(Not my photo)
Definition of epiphany (n)
Big B, on his 1st Birthday
We learned that Dash has, over the years, developed some pretty good coping mechanisms to compensate for primitive reflexes that he still exhibits. These reflexes normally go away during infancy and toddlerhood, but apparently they can stick around for years on end. I was completely unaware that he has some eye muscle immaturity, which has likely interfered with his schoolwork. I won’t detail the full report here, but just highlight some things. With Dash being a great reader, I never suspected that his eyes were anything but normal. In reality, out of four areas of visual testing (ability to do slow and fast eye movements, light sensitivity, eye stability during head movement, etc.) he consistently had delays of at least two years (the eye development of a 6-10 yr.old). One test showed us exactly where he placed his eyes while reading a designated passage. Those with great reflexes and muscle development track smoothly through written passages. But Dash’s eyes moved not so smoothly, tracking back at points, and his effienciency diminished near the end, as his eyes began to tire.
He and Big B both hear perfectly well, but their processing of sound is delayed. While Dash’s balance and equillibrium were normal, his spatial awareness was that of a 6-yr.old. His core muscle strength was that of a 4-8 yr. old. All this and more helped me to understand my 13-year-old much better. Big B’s assessment was even more enlightening, if that is possible. He still retains all of the primitive reflexes. One of them is less pronounced than the others, but all are contributing to frustration in his current executive functioning. His core strength is that of a 3-year-old. While his auditory perception is that of a teenager, his auditory processing is also that of a 3-year-old. In terms of fine and gross motor development, spatial awareness, balance, rhythm, coordination and equillibrium, he is developmentally 2-years-old.
Big B’s eye muscle and vision tests were possibly the most surprising to me. They revealed that his eye reflexes are non-existent, meaning he can’t look to a point in what should be his peripheral vision without also turning his head in the same direction. The effect of this disability is that he’s suffered with a type of tunnel vision. Not that his eye muscles are defective, only they are poorly developed, as if he were still an infant. This discovery made me instantly both sad and hopeful. Sad, because he has labored with it now for six years, and I had not perceived it. Certainly I have added to his distress by my heretofor unrealistic expectations of him, in more ways than one. Especially regarding academic tasks, I have been humbled. I understand now that to press him to “catch up” academically with his 6-and 7-year-old peers is to ask the impossible of him. He is stuck in the sensory-motor stages of development.
I am also hopeful, because I understand that my 6-year-old’s neuroplasticity at this stage in the game is exceptional. I have seen into the wisdom of homeschooling. I felt that God had guided us formerly, and again recently, to pursue this course for our children. Right now Big B is the most needy, but all of our children are benefitting from the home programming exercises, and I expect to see an acceleration of developmental and academic progress as we move forward. Only in homeschooling circles have I found social and philosophical support for the idea that it is best to allow a child to progress academically at his own pace, even if it stretches into the teens. Without an intervention program like Brain Balance, many children are weighed down by these developmental delays, and they have to labor on the conveyor belt public model, despite their disabilities. The solution to these delays, without such helpful supports, does not happen without the passage of time. With the freedom to pursue improvement at individualized paces, what emotional and mental harm could we prevent! Brain Balance is a remedy to the scenario in which a child takes many years to achieve vital developmental milestones. In the homeschool community have we seen the evidence that children do catch up, even if it takes a long time, when they are allowed the freedom to pursue their course accordingly. But how merciful that programs like Brain Balance and groups like the NACD offer valuable intervention services that accelerate developmental processes for kids and families who struggle to efficiently navigate the journey.
After this lengthy post detailing vital ways the assessments have helped us, I hardly need to say that this service makes my short list of “the best money I’ve ever spent” items. Even if a parent chose only to embrace the assessment, nutrition and home programming element of this program, without the in-person sessions at BB, it would help immensely. This objective insight into a child’s reality can only be helpful in fostering a higher quality of family life. We may yet bring our other three children for assessement, as our circumstances permit. I hope in the mean time to take full advantage of what we have learned, and propel all of us wholeheartedly into the intensity of the program. This blog is sure to be one of the best pressure moderation valves I have available to me, moving forward.
Please share, if you think our journey could be helpful to others.