Brain Injury: “Daniel”

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Daniel started life at 8 lbs., and 11 oz. He did not lift his head after birth as well as his three older brothers nor did he seem to keep up with the milestones of the first year; yet his eyes always brimmed with excitement and he enjoyed being around the other boys. His favorite activity of lounging around and watching those around without the fuss of his older brothers delighted us. This quiet behavior had never occurred before. He appeared ever watchful and constantly searched with his eyes to find the most interesting action near him. Sometimes he would have funny episodes almost seizure like, which no one seemed to know what they were. He loved to be held by his father most of all and just watch from Daddy’s shoulder. His world fell apart when, after weaning, he began to vomit uncontrollably and stopped gaining weight.

Fortunately for Daniel, the continual all day vomiting and the fact he now slept more than 16 hours a day indicated a great problem to the physicians, and we began a very long journey to discover our child’s brain was malformed, affecting every area of his life. The specific name for the malformation gave us no more answers to the questions of why he did not crawl or creep or stand or walk or why at 15 months he could not say any words. Instead we received a prognosis of severely retarded. We undertook on Daniel’s behalf researching any and all opportunities to open his future and give him the greatest chance to achieve his ultimate potential.

Four years before Daniel’s birth, we decided to educate our children at home. This afforded the greatest opportunity for our boys to reach their full potential. We knew Daniel would also be schooled at home for many more reasons, yet where would we find and assimilate the information to best teach Daniel? He needed therapies: physical, occupational, and speech. He needed specific educational choices. There did not appear to be any way in which this monumental amount of data could be correlated, indexed, filed and utilized.

We investigated traditional and nontraditional educational routes and finally decided on researching further The NACD Foundation. Robert J. Doman, Jr., NACD’s founder, believed in the plasticity of the brain and that the neurological organization of the brain depends on specific stimulation with controlled frequency, intensity and duration. Further, he emphasized the importance of the family. A child stands not alone on life’s journey but is surrounded by the members of his family.

After deliberation, we decided NACD would be the place to take Daniel. To date our traditional specialist told us Daniel would never be typical or normal, that we must learn to accept his differences. They did not listen when we told stories of Daniel’s accomplishments and thought we refused to accept reality because our child would always be retarded. We knew and loved a little boy who loved to tease his brothers and hide toys from them, turn the computer or radio off to cause commotion. His eyes sparkle as he searches from one new item to the next. With much apprehension we entered the office with Bob Doman and half anticipated him telling us the experts were right and Daniel would never learn much. Instead, I am excited and grateful to tell you he looked at Daniel and said he saw a bright little boy with many neurological inefficiencies. These inefficiencies could and would be evaluated and addressed in the home program.

All we desired B hope for Daniel’s future B we found. We then began to open the doors slammed in Daniel’s face when we received his diagnosis. The labels society chose to place on him were far too large for his little body to carry. Severely retarded no longer needs to remain as the shadow to cloud his future; instead, our bright little boy continues to climb the milestone ladder one painful rung at a time. Yes, some of the rungs require a longer duration with greater frequency of specific stimulation than others, yet don’t we all have times when the new concepts must be repeated more than once? Since the beginning of Daniel’s story another little boy joined our family. Daniel knows he is the older brother and does not like the times when his baby advances to a performance level near his own. In retaliation Daniel grabs the ladder two or three rungs up and hauls himself forward, which shows much tenacity and refusal to be left behind.

As a family our gratitude to The NACD Foundation and Robert J. Doman, Jr., for help in educating Daniel encompasses more than expressed in the simple words, “thank you.” The family approach benefits Daniel as well as his brothers and parents. Not only Daniel’s future brightens through NACD, but as a family we all profit from the experience of performing Daniel’s program with him and understanding the principles behind the program. Again realize the depth of the iceberg under the “Thank you.”

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

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