Look how he’s grown!!!
In the last couple of posts I mentioned The Family Hope Center (FHC). It was recommended by a friend who treated her son with the IAHP program (The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential – http://www.iahp.org/). She thought the FHC would be a better fit for our family, as they are Christians, and it is not as intense/strict. My husband sent me to the 3-day training course on child brain development and helping your child with special needs, and there the staff helped me to create a program for Isaac and one of his older brothers, who has a lot of behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. I went home and began the program, seeing results within a couple of weeks with both boys (see “The Dream” post, Family update section, for more info.).
The FHC also offers a 2-day medical evaluation of your child, but it was costly for us, so I didn’t even ask my husband about it. When talking with a friend about it, she looked at me with a “ye of little faith” look, and said if God wanted the boys to go, He would provide the money. I prayed and laid it down, not expecting anything or sharing my prayer with others. Within 2 weeks I had 10 times the money I prayed for!!! To God be the glory!!!
So in October we headed out east and spent 4 days at the FHC. The boys were seen by doctors and therapists, evaluated in all areas of brain development (sensory, motor and social), and given a percent of function rating. The second day we were given an individual program for the boys, and taught how to do it properly. The goal is to reach as high a percent of function as possible for each son. When we go back, Lord willing, the boys will be re-evaluated and we will see how much closer they are to 100% function for their age. We will be given a new program based on their progress so far. We have been working hard for over 2 months now, and I have especially seen great progress with my older son in all areas. He actually tested at a lower level of function for his age than Isaac, so that shows the seriousness of his problems, and motivated me to do 100% of his program as much as possible. I have seen Isaac progress, too, in his language skills, as well as motor development – you can see from the pictures that he is walking now!
The program takes about 6 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and includes my older son’s school, as well as a reading/language program for Isaac. Isaac does about 3 hours, as he does not yet have the energy for more. (Not that I have the energy or time for more!) It includes specific programs for: Nutrition, Oxygen, Basic Brain Organization, Sensory stimulation, Developing Standards and Responsibilities, and Reading and Education, and it is all natural. The boys saw an M.D./ nutritionist who evaluated them, recommended a specific diet and supplements, and gave advice regarding sleep, etc. The FHC evaluation also included 6 months of follow-up, and I can call or e-mail any time with questions. I will do an update report this month with videos, and they will make any changes necessary to the boys’ programs, also giving suggestions about how we can work more effectively.
I have been very impressed with the staff at the FHC. They are professional and friendly, and are very encouraging and supportive along this journey to our sons’ wellness. (They did not ask me to write this!) They love children, and know they can achieve more through this program. The directors, Matthew and Carol Newell, have been working in the field of child brain development for over 30 years, and they know what works! I look forward to giving more updates in the future as our boys progress. Matthew assured me that with this program Isaac would not need any extra help in school, and could keep up with his peers. From what I have gathered from other children with T21 in similar programs, it is possible for them to “graduate” in 3-7 years, depending on the child and how much of the program we do. Here is some info. taken from the FHC website (familyhopecenter.com).
“Our Approach: Why does my child do what he does? What is happening in her brain?
The answers to these two questions are mostly a mystery to parents, who want and need a clear and factual understanding of what is happening in their child’s brain, where it happened, and what can be done to help their child develop, mature, and become all they can be.
At The Family Hope Center, our highly-qualified doctors and therapists evaluate your child’s neurological development from the brain stem to the upper cortex, pinpoint the location of the dysfunction in the brain, design and develop a highly-individualized, tailored treatment plan that specifically targets that area, and partner with your family through support, supervision and ongoing counsel.”
Isaac/Family update: Isaac turned 3 today!!! He is more active since his thyroid is working properly, and continues to learn and grow, as well as being a joy to all. He is on the regular charts for weight, but his height and head circumference are still below the 5th percentile. (Not that we have the tall genes in our family, my husband being shorter than some of my sisters, and my mother-in-law barely making it to 5 feet.) He still has red cheeks quite a bit, too, so I plan to do an elimination diet to find out what the culprit is.
This week was Isaac’s first swim class by himself (not “Mom & Tot”), and he did such a good job sitting on the side until it was his turn with the teacher. (I wish I had taken pictures, but felt I had to be watchful in case he decided to jump in suddenly, as he really likes the water!) He would hold out his arms to his teacher, smile, and clap for himself or others at times. The teacher was very kind and sweet with Isaac, and that really meant a lot to me. I have to admit I was a bit nervous he may not be ready for the class (they are supposed to be 3, and he was just shy of 3 going into it), but I decided it wasn’t that important – it was okay if it didn’t work out, as there was no rush. But it was actually another lady who had to take her son out of class for not obeying the rules!
As of late, Isaac enjoys practicing his new skill of walking, which makes me nervous when he’s anywhere near the wood-burning stove! His favorite food is peanut butter, and he enjoys watching “Signing Time,” saying and signing “Leah” (the girl in the videos) about 20+ times a day! He also likes giving his sisters a hard time at therapy hour; playing cars, animals and bowling with the younger set of brothers and sisters; having fun “boxing” matches with elder sister, and trying to play X-Box with the other children – so cute!
Since most of my school day is spent doing program with Isaac’s older brother, big sisters each donate an hour to do therapy with Isaac. That has been such a blessing to me, as I’m desperate for older brother to be healed (or at least get to a much better place), but I do not want to short change Isaac. And I’ve read with neurodevelopmental (ND) therapy that the younger you start, the more difference you can make. The Family Hope Center staff thought older brother could graduate from the program in 1-4 years. If it’s the latter, Isaac would not get much attention therapy-wise until he is almost 7, so I’m very thankful for the girls’ service! Of course, I’m hoping that he graduates sooner, and am working to that end, but brain organization takes time. A miracle would be nice, and I certainly believe GOD CAN do it if He wills! :o) This season is not what I would have chosen for myself; I miss teaching more, but I have to admit the others are doing quite nicely with the independent learning. (Thankfully we have a small house, so I am always right there to answer any questions the children do have, and I try to get some papers graded in the late afternoons. Sharing the chores helps a lot; I schedule most of mine on the weekends.) Bottom line: God always has a better plan than me, and I know it will be worth it in the end, for all of us!
We had a nice RV trip out east this fall, visiting friends and family on the way to the FHC. The children enjoyed getting to know people we hadn’t seen in a while, and especially had fun at our friends’ dairy farm. We wished we could have made more stops, but Papa only has so much time off of work! One of our sons broke out with the chicken pox after our return home, and every one but elder daughter got it eventually, even Isaac! So I guess he either didn’t have it in January, or he got it again. Either way, it was a mild case and he came through it fine.
Our eldest son graduated high school and starts college this month, and big sister plans to finish high school this spring. They both have a heart for missions, especially in Asia, so that is a blessing. Although we’ve been hard at work with program for the 2 boys, we have enjoyed some nice family times, too. Tonight we had a nice dinner and played a fun game together. Our church is a blessing, too, providing some activities for the children and youth, reaching out, encouraging and supporting others through the trials of life, and rejoicing in the blessings. I fractured some ribs after falling at ice skating last week, so I’ll have to do something to strengthen these bones, so I can keep up with the children! I plan to swim with Isaac once he learns, as the heart doc said that swimming would be good for him. Life is very busy, but I cherish these years, and am blessed by the relationships we are forming, and all that we are learning from each other.
May we say like Jesus, “Not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)
P.S. Like most little ones, Isaac really enjoys the cell phone!