Archive for February, 2011
Jeremy’s mom shared her story and experience, then gave us permission to share with you. We hope this true story will be an encouragement for all the parents out there seeking “what works” for their children:
“To say Jeremy is a puzzle is an understatement.
In 2003, we moved into Oklahoma from another state. The state in which Jeremy was born offered him no help. Each entity that was supposed to “help” only pointed me to the next, until I came full circle. Jeremy was the one who suffered from the buck-passing the most.
When we came to Oklahoma so did the means for his help. By the grace and mercy of God, we found Ms Theresa, a long-time occupational therapist. She had a heart for kids like Jeremy. In her eyes, their needs were often misunderstood. At that time, Jeremy had so many issues, even with her 20 plus years of experience, she had trouble seeing where one issue ended and another began. We worked on his sensory integration issues in occupational therapy for 2 years. We made enough progress to begin to see some of his developmental issues more clearly, but he still didn’t speak more than an odd word here or there and not necessarily even in the correct context.
He was beyond his fifth birthday, the medical community had already told me he missed his “language window” and he would never develop spoken language. I was determined to find an answer. I was not willing to accept that fate for him. I knew by now that if I didn’t fight for Jeremy, no one would.
It was time to start thinking about school. I had been homeschooling my two other sons from the beginning of their formal education, but I was not at all sure I was ready to take on the challenges that I would face with Jeremy. One day the subject came up with Ms Theresa. She was the one who urged me to homeschool him. Her exact words were, “It is the only chance he has of getting the help he really needs. No one else will look for the things he needs, they will treat him like any other child who cannot verbally communicate – no matter what the reason is that he doesn’t.” Knowing she had many years of public school interaction and therapy experience, I took her point of view very seriously. That’s when I began looking for an educational expert to help me form and administrate an individual plan for my special little boy. That is also when I found Jan Bedell, M.Ed. M.ND., and Little Giant Steps.
The details of finding Jan Bedell, founder of Little Giant Steps are intricate, it was a process ordained by God Himself. Jeremy and I first met with Jan in February 2005 when he was 6 years old. He didn’t answer any questions and he failed to respond to any of her promptings or directions. After his initial evaluation, I was told he processed language like an infant, a 1 year old to be exact. I was devastated. Jan was not. She began to explain the neuro-developmental approach. Jeremy could not have possibly missed his “language window” if his brain had not developed to that point, regardless of his chronological age. She never promised it would be easy. She never promised he would ever completely catch up, but she did say that with working the program there would be improvement in his development. And, as a mother, something is better than nothing. We started immediately.
I would be less than honest if I said I was not completely overwhelmed at that point. We had ninety-nine activities to do each day. We spent the days crawling on our bellies and creeping on our hands and knees. The cross action of the crawling alone was so difficult for Jeremy it would reduce him to tears. I had to use individual size bags of candy as an incentive. I would throw a small bag down to the end of the hallway and if he could crawl or creep far enough to get to it, he could have it. Most days he was in tears and most nights after I tucked him in to bed, I was. I had to remind myself continually that I was doing this for his good.
There were many times I wanted to give up. It was hard for me to watch him work so hard, and yet each time I came to a point of decision, I would see a huge improvement in him. Like the very first night he said, “I love you” when I kissed him on the cheek at bedtime. Or the middle of another night when I heard him call me from the monitor in his room, “Mom ~ .”
What may seem like small potatoes to some parents can be monumental accomplishments to others. For me, each one of those moments was monumental! And those monumental moments came at just the right time, so that I didn’t give up. God alone knew the days and times I needed that encouragement the most, and He was faithful to provide it for me.
The weeks and months passed. By July of 2005, Jeremy was processing at a 2-3 year old level, he was also doing math and reading at a Kindergarten level. Although Jeremy didn’t perform as well in the testing as he did at home, he still showed improvement. He showed six months improvement in a four-month period of time. That may not seem like much, but before the program he had not developed beyond 12 months in five years, and now he was experiencing development at more than double the average rate! I was thrilled, and it was enough for me to take on another trimester!
With our new program outlined, and my parent training completed, we went back to Oklahoma to begin again full of hope for the future…”
WHAT DOES SPORTS HAVE TO DO WITH NEURODEVELOPMENT (ND)?
I know so many kids and their parents are extremely involved with sports. I have been amazed at the “sport camps” that are available. One very talented 13 year old was literally “recruited” to attend a very pricey camp with the promise of competing with other outstanding athletes and possible collegiate “scouts” being on hand before they ended their camp experience. Imagine, a middle school volleyball player being scouted by a college? Well, it sells!
I often think about the successful experience we’ve had with our student athletes who have been on our ND Programs. For instance, here’s Steven’s story:
“I can’t believe how much this program has helped me. It changed my life! Immediately in sports I can see the ball traveling at 65-70 mph coming straight at me and I can hit it. My stats were 21 at bat and 15 hits and that is incredible for me. I think I was one of the best on the team. I went from the bottom of the batting order to close to the top! Steven Schuetz age 14 12-08-07.”
Now, why did Steven have such a bump of improvement in his ability to play baseball? It has to do with the heart of all ND Programs. We look for functional areas that are not up to par or grade level through our evaluations which not only include academic testing, but also a thorough checking of all functional areas (6) and (9) levels of development. Our remedy for the less than stellar functioning area is to develop an individual neurodevelopmental program that will help to stimulate the brain so there will be more neuro-connections or pathways created. When there are better connections, it results in greater neuro-efficiency ( mind-body communications are accelerated). Now, since we are creatures who’s brains can change and develop higher skill sets in many different areas such as cognitive, sensory, sight, and motor; it makes perfect sense that sport abilities improve!
Here’s an case in point for a girl I’ll call Amanda. She is an excellent volleyball player. She was considered to be gifted and talented via the school’s assessments, but she had trouble following directions and organizing her thoughts, especially during games. She would get in the huddle with her team mates, listen to the coach, run back out on the floor and panic! She couldn’t remember all the things she was told. She’d shake off the panic attack, as play began, and just do the best she could. Invariably, when she was pulled out of the game, her coach would scold her for not doing what he’d told her. While she was really a good volleyball player, she hated the panic she felt every time she was on the court. So, what was there to do? How could she get over these horrible panic attacks and the constant frustration from her coaches? She couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t she follow directions. There were times she secretly hated herself over this.
LOW PROCESSING ABILITY
Like so much in the work we do, most of the problems Amanda experienced do not have to become a life sentence. With a ND Program that increased her auditory processing ability, which is short-term memory, Amanda’s ability to hold pieces of information together increased. Another part of her program helped lower levels of brain organization. In fact, in our opinion, one of the most serious problems in student’s lives today is due to the fact we’ve become such a visual society, most of our children’s auditory processing is below their grade level. It can be remedied very successfully, but they must be tested and then do the brain stimulating activities that will develop those connections in the brain and will bring about low level organization in the brain. Suddenly Amanda and all those who once suffered from low processing, no longer have to deal with panic, fear or anxiety because they didn’t “get it”. All of a sudden, with this intervention, they CAN follow directions, they CAN remember what someone said, and they KNOW what to do. When the function appears, the frustration and failure disappears!
LGS provides a FREE Test Kit to check out your child’s processing abilities. Just order it and follow the directions. There is a great booklet that gives more details on this issue called “What Every Parent Needs To Know About Auditory Processing”.
This article will finish our series on Challenges and Changes. We thank our guest author, Marcia B. Blackwood for sharing her knowledge and wisdom with all of us. If you’ve not seen the other articles, go to our website blog and read the complete article. It will be a blessing!
CHALLENGES AND CHANGES ~ Part 3, By Marcia B. Blackwood
We believe that parents are the most effective teachers and are the experts on their children, so they are an integral part of any evaluation. Their observations and insights are invaluable in determining how to remediate any learning inefficiencies. For children who are not learning well under their present circumstances, that is not in any way a reflection of their potential. It is, rather, a reflection of the inefficiencies they have today. If we can identify those inefficiencies and address them with appropriate stimulation on a regular basis, we can eliminate or remediate those inefficiencies.
One way to check your child’s processing abilities is to order our FREE Auditory & Visual Test Kit. All directions are included. If you wish to have more information on Auditory Processing the booklet: What Every Parent Should Know About Auditory Processing provides more information and ideas on how to resolve such issues.
Here are a few programs for helping children become more neurologically efficient and increase their processing abilities:
Frequency refers to how often the child will participate in that specific activity. The more frequently one addresses the activity, the more frequently the brain must also address the new stimulation. Thus, it is more likely to affect changes within the brain and for learning to occur.Intensity refers to the strength of the input during the activity. I feel that it is by far the most important of the three, yet is the most difficult to maintain. I have found myself pushing on to “finish” when intensity has dropped to zero. I realize that I’m not going to get productive or positive results if I continue. We may be able to make a child stay in one place for an extended period of time (duration) while we go over and over the material (frequency), but the child has much control over the intensity of the input. If the child is “turned on” he learns rapidly; if “turned off”, learning may never occur.
Welcome another one of our associates an a guest author:
By Marcia B. Blackwood, Certified ND
Several times over the last year, I have been asked to explain the general approach that I use as a Neurodevelopmentalist. I have written several articles on different aspects of my approach but have not given an overall picture of it. With this article, I will attempt to do so.
The very foundation of the neurodevelopmental approach is an understanding of the brain structure and capacity. The newborn child possesses all the brain cells he will ever have. These brain cells are not replaced if they are injured or die. The brain has approximately 100 billion cells (accounting for approximately 3% of the brain mass), and 100 trillion connections (97% of the brain mass).
God has perfectly designed the container here—the more you put in, the more the brain will hold. There is generally more than one area of the brain that can assume the same function. The brain is able to modify its structure and its performance in response to the environment.
Increase in the weight and size of the brain of a maturing child is due to the production of connective tissue. Stimulation increases the number of connections within the brain, and, as these increase, so does the efficiency and organization of the system. The endless variety of specific stimulation accounts for the great differences among individuals in the development of the sensory pathways, motor pathways, and function.
Function, then, is a reflection of how well the brain is organized or how efficient it is in taking in information and using it. Function can be greatly reduced if the brain does not receive the stimulation and opportunities that enhance its production of connective tissue. At any time in the life of a child, the process of neurological organization can be stopped or at least slowed by injury or environmental deprivation. But the process can be greatly increased and enhanced by carefully planned activities that stimulate connective tissue production. More next time, or if you wish to read the entire article right now by following this link.
~ Many thanks goes to Kay Ness, Certified ND, for her work and sharing her knowledge with our audience.
Once the sensory systems and processing abilities are evaluated, neurodevelopmentalists evaluate how the individual thinks, either visually or linearly. An individual needs both abilities but often, due to developmental issues, lopsided development takes place and we often see individuals with great visual abilities and no logic, or the contrary, great linear thinking but no ability to think globally. Balancing these thinking abilities is important in helping the individual function normally and eliminates some “strange” behavior.
Little Giant Steps thanks our associate for sharing her knowledge and talent with all our parents who are seeking answers. If Kay Ness’ information resonates with you, please start by investigating the many articles, parent’s success stories, and if this methodology makes sense. Fill out the Survey, and let’s get started with making positive changes for your loved one. Learning can be made much easier when the brain is functioning efficiently.