Five weeks ago, I told you that we were preparing to begin a neurodevelopmental program for ds12 and that I’d update you with our progress at the time of our first follow up after four months.
It obviously hasn’t been four months but I’m so amazed and delighted with the changes we’ve seen in the short time since we began that I have to share!
First, a little bit about our neurodevelopmental program. Our program for ds12 is two hours a day; an hour of this is comprised of two half-hour activities. The remaining hour is mostly made up of activities of very short duration (2 -3) minutes that are supposed to be done 2 – 3 times a day. That might not sound like so much but after a month, I’m still not doing everything with him daily. I’m happy at this point to get to almost all of the activities once a day.
What’s amazing is the kind of changes we’re seeing even though we’re not fully following the program and it took two weeks until we were even doing half the daily activities. This fits in with the unofficial theme of the week, how you don’t have to be perfect to see good results from your efforts.
To recap about why we decided to do a neurodevelopmental program: ds12 was very emotionally reactive, with poor social skills and self-image. We give him a lot of time, love, patience – but it wasn’t enough. It was clear to me that we were missing a piece in the puzzle – I felt like there was some part of his that needed to be rewired.
That’s what ND work does – it rewires your child’s brain. And it turned out, that is what he needed – to strengthen connections to particular parts of his brain that were weak.
When we began, he was cautiously willing to do the activities but quickly felt discouraged because everything was a challenge. He was quite resistant and initially we really had to push him to do the activities.
I emailed our ND therapist to ask if it was normal for behavior to get much worse, because his behavior about two weeks after we began got horrible, much worse than I had ever seen. Really over the top. Screaming, crying, extreme emotional overreactions. All day long.
She said it was normal. His reaction reminded me of cleaning out the basement, how you have to pull out all the junk before you can thoroughly reorganize – it gets much messier before it starts to look better. This was the same thing. Seeing this behavior made dh and I both feel even more committed to sticking out this process.
Now we’re a month in and I.can.not.believe.the difference. I didn’t expect to see noticeable results for a few months and definitely not until we had consistently been doing the full program for a while. I didn’t expect that the small things that we did with him could have such huge results so soon.
He is so much happier.
He used to constantly tell me he had the most annoying siblings in the world and get very frustrated with his younger brothers and do passive aggressive things to them (trip them when they walked by, pinch them when he thought I wasn’t looking, eg). They often told me how mean he was to them and didn’t enjoy spending time with him.
Three weeks into our ND program, I noticed he was playing Monopoly every day with ds6 and they were both having a great time. Every day. He never played like this with ds6 before. He began spending two hours every afternoon doing activities with ds8. (He walked in while I was writing this and asked me what I’m writing about. I said, about his ND program and asked him if he sees any changes in himself. No, he said, but his younger brothers aren’t so annoying anymore. :)) Ds15 and dd13 have started walking with him in the evenings, the three of them doing some program activities together as a group.
He is much more cheerful, helpful and calm. I came home a couple of days from a morning appointment, and he asked me if I had eaten yet and when he heard I hadn’t, offered to make me a meal. He now usually handles disappointments gracefully rather than exploding. I can almost see his self-esteem growing in front of my eyes. He now smiles often and usually is in a good or neutral mood.
His auditory processing has already jumped from 5 – 6. I wrote about the importance of auditory processing – this seemingly minor improvement is HUGE (go read the post that I linked if you haven’t so you can understand why all of this is connected). His visual processing has also jumped a digit.
His physical stamina is building, his gait when he walks has improved.
Edited to add this tidbit because I had to share! – On Shabbos our family enjoys singing together but ds12 had always refused to join in despite our encouragement to participate. This Shabbos he voluntarily joined our family in singing zemiros (Shabbos songs), as naturally as if this was something he had been doing for years. Dh leaned over to me to be sure I noticed but whispered not to comment or draw attention to him. I noticed the moment I heard his voice ring out and wouldn’t have missed it in any case, but a moment later from the other side of the table, dd17 looked at me, raised her eyebrows significantly in the direction of ds12 and subtly pointed to him to singing. It was beautiful.
It’s pretty incredible to see this taking place. I’m so encouraged to have found a way to help him at the core level and I love seeing the remarkable young man I knew was in there emerge. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens over the coming months!