Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back from Philly

We're back from Philadelphia and still recuperating from the 10 day trip.

First of all a HUGE thank you to my mom and dad for their support. My mom came with us to Philly for the first 7 days to watch Mateo and Joaquin while we took the course. This was no easy feat but somehow she managed to do it with grace and even get Mateo's haircut, get him potty trained (at least #1, still working on #2) and take care of Joaquin who was unfamiliar with the bottle but managed just perfectly with my mom in charge. She did this all despite the small living quarters (her bed was in a walk in closet turned bedroom!) and the blistering heat and humidity of Pennsylvania in the summertime. Thank you so much Mom! My dad took care of Diego for the week which included nursing a bee sting he got the first day we were gone- poor little boy! Thank you Papa for your loving care that week. Finally, a GIANT thank you to my friends Gina and Michelle for watching Diego during the week while my dad was at work. Diego had an absolute blast and barely missed us due to all the fun he was having with his friends. You all mean the world to us and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Knowing all our boys were in good hands gave Hector and I the opportunity to really focus on the course at the Institutes.

So we completed the course "What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child" the first week at the Institutes. The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential is located in Chestnut Hill which is a suburb of Philadelphia. It is a gorgeous little town with cobblestone streets and lots of charm. The Institutes is located on a very large piece of property (something like 6 acres) and it is beautiful and green and lush. It was about a mile away from our rented apartment so Hector and I had a lovely walk everyday to and from the course.

The course was everything we hoped it would be and more. When Glenn Doman walked into the auditorium for his first presentation, I was brought to tears. He has to be close to 90 years old and knowing all that he has accomplished in his lifetime and after reading all his books, I was just in awe of him. He is a darling of a man, looks a bit like a "healthy and fit" Santa Claus and I was moved by all his presentations. He is one unsung hero. A wise sage.

We learned so much about the brain- how it can grow by use, how it is stimulated through our five senses, how the functions of the brain can be improved and how it's growth and development is an ever-changing process. We learned that treating the symptoms of brain injury does not work. Brain injury is in the brain so it must be stimulated through the visual, auditory and sensory pathways. We also learned that 99.9% of us have some degree of brain injury so all of us have something to gain in understanding how the brain functions.

Obviously it would be impossible to share everything we learned, there is a book named after the course and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in brain development or for parents with children who have any developmental delays or concerns. Also, the book "How Smart is Your Baby" is wonderful for expectant parents and parents with tiny babies who want to enrich their babies learning environment. There is also a quick read called "Pathway to Wellness" that summarizes the program and gives a nice overview of the content of the course.

In a nut shell, we learned the vital importance of movement in developing the brain, how important the stages of crawling and creeping are, how to create an ideal environment in the home, how intelligence is not related to brain injury, how brain injury only affects the child's ability to express intelligence, how to increase communication, and the importance of nutrition and how what we eat, drink and breathe significantly affects brain function, growth and development. We also had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful families all on their own journey with their amazing children.

Jen, Hector, Glenn Doman, Katie Doman (Glenn's wife) Janet Doman (Glenn's daughter and current Director) and Susan Aisen (Director of the Intelligence Programs)

The following week Joaquin was evaluated and assessed by the staff at the Institutes. We determined his neurological age and compared it to his chronological age to come up with his diagnosis. He has a severe, diffuse, bilateral mid brain injury. Based on this information, an intensive treatment plan was created to meet his specific needs. We have a plan for the next 6 months and will return to the Institutes in December for re-evaluation and a new plan based on how he thrives on the current plan. We have physical goals, intellectual goals and physiological goals. As I mentioned in my previous post, the first month is focused on changing our diet, starting vitamin supplements, and getting organized and prepared for the rest of the program which will begin the first week of August. Right now, Hector is busy building a crawling track for the baby which includes an inclined floor. I'm busy going through our kitchen cupboards, making dietary changes and preparing the supplies for the sensory stimulation aspects of the intellectual program. We have also started some simple patterning with Joaquin which we are to do several times a day building up to a minute per session.

We will blog our way through the program so we can share all the different exercises that we will be doing with Joaquin. The key to the program is frequency, intensity and duration so our days will be filled with the many different activities of the program and it is designed in such a way that Diego and Mateo can get involved and help out. The biggest key to the program is to do everything with a sense of joy.

Joaquin waiting for his next appointment

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