We made it. Two weeks, 15 listening sessions, teenagers sharing a bed, subways, urban sights, high energy streets and adapting to changing tempos and routines. What an adventure! While I don’t see any radical changes in any of the children, I sense that powerful seeds have been planted.
I sat down with Paul Madaule yesterday after the children retested on their “listening” ranges. He said that changes typically begin in younger brains faster and for some reasons girls have a more rigid structure in how they think. So, bottom line, between two “older” girls and a tough nut boy, we will have to be patient and really pay attention to their behavior patterns and moods over the next several months.
E has been coming off depression meds over the past two weeks. She had horrendous migraines for several days requiring ibuprophen. The past week she hasn’t had any headaches but she has been cranky. She also also had PMS during this stay. Double whammy if there ever is one. She’s also keeping a terrible sleep schedule, staying up after midnight each night watching comedy on netflix or chatting with her friends. We had a talk about how much sleep the brain and body require and she has convinced herself that she can function on 3 hours of sleep if necessary. Her stubborn and invincible delusions are still in place.
I did see a little crack of light talking to her about neural behavioral reinforcements and how important it is to interrupt negative patterns, not with force or negative feedback, but with NO feedback. In the case of her brother, when he’s being particularly annoying or negative, the correct response, the response that will eventually help him most, is to ignore him. With an ADHD brain, negative responses only reinforce the negative behaviors because it is stimulating and exciting to the brain to get a response. While it feels counter intuitive, no response, taking a breath, walking away, is actually the perfect way to allow the dysfunctional neural trail to overgrow with healthy forest and reroute to a better path with positive encouragement…It’s subtle but powerful.
C showed the most improvements on her retest. Her mood has been the most consistent over the past two weeks despite constant bickering with her sister. Because of her experiences at Brain Balance with her brother, she is generally more tolerant and understanding of him. She did have a rather huge milestone hit in the past few days that I won’t mention here but let’s just say, my baby is growing up.
Little man’s seeds will probably need a while to take hold. He still has trouble with surprises. Today we forgot his sensory sand box in his backpack at the apartment. I thought about bringing it but I didn’t think he used it during his listening sessions and he was occupied on the drive with his ipad. Once we arrived he announced he wasn’t going in today. And then when he heard he didn’t have his sand he became very angry and started to cry. He blamed me for forgetting it. I didn’t engage his anger. I just waited quietly. He said he was never coming back. I sighed and walked into the center without him. As I was explaining that he didn’t want to come in, he crept inside and sat in a huff by the front door. There was another family and a dad sitting in the waiting area watching the scene. I felt my face getting hot. My achilles heel is never wanting to draw attention to myself. Having this extroverted fireball for a son, I’ve had to walk into that fire over and over and over.
Despite his persistent difficult personality, I have noticed some positive changes in little man. At the pool, he was more responsive and willing to listen to my suggestions, both as a swimmer and in how he respected the boundaries of others. He is still fairly unable or unwilling to read body language, but he seems to be slowly recognizing signs and honoring them. Paul said that the number one recommendation for him is regular rigorous exercise. He really needs a way to discharge all the energy in his brain and body. We will definitely continue swimming though I’m not sure how he would do on a team or in a class just yet.
His default response switch is set to “No” so we need to gently nudge that to “Maybe” by encouraging him to stop and think before responding and educating those who work with him to not react too strongly to his “No.” He and everyone in his world need to allow the “No” to blow on by like a storm cloud and wait for the opening of “Maybe.” This is subtle brain rewiring through cognitive behavior training and it requires the whole family and anyone interacting with him on a regular basis to fully understand.
On Sunday we went exploring in Toronto and found Graffiti Alley on Queen and Portland Avenue. It was unusually stormy and rainy so we were grateful to have the car.
Happy to find a little Bowie in TO.
In Graffiti Alley I found a lovely little garden. There is always hope. All you need is a tiny crack for the seedlings to emerge. Felt like a poignant metaphor for our journey here. The Listening Centre is like the gardeners who planted this little corner of Toronto. Planting seeds of hope. Transforming. Life.
On Saturday, the stormiest day, we were hoping to go to Ripley’s Aquarium after the Listening Centre but a Blue Jays game just let out in the middle of a torrential downpour and hundreds and hundreds of fans ran for cover and lined up at the Aquarium. We detoured to SOCO at the Delta Hotel for some lunch and later caught a movie instead.
Had to get an umbrella and a sweatshirt on Saturday as the storm caught us off guard. The umbrella lasted about an hour in the winds.
Here is proof that they do get along sometimes.