Today's review is a little different. Instead of a program or curriculum, this one is geared for those of you who may have a child with learning difficulties. This especially interested me since we adopted Anah almost a year ago. Over the past few months, I have begun to feel the frustrations of working with a child with learning disabilities. Because of her unknown history and the wide variation in children with Down Syndrome, I have felt like I've spent the year trying to figure out where she's at. This is where today's review is helping me to figure out her next steps. Company Information: The Family Hope Center is an international center for the development of young children with special needs and developmental delays. Matt and Carol Newell, the husband-wife directors of FHC, are themselves no strangers to special needs children. Their goal is to empower parents and families to come alongside their children, rather than sending them to the experts to fix their kids. While one parent can do a lot on their own, two parents (and the rest of the family too!) working together can multiply that many times over.
They fully believe that parents are the best therapists because they love their children and care for them in a way that no therapist ever could. Rather than having a bunch of individual therapists (e.g. speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) working on different aspects of your child from the outside in, they recommend training parents to work their children from the inside (specifically in re-wiring their brains) out. They believe that when the brain is re-organized and patterns set, remarkable changes in abilities and learning can take place.
Product Reviewed: Understanding Child Brain Development DVD. This is an abbreviated version of their 3-day seminar that hits the highlights in a little over 2 hours. Along with it is the companion e-book of the slides shared in the video.
Age Range: Parents
What We Liked: I watched the DVD twice, once with my daughter and once with my husband. Along with the DVD, I used the companion e-book as a "checklist." I had taken some physiology classes in college so some of the information was vaguely familiar to me. The first 2/3 of the DVD was full of brain physiology and how it affects behavior. It was fascinating to see the connections. In the last portion of the video, director Matt Newell talked about some of the things we can start doing as parents. That was very practical--things like why we should not give our kids a lot of juice or why we should avoid using the microwave if at all possible. Mr.Newell put together a lot of pieces which made a lot of sense.
Many of his suggestions did not cost a lot of money; in fact, some cost nothing at all. What it will cost is a parent's time, commitment and willingness to keep repeating these exercises over and over and over until their child's brain gets it.
Last, but definitely not least, I really appreciated the family approach the Family Hope Center uses in helping children. To be honest, this is what resonated with me the most. We adopted Anah as a family. It makes sense that we work together to help her to mature and grow.
What We Didn't Like:
The pace of the video is very fast, and sometimes I had a hard time keeping up with everything. There really is a lot of information. Having the slides in front of me really helped. I would recommend that parents watch slowly with pen in hand to take notes. As he went through the various brain sections, it helped to use these slides/notes to compare my own children (and not just Anah!) with it. Many of the examples shared were with autistic or children with learning disabilities, like dyslexia.
One of the things that came up as my husband viewed it was the question of will. This may be an overly simplistic generalization I am making, but there were times it seemed like the idea was if I did A, then B will happen in my child. I guess I had my doubts. Is it really that simple? It made a lot of sense, but I also know that even with all that I do, children are not robots. However, I do understand that even if I am not God, He can use me to help Anah to mature. I realized that I needed to look at this as a tool that God can use to effect the growth and change that He desires for her.
While the video was a great introduction, I think for us we are going to have to look into more specific help for our situation. It will not answer every question about your child, nor do I think it was meant to do that. However, it did give us a start. I was able to contact the Family Hope Center directly and was connected with another parent who took time to answer questions. For us, the video got us started, but we are realizing that we have a situation in which more specialized help will be needed.
Overall Summary: The DVD was the first step for me. The next stage, if you should feel like you want more information is attending the 3-day seminar that goes into this material in much more depth. The Newells travel internationally, but their next US seminar will be in Oct. 15-17, 2013 in Philadelphia. I have been looking into the possibility of attending. For parents who want even more that what the seminar provides, 2-day individual child screenings are available as well. This gives the most individualized attention of all---after a full day of evaluations with their medical, nutritional, and brain specialists, the team at Family Hope Center sit down with parents to give a specific plan for your individual child.
If you are interested in helping your children who seem to be struggling with various behaviors and are at your wit's end, check this video out. Perhaps it may give you some ideas and a better understanding of how your child's brain development impacts this behavior. If you are interested in ordering your own copy of the DVD, call 610-397-1737 or via the Institute of Excellence in Writing website on their product page.
I don't know what the future holds for Anah. There have been many days that I have felt completely unqualified to take on this job of parenting her. But somehow, God has given me a little hope. I am looking forward to seeing what He will do as we take steps towards her healing and growth with the Family Hope Center.