Brain Injury: “Joshua”

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joshuaThree years ago I was attending a home school convention searching for guidance for our two year old son. After going to the session on NACD and hearing from some parents involved in the program my husband and I sought references and listened to Mr. Doman’s seminar tapes. We then decided to get involved and have seen Mr. Doman just four times. Some wonderful things have happened in the last ten months. We have been truly blessed by our involvement with NACD. I want to share our story so others may benefit as we have.

Before our son Joshua was born he suffered a brain hemorrhage and was not receiving the proper nutrition from me because of complications. At birth he was under weight, having seizures and brain damage had resulted from the hemorrhage. While in the hospital we were given a very negative picture of Joshua’s future. We were told of all the wonderful programs in our community for special needs kids and how we should check into them as soon as possible.

As we began to make decisions about Joshua some concerns arose. Because we were home schooling our three other children we wanted the same for Joshua, if possible. We did not want a label put on our son, no limits set on him, or have him placed in a program where we had little say or control. We wanted to be the key people in his developmental programs. Our main concern was to help Joshua reach his potential, whatever it may be. As it turned out, these were some of the things that are part of NACD’s philosophy. We were overjoyed!

Over the first two years of Joshua’s life we saw many specialists. A question that always came up was, “Is he in a program yet?” My response was always, “No, we are going to wait.” He began private physical therapy at four months old, and I have a therapy background so I felt adequate to provide what Joshua needed. When Joshua was nearing two years old I began to feel like some of the pieces were missing, not all areas of his development were being covered. I was providing random stimulation for him but not the specific stimulation he needed. At this point we heard about NACD and let me tell you it was an answer to prayer! If you are feeling some of the same things I was, let me encourage you by saying that NACD may be a great alternative to providing some answers and giving you the direction you are seeking.

Joshua, who is now five, has made great progress these past three years in all areas of his development tactile, auditory, visual, manual, mobility and language. I would like to give you an overview of where Joshua was before NACD and the progress he has made because of the program set up by Bob Doman and carried out at home.

Joshua was a child who was totally unaware of the left side of his body; he had difficulty handling different stimulation on his body and in his environment, being easily overwhelmed; he did not like different textures of food to eat or his teeth brushed; and he frequently choked on many things he attempted to eat. Joshua is now very aware of the left side of his body and uses it in his daily activity; he handles different stimulation on and around him much more easily and appropriately; and he eats all different kinds of food and has no problem with choking (which is evidenced when he tips the scale at 50 pounds!).

Joshua’s hearing was said to be “normal” but as he grew we noticed that he was easily overwhelmed by high acoustics and sudden, loud noises. He also did not seem to be able to process all that he was hearing. NACD did a voice print analysis on Joshua and found out that he was hearing too much of some sounds, while hearing very little or none of others. As a result of this wide range, Joshua was processing only one third of all the auditory stimulation around him! We decided then to have Auditory Enhancement Training done last summer by NACD and the results were unbelievable. This simple ten day retraining of his hearing changed Joshua’s peaks and valleys of auditory processing to a nice straight line, which meant he was now hearing the way he should be. Joshua’s vocabulary has skyrocketed along with many other improvements in other areas of his development.

Joshua also experienced many visual problems because the brain hemorrhage had caused optic nerve damage. He was experiencing cortical blindness (the brain wasn’t telling the eyes to see), uncontrolled horizontal movements of the eyes, crossing of the left eye, and minimal central vision. He was not using his vision well at all and compensating as well as he could. Because of various visual exercises and activities Joshua’s visual skills have greatly improved. He is now seeing long distances as well as small objects up close, his eye movements are controlled and they are working better together. As a result of the improvements in his vision, other areas of development have been greatly enhanced.

Joshua’s manual ability was very limited. He used his right arm and hand only, with a crude grasp (used all his fingers to pick up objects) and no opposition (pincer grasp), and his activities and play were very limited. He is now able to use his left arm and hand to assist his right hand; has right hand opposition and is now developing it in his left hand; is playing with many more toys and participating in many more activities; and is assisting in dressing, hygiene and is feeding himself with minimal help.

Joshua was a child who was not mobile at all. We never thought that he would crawl or walk or be independent in this area. He had very weak trunk muscles and could barely prop up on his elbows. He could go from lying to sitting with much effort and once in sitting he would fall. We carried him everywhere. I’ll never forget when we started with NACD and Bob said next time he saw Joshua that he would be cross-pattern creeping. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief. The next three months we worked on various things and then we went back to see Bob. He put Joshua up on all fours and gave him some support under the chest and away Joshua went across the room! I cried tears of joy. And that was just the beginning. He is now independently mobile except for difficult terrain and his walking speed and endurance is improving, walking up to three fourths of a mile. He is mastering the stairs now, riding a tricycle, kicking a ball, turning somersaults, getting in and out of bed and furniture, going down slides and on and on.

Besides all the other difficulties Joshua was experiencing, he was also very limited in his language skills. He could not communicate his wants, would tell me of his dislikes only by crying, had very few verbal skills, would imitate very little, and follow only a few one word commands. Joshua’s vocabulary is now up to at least one hundred to two hundred words, and he is attempting many more with new words being added to his vocabulary almost daily, with his articulation showing great improvement. He is beginning to use three to four word phrases, and is understanding even much more than he can verbally communicate. He is counting, saying the alphabet and letter sounds. He can tell us colors, months, some of the books of the Bible, and identify many pictures. He enjoys picture books, singing many songs, and is also applying his verbal skills to many varied situations.

As is evident, Joshua has progressed by leaps and bounds these past three years with God’s help and the guidance of NACD. The specialists and professionals are now saying, “Good job,” and not asking as many questions about special programs and therapies. There were times when professionals would not suggest any interventions and say to just wait and see or would suggest things contrary to progressive neurological development. Mr. Doman has observed things about Joshua that others did not and has been very helpful in guiding Joshua’s program and providing proper intervention that has made all the difference.

There are many advantages that NACD provides. Each appointment time you bring your list of questions, from very simple to major concerns, and you will leave with a list of answers, a specific plan of intervention and will be looking for specific results. Your plan will be individualized according to your child’s specific needs and can be flexible with your family’s schedule. I will not deny that it is hard work and takes some sacrifice and perseverance but when you see results it is well worth it! The involvement in Joshua’s program has drawn our family closer together. NACD has always portrayed a positive attitude toward our son and his future.

NACD comes highly recommended by our family. We now feel Joshua will reach his full potential, whatever that may be. We plan to use NACD for a long time. It has truly been a blessing to us. I hope it will be for you too.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 10 No. 9, 1996 ©NACD