Adventures in Brain Space: Summer 2015

brain spaceDay one of our travel adventure to the Toronto “listening center” began today.  I kind of feel like we are heading out into the final frontiers of brain space.  I hope to log our discoveries here.

We left PDX with a bang, sort of.  Little man’s sensory “kinetic sand” box was in his backpack and pulled by TSA as suspicious.  When the security guard started questioning little man about where he was headed as she swabbed his hands, he made a joke that his sand had C4 in it.  He’s been playing too many tank games.  The guard’s eyes got really wide and I scolded little man, “He’s kidding.  He has special needs.  He didn’t mean that.”  The guard asked me how old he was.  Fortunately, little man was super fidgety and anxious so I didn’t look like I was lying.  The guard then lectured me about making him understand the gravity of comments like that, how it’s no joke and they would shut an airport down for things like that.  I explained that I fully understood and would do my best to convey the seriousness but he did not understand and didn’t mean anything by it.  He looked at the sand like it was something he’d never seen before.  I picked it up and showed him how squishy it is.  Another passenger waiting for her bags to be inspected was impressed.  She wanted to know where I got it.

I thought it was more than a little ironic that our departure gate was C4.

zz pdx at c4

While we’ve seen impressive gains for our little guy with ADHD with herbs, detox, diet, Brain Balance and exercise, we discovered the work of Dr Tomatis and Paul Madaule in the book “The Brain’s Way of Healing” by Dr. Norman Doidge.  Hearing about kids and adults who had all sorts of learning or behavioral challenges resolve with this therapy was very intriguing.  The idea that the brain has neural pathways that can be repaired with auditory stimulation makes sense and we thought it might take us over the finish line.

Our little guy just finished second grade on a high note.  He started school last August with “emotion” stick figures to help him communicate, a sensory box with play doh or putty, probably one true friend (sweet G), major dysgraphia, very reactive impulsivity and debilitating anxiety about school.  By June, he had so many friends he couldn’t list them all.  He had given grand oratories in front of his whole class, even danced with his whole grade at the annual art festival.  He had participated in many field trips, completed his cursive adaptive writing, written several book reports (though no real improvement in handwriting).  He made it through social bullying and the difficulty of “earning” the trust of his peers after episodes that were probably hard for them to understand.  His anxiety became much more manageable.  And even the impulsivity toned down.  I really think anxiety and impulsivity go together somehow.

We are very hopeful and optimistic about his chances for overcoming or at least managing his sensory and learning challenges longer term.  But when we hear about therapies that can permanently heal damaged or weakened cells, connections, nutrients, or neural pathways, it’s hard to resist giving it a try.

And while we’re at it, we thought we’d take along our older two daughters who have lesser issues that have made school and thus learning a challenge.  One has struggled with depression and low working memory.  The other has ADD that was first recognized in concussion baseline testing for ski racing.  It’s been a mild focusing and prioritizing issue until the last couple of years of school as her work load has increased.  Any setback or hiccup in any class can derail her from everything else.  Paul Madaule feels her “listening challenges” are easiest to fix.  We shall see.

sleeping at o'hare

Our first appointments are tomorrow (Tuesday) in Toronto.  We are spending the night unexpectedly in Chicago O’Hare as our flights (and many others) were cancelled due to crazy rain and tornados on the ground.  There are no hotels in the city because of some hockey thing.  I guess it’s a big deal.  We are about to hit the sack in cots with nice blankets.  Though there are hundreds of us and they’ve turned down the lights, the auto messages on the intercom and the people walking just feet away is making it hard to actually sleep.



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