Just over a week ago, Betty and I went in to talk with the Brain Balance director about the progress of Kimball and Anahí during their first month in the program. The results are pretty staggering. Both of these kids have gained one to five years of development in just one month with the program! By itself that is amazing to think about, but the beauty of the program is that all of this progress actually translates into noticeable improvements in confidence, sociality, behavior, and academics. Not only does the paper tell us that our kids have improved in their development in many cases by years, but you can see that development in real life. They just seem more mature and act closer to their age. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are so grateful for the progress that we have seen here, and thankful to you all for supporting us in this. Watching their continued effort and progress day by day there is no reason to doubt that they will continue to astonish us all.
Here are some of the highlights from their report:
This little lady has been working very hard. Her coaches have noticed that she has better focus and that she puts in a good effort day in and day out. She can now go forward completely unassisted on the balance beam.
When we started the program, Anahí was unable to lift her head off of the ground to do a sit-up, and she couldn't keep her body straight to do a pushup against the wall. She is now doing 5+ full sit-ups per session, and she did two full pushups the other day, although mostly she does them on her knees.
They track Anahí's vision on a scale from 0 to 15 with 15 being her goal. Her visual scores at her initial evaluations were 1 in optokinetics (ability to track one of a series of moving objects), 0 in VOR (being able to move her head and keep her eyes on a stationary object), and 1 in Visual Stim (the ability to focus even though there are things distracting her vision).
After one month of work, she is at a 3 in Optokinetics, 2 in VOR, and 3 in Visual Stim. That is great progress, and we can see her eyes getting stronger every day. This reflects in her ability to stay focused for longer periods of time and her ability to make and hold eye contact for longer as well.
During her Brain Balance sessions, they put a vibrator on her leg. This is to test her ability to focus despite annoying tactile stimulation. Her goal level is 8. When she started she was at level 1. Now she is at level 4. The rest of her results are measured by age and her goal is her age level. In fine motor she has improved from 0 to 2.5 years. Her proprioception (awareness of her body in space) has improved from 3 to 4 years. Her supine (lying face up) core strength has improved from 3 to 4 years, her prone (lying face down) core strength has improved from 0 to 3 years, her lateral (lying on her side) core strength has improved from 3 to 5 years, and her brachiation (ability to hold onto the monkey bars) has improved from 3 to 4 years.
One of the more interesting things they talked about was rhythm and timing. This is important because kids who have poor rhythm and timing often have a hard time getting well-timed signals from their brain. For example, one part of the brain might be telling them to do something spontaneous or even dangerous because it looks fun or exciting. Meanwhile another part of their brain is trying to tell them not to do that thing, but because their timing is off, the cautionary message doesn't arrive in time. This is why you can ask these kids after they have done something that they "know" is wrong why they did it, and they will tell you that they don't know. It's not that the knowledge isn't there, it's that the messages don't time well with the context. In this area of rhythm and timing, Anahí has improved from 3 to 4 years. On the balance beam she has improved from 4 to 4.5 years, and her gait has improved from 0 to 4 years!
Kimball started doing just a few sit-ups and doing pushups against the wall. He is now at 40 sit-ups and 20 full push-ups three times a day. That's 120 sit-ups and 60 pushups every day! He's a hard worker and is proud of and confident in his new stronger body. His VOR (moving head while keeping eyes on a stationary object) has improved from 0 to 8. That's more than halfway to his goal :) His Visual Stim has improved from 1 to 4. In his auditory stim he has improved from 1 to 2, and in his auditory processing he has improved from 3 to 7. He's now just one year behind his age level. This is huge. He is now much more able to process instructions that we give him. He is also controlling his voice level better because his brain is so much more effective at producing sound. In Tactile Stim he has improved from 1 to 4 and is halfway to his goal of 8. His Fine Motor has improved from 4 to 6 years, and his Proprioception from 5 to 6 years. In his core he has reached his age level in all three categories after starting at 6 years in Supine, 5 in Prone and 7 in Lateral. In fact, he has surpassed his age level and is now at age 9 in Lateral Core Strength.
Finally, his Brachiation (monkey bars) has improved from 4 to 6 years, his Rhythm and Timing from 4 to 5 years, and his Balance Beam from 4 to 7 years. His Gait/Aerobic has improved from 0 to 5 years.
Since Kimball was born Betty and I have been to a lot of meetings to discuss our children's "progress." Rarely did we ever leave these meetings feeling anything but depressed, concerned for their future. When we left this Brain Balance progress report, however, we could hardly contain our joy, relief, and confidence. We still have a lot of work to do, and the kids still have a long row to hoe, but we are so pleased with the way they have handled this rigorous process, and are confident that they are capable of anything. For the first time in a long time, the future looks bright.