When Colette Friest traveled to Minnesota from Iowa to take her seven year old daughter, Lainey, to visit a learning center in Edina, she did not want Lainey to miss out on the occupational therapy and speech services she receives weekly while at home. A friend recommended she see our specialists at A Chance To Grow in place of her own while in Minnesota. Little did she know that our occupational therapy program would provide results that would change her daughter’s life forever.
When Colette first arrived at ACTG to take Lainey to see Occupational Therapist (OT) Angela Rosales, she expected Angela would use the same traditional approach that she has seen OTs use with Lainey in the past. Instead, Angela used our own unique approach, which differs from approaches at other therapy centers because it uses brain-friendly methods such as Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI)* to lay the foundation for motor function and everyday life skills.
Colette says that being introduced to reflex integration therapy was one of Lainey’s most important and life-changing experiences. Before her time at ACTG, Lainey was nonverbal, had fine and gross motor issues, lacked focus and had difficulty with fine motor planning. Other challenges included reading and talking.
OTs at ACTG have taken courses in MNRI and use the method often. Julie Neumann, ACTG OT, said that focusing on the integration of Lainey’s reflex patterns allowed Angela to lay the foundation necessary for Lainey to develop higher-level motor and everyday life skills. As a result, Lainey’s life has been drastically changed.
“We have seen huge differences in our daughter in just the two months that we have been doing reflex integration, and the fact that ACTG has OTs who can do these reflexes with kids can make a big difference in children’s lives. Many parents are like us and don’t have time to go to conferences and learn things like reflex integration, so this is huge. If it wasn’t for Angela introducing me to reflex integration at ACTG, we wouldn’t know about it and we’d still be stuck,” Colette said.
When asked to reflect on her time working with the Friests, Angela said, “They are such a solid family. Colette has a fearless approach when helping her daughter succeed. Her initiative and ambition are very impressive.”
For eleven weeks, Colette and Lainey stayed at a hotel Monday through Friday, traveling back home to Iowa on most weekends. During her time at ACTG, Lainey also saw Bridget Russ for Speech Therapy and Becky Aish for Audio Visual Entrainment and EEG Biofeedback. Colette said these additional interventions further strengthened Lainey’s ability to focus, talk and overall, act more mature.
Now, over five months later, Lainey’s verbal skills continue to improve. Finally, Colette is able to read stories to her daughter from beginning to end, and Lainey actually follows along!
“We had a great experience at ACTG. I want other families to hear about it. Lainey has been in therapy since age two, and we have seen more improvements in two months than we saw in five years. If parents really want to do something that can be life-changing for their child, I can’t stress highly enough how much of a difference A Chance To Grow’s programs can make.”
Another thing Colette said she loves about ACTG is the fact that our Founder and Co- Director, Bob DeBoer, has been in her shoes.
“He had a special needs child himself and understands where we’re coming from. That makes a huge difference. Not many therapy places start with a founder who had a special needs child and knows exactly what we’re going through,” Colette said.
*The Masgutova Method (MNRI) focuses on the important role of children’s automatic motor reflexes and underlying neurosensorimotor mechanisms. Occupational Therapists trained in the Masgutova Method learn to understand the difference between automatic motor reflexes and learned motor reflexes.
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!