with the vulnerable sector, there are bound to be times that emotions are high, crisis is happening and it’s up to you and your team to get things under control.

I’ve been there when students lose control, I’ve been there when children trash classrooms, I’ve been there when children have lost themselves in their emotions and stare at you blankly as if they have no idea who you are through their eyes of flowing tears. I’ve seen what sensory overload looks like, I’ve watched children hurt themselves because they feel shame, guilt, embarrassment or any emotion that they cannot seem to process at that moment. I have waited them out, and I have stayed by their side until the room finally stopped spinning, the noise became muted , the mess was cleaned up  and their little world began to make sense again. 

These are the moments I live for, the moments that make this career worth every minute (even the tough ones), because in that moment, they realized they made it. Their world didn’t end, the people that cared for them didn’t leave, and with some debriefing…life will go on as normal. 

But what about me? No, that isn’t a selfish question as some people may assume. What happens to the person who watched the little person they care for fall apart in front of them? To the person who dodged flying items, hurled with frustration? To the person who may have felt helpless, held in tears, and did everything they could to let this little person know that everything was going to be okay, even when they may have been scared?

You cannot pour from an empty bucket. 

Life moves on, but if this were to happen again tomorrow morning when you walked in the door (which it often does), could you give your entire self to do it over again?

This is where self-care plays a major role. Self-care is not selfish, though it does take practice and is absolutely vital in ensuring that when you wake up each morning, you are bringing the best version of yourself that you possibly can. It looks different for everyone and can include a variety of activities, people, objects and places…

No one can tell you what it is supposed to look like, only how it should feel

Self-Care for me looks mostly like creativity. I love to write (can you tell?), crochet, use my Cricut machine, paint, draw, and make random (excessive) gifts for people. I like  to walk (sometimes), drink tea, read books, snack on things, and spend time with my friends. Sometimes self-care even means getting away for the weekend with my (super supportive) boyfriend and eating/binge-watching shows.

Bottom line is, self-care isn’t always working out, eating incredibly healthy food and drinking 8 bottles of water. While this is good for you and can definitely improve your physical health (which is linked to your mental health), sometimes it is just about what is going to make you happy in that moment…make you click that reset button and give you the courage to tackle whatever the next day brings…even if it is a lot of tears.

Don’t be embarrassed to laugh extra hard (and maybe snort), sob while watching a commercial about a dog or eat that extra handful of goldfish crackers while you crochet yourself a hat. Life is short…and if we have learned anything lately, it is to cherish those little moments and love yourself and your loved ones a little harder. 

Sending positive vibes, stay safe friends. 

Answering Difficult Questions…Inclusion & Age Appropriateness

Disclaimer: When I speak about inclusion, I’m speaking to a mindset. The inherent (or learned) idea that all individuals should be given equal opportunity and treated like capable, contributing human beings. Often times, the word inclusion comes with a lot of opinions around whether immersing children with learning differences into mainstream classrooms works or doesn’t work-and please know that this is not what I’m referring to when I speak of inclusion

When it comes to education, Children should learn in the environment that works best for them, whether they’re immersed into mainstream or placed in a setting with other children like themselves. There are many wonderful benefits to both…mainstream classes give the child opportunities to pick up language and social skills from their peers and small classes give the opportunity to learn in an individualized, sensory-friendly environment with a higher level of direct support. I have worked in many different settings and have seen children flourish in both, but when working in an ‘inclusive’ environment where children who are typically-developing and children with learning differences can learn and play together-you may get some questions. Thinking on your feet as an educator is a must-have quality, but how can we act and think quickly while still maintaining professionalism and considering age-appropriate responses? I’ll break down a few ways I’ve dealt with difficult questions and how to phrase them in a way that highlights the exceptional child’s ability!

#1. Does _________________ have a disability?

Firstly, disability is not a word I love to use. Everybody has varying levels of ability…areas of strength and areas of need. I often approach this with an initial statement of “________is still learning” and then continue into  “although they sometimes have trouble sitting (or whatever behaviour prompted the question), they are really great at many other things that may even be difficult for you to do, and that is okay. What are some things they are really good at? What are some things you are still learning?” 

Turning this question into a teachable moment is incredibly important, especially while taking the emphasis off the word ‘disability’. The goal is not to make the child feel as if they shouldn’t have asked the question, it is to allow them to be curious and educate them in a way that protects the dignity of the child they are curious about. I love the answers the kids come up with for what their peer is great at, maybe they can spell all of their friends names, repeat a movie line for line, open their yogurt without any teacher help…it casts a new light on the child they originally labeled  as “disabled”. Self-reflection is a huge part of being a functioning member of society, and having the child reflect on what they are good at/could improve on is practicing an essential lifelong skill. Another way to intrigue that child to learn more about the abilities of their peer is to have them be a helper and demonstrate what a great example may look like. This instills empathy in the long run, which is a key part in promoting inclusion.

#2. Why do they do that? 

Everybody has a ‘tell’ when they’re excited-some are just more obvious than others. I giggle a lot, bite my nails, text everyone I know immediately when something exciting is happening…for kids it can look different-especially for our extra-special kiddos. I typically answer the question of “why are they doing that?” (hand-flapping, ,eye-squinting, jumping, rocking) with pairing it to the emotion the child is conveying and asking the curious child “what do you do when you’re feeling _______?” for example, if a child jumps excessively when excited, I make a point to say “Wow, _____ is feeling so excited! They love to jump when they’re excited…what do you do when you’re excited?”. This gives the child the chance to identify the other child’s feelings next time, and be excited with them, or help them navigate whatever emotion they’re experiencing. 

Other tips for instilling empathy in an inclusive setting could include involving the other children in the child’s routines. If a child is eager to help, let them have that opportunity….introduce them to the schedule, visuals & routines and allow them to be part of those transitions. 

The most rewarding thing is to see a transition or routine play out flawlessly with only the interaction between the identified child and their peers, no educator needed. This is a step in fostering independence which is a whole other topic

Don’t shy away from those difficult questions, sometimes they bring opportunity for awareness. If we start the inclusion mindset early on, imagine what a wonderful difference those kids can make as young adults.

How do you answer difficult questions? Comment below or reach out on Instagram @inclusiveinspirations

Plenty to Say…There’s More to Communication than Simple Speech

I always get excited when I see individuals on the Autism Spectrum (or living with various levels of ability) represented in the media. It gives people who may not have the opportunity to work with these individuals daily, to have a little insight on what life may be like for them or their caregivers while hopefully highlighting how their brains work so wonderfully different from ours.

I couldn’t contain myself recently when I came across two Pixar shorts that allow you to see through the eyes of two characters that I found close to my heart. Here’s a run down of what I love so much about both. I highly recommend that you check it out (and maybe try to watch it every day like I do…unless that’s excessive….).

Short #1: Float (Disney Plus under Pixar/Sparkshorts)

This short is not explicitly related to individuals with special needs, nor do I know if that was the original intention BUT as I always seem to do, I found a way to connect the dots to something near and dear to my heart. This short is a wonderful representation of a parent  raising a child who is a little bit different than the other children they encounter. I love the way they display their troubles in a way that allows us to watch the parent attempt to navigate the situation the best way he knows how. 


It’s a tear jerker, at least for me…but that’s not saying much. 

Short #2: Loop (Disney Plus under Pixar/Sparkshorts)

My personal favourite. This short has warmed my heart for the last four days and deserves to be seen by everybody everywhere. What I love most about this depiction is that the main character is non-verbal… and is also a young adult. Often times, being non-verbal is assumed to be something that you will grow out of, something that can be magically taken away with a little Speech & Language Therapy and wishful thinking…and in a wonderful world, this would be the case. But for many families, non-verbal communication is something that will be a lifelong necessity. The most important thing to remember about individuals who communicate non-verbally is that just because they cannot speak, does not mean they have nothing to say.  

If you are fortunate enough to get a spare moment, consider taking less than 20 minutes to watch these clips and gain insight from a new perspective.

Let me know what you think in the comments or on Instagram @inclusiveinspirations!

Educator & Advocator Totes

New Styles Below!

First and foremost, I want to connect with my fellow educators-especially those who work in Special Education…where my initial inspiration came from. Purchase of one of these totes will support a local organization as well as display your love of inclusion.

Purchase the “It’s Wonderful to be Different” or the “Victory Tote” tote to show your support regardless of your profession while still contributing to a local special education initiative.

Send me a message on instagram at @inclusiveinspirations or email sophycampo@outlook.com to order!

Items made to order.

*local orders only at this time*

Craft & Community… How Do They Fit In This Puzzle?

A few years back my initial plan was to head off to university, double major in fine art and psychology to see if I could somehow make a career for myself in the little-known field of ‘art therapy’. That would have been the dream, but my patience is something that has grown with me and as a bright eyed 17-year old with a ton of drive and determination-and little to no patience…I was ready to begin making a difference, more or less, immediately.

 A shorter post-secondary career got me in the world of special education in less than 3 years where I could dive in head-first and make art and sensory exploration something that I could implement on the fly in times of need. Watercolour painting to calm someone feeling extra bouncy, or something as simple as a poster board and a crayon to help someone hash out the overwhelming feelings of frustration. It meant a great deal to me to see art and music having such an effect on the individuals I support…but I never considered the effect it could have on me. 

 A while back, I decided that on days that left me feeling defeated (which is absolutely okay-even when you love your job as much as I do) , I would teach myself a new skill or try to excel in something else before letting myself sleep on it. It wasn’t until after a very challenging day, that I picked up a crochet hook, made a strong tea and sat in front of YouTube for hours until I had a quarter of a blanket made. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming and I woke up the next day ready to face any adversity that came my way (and then see what else I could string together when I got home). That’s when I realized the effect of crafting on me, and the reason I’ve decided to use my hobby for the greater good.

 Crafted goods for the greater good…where a portion of sold items, designed by me, will be donated to local charitable organizations and initiatives supporting special education. 

Check back this week under “now available” to see items for order.


For those of you who don’t know me personally, my name is Sophy and I am an Educational Assistant, Therapeutic Recreation Assistant and Volunteer Special Olympics Coach who dedicates most of my unscheduled time to learning more about my #1 dedication:

Special Education.

Inclusive Inspirations is a passion project I drew up years ago with the intention of simply spreading the daily joys of my career with my family and friends…

however, it has evolved into so much more.

Follow my blog posts or follow me on instagram @inclusiveinspirations to learn what we are all about and how you can be apart of it!

Love Meets Craft & Community…Let’s Talk About the Love

Documenting my life has been something I have considered for longer than I can remember. Not for any particular reason, not because it’s the latest trend or because I have some extraordinary life that would cause followers to “ooooh” and “ahhhh” at the unfathomable wonders of my daily routine.

It is simply because of my innate desire to inspire others.

Inspiration can spark from many things; your friends and family, social media, nature… I have always described myself as being “inspired by chaos”… by the many things that make my life beautiful, busy and exciting.

Everyone close to me knows I function best when every minute of my day is allocated to something, whether its job #1,2,3, volunteering, planning my next mini project or indulging in *scheduled* self care time. For those of you who are unaware of the career path I chose, I choose to do my very best to make a difference every day, primarily through the field of special education. I am always under the impression that I will never be able to connect with enough individuals through my work, hence the busy schedule-I choose to use the word “connect” rather than “help” because I have been educated just as much by the children and adults I have encountered, it’s always a reciprocal relationship,I am learning every day.

I am hoping through this blog you will not only learn a few things, but also be inspired to reach out in a new way to help others.

Educate yourself, love inclusively, and advocate for others…that’s the best way to start.