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Summer can be a tough transition for any kid, but especially for a child living with sensory processing disorder. For my 5-year-old daughter Karina, transitioning to anything new is a struggle. A new routine, a new sound, a new taste, a new smell … any new sense can send her into a spiral of emotions as she struggles to regulate herself.

So our summer began, and while other families were celebrating with vacations and late nights around a fire, we were silently struggling with a thousand emotions, many of them negative. I was on behavior management duty 24/7, and I was worn out and desperate for change. Weighted blankets, a solid routine, and weekly trips to the occupational therapist just weren’t reaching my little lady, and I felt helpless.

For the sake of my other children, I needed Karina to have a coping mechanism other than me. Someone who could be there as she cried, react with a loving heart, and provide a calming technique when the world became, in her words, “too much.”

Enter Jack-Jack. 

A friend of mine was fostering him for Paws for Life Rescue and posted a photo of him. We had been looking at adoptable kittens for months but had not seen one that struck our interest. Knowing he was being raised in a home with young children put my heart at ease, and it truly was love at first sight. All three of my children have beautiful blue eyes, and this kitty did too! Something in his face said he was meant for us, and we had to meet him.

From the moment Jack-Jack was delivered to us, he knew just what my Karina needed. Despite having zero training as a therapy animal, he distracted her with playful kitten shenanigans when her mind started to spiral, and provided a loyal companionship when she needed a friend. She found calm to her chaos with slow pets to his chin and would instantly relax when the soothing sound of his purrs began. After they were acquainted, he would seek her out when she began to have a meltdown. In the thick of the summer heat, she became his preferred human, and I rested easier knowing we were going to make it through this tough season with his superpowers in my arsenal.

I have always known pets can reach the human heart on a level we cannot comprehend, but I was not fully prepared for their special relationship. Now, when Karina is upset, she calls for him. He is the first thing she looks for each morning, and the last thing she wants to see before going to bed. I am grateful for their love of each other. It is amazing how a sweet kitten can bring out so many emotions. Thankfully, for our family, it is all love.

Even though our family was the one to rescue Jack-Jack, I would be remiss not to thank Paws for Life for rescuing us, too.