Neuroplasticity and the human brain in action

Archive for November, 2013

Dash’s Final Assessment and Graduation, Week 16

I’ve been meaning to do a write-up of Dash’s final assessment. We are so proud of his hard work!  His re-assessment reflects great progress. Though he could benefit from more sessions at the Brain Balance center, we are moving forward without them. If we had lots of money, we would keep him in, and probably enroll another couple of kids too!

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We will continue to do home exercises, and feel confident that he will soon be able to eliminate any lingering primitive reflexes. Of the eight primitive reflexes which were all present at his first assessment, he has eliminated one. On three others, there has been no change. He manifests those reflexes at the same level he did upon beginning, both of which he did not strongly manifest from the start. The other four are almost eliminated, but still hanging on. A few more months of dedicated home programming exercises will eliminate them completely.

In all vision tests he has improved, and now instead of 18 sets of eye exercises per week, he can go down to 2-3 sets per week. There is a lot of technical language that goes into the individual eye tests, which would be too complicated to summarize. So I will just leave it at that. His eyes are much better now! He is tracking more smoothly through the pages in his reading, and his comprehension, which initially was at 60%, is now at 90%. Obviously this means great things for his current and future academic abilities.

His auditory perception at the outset was already at the level of a 15-year-old when he began the program, and he retains that level today. In auditory processing, he advanced one year, putting him now at the level of an 11-year-old. Still lagging slightly, but not as much as before. In touch sensation, he advanced two years, from that of a 7-year-old to that of a 9-year-old. In fine motor development, he made great strides, going from an initial 7-year-old level, now to that of a 15-year-old. Eight years, in just three months! He moved up in the maturity level of his balance and equilibrium by one level, from a level 13 now up to a 14, 15 being the highest level measured.

Out of the six core muscle groups, his core strength improved in four out of six areas, remaining the same in brachiation (holding himself in a chin-up position) and sit-ups. In his supine core he went from age 6 to 10. In Prone core, he went from age 7 to 13. In lateral core, he went from age 8 to 11. And in push-ups, he went from age 4 to 9.

He advanced 5 years in proprioception/spatial awareness, having started at a 6-year-old level, and advancing to that of an 11-year-old. In synchronization skills, he made great improvements in all three areas. His ability to process rhythm, timing and motor planning, he advanced 5 years, going from his initial 5-year-old level, to now functioning at a 10-year-old level.  He surpassed his goals in gait and aerobics. Having started out at the level of a 5-year-old, he now functions at the level of a 14-year-old (9 years advancement!). And finally, in his overall balance/bilateral movements and equilibrium, he has also advanced 9 years going from a functional 8-year-old to a 17-year-old functioning level!

While there is clearly room for improvement, Dash has worked hard and made great progress, and we are so happy for him.  Another profound discovery we made, is that he is exhibiting a lot less ADHD behaviors than he did three months ago. At the initial and the final assessments, we filled out a Brown’s Scale survey, which assesses executive function impairments, associated with ADD/ADHD and related problems. As you can see from his current assessment (below), Dash has seen a great deal of improvement across the board, to the extent that I believe his ADHD symptoms are virtually gone. This is amazing to me, and this fact alone makes the entire program so worth it.

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Brown Scale goal is to have all scores fall into the green, meaning there is a lower incidence of counter-productive behaviors present.

And don’t get me started again on how much the diet changes have impacted me personally, and all of our family members! My early blog entries represent this thoroughly. Even if all we accomplished here was the establishment of better lifelong eating habits, and a long-term increase in our family physical activity levels, it would be the best money I ever spent. But Brain Balance has done so much more, and I’m just so thankful for that.

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My latest adaptation of our favorite diet-friendly cookie.

Double Chocolate Almond Meal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 Cups Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour

1/2 Cup melted Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup any combination of: honey, agave nectar, pure maple syrup

1/3 – 1/2 Cup high quality cocoa powder, preferably 100% raw cacao

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 – 3/4 Cup Enjoy Life brand gluten/dairy/soy-free, mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, except for chocolate chips. When all dough is mixed and coconut oil cooled down, add in chocolate chips. Line jelly roll baking sheet with parchment paper. Use small ice cream scoop to drop cookie balls onto pan, I usually do a grid of 5X6 balls per pan. Flatten cookie balls with palm of hand or spoon, because they won’t spread much on their own during baking. Cook for 6-8 minutes on 350. Let cool for fifteen minutes, and enjoy! Makes approximately 30 cookies.

We all attended Dash’s Brain Balance Graduation ceremony this week. They gave him a Brain Balance T-shirt (which he is still wearing, two days later!), a memory book with all of the brains from his achievement wall, and personal notes from staff members written inside. And see the beautiful sketch that Annie made below! She has talent!

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Dash with the amazing staff at the South Jordan Brain Balance Center

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With the family

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A beautiful sketch of Dash, by artist and BB staff member Annie.

Thank you so much Annie, we love it!!

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A candy-less Halloween can be fabulous!

Friends, if you are still following our blog, thank you. I hope it has been helpful for someone. I am behind again! Here is a quick post on what we did for Halloween. Stay tuned for a post with Dash’s final assessment results.  And here is a set of family photos, which I love. It reminds me that good health springs forth from a healthy relationship with food. I think all of us have achieved a healthier weight this year. The trend continues, with the exception of Baby Blues, whom we are encouraging to consume larger quantities of good calories. He has always been on the underweight end of the spectrum. So has Dash, for that matter.

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August 2012

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November 2013

We had talked with our kids at the beginning of October about making Halloween candy an incentive for getting all of their home program exercises done each day. Here is what we decided. The kids and I did alright with the exercises this last month, but we still didn’t manage to get them ALL in, as we were hoping to. As the end of this month drew closer, we had to make a decision about how we would celebrate Halloween. After talking as a family, we decided that instead of trick-or-treating, we would buy some new Beyblades and a Beyblade stadium, and let the kids do a tournament. We also decided to have a party at home, with treats and food that fit in with our diet. It was great! Big B and all of the kids were super excited all week, and kept asking us when we would go pick up the Beyblades, and when they could play with them. So we finally bought them on the 30th, and told the kids that on Halloween morning they could open them up and start warming up for the evening tournament. At 1pm on Halloween day, they were still going strong.:) Twenty years ago if you had told me all five of my kids would sit around and basically watch spinning tops “battle” each other in a plastic arena for hours on end, INSTEAD of going trick-or-treating, I’d have thought you were crazy! Alas, it is true. Spinning tops decked out with sculpted metal and plastic parts can be endlessly entertaining. Give each top a name and a battle persona, and the kids are set! Another fun event from Halloween week was the Trick-or-Toy party at the Brain Balance center. Here are a few pics. 

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Baby Blues and Big B, a samurai and a ninja.

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Big B doing a “toy” walk

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Sparkle and Big B, honing their Badminton skills. Using plastic golf clubs.

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Dash’s Achievement Wall at the Brain Balance Center

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Big B’s Achievement Wall, also at the center.

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A few pics from our recent photo shoot.

I misplaced my camera this month, for almost two weeks. If you know our family, you know that this is a long-standing problem. Though I must say, we have improved! Three or four cameras have fallen victim to our toddler-rich home environment (and the demonic fixation of at least two of my boys with flushing things down the toilet) in the last ten years. At least this time it was only misplaced, not deceased. And even if some pee wee tried to flush this one, we’d be ready. >:D THIS camera is waterproof! So I didn’t get the Beyblade tournament on film, but that’s OK. Sometimes we forget that once upon a time (only 10-15 years ago), before “blogging” was even a word, we all survived just fine without photo-documentation of every single family event or significant milestone. Sometimes we have to chuckle at our image-obsessed digital age, you know? The point is, Halloween can be fabulous without candy, and even without pictures!

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