It’s a Whole New Game

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I am sure if you read this regularly you were thinking I would post something about the NCAA Championship game. As I said in one of my other posts during the tournament – LIFE HAPPENS.

It’s happened big time here at what I like to call Stately Rueff Manor. There was the end of the school year for the boys. We homeschool and we begin the school year in mid-July and finish at the end of April. We try to correspond it with the Spring Review program with the home school co-op we belong to at a church around the corner from our house.

This is one of the posts where I am not really sure where to start.

Last month though we came across an opportunity to get some help for two of our sons in regard to their brain development. I have posted about my Autistic son, Ryan, and how he has started running with me on a regular basis. I plan to share with you some more exciting news in this regard later this week.

I have another son, Micah, who is the youngest of the four Fabulous Rueff Boys (actually, they hate it when I call them that, but you know what they are fab if you ask me). Micah is not really on the autism spectrum but does lack behind in certain areas which need further development for an 8-year-old child.

To give you a little background, back in February Wendy, my wife, had an opportunity to attend an open house on the north side of Indianapolis called Brain Balance. She returned and talked to me about getting Ryan and Micah evaluated.

I agreed and thus Ryan and Micah went through a series of test to be evaluated. Although I can’t say I was shocked, I was still taken aback somewhat when basically the reports said Ryan and Micah both have the mentality of 3-year olds. Ryan’s 12. He’ll be 13 in December. Micah, as mentioned, is 8 and will be 9 in September. At this rate, Ryan and Micah would always live with us, but one of our goals is through this they will be able to eventually live independently much like their other brothers Andrew and Luke.

It appears the left side of their brains works faster than the right side. Brain Balance would help get the right side caught up with the left. Most of these activities they do are structured between neuro-academic and sensory-motor activities.

Ryan and Micah attend Brain Balance three times a week for about two hours each session. At home, we have various exercises we do with them three times a day for about 15-20 minutes a session. Micah constantly fights us all the way through to get the exercises done. He also tries to get them done as fast as he can. Sometimes Ryan fights us as well, especially at the beginning of a session, but once he gets going he’s willing to take the time to complete them properly.

The exercises we do right now at home include getting them to watch objects with their eyes without moving their head, squeezing stress balls, and Wendy or I taking rubbing our ring fingers across each side of their face to the crevice of their mouths to help with the “rooting reflex.” After those are completed they do “mat work” which includes push-ups, sit-ups, lizards, head movement, snow angels, curling up holding their knees, and “supermans.”

They listen to music while doing the exercises, which usually takes between 15-25 minutes, as they go through the various drills. Each track being played on Wendy’s MP3 player is different. It sounds like a combination of Enya-meets-Hip Hop-meets some Bach. That’s about the best way I can describe it.

The music is supposed emphasize the parts of the right-side lacks which includes harmony, interval, quality, timbre, spatial, temporal, and longer-term patterns. Wendy isn’t too fond of it, but I have noticed while doing the exercises with Ryan and Micah my mind wandering and thinking of ideas. I have sat while counting sit-ups and push-ups thinking of future posts for this blog listening to the music.

Throughout the week, they can earn “brain bucks” which can be used to purchase a toy for doing well in their sessions at Brain Balance and at home. Micah has already bought two toys and Ryan is steadily saving up to buy a big “hot wheels” set for his cars. They can also “level up” and have stars on the wall at the Brain Balance Center.

There is a part of the Brain Balance protocol though which affects all of us. For the most part, it’s not a big deal to me because I will pretty much eat anything. As for the rest of my family, that’s a different matter. It’s bio-nutrition. According the Brain Balance website – “Bio-nutrition combines core principles of biochemistry with diet and nutrition. Nearly every child we see with learning and developmental issues has some biochemical imbalances, as well as dietary issues like food sensitivities and vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies.”

Through a simple blood tests, we were told what foods Ryan and Micah were intolerant to and also possibly somewhat allergic. This wasn’t going to be a change only for them when they eat but for all of us. Brain Balance highly recommends everyone has to be on board when it comes to the food changes or it would not be successful in helping Ryan and Micah achieve their goals.

For most of his life, Ryan has lived on hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Micah ate fruit, hamburgers and had to have ketchup with everything.

When the results came back we were shocked Ryan had a mild intolerance to chicken and Micah had the moderate intolerance to tomatoes.

What’s one thing that got me was they both have a severe intolerance to coffee. Neither one has ever had a drink of coffee, but I do. The thought I am on my last can of coffee for a while gives me the jitters.

I’d type the lists of all the severe, moderate and mild intolerances, but I hate when people do that. It’s a pretty lengthy list which also includes dairy and gluten.

Andrew and Luke revolted at first though they are beginning to adhere to changes except for when we go to a special event like the church volunteer picnic last night where they submerged themselves in food including ice cream and popcorn. Though I have to admit I was proud of them for drinking water last night and resisting the temptation to drink a soda.

We have had to stop going out for dinner, which was every Sunday occurrence after church and sometimes during the week as well.

The worst part for all would be the Domino’s pizza guy would no longer be delivering pizzas to our house on Friday nights. This also meant the end of weekly consumption of various soda drinks prior to watching movies downstairs in our theater room or Ryan and Andrew going to their middle-school-youth group on the other side of town.

As kids do sometimes, Andrew and Luke blamed Ryan and Micah for all the changes. They didn’t seem to think it was fair everyone had to adhere to the new eating rules. A few weeks ago they were constantly reminding Ryan it was his fault the Domino’s guy wasn’t coming to the door.

Outside our house a lot of people don’t see it, but there are times with Ryan I call a “moment of clarity.” This is when he actually sounds like a 12-year old. You can have a sit-down conversation with him and he’ll actually engage with you. One Friday night while Wendy was fixing dinner downstairs I happened to walk past Ryan’s room and saw him on his bed. His head was down. I could tell something was bothering him. So doing my best Ward Cleaver I knocked on the door and asked if I could come into his room.

I sat down on his bed and asked him what was wrong. He looked at me and said “Dad, I’m sick, aren’t I? That’s why we can’t have pizza anymore.”

BOOM!

How do I reply to that? What do I say? I did not expect that to come out of his mouth at that time.

“Hey Ry,“ I said. “You’re not sick.”

“Then what’s wrong with me, Dad?” Ryan asked. “This is all my fault that we can’t have pizza and Dr. Pepper anymore.”

At this point I was doing my best to keep my eyes dry.

“For some reason buddy the left side of your brain is like Lightning McQueen fast,” I said. “And you’re right side, well, it’s a work in progress.”

“How will my right side get faster?”

“By doing what we’re doing right now,” I said. “Going to Brain Balance. Doing the exercises here at home, watching what we all eat. This is all to make Micah and you better”

“Are you sure?”

“I am confident this will be successful,” I replied. “And just imagine what you’re going to be like once your right side catches up to your left side. You’re going to be the smartest person in this family.”

“DDDDDDDDDDaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddddddd,” he said.

I gave him a hug, wiped my eyes and we got off his bed and went downstairs for dinner that night.

So, where are we six weeks into our Brain Balance sessions? Ryan has moved up two years and Micah has moved up 1 1/2 years according to the first-month evaluation. Of course we have seen the biggest difference in Ryan because you are looking at a 12-year old, who has moved up from being considered a 3-year old mentally by the first evaluation to 5. Micah at 8 has moved up to 4 ½.

Is it the three visits per week at Brain Balance? Is it our family doing our best to “buy in” to do the extra things outside those three sessions a week to make it work? Is it a combination of both?

During these next few months, I am sure we’ll find our answers, but as for now the results have been pretty remarkable. This has also been proven by the comments we have received from family and friends, who say they have noticed a change in both my sons.

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