Did you grow up like me, learning that Pluto was a planet then one day, it wasn’t? Every single one of us had to unlearn that fact.
I find unlearning things quite difficult. It means I have to let go of a belief that might be rooted deep in my belief system and replace it with a new way of thinking.
That belief that Pluto was a planet was taught to me by several competent teachers. It was in all the encyclopedias and science projects. All the schools and universities throughout the world taught Pluto was a planet. Pluto had been considered a planet since 1930. The discovery made headlines across the globe. Then one day in 2006, Pluto stopped being a planet.
That scenario above describes what happened to my husband and I the day we attended The Family Hope Center Parent Training in Nov 2014.
We sat in a large room with parents and professionals from all over the world. Interpreters were in the back and all of us were unlearning all that had been told to us about our children and their brain development issues. Parents from all over the world were being challenged to unlearn old paradigms, beliefs, mindsets, and scripts.
I don’t think Pluto being reclassified in 2006, upset many people. It made the news, and Tshirts were made, and life continued. We all unlearned that Pluto was planet and went about our day, but why wasn’t the population more resistant? Professionals of the highest degrees told us that Pluto was a planet. Why didn’t we hold tight to the belief that Pluto was still a planet? The scientists had changed the criteria and Pluto fell short. End of story.
But, those of us who work with children or adults with brain development issues, dig our heels in and are very resistant to unlearn the rhetoric or accept the evidence based data that challenges the current systems in place for those whose brain development is compromised mildly, moderately, severely, or profoundly.
There are a core group of professionals telling me, my time as his mom will be best served, making appointments, discussing med changes, sitting in waiting rooms, standing in lines for prescriptions, as I manage all kinds of impulsive behaviors at home and in public. I’m to sit on sidelines and stay out of the way. Don’t question the science. The degree on the clinic’s wall speaks for itself.
Whereas another core group of professionals are telling me, my time will be best served developing the brain at home where I can control the intensity, frequency, and duration and get to the root of the behaviors. They tell me brain development is time intensive. No therapist can implement a time intensive program. They have huge caseloads. The current system is set up for parents to sit on the sidelines and watch. Just like athletes, individuals with brain development issues need a time intensity program to become stronger, faster, and smarter.
My son’s autistic behaviors were never learned. The reason he licked everything wasn’t because he saw me or his siblings licking everything. He licked everything cause his sense of smell was so poorly developed. His brain wasn’t registering smells. Just like a baby he put stuff in his mouth to discover it.
Being open to a smell program with enough intensity, frequency, and duration, allowed my son to stop licking things, but it took multiple sessions during the day to develop the pathway. My role as a parent sitting on the sidelines and waiting rooms was over. Being the main player on the team was transformational for my son and family.
I could control the intensity, frequency, and duration at home. I could employ or recruit professionals or volunteers aligned with my son’s brain development goals. I chosed to be coached by Family Hope Center on how to lead my “Brain” team to success.
For so many years with therapy programs that just dealt with behaviors, left my son extremely dependent on aides and me. He had no interests other than his tablet. He paced, he self injured. He had only two facial expressions. He could do a mad face and a forced, unnatural smile. His eyes never reflected his mood. Although he felt all emotions, whether jealous, irritated, joyful, sad…his facial muscles never reflected it and his eyes had a vacant stare.
It is well proven that belly crawling as babies develop the cranial nerves for making expressions and the internal drive to be present and to be mindful.
Could it be possible that my son go back to belly crawling at 10, 16, 19 years old and develop the ability to make expressions, become internally motivated, and present with others? Would I be willing to unlearn that crawling is for just babies and learn that crawling can create a super highway to higher levels of the brain?
“Transformation is more often about unlearning than learning.” Richard Rohr
We have decided that unlearning most of what was told to us, has created far more opportunities and victories than staying complacent and aligned with the status quo.
As the years go by and we continue to implement a comprehensive neurological program, I see the independence my son has gained. We have been 9 years with FHC. Our son started at age 10, he used echoalia (unsolicited sounds) to communicate. He struggled immensely to make sense of his environment and engage with his family. There were many confusing, baffling, and impulsive behaviors throughout the years that weren’t being resolved with OT, PT, speech, and behavioral therapies.
He is now 19 and illuminates hope for all those ready to unlearn.