A Chance To Grow provides a wide range of services designed to help people at all levels of ability reach their optimal growth. Our focus on brain function affords us the opportunity to offer many approaches that are designed to complement each other and improve quality of life. One family has been with ACTG since its beginnings, and their journey with us – beginning with Boost-Up, the program that is the basis for most of our programming, to clinical services, to PCA services. Their story provides insight into the impact of everything we do.
When ACTG began to explore the use of neurofeedback, a brain-training approach, Michelle was excited, and before long, she launched what became our Neurotechnology Program.
What is Neurotechnology?
What are Home-Based Services?
Michelle has made sure that her son and grandchildren participated in everything ACTG had to offer them. “Scott had auditory therapy, vision therapy and speech/language therapy here. Mike and Kyrie too, and also OT. And Summer Boost-Up.” She also made sure they got a lot of neurofeedback. “I think it built more brain pathways. All the things ACTG does is trying to encourage brain pathways, Neurofeedback was one way to try that.”
Scott, Michael and Kyrie will always have challenges, but the therapies received thanks to Clinical Services, Home-Based Services and Neurotechnology have had a substantial impact. Scott initially was very slow in speech, and while he still has trouble, his ability to pick up vocabulary increased. Michael, who was visually impaired at birth, has improved, thanks to the stimuli provided in vision therapy. Both Michael and Kyrie thrived in good school programs and continue to learn. ACTG helped all three build the foundation for continued growth. “You say ‘developmental delays’ but I say ‘delay.’ Because they are still making strides,” says Michelle.
Because of her experiences providing Boost-Up, Neurofeedback and PCA services for her family, Michelle does not think about them in terms of their limitations. “If you have a child with a disability, you have to use their strengths.” She notes, “It’s just a matter of standing back and giving them room to be who they are. Talk to them, give them the opportunity, that’s really important to them. Respect different ways of knowing, give them the opportunity to learn.”
When he was in school, “Scott was so curious about so many things that I could never get anybody to understand. He couldn’t read the stuff, he couldn’t take the test, but he learned. He learns by listening. He had all these difficulties with our traditional ways of getting information. For example, he can look at a number, he can’t tell you the name of that number, but if I were to put a 5 and a 3 on the paper, he couldn’t write the 8, but if I put 7,8,9 underneath, he could circle the 8, he knew the concept. It’s the same with letters. Now he is a fount of information, he learned to get himself around the Internet without being able to read and write. Now he’s reading better than he ever has.”
Like Scott, Mike and Kyrie keep on growing and learning, albeit in nontraditional ways. They love sports and have participated in Special Olympics, honing their skills with hours of practice. Kyrie, now 18, is still in a project-based school that allows him to explore his natural interests at his own pace, and where he can stay through transition. Mike, now 27, is interested in cooking. As with Scott, he knows a lot, but is less communicative than Kyrie. “His receptive information is much more than his expressive,” says Michelle.
Thanks to ACTG’s Clinical and Neurofeedback Services, all three have continued to make gains, and thanks to our PCA services, they have been able to do so with the love and support of those who know them best, exploring the world around them and enriching the lives of everyone around them.
Justin the Superstar! Before visiting A Chance To Grow, Justin would hesitate in the middle of words when trying to speak, which made it hard for anyone else to understand him. In first grade, he didn’t know all of his sounds and reading and writing frustrated him.
In October of his first grade year, Justin was falling behind and began to hate school. He felt he was stupid. It brought tears to his mother’s eyes. In November of that year, she attended the S.M.A.R.T. Workshop and met Cheryl Smythe, Assistant Director of the Minnesota Learning Resource Center (MLRC). Cheryl encouraged her to have his vision and auditory processing skills tested at A Chance To Grow.
The testing told her he was below age level in much of his developmental vision, so she started doing boost up (S.M.A.R.T.) activities at home with him. He worked really hard on Creeping, Crawling, Spinning and Rolling, enabling him to move onto vision therapy activities. His mother also started him on the Hemispheric Specific Auditory Stimulation (HSAS) (now JIAS) program at A Chance To Grow to help with his auditory processing. Within three weeks of starting HSAS, Justin was able to sing all the words at his Christmas program on beat and with the other children-- something he hadn’t been able to do before. WOW! First grade was a struggle, but Justin had made it through.
When second grade started, the school tested him at a pre-primer reading level. Him and his mother continued to work on his vision and auditory issues. He showed real strength in math and by the end of second grade he was at a 1.7 reading level. This was almost an improvement of two grades!
By the end of his second grade school year, Justin was done with vision therapy and was put onto maintenance for the HSAS program. By this point, Justin’s articulation had improved so much that many people didn’t know he even had an articulation delay.
In third grade, he was still struggling with writing and still behind in reading. He received Title 1 services and worked hard at home. Justin did score ‘proficient’ on the Wisconsin state reading test that March, but things still didn’t seem quite right. He was having a hard time following along and keeping up in the classroom.
A Chance To Grow checked his ears again and found he had regressed on his auditory processing skills. After also having his reflexes checked by Dr. Moroz at A Chance To Grow Vision Services, it was found that he still had some primitive reflexes interfering with his ability to write and maintain the progress he had made in some of his prior therapy. Within weeks of starting the reflex therapy at home, he commented on how much “easier” writing was. Then, when given the choice to read, write or do math (his favorite), he chose writing. He wrote three stories that summer. This was great for a child who at one time had a hard time writing one word!
Justin, you are a superstar!