Paving a holistic path for children with special needs.
Today I am welcoming one of my gorgeous friends to the blog, Kristen Morrison. We first connected many years ago via Facebook over our mutual interest of all things healthy. In that time, I have witnessed her family’s journey, smiled and laughed at photos and cheered at the milestones. I have no words for how much admiration I have for this woman. I wanted to share her story here today in the hope of inspiring other families whose children need a little help.
Kristen, tell us your story.
7 years ago, we welcomed our first baby boy who was born at home just like his sisters. Having had minimal testing – despite being in my late 30s, it came as a complete shock to us when we discovered he had Down syndrome – a condition I didn’t know the first thing about, except what it looked like!
Gryffin was adored from the moment he arrived but I knew he was going to need a lot of help. We were told to expect terrible health and development complications relating to the diagnosis, on top of intellectual disability and an overall compromised future. He would never drive a car, may not achieve an education and ‘you wouldn’t want him to have children, would you?’.
Nightmare doesn’t come close to describing the first few months until – after reading some encouraging stories online – we decided to prove the ‘experts’ wrong. We threw everything we had at achieving his absolute best with and for him. I gave up my career and spent 5 years working with him full-time at home.
The utter joy of watching him emerge like a butterfly was intoxicating, breathtaking and spurred us on every time he achieved a ‘win’ – and the wins came thick and fast!
Where did you go for help?
Initially I went to our family doctor – who had doubled as my obstetrician for all 3 of our kids. I asked him where a natural, holistic-minded parent might go for help in such a situation and he had no clue. Before forging my own path, the only other places I went to were an Early Intervention service, a Paediatrician and a Physiotherapist but frankly these weren’t a good fit for our family; their expectations were just too low and in that environment, we just couldn’t imagine him flourishing.
What happened next?
After realising that there was no ‘Holistic Service’ available for us, I researched intensely and put together my own program of therapies for Gryff including Naturopaths, Homeopathics, Nutritional Supplements, Osteopathy and Yoga for Special Needs children. A phenomenal kinesiology / acupuncture based technique – which balances out messages sent from the brain to parts of the body – brought miracles for Gryffin as he began to absorb his nutrients better, overcame food intolerances and improved his reflexes – at times overnight. Truly, this was miraculous and very exciting to watch! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of such successes for compromised children before – the potential was clearly WAY beyond anything I’d ever seen in the mainstream!
By the time Gryffin was 10 months old, he had a full day of exercises and therapies with me but I knew it wasn’t a complete approach; we could be more effective if we knew what else to do to help him. This is when someone introduced me to The Institutes For The Achievement Of Human Potential – a Not-For-Profit organisation based in Philadelphia USA.
The Institutes’ approach filled in every gap, gave us comprehensive strategies and tremendous hope for our son’s future! Theirs is a comprehensive program for stimulating every neurological function from hearing to seeing to reading and moving superbly, for children with neurological conditions of any degree or kind – genetic or otherwise. We read stories of blind children achieving sight, deaf children hearing for the first time, immobile children moving across the room, children’s diagnoses being lifted… normal lives being achieved in some cases! When we heard stories of adult graduates with Down syndrome driving cars, attending university, getting married and living independent ‘normal’ lives, we signed up without question! Gryffin’s Dad travelled to Philadelphia to do their parent training and 18 months later I attended the course in Singapore.
At this course, I was the only Australian and I vowed to bring what I had learned home to spread the word and help other parents to find true hope and solutions as we had.
Tell us about that program?
This program is different from anything else because it is entirely parent-run which means we do it all ourselves. No therapists needed! The course empowers you to assess your own child and then to create an ideal environment for a compromised child including changes to diet, sleeping arrangements etc and the removal of toxins from the home – because these kids are so sensitive.
Parents are trained to know which exercises to do with their children to target development areas which need help. For example, a child with vision issues will spend time being stimulated with light at many, many regular intervals throughout the day; a hearing impaired child will be stimulated with sounds of different volume and intensity, again at regular intervals and intensity daily.
On the subject of hearing, there are subtle issues with the auditory pathway in that whereas a child may be able to hear, they may not respond to ‘vital’ sound such a car screeching to a hault or a dog barking. This is not a normal reaction so The Institutes train parents to stimulate the reaction to vital sounds appropriately to specifically target this issue and develop appropriate reactions – which in this case are the child’s protection from the outside world!
With this program, physical movement is stimulated with an emphasis on moving symmetrically so activities like crawling and monkey bars are used. Intelligence is stimulated with a reading program and educational materials are presented to the child at a standard way ahead of the child’s age so they get to crave information, use their brains and explore their own inquisitive minds where they may not otherwise. (The kids LOVE the intellectual programs, in stark contrast to programs which assume the child isn’t very intelligent and therefore don’t stimulate or challenge much at all.)
Tell us more about The Institutes themselves?
The Institutes have worked with special needs children for the past 50 years, having begun their initial work rehabilitating adult stroke patients. The whole concept of ‘neuroplasticity’ comes from The Institutes’ founding research, which the Founder Glenn Doman did with a team of extraordinary minds including Nobel prize-winning scientists & NASA. This team is quite frankly dauntingly knowledgeable and the parent course they present gives parents the absolute best possible training to help their own kids. Their wealth of experience and spectacular results mean that they know exactly what a child needs to do to improve brain function. They know not only which exercises to do but how often and for what duration and these factors can make or break an effective program in my experience.
Honestly, children on these programs have a BALL and the rewards are so bountiful, you can’t help but continue as you watch your child’s abilities unlock and unravel (and begin to read street signs out loud at 3 years and under!).
By 3 years old our son could walk, run, read, do basic maths equations, he spoke well, attended day care 6 hours a week with neuro-typical children – he was a brimming success story for alternative and natural therapies, and – like his sisters – he had never had a drug in his life.
Still hasn’t today at 7 years old.
Who could this program help?
Quite honestly, any child with conditions such as Developmental Delay, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Aspergers syndrome, Autism spectrum disorders, Dyslexia, chromosomal or other conditions affecting brain-function… The gains are there to be had, through the efforts of parents with support from The Institutes.
Our Grow Foundation now sponsors The Institutes to come to Australia every year to present this course to Australian parents – for the first time ever – and the results for Australian families are stunning! (You can read some of these on the Grow Foundation website).
The Institutes For The Achievement of Human Potential’s
“What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child” Course
Date: March 31st to April 4th, 2014
Venue: The Bayview On The Park Hotel 52 Queens Road, Melbourne VIC 3004
To Book: Harriet Pinsker : email@example.com
Thank you so much Kristen. Your story is so inspiring – it gives me goosebumps. This information truly is paving a holistic path for children with special needs.
Please share this information if you know someone who may need this help.
It could make all the difference.