Archive for October, 2010
Today I received a picture of my 5 year old grandson dressed as Dracula! He looked pretty scary. I’ve seen him through many costumes. My favorite was when he was a little leprechaun, at age one and a half!
So while children dawn all kinds of scary outfits for this weekend’s Halloween, I wanted to address something I’ve found that parent’s are sometimes frightened about when it comes to their children.
A parent told me of her child struggling with schoolwork. She knew she was bright enough, but she couldn’t seem to organize her thoughts or remember things from one day to the next. She said she was scared for her child’s sake. She is loosing all her self-confidence and seems to be loathing herself, because she’s just not doing as well in school as she knows she can and she’s frustrated most of the time.
With a worried look on her face, she asked,”What does Little Giant Steps do?”
First, we are a neuro-educational consulting group. I explained we simply test the child to see what a child’s, teen’s or adult’s current academic placement is by utilizing the same testing instruments utilized in schools. Those scores establish benchmarks as to the current academic performance. Next, we check to see how neurologically efficient they are functioning in areas required for learning. Lastly, we look at their developmental status. They are checked on 6 levels of functional abilities and 9 levels of development. The Neuro-Educational Specialist does the evaluation, then based on those areas where the child, teen or adult is having difficulty or show symptoms diagnosed in learning disabilities, an individual program is devised and very specific activities, cognitive and physical are recommended to help develop those areas in the brain that are not functioning up to that person’s grade or age level. Then we teach the parent how to work with the child at home. We re-evaluate every 4 months and re-adjust the program until all of the symptoms or deficits are remedied or they are functioning at grade or age level. This type of neuro-educational intervention is effective on so many kinds of developmental and educational under-performance. It works for Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Autism, PDD, Dysgraphia, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, and many other learning disabilities, even brain trauma. It works because its a matter of re-wiring the brain so it can function with be best possible neurological efficiency, organization in the lower levels of the brain, and processing abilities and many more advantages when it comes to learning.
Just last week an articleappeared that again confirms what we have known for two decades, but without brain scans: “Imaging Study Reveals Brain Function of Poor Readers Can Improve.” The study appears in the May 1 Biological Psychiatry and was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the National Institutes of Health. According to Dr. Sally Shaywitz (a member of the research team), the results show that “Teaching matters and good teaching can change the brain in a way that has the potential to benefit struggling readers.” I am happy to report we are in our third year of working in public schools, gathering research data, teaching teachers how to utilize our programs and this year one of the schools we are in our second year of working with them, they went from academically unacceptable to an exemplary school! So, now we hope to teach the teachers what we have known and done for thousands of individuals. We know it’s all about input and stimulating the brain to get more efficient and re-wire or create new neuro-pathways.
The one thing about being a parent of a child, or even being that person who doesn’t seem to function like everyone else around you, is that there is nothing to fear. Learning disabilities are not a life sentence. Much can be done to alleviate and even eliminate the symptoms of learning issues. It matters not whether you are gifted, typical or mentally challenged. Life can become less frustrating, more satisfying and successful when a program like Little Giant Step’s is undertaken. So, stop being scared for you child, or for yourself, or someone you know and love. It is never too late to get over these deficits. The neuroplasticity of the brain, is what allows the brain to change. It serves in re-routing and creating new neuro-pathways around areas not functioning well and builds stronger and more efficient neuro-networks that can increase the communication between the brain and the body and can open doors for you, your child or your loved one. All can experience what it’s like to approach something new without anxiety, dread, and/or frustration and fear. Investigate, educate and act. That’s all it takes! Have a blessed harvest season and stop being fearful of doing something that will change a life for the better.
Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting a prison in Texas. There are several ministries that assist inmates in their last 24 months of incarceration to prepare them to deal with the realities of the world outside the confines of the prison walls. All of these programs are voluntary and they are prisoners who want to leave their past history behind them. They lead exemplary lives in these programs. I went there to explore LGS doing a pilot research program and to talk about our neuro-educational program. I presented how over 15 years we had seen how through treating learning disabilities at the root causee (in the brain) had made significant functional differences in peoples lives. Statistics show that most of those who are incarcerated in our society have some form of learning disabilities. I spoke not only to a group of 39 inmates taking part in the ministry program, but also to the Representatives serving on the Texas Criminal Justice Committee, as well as the warden. There were two issues keeping us from providing such services and getting a research project off the ground:
1. Did this program resonate with the inmates. Could they see the value and would they participate?
2. Where could we find the funding for this project?
Before I finished my presentation, there were a flurry of notes being handed forward and put on the desk close to where I was standing. After the presentation, I looked at these notes. Everyone of the inmates in attendance said they would participate in a research project. As I described the symptoms of learning disabilities and the symptoms, it was instant recognition for them. Some even described their self diagnosis, or struggles they’d encountered since they were little and how negatively it had impacted their lives. They talked about they were not dumb, but just couldn’t get things to stick in their minds, or couldn’t concentrate, but most of all they recognized themselves as I described the kinds of learning problems our clients encountered and the problems associated with these quirks of learning. The inmates recognized there was hope.
So, why would LGS consider working with prisoners? Because we know it’s never too late! We know the levels of frustration, the helplessness and hopeless that comes when a child repeatedly experiences that when they try to do things academically it never comes out right. We know how the impulsivity is fed by the rage of failure after failure, year after year. We know it leads to drop-outs in the school system. Bad decisions become a way to vent the rage and hostility they feel and the self-hating behaviors that always leads to them falling though the cracks in our society.
Through the LGS Neuro-Educational Program, we have seen children, teens and adults come back from lives that were on the brink of being out of control. We have seen them finally try and succeed. We see their self-confidence build into purposeful positive actions and lives. The inmates are still there. I pray God will help LGS find a way to make life-long positive changes for them at those crucial places in their brains, where the lower levels of organization, processing and comprehension abilities can be remedied so they can learn, know, understand and succeed like others on the outside.
If you wish to support these efforts. Please send tax-deductable contributions to our non-profit: Steps Of Hope
There are all kinds of symptoms associated with autism. I’d like to share with you how Little Giant Steps Neuro-Educational Program can change things on the inside that can make a huge difference in the functional abilities in children we’ve worked with. Here’s one parent’s experience after she had an evaluation on her 8 year old child that came to us as totally non-verbal and diagnosed as autistic :
“Believe it or not, after 3 days on program and actively working to decrease my daughter’s stemming (constant clucking sounds), she began to say more words and sing songs instead. Her special Education teacher sent a note home that she was much more verbal in class on Tuesday. Yeah!!! Thanks for your support.” Sadler, in Tyler TX
How could a non-verbal child, who was not making eye contact, begin to show signs of improvement so rapidly? It’s all in getting the functional deficits figured out (done in our professional evaluations) and then applying a neuro-educational program (See #5) specifically designed to stimulate those areas of the brain that are not having through-put, connections or efficient communication. As one scientist once said in his research paper, “It’s as though these children have areas that are under-developed, yet all of the right physiology (neuro-pathways) are just sitting there waiting to be connected… waiting to be completed.”
That’s essentially what we do. We get the connections between the brain and body to become fixed or complete. We create, repair and re-wire the connections in the brain through the use of neurodevelopmental, cognitive, and physical activities that stimulate and create a completeness that had gone missing for whatever reason. Be sure and read our articles so you can better understand our modality of working with the natural abilities awaiting in the brain. It’s never too late!
Problem: My child always seems to be getting into people’s “personal space”; he’s also very clumsy and bumps into things and trips a lot.
Suggestion: These types of symptoms are typically from a lack of Proprioception (the body’s ability to know where it is in space). The Neurodevelopmental Approach can provide specific stimulation to the brain to develop proprioception and remediate these issues. The activity that is typically recommended for these symptoms is called “Deep Pressure” and provides stimulation to the brain to build neuropathways from the deep tissue in the arms and legs to the brain. The parent uses their whole hand to press or squeeze each limb, starting with the tips of the fingers and working their way up on both the inside and the outside of the arm all the way to the shoulder; and for the legs, beginning with the tips of the toes and working their way up on both the inside and the outside of the leg to just past the knee. Deep Pressure should be done for 4 minutes, twice a day, for 6 to 8 months for lasting benefit. For more information on The Neurodevelopmental Approach, please visit www.littlegiantsteps.com.
Suggestion: The Neurodevelopmental Approach to academics takes the stress out of academic performance (output) by providing lots of information (input). Don’t send your child off to another room to do an entire page of math drills of a concept they are struggling with or just learning; this kills the motivation to learn and any enjoyment of learning! Take the stress and tears out of your math sessions by spending just 10 to 15 minutes on math, twice a day. During these short math sessions, when you are teaching a new concept, the parent/teacher should do three problems and then have the student do one similar problem and repeat. Once the student understands a concept, you can gradually work up to the parent/teacher doing one problem and the student doing one similar problem. For more information on The Neurodevelopmental Approach, please visit www.littlegiantsteps.com.
Suggestion: These symptoms may be caused by a hyper-sensitive tactile system. The Neuro-Educational Approach can provide specific stimulation to the brain in order to normalize the tactile system. The activity that is typically recommended for these symptoms is called “Tactile Gloves” and provides stimulation to the brain to build neuropathways from the topical tissue sensors in the arms and legs to the brain. The parent should use scratchy bath gloves to gently rub their child’s hands, arms, feet and legs. Use a very light touch, like you are rubbing on lotion over the entire surface of each limb, from the tips of the fingers to the shoulders and from the tips of the toes to just above the knees. This tactile stimulation should be done for approximately 3 minutes, twice a day for 6 to 8 months. For more information on The Neurodevelopmental Approach, please visit www.littlegiantsteps.com.
Jan Bedell, The Brain Coach, has this tip for all of those parents who would like to see their children struggle less with learning and really enjoy the whole process of gaining their full range of curiosity and succeeding in their areas of greatest interest.
Each of us is born with tremendous potential. A well functioning tactile system is imperative for receiving information and taking that potential to the next level, which will then be transmitted into producing intentional movement (crawling, walking, running, etc.). Movement makes “memories” which causes the circuitry that releases intelligence. There is tremendous brain growth in the early years and unless the brain cells are connected through neuropathways that are built early, they can be lost. It is a use it or lose it scenario. Early development is like building a house, you have to have a good foundation in order for everything else to function properly. The good news for an older individual is that even if these pathways are immature or incomplete, they can be rebuilt with proper stimulation.
In recent decades, our society has become very mobile; with most families having two cars and the convenience of air travel, society as a whole is living farther and farther away from extended family members. Neurodevelopmentalists believe this separation from the extended family has caused many erroneous beliefs about child rearing to emerge. For an article on teaching babies go HERE.
MYTH #1: Babies should be on a blanket if placed on the floor.
TRUTH: As stated in an earlier newsletter, the tactile input to the brain would be limited by the blanket. In addition to that, have you ever seen an infant try to crawl (tummy on floor) while lying on top of a blanket? They just get all tangled up and frustrated because they can’t get anywhere.
MYTH #2: Infant seats are a necessity! When an infant is sitting in an infant seat, they somehow seem more human; i.e., it is easier to see their faces and for them to see you and they seem happier.
TRUTH: The best place for an infant is on their tummy on the floor. ON the floor in a prone position (on the tummy) is where they build the muscles for sitting alone and walking.
MYTH #3: Walkers are a great way to prepare the child for walking alone.
TRUTH: If a child does not go through the stages of tummy crawl and creeping on hands and knees for a long enough period of time, a ripple of adverse effects will occur. Gross motor coordination, organizational abilities and eye-hand coordination are just a few of the areas that could be adversely affected.
MYTH #4: The more gadgets, i.e. Johnny jump ups, fancy walkers, play pens, etc., I put my child in the better.
TRUTH: The more time a child spends in these gadgets, the less time the child spends on the floor, which means less opportunity for the brain to be organized at the lower levels. Lower level development is the foundation upon which all other development is built.
I encourage you to get your infants out of these gadgets and put them on the floor for lots of tummy time. Next month we will explore what to do if your older child missed these essential developmental stages. www.littlegiantsteps.com