First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Aaron. I am 20 years old and a sophomore in college. I love the four G’s; God, guns, girls, and good old American guts. I love to rock climb. I go to church three times a week and teach a weekly Bible class for young adults. I love hanging out with my awesome brother, David (I call him Dave – he’s 17 years old).
I was asked to write a letter about my experiences with Jan Bedell, founder of Little Giant Steps (LGS), and a Neuro-Educational Specialist. If you are reading this letter, it might be because you are considering or have already started her program. I can imagine that you might be feeling a little nervous about this. I know exactly how you feel because I had to do the same thing my freshman year in high school. I thought it might help you to know the end result of doing the LGS Neuro-Ed. Program. I know how hard it was for me when all I had was a little piece of paper telling me to do all these strange things twice a day. Hopefully, sharing my experiences with you will make it easier for you. (Now LGS provides online assistance for training, program delivery, and video examples for easier learning and understanding of what Aaron calls these “strange things”, which consists of physical and cognitive activities).
When I was in middle school, I was a big band nerd. I LOVED music and still do. However, apart from church and my family, I was pretty much a loner. I had one friend. He was my best friend and we did everything together. He was very outgoing; I was not. I pretty much followed his lead. I started mimicking his actions and phrases. Basically I was becoming someone else. At this time, my brother and I didn’t get along very well at all. He has learning disabilities and he used to irritate me a lot! In school, it seemed like the harder I tried, the more I failed. Many times I thought it was better if I didn’t try at all. I did not have any confidence in myself. I was taking 15mg of Ritalin a day and had to go to the doctor every three months to get my blood drawn. .
During my freshmen year in high school, my life began to change. Actually, the changes started the summer before my freshman year, when I went to see Jan and she put my brother and I on program (we always called it “therapy”). Most of the therapy I had to do was strange and boring but I was willing to stick to it and do it every day because I wanted to be smarter. My Mom and brother and I faithfully did our therapy for several hours every day. The one thing I had trouble with, though, was the eye occluding. It gave me a headache and sometimes I had an upset stomach. Also, I was using these funny looking glasses that my mom made and I didn’t want to wear them outside the house.
A few weeks after school started, my grandfather, we call him Pops, suggested that I use an eye patch to occlude instead of those funky glasses. I could see that the therapy we did over the summer was already making some changes in my life and I really wanted to do everything I was supposed to do so I decided to give the eye patch a try.
I can’t count the number of times that I was asked, “What happened to your eye?” I really got tired of telling the same story over and over again, and hardly anybody understood what I was telling them anyway so I eventually began telling people that the eye patch helped my brain to work better. I won’t lie to you; there were some people who made fun of me! I also found out that if you have confidence in the fact that you are trying to improve yourself, even if that means doing something that is drastically different than what everyone else is doing, that you can gain people’s respect! When I say you are becoming a better person, I am not saying that to make you feel arrogant or prideful; just simply, going through the “patch experience” not only helps improve your brain, it teaches you a lot about yourself!
You have to learn how to live with only one eye. For the first hour that you are covering your eye, your brain puts up a false depth perception. So you can still function fairly well, but after that first hour, your brain looses that ability and you find yourself pouring juice on the floor instead of in your glass. Any doorway or pole that looks like it is a long way off…well…it may or may not be, and hurling objects become impossible to catch. You will learn little tricks to help you. Such as putting your thumb in the glass when you are filling it up so you know when to stop! In fact, you will constantly find new ways to adapt to your new situation, and that, in turn will give you confidence in your ability to adapt to even more difficult situations. Little by little, you begin to change the way you look at challenging situations in your life. So, you not only get rid of the pesky learning difficulties or attention problems, but you also build up your self-esteem.
I have a word of caution. There are going to be days when you want to pull your hair out, maybe even days when you feel like you can’t possibly do this anymore, but you NEED to stick with it. Whatever you do, push on till the end. It is very important that you have some one who loves you very much BUT will not let you slack off or slide or quit. They have to be able to be firm and pull you through when you don’t feel like going on. This is very important in everything you do and in every area of life. I’ve been lifting weights for about 3 years now. About a year and a half ago, I hooked up with a good partner and I workout almost every day, except Sundays! I see the importance of going to the gym every day. Even when I’m feeling tired and not wanting to workout, my partner is right there saying “here we go, build those big arms.”
My parents were the awesome partners for me! They were always behind me 100%. They pushed me and pushed me! Sometimes I was SOOO mad but I did it and now I am Ritalin free. I can listen to lectures in my college classes and pay attention and understand without any problems. I have wonderful friends that love being around me and I love being around them. I’m also a lot better in sports now. Before I started Jan’s program, I wasn’t very coordinated, but now I love playing sports because I’m good at it (the cross crawling, creeping, marching and skipping really helps with coordination).
I have so much to be thankful for because of the confidence and pride I carry in knowing that I really can do anything I set my mind to! I cannot talk enough about Jan’s Neuro-Educatiional Program. I haven’t even talked about the WONDERFUL young man my brother has turned out to be and the progress that he has made. He had to wear an earplug and a lot of other stuff that I didn’t have to do. He was even worse at sports than I was and now he’s on his high school football team! My brother and I are now best friends. We have a special bond that we enjoy as a direct result of Jan’s therapy. Everyone who has put 100% into her therapy could probably write letters very similar to the one I’m writing to you. One day you will look back at this time in your life and appreciate the hard time as a turning point in you life for the best!
Your sincere servant of hope,
Aaron Thompson AKA Pirate (because of the eye patch), AKA Superman (because of Philippians4:13)