Autistic?

Got Autism Tall GraphicIs your child showing signs of autistic behaviors? Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by a child that has impaired communication and social skills. But, being Autistic is so much more than that to families living an Autistic child or sibling. These wonderful children really are so bright and creative. Their struggles are real. Their little light seems to have dimmed during their toddler years and the information in their mind seemed to get trapped. Don’t despair. That bright child you saw at age one is still in there. With neuroplasticity, specialists have proven that we can rebuild lost connections in their brain. There are interventions now.

What happened?

Nobody knows for sure. Environmental differences, parenting, genetics and nutrition are so variable between children in different families, that it makes it almost impossible to pinpoint a cause or number of risk factors. Specialists have found some things that are consistent across the autism spectrum disorder. Certain neurological deficiencies that may not be the cause, but when stimulated in an early intervention way, produce fantastic results. We have linked to them below.

Specialists have also found that children that are very bright can actually have one half of their brain that matures rapidly and leaves the other half a little behind. This is often the case with Autistic children. Their left side matures fast. When the right side cannot keep up, the connection between the two halves weaken and disconnect. This is called Functional Disconnection Syndrome. This is why they start out super bright, then start to lose the connections.

Symptoms appear between 1-2 years of age. The child starts to show signs of sensory processing issures. They start to lose some to the tricks they learned in their first year of life. Communication and social problems start to take root. They begin having outbursts that are no characteristic of the usual ‘terrible twos’. They avoid eye contact and start to withdraw. It is time to stimulate neurological growth, catch up the right hemisphere and develop new connections between the two sides.Click here for more signs of Autism.

Unlock Brilliance MethodOur Unlock Brilliance has at home tests and exercises that help you to pin point the weaker functions and stimulate them to grow new neurological connections.

In addition to the Unlock Brilliance Exercises, we highly recommend a book by Dr. Robert Melillo titled Autism. Dr. Melillo is the co-founder of the Brain Balance Centers. He has put out a few fantastic books. We also recommend his books Disconnected Kids and The Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan. These books are a must-read for families with Autistic children. His methods are so successful that he now has over 85 Brain Balance Centers in North America. He is improving the lives of many Autistic Children. And, he puts his methods right in the book for you to do at home.

The above exercises can help with developmental disabilities or weaknesses regardless of the diagnosis. We do recommend seeing a specialist for a proper diagnosis, so you know how to talk to teachers and address issues. Knowledge is power.

Attention Deficit Disorder ADD

AAsperger's Syndromettention Deficit Disorder or ADD is characterized by symptoms of attention difficulty without hyperactivity. But, attention difficulty is not the only symptom. These kids often cannot finish a task or complete the last step of anything. They walk away and leave the fridge door open or forget to restart the dryer after taking their shirt out. These kids are fantastically creative, but have ‘their head in the clouds’ at homework time, dreaming up solutions to the world’s problems instead of doing their homework.  These kids really are fantastic and will probably be the next inventors or philosophers. We don’t want to change that. But, something has to be done, right? We can’t have mom going crazy, trying to get their homework out of them every night. Click here for more ADD Symptoms.

Imagine helping them keep that creativity and achieve the ability to focus and finish projects when needed. If they could, they would be a hybrid, right? They would be creative and responsible. Well, you can. Attention is a neurological development consisting of many parts of the brain and can be learned.

Baby usually  learns attention around 4 months when he or she starts to focus on daddy’s face, waiting for him to ‘coo’ and talk. Or, when watching mommy dangle a stuffed bunny above the baby seater. As they get a little older, their attention span should grow with them. If it hasn’t, some intervention can make a big difference.

 

Unlock Brilliance Method

There are several contributing factors to low attention span. Often in ADD kids we see stalled Primitive Reflex Integration in the brain stem area. This means these neonatal reflexes were not suppressed during the first year of life as they should be. The area of the brain called the Basal Ganglia is stimulated by certain motor movements and in turn suppresses the reflexes and stimulates the higher functions of the brain. If the Basil Ganglia is underdeveloped it cannot fully suppress the reflexes. Theses reflexes contribute to learning disabilities and  Attention Deficit Disorder. They are the troublemakers. Learn more about this and how to integrate them on our Unlock Brilliance Method page.

Also, Sensory motor skills are very important. Attention requires the ability to take in different stimuli, such as sound, language, sight, touch etc., then process it, plan and execute action or inaction based on what was just received. This is attention. Weakness in the sensory input, processing and execution will also cause a drop off in attention ability.

We go over both in greater detail and their strengthening exercises in our Unlock Brilliance Method page.

Auditory Processing Is Important

ADD kids struggle picking up everything the teacher says. This is usually caused by low Auditory Processing skills. For example, they may hear the teacher’s assignment, but due to Auditory Processing issues, may not hear the due dates, deadlines and other details. There are plenty of resources online to improve Auditory Processing Skills. We love Brain HQ. They have great Auditory exercises online and in apps.

A great book for stimulating Auditory Processing skills is Brain Integration by Dianne Craft.  It is a self published book, so not well proofed, but brilliantly gives a daily plan with great activities that will help correct Auditory Processing Disorders and other disabilities. Dianne has worked with challenged kids for over 20 years in her office and as a Special Education teacher. She compiled her successful strategies into the book  with easy actionable routine plans.

We saw huge improvement in our kids, when we brought these function up to par. We are excited for you to see the same. Good Luck! Email us and let us know how it goes.

Aspergers

Asperger's SyndromeAspergers is a developmental disorder in children that are very smart. And while specialists are finding out new information all the time, one specific cause or cure for Aspergers is still unknown. This is not a surprise to us. No two children have the same neurological wiring. Differences in gestation, birth, environment, parenting, experiences, health etc. cause differences in the wiring of the brain as it develops. Some areas connect stronger, and others have weaker connections. These weaknesses can cause developmental issues. See a list of Aspergers Symptoms here.

 

This is what we are about!

We find the weak connections and strengthen them. Specialists have great success using this strategy. These exercises can be done with an Occupational Therapist or right at home.

Children with Aspergers do not have all of the same challenges and symptoms. This is why it is sometimes a long process to get a proper diagnosis or lack thereof, even though they are showing many signs. But, there are some consistent traits and weaknesses that generally are found in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Aspergers.

Find the weakness and strengthen it

Aspergers Babies are born with reflexes known as Primitive Reflexes or Infant Reflexes. These reflexes help them through the first year of life but  go away as the baby develops muscle control, or should go away. However, quite consistently in Aspergers kids, they have some or all of these Primitive Reflexes still active. We call these the ‘trouble makers’ that interfere with cognitive development. Some specialists even theorize that they are the underlying cause of many developmental disorders. They seem to cause a weak foundation. We have seen and heard a lot of great success stories about children and adults gaining great improvement by exercising the reflexes away.

 

Asperger's SyndromeOnce the trouble makers are taken care of, you can check their cognitive and sensory functions. Another problem consistent in Asperger children are their sensory processing challenges. Dr. Robert Melillo, neurologist and founder of over 80 Brain Balance Centers, found that children with Aspergers often have a right brain delay. This means that the sensory and other functions in the right side of their brain are weaker. This causes some over sensitivity in the other side and lack of communication between the right and left hemispheres. He calls this Functional Disconnection Syndrome. He found that by exercising these functions to strengthen the weak ones, he could get the hemispheres to reconnect and improve or cure the dysfunctions and symptoms. We have Cognitive/Sensory tests and exercises here on our site. But, you can read more about his method in Disconnected Kids. One of the best books I have read on developmental issues and their cures.

Read More …

Dyscalculia

DyscalculiaDoes your child have Dyscalculia? It is not a simple test to take. We aren’t big on labels anyway. We ARE big on finding interventions that can help them improve neurologically, and thus improve or reverse the problem. There are simple tests and exercises that can strengthen the functions of the brain and help the different areas of the brain communicate better. We will discuss that more below.

Some children memorize so well that the Dyscalculia becomes more evident when they start doing math that requires more than memorization. But, if a child has a memorization problem too, the dyscalculia is evident early on. Click here for a list of Dyscalculia Symptoms.

In recent studies, it was found that lack of communication between the right and left half (hemisphere) of the brain was a big issue with children suffering from dyscalculia. This lack of communication between the two hemispheres can be attributed to lower cognitive function on one or both sides. Math needs good communication between both sides of the brain. Basic math is handled mostly in the left hemisphere and number cognition is mostly processed by the right hemisphere. As luck would have it, math problems require both. Is it any wonder they would struggle if the two hemispheresare not communicating well with each other?

Dyscalculia is diagnosed mostly by symptoms. It’s characterized by difficulty in basic math. The child may have good memorization skills that allow them to memorize 2+2=4. But, they do not understand the concept behind it. They cannot connect the number symbol’s meaning, to the world around them.

Dyscalculia

 

“What does the symbol ‘6’ and a picture of some apples have to do with each other?”

 Then it gets more complicated…

discalculia dyscalculia

They are often very pictorial children. They just can’t make the connection.

There are plenty of math practice sheets online, so we won’t duplicate that here. They are great, but dyscalculia needs more than practice, practice, practice. Let’s find the weaker areas of the brain that are causing the dyscalculia and strengthen them through cognitive and motor exercises. Once functions are stronger, there are exercises that help the two halves start to work together. Brains can rewire. Neurologists say ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’. Let’s get them firing together.

Cognitive Function Exercises

After exercising the cognitive functions to make sure they are all working strong, start adding brain integration exercises to help connect the two hemispheres. These exercises can be games, dances and more. The best resource for these exercises is Brain Gym by Paul E. Dennison. You should see great improvement after taking these two steps. Then move forward with teaching them math.  

 

References and additional reading.

http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2012/8/30-19381_Study-Links-Math-Abilities-to-Left-Right-Brain-Com_article-wide.html

www.mathematicalbrain.com/pdf/HMC26.PDF

http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/2013/01/dyscalculia-tied-to-communication-between-brain-hemispheres/

ADHD

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder-Let’s cure it!

ADHD is defined by a list of symptoms that include much more than attention difficulties and hyperactivity. These bright children generally have over or under active sensory processing issues. They are often intolerant to certain foods which is manifested through crazy behavior instead of hives or a sick stomach. They are often impulsive and don’t respect personal space. They have what we call ‘all or nothing’ reaction. This means that they either love or hate people and things based on their immediate interaction with them. The slightest infraction can change their love to anger. For example, they could love the little girl at school yesterday because she gave them a candy and hate her today because she looked at them wrong. There is no Gray-Area Thinking (mentioned further below).  This with the impulsivity problems makes relationships hard at school and in the family setting. Click here for a list of ADHD Symptoms.

Can it be cured?

The protocol in the past was to help the child cope with their disorder. Thankfully, they are learning much more about neurological development now. There are specialists now that are reporting wonderful success by exercising their sensory/motor skills and neurological connections to strengthen the weaknesses causing the misfiring of neurons that contributes to ADHD. There are centers popping up all over the U.S. that do these interventions. The good news is that they are easy enough to do right at home. We will go over them below. We tried them with our daughter, Lyla, and really saw a huge improvement. The best part was when they removed Lyla from the ‘special class’ because she started doing so well on her assignments. The teacher even said:

“I don’t know what is going on, but something has switched in Lyla. She is doing better in class, respecting the other kids personal space and having better behavior”

We noticed that she started making more friends and acting more mature. That did it for us. We were hooked and have been trying to share these interventions with as many people as we can, because they work.

Let’s find the weakness and strengthen it!

Unlock Brilliance Method

You see, in ADHD kids and adults, there are certain parts of their neurological development that is weaker than the others. When this happens, the parts of the brain don’t connect as well. This causes a more random pattern of information flow. The Unlock Brilliance Method helps pin point these weaknesses and strengthen them.

Diet is also extremely important. There are certain foods that are know to make ADHD kids even more hyper. They get twitchy and have a hard time with eye contact and attention.  These foods get absorbed into their bloodstream without the proteins being properly broken down. They cause the child to have adrenaline rushes and go into ‘fight or flight’ mode.  These foods are outlined here and should be avoided until the child has overcome their ADHD symptoms. There is a fabulous book called Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan by Dr. Robert Melillo. It details what your child should be eating and why. Dr. Melillo is the co-founder of the Brain Balance Centers and has wonderful success in his practice with ADHD kids. Great Author! Great Book!

ADHD diet is not only about what not to eat. Eating nutritious foods full of Essential Fatty acids and Lecithin is vital to neurological function. The Lecithin helps break down the Essential Fatty Acids for the brain to use in neurological coating,firing and development. Is a matter of fact, the brain is about 30% Lecithin. Of course, there are other important nutrients that the brain requires to function properly, they are all outlined in the nutrition book we mentioned above along with some great kid-friendly recipes.

Once they have shown a lot of improvement in their sensory exercises from the Unlock Brilliance Method, we recommend a book by Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan, called The Learning Tree. This book teaches parents and clinicians how to take children to higher thinking levels, such as Reflective Thinking and Gray-Area Thinking etc. These levels of thinking are critical in life. ADHD kids need help progressing through these thinking levels. Dr. Greenspan won national honors including the Ittleson Prize for his work.

The above mentioned interventions helped our Lyla so much. We love to hear your success stories. Email us and let us know how it is going.

Dysgraphia

DysgraphiaDysgraphia? There is early intervention.

Dysgraphia is characterized by a difficulty in written expression. This generally includes very messy handwriting; poor spelling and reading skills; and a problem with words and ideas coming smoothly. These are all skills that are predominantly handles in the left side of the brain. Click here for a list of Dysgraphia Symptoms.

Dysgraphia is a brain-based disability. Contrary to what many think, it is not a lack of practice. Is a matter of fact, these children usually work much harder to accomplish the same writing assignments as their classmates. They generally put way more effort in, or get so frustrated that they start to withdraw and avoid it all together. It is so hard to watch them struggle with little or no improvement. Mommy and child usually end up crying at homework time.

Good News!

The good news is that there are interventions. Because Dysgraphia originates with a weakness in the brain function, it can be stimulated to improve with simple exercises. That’s right! In 1948 Jerzy Konorski, a Polish Neurologist, first introduced neuroplasticity, the brains ability to reorganize and rewire. It wasn’t until recently that tests and studies were done that proved his theory. We can rewire neurologically to solve problems.

Below, we will go into interventions you can do right at home to help reverse dysgraphia.

Unlock Brilliance Method

Like most of the other disabilities, it is important to make sure they have eliminated the trouble makers and strengthened the weak sensory and cognitive functions. See our Unlock Brilliance page for these simple tests and exercises.

Short and Long term memory, as well as working memory play a very big roll in the ability to form letters, word, sentences and thoughts. There are many exercises online to help with these, so we won’t go into that here. Google ‘how to improve memory’ to find a lot of great idea.

Visual-Spatial ability is important very important in handwriting. There is a very good book by Dianna Craft called Smart Kids Who Hate To Write. We highly recommend this book for more info on the Visual-Spatial activities for handwriting.

Executive Function

After you see a good amount of improvement in the above areas, start working on games to help them improve organization. We do this last, because it is a higher function of the brain that may not have developed well if the other functions were lacking. Now that they have improved the other functions, it is time to help them with their Executive Functions, specifically Organization.

  • Get objects around the house that they can organize or sort and categorize in different ways.
  • Sit down and talk with them about something they are passionate about. Make mental lists and help them to organize and categorize them verbally or on paper. For example, if they love Legos, talk about the different Minifigures they make. Talk about some that could go in the same color category or some that go to the same movie or story. You could look up cute ones online and help them draw them in different groups in a note book. Anything you can do to get them organizing items and thoughts. It has been proven that children learn more and retain more if it is a subject they are passionate about.
  • Help them recall memories of past events or activities and put them into categories. For example outdoor activities & indoor activities or  birthday parties & school parties etc.

Try to do the interventions with them daily or at least a few time per week. Keep it within their attention span and use incentives.  It sounds like a lot to tackle, but just take it slow. Keep it fun. And enjoy the one-on-one time with your child. You are improving a life.