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.

The True Social Change Makers

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”–Carlos Castaneda

As the cost of autism, ADHD, severe food allergies, and mental health issues skyrocket and the systems held in place continue to be challenged to their breaking point, we as a nation are eventually going to have to get to the root of the problem.

I believe my child along with many others will be the true social change makers. They will guide us to the answers, if we are willing to be guided.

“We are more willing, here in the US to build 3.5 trillion dollar/year healthcare system to deliver drugs and chemicals to our people, than we are willing to ask the one question that matters. How did these kids get sick in the first place?”–Dr. Zach Bush

2015 Grandparents Day at school

Why is my kid struggling so much? Why does he find taking a picture so difficult? Why aren’t the therapies working? It didn’t matter how we prepared or how we modified the environment. Ben’s brain wasn’t capable of processing what was expected of him or the unpredictability of the environment.

As a family we were exhausted. We were at a crossroads. We were either going to continue following the pathological approach where we coped and managed or take the physiological approach, where we were going to build the body and brain up via a comprehensive neurological approach.

We were either going to make ourselves miserable or make ourselves strong. The amount of work would be the same.

Both sets of grandparents are very loving and supportive.

I searched for many years for answers. I’m still searching. In my search, I have found many answers to the tough questions, but the answers have always required change.

Changes that required us to recognize food is medicine and God designed the body and brain to heal through a systematic approach.

Thankfully, many other families are asking the hard questions and choosing to make the social changes that is required of a comprehensive neurological approach.

When we started Ben was 11.5 years old and measured at 35% brain function. Ben couldn’t write, ride a bike, play games, do chores, self care, or run. Ben is 16 years old, and we have achieved all those goals and continue to strive for more. Be the change!

It’s easy to dismiss. It’s more difficult to understand

In 2012, my sister in law started telling me about an international clinic in Philadelphia that helps kids and adults with Cerebral palsy, autism, Downs, ADHD, genetic issues, stroke, Parkinson’s, etc. I completely dismissed learning or even researching about it for 2 years!

My sister in law and brother in law would keep encouraging me to learn more, but it didn’t matter what success story they shared or what statistics that proved the approach was effective, I was hell bent not to deviate from the pack.

I can remember dismissing a comprehensive neurological approach simply because no one in my area was doing it. I had no clue what it involved. None of the multiple therapists and doctors we had seen over the 9 years knew anything about a comprehensive neurological program and thus when I was told about it, I immediately dismissed it without a second thought.

Because of the collage of pictures comparing the differences and the independence my son has gained, I feel compelled to share that straying from the pack has its advantages.

Before a evidence-based comprehensive neurological program it didn’t matter what environment  Ben was in, he struggled everywhere. Ben struggled less at home, but we as his family struggled, because our lives were dictated by Ben’s demands and struggles.

Ben has always worked with dedicated and intelligent staff members. Ben has always been loved and cared for whether at school, clinics, home, church, etc…but no matter the support and love, Ben’s brain wasn’t developing and we as a family were tired of coping and managing symptoms and behaviors.

The pictures provide a visual, because a picture speaks a thousand words and it is easy to dismiss my words, but harder to dismiss the visuals of Ben struggling versus recovering.

(I have no idea what level of independence Ben will attain. I just know that it’s been 5 years of implementing a comprehensive neurological program and we have only gained skills and independence.)

I understand all too well how easy it is to dismiss advice. I was once like that, and still catch myself dismissing challenging projects in fear of failure or creating false hope.

I’m just posting this blog in hopes that today instead of dismissing a comprehensive neurological approach you start understanding more about it.


Accept the Challenge and Trust

Are you familiar with the bible story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish?

MK 6:34-44
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late.
Dismiss them so that they can go
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.”
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food
and give it to them to eat?”
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
And when they had found out they said,
“Five loaves and two fish.”

At the beginning of the story Jesus sees how lost and misguided the congregation was and teaches them many things.

I once felt very lost and misguided within the special needs system and was desperately seeking answers for what was causing my son’s chronic, complex symptoms of autism.

I was aimlessly drifting from one specialist to the next, and Ben was getting older which somewhat mirrors the situation for the disciples.

For us, Ben was getting older, the behaviors were harder to manage and the sense of urgency and uncertainty we felt was increasing with each year!

When Jesus says, “Go feed them yourselves” the disciples’ distrust immediately surfaces at Jesus’ request and their sense of urgency and uncertainty emerges.

They say to Jesus that will take 200 day’s wages! You can’t expect us to sacrifice that or assume it’s even possible for us to feed that many people!

I definitely relate with the disciples distrust with the challenge asked of them as I was distrustful with the challenge of severe autism.

As the years went by my frustrations increased and was constantly asking God, “Why!” Often times, I was yelling at God, “Why can’t we go places without meltdowns. Why won’t he sleep! Why does he constantly seek screens? Why do I constantly have to bribe him to learn or do things for himself? Why doesn’t he want to help me or his family?”

I was constantly asking God, “Why?!”

When I began learning about a comprehensive neurological approach, I was even more frustrated and overwhelmed!

I was extremely reluctant to invest in a comprehensive neurological approach! Because after 9 years of speech, behavioral, occupational, physical, and play therapies, I had little to show for the time and money spent. But investing the money and time wasn’t really what overwhelmed me. What consumed me was our family would have to reevaluate our priorities and mindset.

I feared the changes that we would need to be make. The changes would be very different from our neighbors and the changes would not be viewed as heroic. The changes would be viewed as delusional and unnecessary.

The changes would focus on physiological growth to wellness. The changes would require us to dramatically change our diet, devote 4-6 hours/day for respiration, smells, integration of reflexes, creeping, crawling, eliminate screen time, and other protocols for gut and brain health.

5 years ago, our son was 11 years old. He had done 9 years of therapies and was still very low functioning and struggling greatly with becoming remotely independent.

I was driving all over the state of Indiana. To that psychiatrist, to this developmental pediatrician, to that speech/behavioral therapist to this and that university, to that occupational therapist, etc.

At 11 years old, Ben wasn’t sleeping, he wasn’t bathing himself, there was no internal drive to learn. To do the simplest of tasks, Ben was only motivated to comply if offered a treat or screen time. He was absolutely fixated about screens and had zero ability to follow directions or be disciplined.

In addition to all that, Ben’s gut was significantly compromised as was his auditory pathway and his ability to understand abstract concepts, like time, space, and sequence. He had no capacity to remember or understand rules or consequences. So for many years, I prayed for a miracle.

I think God heard my prayer, but he had a different approach to providing me with peace and resolve.

I believe God has always had a plan B for when the brain or body is struggling. I believe that God designed a systematic approach to restoring the brain, for all of us to know the power of God is within us all if we accept the challenges involved and trust in His process.

5 years ago, I remember thinking it was too late for Ben. He was 11 years old and I was told early intervention is when the brain is most receptive. So now that Ben was 11 years old, the future looked dim.

Nothing improved during Ben’s early development years nor the years leading into 6th grade. He was functioning at a 3 year old level and he was 11 years old.

I was becoming quite despondent. Handling a meltdown from a three year old is far different from handling a meltdown from a 11 year old, and if things didn’t improve I was looking at handling meltdowns for the rest of our lives.

There just had to be a better way, but who was I to question medical and educational professionals? I’m just Ben’s mom. What do I know? We had wrestled with electrodes, paid out of pocket for procedures and scans, experimented with medications, and still Ben’s brain was functioning at a 3 year old level at 11 years old.

So he (Jesus) gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.
The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.
Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples
to set before the people;
he also divided the two fish among them all.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments
and what was left of the fish.
Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.

I believe when one is faced with a challenge, it’s for a reason.

What did the disciples do? They followed Jesus’ directions. They looked at what they had. They invited the people to sit. They did as the were told, and used what was given to them, and learned to trust Jesus.

Accepting a challenge of a comprehensive neurological approach requires using evidence-based science that requires consistent work day in and day out and trusting the process.

I don’t know what the final outcome of implementing a comprehensive neurological program will be for our family or others.

I do know my family’s priorities have changed for the better and we are stronger in love and resolve.

As a family we accepted the challenge of implementing a evidence-based comprehensive neurological plan and through the years have seen growth in both Ben and ourselves.

What has been most enjoyable is watching Ben understand the world around him. Below is a video done in Nov 2018, where Ben is starting to understand the concept of money.


Now 2 years later, Ben understands how to balance his checkbook. His goal is to make at least 10 entries in a check/debit card register with both debits and credits with 100% accuracy by his next ACR with no more than 3 prompts.

In the last 5 years of a comprehensive neurological approach some of Ben’s biggest achievements has been independently bathing, reading graphic novels, sleeping 8 hours, writing stories, and playing games with his siblings.

Ben is 16. (Picture taken July 18, 2019) Ben has on his kneepads, so I’m sure he took a break from belly crawling to open his birthday card sent in the mail.

All of those goals emerged, because Ben’s brain was developing in a systematic way and his brain could deliver and receive the information appropriately as opposed to therapies that just cope & manage the symptoms.

Looking back over Ben’s videos, I came across a video showing the emergence of Ben becoming interested in playing games. This video was done in June 2018.


Now, 2 years later, Ben still isn’t requesting to play games with family. He plays them, but I haven’t seen true enjoyment from it. It’s more like a duty and he doesn’t strategize or care if he loses or wins. Hopefully, that will change. So, we continue to trust the process.

Below is a video explaining how this bible story can strengthen anyone’s resolve no matter the challenge and is what inspired me to write this post.

God Bless♥️

There is power in numbers and power in unity.

I know the last 6 blog posts have been the ultimate highlight reel for implementing a comprehensive neurological approach. We have had great success and hopefully those 6 posts have gained an audience.

I want people and professionals to know about a comprehensive neurological approach.

Sadly, a comprehensive neurological program doesn’t completely line up with conventional medicine, and so there is a bit of a stalemate in getting the word out.

Modern medicine has only one approach. It treats the symptoms and treating the symptoms will never develop the brain. Treating the symptoms doesn’t make the cause go away and so we never resolve the dysfunction.

Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for implementing a comprehensive neurological approach to a child or adult whose brain is struggling.

Ben started conventional therapies at age 2.5 years old. At 11 years old, after 9 years of therapy, Ben was functioning at a 3 year old level.

At age 11, Ben started a comprehensive neurological program, and after 5 years of a comprehensive neurological program my son is now functioning at a 8-9 year old level and is independently reading, writing, drawing, riding a 2 wheel bike, bathing, doing chores, etc.

I hear people criticize a comprehensive neurological approach to be too demanding and put too much pressure on families.

It’s not a program for every family and there is no shame in that. But what if it was the right program for your family, then how would you know?

Does your doctor or therapists know about a comprehensive neurological program?

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “There is power in numbers and power in unity.”

The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness about the advantages of educating and empowering special needs parents and families about neuroplasticity.

I feel parents are absolutely essential in the neuroplasticity process!

The biggest problem I have with modern medicine is there is such an unmanageable cost for not the best results.

My family has spent quite a bit of money on conventional therapies and products with little success. I believe it’s time to rethink medicine.

I would like the medical and educational communities to become more knowledgeable about a comprehensive neurological approach.

I feel professionals and parents don’t know a lot about a comprehensive neurological approach, because it doesn’t line up with conventional methods that doctors, therapists, or teachers have been taught.

We are socialized to believe that the doctor or therapist will have a solution via a procedure or medication and all will be fine.

We have more doctors, nutritionists, specialists per capita and still brains are struggling.

We also have embraced the rhetoric that genetics trumps all and predetermines your health.

We are all biological creatures. We have to follow the laws of nature. Being healthy is a skillset and it all boils down to cellular health/physiological wellness.

When I understood why Ben struggled and what caused his behaviors, I was far more effective than when I was running back and forth from one therapy appointment to the next.

I want people to know there are options and to see what can be achieved when families are empowered and educated.

A comprehensive neurological approach requires families to be more involved and be proactive in providing a home that promotes brain growth.

So for me, as a parent, I had 2 options. I could either run in circles managing symptoms or I could systematically develop my son’s brain for him to gain more independence.

Here is Ben tying his shoes at 16. He learned to tie his shoes at 15 years old. We did not practice tying his shoes over and over. The interest and skill emerged as it does with a neurotypical kids.

Ben’s brain had developed enough to have the internal motivation to learn to tie his shoes himself. He wasn’t motivated to learn the skill because of a treat, he was motivated because he wanted independence.

Because there were more time commitments and diet changes required of a comprehensive neurological approach, my husband and I originally agreed to commit to doing the programs for 2 years.

There were many times in those 2 years where I was so doubtful and frustrated, but as Ben gained skills, our commitment continued.

We have now completed 5 years, and our family is far stronger in faith and gratitude than ever before. We are more intentional and mindful of our surroundings and we truly have witnessed the beauty of honoring God’s design.

Parents play a pivotal role and I’ve seen enough success from other families from around the world to motivate me to write this blog in hopes of spreading awareness about the benefits of a comprehensive neurological approach.

“There is power in numbers and power in unity.” Dr. Martin Luther King

Here we are in May 2015 in Philadelphia during our FHC 2 day appointment with my nephews & sister and brother in law. My sister in law was the one who encouraged me to go to FHC.

By Crawling A Child Learns To Stand

“By crawling a child learns to stand” is an African proverb and is an excellent way to introduce to you how effective crawling and creeping is for brain development!

My son couldn’t follow a two step request, write, draw, or communicate his thoughts or emotions for 14 years of his life. His brain was stuck. His thoughts were trapped. His auditory pathway was severely compromised, and his lower brain stem that is in charge of filtering out sounds or filtering out useful and useless information, or assist in staying focus and following through with a task was severely hurt.

I want to share with you something exceptionally effective!

Did you know how absolutely effective belly crawling and creeping on the hands and knees is to improving individuals ability to focus and pay attention, along with organizing thoughts, deciphering what is being asked, and fine motor skills?

At age 11, (Nov 2014) Ben started a comprehensive neurological program. He couldn’t write, draw, communicate his thoughts or feelings, but after one year of the creeping and crawling, Ben started writing dates and names of movie production companies. The information he was trying to communicate was very distorted and disorganized, but after 2 years of crawling and creeping at age 13, we started seeing more organization in the brain.

This picture is to show the distortion in Ben’s brain in 2015, (age 12) and then the organization that occurred in 2016.

We also started seeing Ben’s fine motor skills improve! Below was Ben’s handwriting and his early attempts at worksheets in April 2016. (His teacher wrote his name & date.)

Ben was 13 years old.

After 2-3 years of a comprehensive neurological program Ben’s fine motor skills and ability to organize his thoughts improved greatly!

In addition to the crawling and creeping, we implemented a smell program, to help develop the limbic brain which is in charge of memories and emotions.

Ben had great difficulty with self control and staying calm.

We would pick one smell per week to write about. Each day, Ben would have to come up with a sentence.

After 3 years of creeping and crawling, at age 14, Ben’s handwriting improved significantly and at age 15 he developed the brain organization to draw and create stories.

In 2018, (age 15) Ben’s brain started to create and invision all kinds of stories and characters.

In 2019 (age 16) and into 2020, Ben continues to improve in how he organizes his thoughts and understands emotions.

All from focusing on properly oxygenating the brain, providing an optimal physiological/brain diet, belly crawling, creeping on his hands and knees, smells, and other reflex/sensory programs.

I helped organize his thoughts on this story. The rest are completely done independently by Ben.

“By crawling a child learns to stand. Know that God created a very systematic approach for the brain to develop and miraculous things can occur with faith and family.

I would love for more parents and professionals to place more value and focus on crawling and creeping.

Belly crawling and creeping on the hands and knees is a very humbling approach in today’s high tech world, but I can’t understand why professionals are ignoring the absolute essential power of God’s design or the sheer science in that multiple reflexes get integrated in the central nervous system via crawling and creeping that help the brain become organized and communicate.

There are many, many more benefits to creeping and crawling than what I have written in this blog.

For instance, creeping and crawling can provide the information to the brain to stop kids from wetting the bed.

Creeping and crawling help immensely with improving one’s reading and comprehension levels and also helps kids stay focused and pay attention!

It’s quite an amazing, inexpensive and EXTREMELY effective approach to brain development.

Ben is 16 years old. He currently 4-5 days/week creeps 1,000 meters and belly crawls 600meters/day.

Brains can get hurt like an arm or leg.

There is hope.♥️

Second Chances

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”–Maya Angelou

As the special needs population grows, so are the number of parents questioning, “What could I be doing better?”

Ben started receiving early intervention in 2006 for autism. He was 2.5 years old. I did what the speech, OT, PT, play therapists told me to do. I did what the developmental pediatrician told me to do. I did what the psychiatrist told me to do. I did what the social worker told me to do. I did what my pediatrician told me to do and the behaviors and symptoms never improved, but continued to become more intense and complex.

They would all ask me Ben’s symptoms. I would tell each of them. Ben doesn’t sleep more than 4-5 hours/night. Ben has really horrible gas and gets bloated after meals. Ben has really loose stools. Ben has a very limited diet. Ben’s has moderate-severe eczema. Ben is congested all the time.

With all that medical guidance, within all those appointments, not one of those medical professionals said, “Your son’s gut is messed up. You need to be educated about nutrition and the microbiome. Here is a referral to a nutritionist who specializes in nutrition for neuroplasticity.”

Why wasn’t I, because the field doesn’t exist! It seems pretty obvious by the above list of symptoms that the profession is desperately needed, but obviously the need for it has just emerged as more and more kids are having brain and gut issues.

It’s cutting edge information. Modern medicine has very little to zero training in establishing and maintaining a healthy microbiome, and everything that is required to heal the microbiome dramatically challenges the industries that drive our culture.

Can’t you see the disorganization of Ben’s brain? Just posing for a picture took so much energy and effort at age 11

To heal the gut, you as the parent have to be an informed consumer. You as the parent will have to do the investigating and find a team of professionals that feel the same. You want to team up with professionals that have a comprehensive plan and want to educate and empower you.

The purpose of this blog is to empower parents and professionals to consider better modalities that challenge the status quo. As parents, we are told to trust the agencies that profit most, when parents are uneducated and sit on the sidelines.

As a special needs parent, if you want to achieve neuroplasticity, it will require your journey to be unconventional.

As a special needs parent, you can definitely co-exsist within the current culture, but you and your family will have to come to terms that your goals are going to be different from your neighbor’s goals.

We are all placed on this Earth to learn from one another and special needs families have a tremendous amount to teach our current culture.

Food plays a huge role in our culture. Food plays a huge role in restoring one to a higher level of health.

You as the parent will have to do the research and stay the course. You as the parent will also understand that nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. In order to achieve neuroplasticity, you need not just to focus on nutrition, but have a solid comprehensive approach.

I created this blog, because I want to share what a comprehensive neurological program has done for my family. To rally parents and professionals to learn how to be successful at getting special needs kids/adults to develop more independence.

Since, my son’s early intervention days in 2006, I have seen more and more business entities emerge that profit from special needs families. However, I have yet to see business entities emerge that educate and empower special needs families.

Kids dressing for jersey day at school. Ben is 11 years old and is having such difficulty connecting with others.

I see many families and professionals struggling to understand the behaviors or develop the pathways necessary for the brain to function at a higher level. I see kids being pushed through the various educational systems as parents are being pushed to concede with the current conventional methods.

I believe there are better modalities to developing the brain and empowering families to stay the course. Special needs families can offer such insight on how God has designed the body and brain to be restored if it gets injured.

As the gut heals and the brain develops, Ben is more aware and present. Ben is 15 in the above picture and 16 in the bottom picture.

There are a better ways to develop the brain and to empower parents and professionals than what the current conventional system provides.

Vacationing is getting easier and far more enjoyable. Age 16.

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”–Maya Angelou

This blog is for parents and professionals. We need one another to get results! For more information about neuroplasticity and nutrition. http://www.familyhopecenter.com

Doomed to Fail…once a picky eater always a picky eater

How is it possible for an innocent green pea to invoke such a ghastly, volcanic gag reflex? Why does he eat such bland foods? Why does he tend to eat only orange foods, but God forbid eat an actual orange? Why does it matter what he eats?

Kids being picky eaters isn’t a new challenge to parenting. For generations it has been a very common challenge, but even after generations of having this problem the only strategies I was taught was: He will eat when he is hungry. Offer him a little bit at a time. Reward him with some food he likes after trying a new food.

It’s almost 2020 and I can’t get over how limited and ineffective the strategies parents are given to get kids to accept new foods! It is so frustrating as a parent to have such doomed to fail strategies because they never target the root of the problem.

When I learned of the root cause for the pickiness and learned the strategies that resolve the gut issues and his distorted sensory systems, we started to be successful at getting Ben to eat vegetables and eat a nutrient dense diet.

Why does it matter that Ben eats vegetables and has a nutrient dense diet? Lots of kids do fine eating a very limited diet that lack in nutrients.

It matters because our goal isn’t to just survive, but to thrive.

Our goal is to achieve a higher level of physiological wellness.

Our goal is neuroplasticity.

In order to achieve neuroplasticity, Ben’s cells need to continuously work at their highest level of capacity for his body and brain to make the necessary connections to develop better communication within the cells.

In order for cells to repair or renew themselves, they need nourishment. Just like a plant struggling to flourish, once you start revitalizing the soil, you get robust growth.

I needed Ben to eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods so his brain and body had the energy to rebuild the connections that were either lost or never connected.

First on the list to enhance, was Ben’s sense of smell. A simple smell program! So simple, but oh so very powerful in getting the brain more organized in how it processes its environment.

Ben had significant issues with his olfactory pathway. Ben had no idea what a good or a bad smell was. His brain was so disorganized.

Ben would eat dog food. Ben would put pennies in his mouth. Ben would be completely indifferent to having poop on his hand, because he couldn’t smell it. Ben would lick EVERYTHING, because he had NO sense of smell and for a toddler-preschooler-elementary student experiencing the world he did what he could to make sense of his environment!

For 11 years I had no idea Ben had no sense of smell. We had worked with early intervention, hospitals, universities, OT, PT, speech, behavioral therapies and not one of them said, “Your kid is licking everything or eats dog food because he can’t smell. We need to teach him how to smell and what is a good or bad smell.

WOW, that would have been helpful to know and understand why he was doing the things he was doing!

We did nothing regarding smells during Ben’s first 11 years of development, and we struggled immensely. Not just me, but the professionals working with Ben.

If I were to ask, “Smell this candle….” Ben coordinating that action with his nose, while having his brain register the smell, then categorizing it as a good or bad smell was way beyond his abilities at age 11, and is one reason ASD kids get overstimulated so easily.

Their brain can’t process all the smells, sounds, sights, etc. All parents and professionals know this, and are taught to modify the environment to reduce the smells, sounds, tastes, etc. Which is an impossible task! Parents and professionals can’t modify the smells, sounds, tastes, etc at fairs, theaters, malls, schools, church, etc. which is why ASD kids/adults struggle so much in public places.

We can’t modify those environments to suit their brain’s inability to process their environment. We would be far more successful if we developed the brain’s olfactory pathway to process smells appropriately along with other sensory programs.

I find it so interesting that such a simple ability to smell is so important to our brain function and when that function is compromised, you see all kinds of dysfunction that often accompanies a diagnosis of autism, Alzheimer’s, food aversions, pica, etc.

Our olfactory pathway is vital to establishing memories as well as identifying smells, accepting or rejecting foods, and coordinating with other parts of the brain.

Case in point, when I smell a hog farm, I think of my dad and then I think about how his trucks would smell, and then Dad would say, “that’s the smell of money.” I can recall the colors of trucks and the years we lived on a farm, etc.

One thought lead to another…so our sense of smell matters and can be developed to function appropriately.

Below are some YouTube clips through the years 2015-2018. Just 3 years and you will see some significant changes in brain development.

Developing the olfactory pathway is such a game changer for so many areas where ASD kids struggle. It is a simple program where I would give Ben 6 opportunities/day to smell the same 5 smells. Every week we would change the smells.

Through the past 5 years as Ben’s brain developed more, Ben would smell a smell, and be asked a question or be asked to write about something to stimulate the brain.

Via the smell program… Ben started to accept and try new foods. Ben’s memory improved, which helped with disciplining him, because he could recall the rules and consequences. Ben’s thoughts and emotions would be more organized and controlled. Ben’s ability to eat at restaurants and sit at the table with his family was a common and carefree event.

I had no idea how important developing our olfactory pathway was and how simple it can be to restore it, so other parts of the brain can be developed.

It’s time to give parents and professionals the resources and knowledge to develop brains and not manage/modify environments.

The next blog I’ll discuss why healing the gut dramatically assists in brain development.

Slowing down, to change our course

There will come a day that you will come to terms with the fact, you are a special needs parent. Everyone processes and accepts that fact in his/her own way and will be faced with the decision on how best to develop his/her child/teen’s brain. There are quite a few modalities to choose from in the therapy world.

Five years ago, our son was 11 years old, and conventional methods were producing few results. We found ourselves at a crossroads of whether we were interested in seeking a path of being a spectator or an active player. Either choice had no guaranteed timeline. Either choice would cost a great deal of money, time, and effort, and either choice we would be expending a lot of energy.

As a culture, we want guarantees. We want results and we want the results instantaneously. We live in such a modern world that so much of our needs are instantaneously met with just a pop of a pill, push of a button, or the flip of a switch.

Neuroplasticity isn’t something that occurs instantaneously. Neuroplasticity isn’t something that can be scheduled.

You simply show up everyday. You simply show up with no other agenda other than to provide the brain with nourishment, love, and evidence-based science. You simply show up everyday with a comprehensive plan to get the brain to grow.

There will be many choices to make when implementing a comprehensive neurological program and some will be easy and others will be harder. The choices you make can be placed into two categories. Choices that support neuroplasticity or choices that don’t support neuroplasticity. It is that simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy.

One of the biggest choices we have as a family is how are we going to nourish our bodies and brains. This isn’t a radically new concept. Parents have always been responsible for their families’ nourishment. We have known for centuries that food equals nourishment, but never in our history have parents been bombarded with such misinformation and corruption regarding food.

It is absolutely overwhelming to know what is ideal nourishment for your family in this modern world.

Here is exactly where slowing down comes into play. Parents have an essential role in nutrition. As parents we can be part of the problem, or be part of the solution.

Understanding what role food serves in restoring health and what foods don’t serve can create a bit of discourse in a family. There is no need for a debate, our culture and lifestyles will consistently discourage prioritizing nutrition in our lives.

Oh man, did I dig my heels regarding prioritizing nutrition and so did my family! We were convinced food had nothing to do with brain development.

When Ben was 4 years old, I implemented a gluten and dairy free diet. I didn’t have any formal training and so I made many errors and the diet produced little results. I also had zero success in getting Ben to eat vegetables. He HATED vegetables. So many nights of fighting, begging, or surrendering. All of that effort in making nutrient dense food and he refusing to eat it!

We all know vegetables should be in our diets, but either we don’t know how to prepare, or we don’t like them, or we don’t have the time.

I had a hutch that vegetables could dramatically enhance our health, but I have been burned before and put so much effort into nutrient dense meals to only see little results. So, I was a bit apprehensive and skeptical.

I needed to understand healing takes time and separate myself from what the food industry dictates and understand what science proves time and time again.

As a family, we decided to slow down and learn about nutrition starting in November 2014. Slowing down, allowed us to change our course and tune out the static from the food industry and listen to science.

We had our work cut out for us, because Ben hated vegetables. It took a long, long time to get Ben to love vegetables.

In 2017, Ben started to write down grocery lists. In 2017, Ben’s grocery list consisted of many things that had a lot of sugar.

We continued to learn through the years and fine tune our nutrition bit by bit and in 2019,

we started really seeing Ben’s gut improve to the point that he started demanding nutrient dense foods. It took 5 years of consistent work. (Do you notice how dramatically his handwriting has improved?)

Neuroplasticity and nutrition go hand in hand. It takes time and consistency of sound strategies throughout the years to achieve the goal of higher brain functioning or more independence.

Slowing down and taking the time to listen and learn about nutrition takes time, but the information is available!

It also takes understanding what other factors are standing in the way of the gut and brain healing.

My next blog post will talk about how Ben’s distorted sense of smell and Ben’s compromised gut had a huge role in why Ben hated vegetables. I will also discuss how we developed his sense of smell and what we continue to do to heal his gut.

Extra Effort Brings Extra Blessings

Neuroplasticity takes extra effort. Let that sink in. Neuroplasticity takes extra effort. As a special needs parent everything you do takes extra effort. We as special needs parents know this all to well. Well kids can just fly through the brain development stages. They start talking, making friends, and seeking their parents for praise and advice. The parent’s role for the most part is effortless in comparison to the special needs parent’s role.

One of the hardest facts to accept are there are no shortcuts on this journey. The only comfort or guarantee is that extra effort brings extra blessings. Let that sink in. Extra effort brings extra blessings. It’s my mantra when things seem bleak. Extra effort brings extra blessings. Extra efforts brings extra blessings…

Sounds simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy and easy doesn’t mean simple. It’s very important to not confuse the two, especially with brain development/neuroplasticity. There is never a guaranteed timeline with your extra efforts. Let that sink in. I’m going to do a tremendous amount of work and not know when I will see results? That if I do this work, I might not see the results months or years from now? Now, that uncertainty is the very thing that makes parents dig their heels in and disregard their intuition and instincts.

This journey of neuroplasticity requires the parents and (hopefully) your child/teens’s school to be involved. It is the parent, teacher, aide, therapist that is ideal to guide the child or adult through the stages and years of brain development/neuroplasticity. Once again, neuroplasticity takes times, can take years. But we are brain washed to believe that neuroplasticity is often instantaneous or miraculous or can only occur for the very young. Parents are rarely encouraged to lead or to think that neuroplasticity can occur in teens or adults. We as parents often reserve that right to determine our kids fate from the doctors or we have been conditioned to think neuroplasticity only occurs in an expensive, state of the art medical campus that costs an obscene amount of money, but as I’m writing this post, on this gray ordinary Saturday morning, Ben has gotten out of bed, headed straight for the shower. He showers, he dries off, he puts on his deoderant, gets dressed, and is making his breakfast without lists, prompts, or tokens. I’m still in my bedroom typing this post listening to him prepare his breakfast, and thinking 5 years ago, Ben couldn’t follow a one step request. Let that sink in.

5 years ago my kid at age 11 couldn’t follow a one step request. That means, if I asked Ben to pick up his backpack. He wouldn’t know what to do. His brain couldn’t process what I said or how to respond. Ben would just respond by stimming by jumping up and down, wiggling his fingers in front of his face, or self-biting. He couldn’t say, “I don’t understand. Can you help me?” There were no words. There was just distorted behaviors. Now at age 16 he has words and can completely independently get ready for the day!

That is neuroplasticity being achieved in a rural 2500 square foot home that desperately needs new carpet and a new roof. There is nothing dazzling or state of the art in this home. It’s a home that has stacks of laundry, cobwebs in the corners, and unfinished projects throughout the house, but your special needs child, teen, or adult doesn’t need state of the art. He/she needs you. He/she needs you to implement a comprehensive neurological program.

First thing to do is teach him/her to breathe. What?! Teach my kid to breathe? Obviously he/she is breathing, because she is living and growing! This is 2019 and you are telling me I need to teach my kid to breathe?

Yep! I can not emphasize the importance of breathing! Most brain injured kids/adults aren’t getting the amount oxygen necessary to develop. His/her brain is hurt and getting your child/adult’s respiration compatible with his/her structure is vital!!!!

Such a simple concept, but when the brain is hurt its oxygen supply isn’t at the level it needs to be to repair and restore the brain cells. Brain injured kids/adult’s can’t keep up. They need more intensity, frequency, and duration to keep up.

They need the blood vessels to the brain to dilate, to bathe the brain with oxygenated blood in order to increase neurotransmitter production and function.

To do this we use the all MIGHTY reflex bags. It looks pretty simple and it is very simple, but when the brain is hurt NOTHING is simple. Breathing is very challenging to a hurt brain. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes faith.

When we first started, Ben could barely tolerate 25 secs. He hated the bags. Here is a link to Ben doing a successful reflex bag after 4+ years. https://youtu.be/HXw2zulRJVc.

After 5 years, we have worked up to 1:25 and have achieved a good response where he is getting more oxygen to the brain, but there were many, many failed attempts where Ben has ripped the bag off his face, avoided the bag, or refused the bag. It took us 4.5 years to get to a place where Ben cooperated. Getting an injured brain to respond to breathing is very challenging. At first, Ben’s brain was so hurt we needed to do 40 bags a day in attempt to getting the frequency, intensity, and duration the brain needed to improve. The goal is to get oxygen to the brain and with everything in life, the more we practice the more the brain develops and achieves. Neuroplasticity requires times and consistency which can be achieved best at home and at school.

At first, I had no idea how vital reflex bags would be. They have made a world of difference in my son’s life and mine. I often do reflex bags too, because it is calming and rejuvenating.

The goal of this blog is to make parents and professionals aware of a neurological approach and the steps involved in implementing it at home and a school setting.

First step is getting a respiratory program set up and implementing reflex bags throughout the day. As we saw and understood the importance of oxygen we invested in a mild hyberbaric chamber (HBOT) and a carbogen tank to increase more oxygen to the brain. We didn’t invest in the carbogen tank until after one year of doing the programs and we waited 2 years of doing the programs until we invested in a chamber. The point is you don’t need to invest a lot of money at once. You can move in stages as your family adjusts and learns. Neuroplasticity takes time. All three approaches to getting more oxygen to the brain have helped and continue to help tremendously in getting the brain to improve its neurotransmitter production and function.

The chamber and tank are not covered by insurance, which is a sad reality. Insurance companies need to understand what gets the brain to grow and support the therapies that achieve that goal.

The next blog post will be about nutrition.