As I suspected, my every second has been accounted for since the course, so this is my 'very soon' post about the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential "What to do About Your Brain Injured Child" course. (This was brought to Melbourne by the fabulous people at Grow Foundation.) http://www.growfoundationforkids.org.au
Before I get into it, this course is named after a book. The book was written many years ago in response to a huge demand for the above Institutes' services and the realisation from the founder that parents are a child's best therapists. It was found that many conditions with specific names (such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD and even Down Syndrome, among many others) responded to the treatments that had been effective for stroke patients and the like.
Rather than referring to each condition by its own syndrome name, which didn't help treat the condition, they found it more helpful to refer to everyone as 'brain injured' or 'hurt', because treating them as such more often got them better. I've heard some parents react to the name negatively, but there's really no need.
Anyway, I decided to stay over at the hotel where the course was held, even though it was in my home city. The idea of getting out the door before 7.30 on a school morning, fed baby in tow, after arriving home from each course at about 8.30pm unfed seemed a bit far fetched. That was a really really good idea. There was homework every night and I struggled to get to bed before midnight most nights!
A few of us at the course had met previously online via a facebook group and it was like high school, with homework posts going on between us from our different hotel rooms.
The course itself was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
They talk on the first day about how the brain grows by use. By about the end of day 1 I could tell my brain had been used, because it just felt bigger. It seriously felt like there was less room in there. By the end of the week I could have sworn my head circumference had increased.
The course is done by video. They have recorded lectures given by key personnel at the institutes, including the founder, Glenn Doman, who sadly passed away in May this year aged 93. I have heard that he was lecturing up until the end of last year, which is a mighty effort. As far as I know, the video version is taken on tour around the world to ensure that the course is the same no matter where you do it.
Now I have to say that this was a big learning experience for me, since I have studied a lot about the mind, but never given much thought to the brain and how it works. Many people and disciplines confuse the two, but I'm certain that they are not the same. Either way, this course simply deals with the brain, not the mind. More like a person's function, rather than their personality. It was fascinating.
Glenn in one of his lectures mentioned that one time a man from Australia attended the course and wrote to him afterwards saying that he had worked out that the course could be delivered in a fraction of the time if one simply removed all the stories.....but the stories are what makes the course.
The sheer number of good news items and miraculous anecdotes is brilliant. There really is hope everywhere you turn. It's almost impossible that nothing could be done for a child whose parents are willing and on board to run the program the way it should be run.
So I went from being a complete brain-novice to knowing the names of the basic parts and how they seem to relate to development, then working out approximately where the injury is, then working out what's needed most urgently in terms of a program and working out how to get started.
There are so many factors to consider in terms of the environment and Jacinta's nutrition. We'd started on this already, quitting wheat a couple of months ago and cutting right back on dairy. When you really stand back and take a look, the food we all eat thesedays and the world we live in is SO toxic! 100 years ago, if you'd showed someone a packet of Cheezels and told them what was in it, they'd have looked at you like you were mad for eating them and politely declined one.
So it looks like we're going super-hippy on the foodstuffs, which is not that bad really. As my husband said, "It can't be all that bad if it means I get to eat steak every night.". It's also got me realising how my mum was again ahead of her time. The one thing they said on the food stuff was that if we did nothing else, if we ignored every piece of advice they gave us, we should at least just throw out all the heated oils we were using in food and not cook with anything except coconut oil. Just get cold pressed olive oil for salad. Apparently these oils go toxic when they're heated and even the extraction process heats them enough to do this.
I was cooking the other night and thought "I could actually save the fat from the meat I cook and use it again in the next meal, but how would I store it?", and then recalled an image from my childhood of coffee lids with fat in them in a little row next to the sink. This from an age when Mum only used olive oil for salad dressing, before we convinced her to use it in cooking. Bloody know-it-all kids!
So now I own a packet of quinoa, and have pronounced the word several times loudly and therefore am an expert. I have tried some experimental cooking, the least successful resulting in a kind of chocolate scrambled egg with some fairly raw quinoa through it, the most successful being a sort of maple syrup pudding with dried fruit which was quite delicious, but being the product of not-quite-terrible things that are still being evicted from the pantry will probably never grace my kitchen bench again.
I have also discovered that although I take my tea strong, with a little milk, and always will even if I never have a sip of milk again, a weak black tea (particularly with some lemon and a little sugar) is actually quite good!
I'm even amazed to see that in our house, where we used to go through a good 4 litres of milk every couple of days (we'd buy them in 4s from the 7eleven where it's 2 for $5 and you can run in and out in 20 seconds) we've now used up the last of the last cow milk and no-one's much batted an eyelid. My eldest polished it off last night without so much as an 'oh my goodness, last cow milk ever'.
It helps, of course, that we seem to have discovered the cause of those seizures mentioned in the first blog post which have been coming and going a bit lately, and that the remedy seems to be eating a strict diet of non-allergenic foods and water (plus rest).
Apart from the food stuff, we have to keep the house clean - which is a good thing, because I really want to but if I have to it's more likely. I've ordered one of those little vacuum robot thingies so I'm sure that will keep us entertained as it scuttles around the house of an evening picking up crumbs and hair ties.
I need to keep Jacinta on the floor as much as I can to give her a chance to catch up mobility-wise. It's been fairly widely acknowledged that Jacinta's well advanced in terms of social, audiological, visual, language development, but that mobility is delayed probably because of the heart issues and being on her back like a stranded turtle for half her life.
I'm brainstorming ways to keep the floor warm, having never realised that the reason my feet get so cold in winter is that the floor is actually much colder than the rest of the room! Five minutes after I put her down, she's freezing. I found a fluffy sheepskin at IKEA last week and it's brilliant for the short term. It's the wrong surface for moving, but at least she can be down there and keep warm, plus she can grab onto the wool strands to pull a bit and it's stimulating all her nerves wherever her skin touches it. Keeping her safe from her siblings' displays of love and affection is the next challenge!
Then there's the whole crawling program and the reading program, which is very exciting. I want to get a lot of this going with all three of my daughters. We made the first card for our reading program at the course and took it home.
|Not happy with the J or the t....|
One very interesting thing which I don't think happens a lot among those who attend the course is that on evaluating Jacinta's areas of ability (according to the chart which shows a person's developmental profile), she came out ahead overall for her age. This puts her in a category other than 'brain injured'. My goal when she was born was to apply what we could to keep her ahead of any delay that was meant to happen. So far so good. My dream when I went to the course was that she'd be not that bad and not have to have a really full-on program and we could do it in a few hours a day. Being that she fits into the category of a well child (for now), and she's under 1 so a couple of the things are for bigger kids, it looks as though we will get away with doing everything we want to do with her and probably in a few hours if we want to do it that way, which is good since I want to include elements for all three children.
Also, it needs to be said, the Institutes are adamant that they will 'fight for your right to say "no"'. They want you to do the whole shebang and get the best possible results, but they're not about to guilt you into doing anything you can't or don't want to do. If you can do one thing, they'd prefer you do it right and consistently then trying to do lots and doing it badly or sporadically, is the impression I got. This was a big relief, to know that I am the master of the schedule we set for Jacinta. Possibly the further we get down the line, the more she'll need and the more we'll have to include, but it's a nice gradient for us at least.
So for now I'm preparing to become a social pariah, bringing my own milk wherever I go and declining foodstuffs at every turn. Thinking wistfully of the holiday we had just two weekends ago, where we ended off with a trip to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. The girls played on the sprawling lawn, I had to chase after them to stop the 2yo heading onto the highway - leaving my baby with a kind stranger, so much fun. Actually, the thought of chocolate and ice cream makes me feel a bit sick, but still I can dream of this wicked utopia.