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Has anyone tried Brain Highways


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#1 BooksandBoys

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:18 PM

....for retained/primitive reflexes?

Your opinion?

I’ve struggled to find a PT/OT with training in retained reflexes, so I’m researching other options. We have access to a physical location of Brain Highways, but I’d also love to hear your opinion if you used the online version.

#2 BooksandBoys

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 11:21 PM

If no one has any opinions, I’ll ask a follow-up question then....
Those of you who talk about treating retained reflexes: what resources have you used?
I had good results with the exercises in the book “Stopping ADHD,” and oldest (ASD/ADHD) has maintained his improvement, but I’m not sure where to go next to address his other sixty retained reflexes (I kid).

#3 KaleSprouts

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 10:35 PM

I can't praise Assessing Neuromotor Readiness for Learning: The INPP Developmental Screening Test and School Intervention Programme by Sally Goddard Blythe high enough. It's an expensive book but gives you the tools to screen for retained reflexes and then has an exercise program. So you can learn to evaluate your kids, do the program, and re-evalute their reflexes. I ended up purchasing access to some videos on her web site to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I read several other of her books too in order to have a better understanding of the reflexes. The hardest part was having the confidence to do it without an "expert" to meet with in person, but now, after having done it, I think that anyone who has the discipline to stick to doing the exercises for about 15 minutes a day for close to a year can do it (I relied on a family member to help me be accountable). I saw lots of things change for both of my kids over this time and each new exercise brought improvement. All the books and videos I bought cost about $150. I felt very empowered by learning how to evaluate the reflexes on my own. My daughter also needed chiropractic adjustment during this time as part of what had gotten in the way of normal development was physical in nature.


If you are wanting only good things about Brain Highways stop here. I hate to be a negative nelly, but I regret ever giving them money. One of the worst experiences of my life and I feel like a dupe for giving them my money. Brain Highways is expensive and was focused on one type of floor exercise (and has you do it excessively), which after all the reading I've done doesn't seem to be the best design for a program to integrate reflexes. We got gains far faster after starting the book above that has a lot of specifically designed movement sequences rather than continuing at Brain Highways. We did their 'pons' class and I wasn't impressed with the owner's knowledge of retained reflexes and answers to questions I had. It was always the hard sell... and questions were met with responses that felt like "if you want your child to improve shut up and do what I say". At the same time she was very narcissistic and insisted that only she has this special knowledge that she figured out and no one but her can help you. A lot of red flags.
Many of her ideas are obviously borrowed from other sources, but she does not give them credit or ever list them as sources - she claims it all as original (another red flag). A few weeks before the end of the class we were in she even used a manipulation technique to physically seperate the people who didnt sign up for the second class so that she could give "special inside info" to the people who signed up for the second class. Of course she would give the info to anyone who decided to sign up and join the good parents who cared enough about their kid's to continue the program. IMO, she played to the fears of desperate parents of missing out on the thing that would help their child in order to get them to fork over the big bucks. She tried to make us feel like quitters who didn't want to help our kids.

Also, There was so much focus on parenting skills (which some people do need) but was a huge waste of time for us and we had to complete her time intensive, ridiculous, parenting exercises in order to keep getting access to the physical program (which turned out not to be worth it). At one point my daughter was so scared of her that she lied about not being afraid of the dark anymore just to not make her upset! We found out after the class that she was lying in bed scared but not saying anything because she was scared we'd be kicked out of class (part of the class insisted on training irrational fears out of your child). It broke my heart, and really clued me in to how psychologically malevolent the environment was.

That experience still dredges up a lot of negative emotion so I hope I was able to make enough sense just letting it spill out. I just can't bring myself to go back and edit.
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#4 BooksandBoys

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 06:39 PM

I definitely want to hear your honest opinions, so thank you! I’m sorry that was such a negative experience for you. I’m a very hard sell too and am already very wary after studying their website (no citations, the attitude that a parent has to do the program to see the changes because we can’t imagine how life can improve, apparent minimal grasp of neuroscience). But, while I’m a hard sell, I’m also a desperate parent (I’ve been around the boards for a long time, though I haven’t posted in a while.)

If you don’t mind elaborating (in PM is fine if you prefer), I have a couple more questions.

What floor exercise was the main focus of the program? That crawling on your stomach thing? They don’t do much else?

When you say parenting education, what do you mean? That sounds ridiculously useless for us.

They do WHAT with my child’s irrational fears??? My middle kid has extremely high anxiety (occasionally stops eating for fear of germs in food, for example). That kind of method would be horrid.

Thank you so much for the book/program recommendations. And for your honest assessment of BH.

#5 KaleSprouts

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 10:49 PM

Good questions! I'll have to get back to you in a couple days - we all just got hit by what seems to be the flu.

#6 KaleSprouts

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 06:20 PM

Okay,  let's see if I can give some more details. 

 

What floor exercise was the main focus of the program? That crawling on your stomach thing? They don’t do much else?
 

 

The main exercise was the floor exercise called "creeping", and yes, it's crawling on your belly.  This is to be done 30 minutes every day.  Before starting the creeping each day there were "patterns" to do which basically modeled motions that go along with the development of the creeping.  Maybe if a child didn't miss out on any motions earlier than being ready to do the belly crawl (my twins did while we were doing PT for neck problems - one just rolled everywhere and then walked) it would work just fine.  My own kids and kids in the class did improve doing this skill, but I had expected that there would be more different types of developmental exercises.  There were additional things that were brought up each week that had to do with sensory input (Brain Gym style exercises), but I felt that they were more for coping than for resolving underlying retained reflexes.    

 

Now,  I only have personal data, which can be flawed, but after the first brain highways class I learned to assess the reflexes myself from the book I mentioned and both of my kids did poorly with several reflexes at 100% dysfunction.   The assessment tool I has a 5 point rating scale that goes from 0-no abnormality to 4-100% dysfunction.  After the class we didn't have any reflexes that had no abnormality, but once we implemented the book's program both of my kids moved into the no abnormality or 1-up to 25% abnormality categories.  I don't know where things were at before the class, so I don't have any data on what might have improved from the class.  Also,  I don't know what would have happened if we had done Brain Highway's 2nd class which has a main movement of crawling on all fours.  I can say that both creeping and crawling were part of the INPP program we did,  but there were also something like 24 other exercises and some of them were really, really, hard for my kids when they started them.  

 

Brain Highways also had some really basic vision therapy style exercises.  I did find that the tracking exercise from class helped my daughter, but it wasn't worth the price of the class.  I do think that my kids had vision problems related to some of these reflex issues.  I bought Developing Ocular Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills: An Activity Workbook by Kenneth Lane and worked through many of those exercises with my kids.   I also used the Visual Perceptual workbooks from Critical Thinking Co. and this year at the optometrist appointment they both ended up being farsighted and needing glasses but neither were in need of vision therapy.  Before our at home work a different optometrist had recommended vision therapy.  That's starting to get off track a bit but I think that the vision issues can be important piece as the reflex issues get resolved.  

 

 

 

 

When you say parenting education, what do you mean? That sounds ridiculously useless for us.

 

I can't go through everything there was,  but I'll try to give some examples.   I do think that as parents we need to look at how our action/inaction affects family dynamics so I thought that all of the topics that came up were relevant but I thought that the way they were handled with parents and the way the information was presented was inappropriate.  

 

In addition to the exercises there were several hours a week worth of parenting listening, reading, and homework assignments.  This included listening to Nancy, reading her very verbose and often repetitive documents, and completing a written homework assignment for parents.  These were not optional, she reviewed, kept track, and if for any reason a parent objected or didn't do the assignment she might throw them out of class.  I mostly went along to get along and completed assignments in a way that would appease her.  Parents who disagreed with her had to have what I started to call a "re-education session" with her so that they could get on board with her ideas.  As far as I know, her only credentials are as a public school teacher, and I felt that she often overstepped her professional background into psychological  neuroscience areas she had no business messing around in.  If there were ideas that were footnoted, or she provided sources for, I would have felt more comfortable.  She has handout about fear that includes info about how the brain deals with fear that has ZERO references.   I also think I would feel differently about it if the materials / activities had been optional, but I don't like controllers.   In fact,  some of the parenting materials are really good if you just read through them, reflect, and take what's useful and I'm sure that I picked up a few things that have been helpful.  

 

1.  The checklist alone for one week's class was 8 pages long.  Now, I'm no reading slouch and I usually read a couple books a week so I'm not complaining about having to read but when the checklist of what to do for one week's class is 8 pages long and the kids are only doing creeping and a couple "pattern" exercises, doesn't that seem excessive?

 

2.  Here's one of the assignments.   "Our subconscious mind is always active, though we may not be aware of the degree this part of the mind

influences our behavior. In fact, the subconscious mind of both a child and parent may be responsible for
a strong undercurrent in the home. If so, the subconscious mind may be interfering with Brain Highways
progress—regardless that the conscious mind truly wants change.
To explore the idea that the subconscious mind may be creating an undercurrent in the home, answer the
following questions. "
 
Clearly this is something worth thinking about and considering.  But,  the assignment had several questions that had to be replied to in writing.  The following week it had to be turned in and it was reviewed and handed back.  There was a 3 page document explaining the grading codes that might be used on your document.  Any faults that were found in your document had to be corrected and turned in the following week.  Failure to do so might mean getting kicked out of class.  Each week had something like this.  
 
Well,  I might come back and write more,  but I'm short on time now and have to stop there. 

 

 

 

 

They do WHAT with my child’s irrational fears??? My middle kid has extremely high anxiety (occasionally stops eating for fear of germs in food, for example). That kind of method would be horrid.

 

Well,  you can read her ideas about irrational fears: http://www.thecortex...istorted-fears/

 

For my daughter her cause and effect of why it happens was way off.  This is an opinion piece about her ideas, IMO, presented in a matter of fact way.  This is not a nuanced look at any type of research or information out there about how irrational fears develop or how to overcome them.  

 

 

I may have more later.... but have to run now without going back an editing.  Will try to read through later for clarity/typos/etc.  please excuse anything messy ;-)


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#7 BooksandBoys

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 03:49 PM

Thank you, KaleSprouts, that was so helpful.
We’ve opted not to use BH at this time. Your information about the progress your kids made with reflexes was exactly what I was looking for (and I completely understand the frustration of not having “before” data for comparison :-). I want to focus on primitive reflexes at this time, as I know we have significant retention in a lot of them, and I’ve seen wfat a difference even minor integration can make in my oldest. We also have some visual tracking challenges, which I’d like to target myself as well, so thanks for the book suggestion.
My husband would never cooperate with the parental participation you described. It’s good to know ahead of time, as she minimized the outside parental participation significantly in the free assessment appointment. I didn’t mean to imply that we don’t need parental education. We can always benefit from more. But we’ve (I’ve) already done a ton of that with therapists of all sorts as well as self-education, so I’m not sure that a class that seems to rather focus on that is the right fit for us at this time. We really do have to choose our focus for treatment/therapy at any given period.

Thank you for mentioning that you used another person for accountability in completing the exercises regularly. I would need that, as middle guy, at least, fights me about all the things. I appreciate the reminder about outside accountability.

Thank you so much for taking so much time to answer my questions. You were so helpful!

#8 exercise_guru

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 05:07 PM

I can't speak to brain highways but I do like Kathy at pyramid of potential. She has an inexpensive DVD under 20 that does all the main exercises each day. I like her materials but the book listed above sounds interesting. 

I did have my son tested but I also figured out which tests to watch for in my other child. I just have her do one  test a day so I can get cooperation. If you have an unfinished basement or a floor that you don't mind I think the best thing to do is use a little belly board and let your child pull themselves around and pick up toys. Its like a skateboard but you can go any direction. My son did this in OT and loved it. If I could sacrifices my wood floors I bet it would help with integrating many of the reflexes. We also have a trampoline, a basketball hoop and a surfer swing that is for preteens that is like a skateboard that goes back and forth. I had my son get on that swing every day all summer. It helped a lot. I also have my kids to hand stands and head stands because I personally think it would help with the startle reflex. I need to retest him to figure out if my modified idea worked. If it didn't then I guess I am back to the exercise video. My sons slouching in handwriting went away. He doesn't startle anymore and I don't notice many of the key signals. We still can't do a normal jumping jack so I am not sure we are there yet. I might purchase that book Sally Goddard Blythe high because I am not confident enough on all of the tests. 

 

I am amazed any parents can get their child to do these redundant exercises for the period of time they think it takes to integrate the reflex. Not criticizing just honestly I must be a crappy parent my kiddos are older and consistent cooperation is hit or miss. I have to come up with all kinds of tricks like have my kids bear crawl around our loop chasing the cat or whatever. I do not have luck at getting it done everyday with our other therapies. I emailed Kathy at Pyramids of Potential and ask if there were any functional fitness exercises that I  could get My children to do like swimming etc. It seems like if they missed a developmental milestone I could find a functional fitness exercise to get that reflex to reintegrate. Her response was not helpful and I didn't want to invest in a private phone call for her to tell me that I should offer my kid a skittle to get them to do the redundant exercise. I have to cheerlead for so many other things I don't have enough juice left for that. 

 

BTW reading above brain highways sounds like a nightmare. 

 

 


Edited by exercise_guru, 28 November 2017 - 05:12 PM.

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#9 Lecka

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:58 AM

When people have a certain system they are hardly going to recommend an alternative.

Maybe an OT consult could tell you this though? I have had this kind of conversation with private OT about what might be a good choice of activity for my son.

If you're looking for cross-body coordination and your child can participate in activities that involve cross-body coordination, I think that is a clear way to go.

A lot of OT type programs are for kids who can't just go into swim lessons or gymnastics lessons and participate and do the activities.

Also if you're looking for something this style that is more engaging, try Bal-a-Vis-x. It is harder even with adaptations (in my opinion) but my impression is that kids like it and are willing to do it when it is the right fit for them. Which -- it probably would be for kids who are past the point of making up games where they crawl through a fabric tunnel or do an obstacle course with crawling.

Also you will find a lot of OTs have some training or experience with a lot of these programs, and mix and match exercises, even if they don't have a high level certification or advertise an affiliation with a certain copyrighted program. You can ask.
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#10 KaleSprouts

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 07:05 PM

My husband would never cooperate with the parental participation you described. It’s good to know ahead of time, as she minimized the outside parental participation significantly in the free assessment appointment. I didn’t mean to imply that we don’t need parental education. We can always benefit from more. But we’ve (I’ve) already done a ton of that with therapists of all sorts as well as self-education, so I’m not sure that a class that seems to rather focus on that is the right fit for us at this time. We really do have to choose our focus for treatment/therapy at any given period.
 

 

 

Sorry I never made it back to at least make my post more readable.  I am having one heck of a sick season this year and just keep getting new things that are going around.  I'm glad I could be helpful in some way.  We didn't understand from the free assessment that there would be a huge other parenting component either and I didn't even think to ask -that's one reason I like to share about it.    Oh,  and I never got the sense that you were in any way saying that you didn't need parental education so if I said something that sounded rough in that regard, my apologies.  I hope that 2018 will be a year of finding answers for your family :-)  


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#11 exercise_guru

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 08:57 PM

I agree Lecka in our area there is a swim center for kids with disabilities which I have heard good things about but yes it is challenging to find something that works for kiddos. I use the functional fitness stuff for.my defiant preteen who has 2 retained reflexes. No way I can get her to do the starfish exercise everyday it would help her so much if I could.

When my sons started pyramid of potential exercises he couldn't do a superman plank to save his life. It's gotten much better over time. I wish we had a trampoline because I have heard they are wonderful. I do wish OT would recomend exercises because it is much easier to get consistency if it's an activity they enjoy even if it had to be modified.

At OT my son used a bow flex to row which was very good and the belly skateboard rolling around picking things up. Basically many exercises that imitate floor crawling and controlling the body the way young babies and toddlers do. Swimming is awesome but my son with retained reflexes struggles I plan on giving him some private lessons. The lifting of the head and cross body motion is so helpful.


Also really like the other suggestions.
 


Edited by exercise_guru, 01 December 2017 - 11:47 AM.

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#12 Lecka

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 08:20 AM

My 7th grader was very resistant to swimming lessons for years, and he is doing swimming now by his choice. It is a nice thing to do, but I couldn't get him to do it when I wished he would do it.

#13 BooksandBoys

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 01:06 PM

My 7th grader was very resistant to swimming lessons for years, and he is doing swimming now by his choice. It is a nice thing to do, but I couldn't get him to do it when I wished he would do it.


I understand. My middle kiddo is resistant 99.9% of the time, even to things he loves or wants. It must be challenging to be inside his brain.
Thankfully, my older, who has the more significant reflex challenges, is both more cooperative (to his ability level) and able to be bribed.
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#14 KaleSprouts

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 04:28 PM

About swimming specifically:  When I was a teen I gave swim lessons for several years and a few times I was perplexed by the challenges that some kids had when learning to side breath for freestyle.  Well,  now that I have experience with the reflexes I realize that what was happening is that every time they turned their head to breath the opposite side arm and hip would contract and send everything into a flailing chaos (retained ATNR).  Some of these same kids' hands would go into fists every time their cupped hands would hit the water, but they were completely able to do the motion on the deck (Palmar reflex).   For kids in that situation I think it would be much better, and safer, for them to do exercises on dry land.  I just don't know that those kids could have sustained the swimming for the amount of time needed (both daily duration, and number of days) to do enough for the reflexes (even though it does seem like the motion could work).  Also,  one would have to make sure that they are alternating breathing (turning the head to the opposite side each time they breathe) or you might only get inhibition of the reflex on one side (if at all).   I was able to work with those kids so that they were able to swim in deep water safely, and their parents were thrilled, but they were still far off from having a smooth cross pattern freestyle swim.  Breast stroke often worked best for them and gave them the most success in the water.  :-)

 

In our case I wanted to do an established program that had some proven outcomes (INPP does have positive outcomes from schools that implemented the program.  I can't remember if the data was on their website or just in the book or both.  I felt like the retained reflexes were a serious enough issue for us that I wanted to do a program that I felt like had a good chance of actually helping.  My kids were just 6 when we did it, and we didn't have other major issues going on that complicated getting them to do it.  I'm also a super-orderly, kinda type-A personality, so I suppose that helped.  I'm not too rigid, but having a solid routine helped me though the young years of having twins and adding something new to the routine wasn't too big of a deal here.  

 

Oh,  I also explained to them as best I could at their level about the reflex and showed them videos demonstrating reflexes in babies.  I told them that what happens is that those reflexes get integrated and then the postural (kid, big kid, adult) reflexes take over.   I also tried to give them concrete examples of things that might be easier if the exercises did help.  I also played up how big of a deal it is to commit to a program and have the discipline to complete a daily program for almost a year and we celebrated along the way (both the progress on the timeline, and the attitude they had along the way).  I felt a strong responsibility as a parent to stay on top of this - I just know I could not live with myself if I didn't try everything within my reach to help with these issues.  I try to only bribe as a last resort, but I would have bribed if I had needed to - I think it's that important!

 

I understand that some of you are dealing with some extraordinary situations and my heart goes out to you.  I can only imagine how hard it can be to just manage daily "stuff". I suppose one thing to consider is whether it might be worth the pain now to possibly have less to deal with in the future.  If dealing with compliance issues is more of a down-payment on a better future than just something negative it might make it a bit easier to put in the effort.  Try to find a perspective that makes the burden one you can carry.  

 

Sending you all warm wishes filled with hope <3