You have had your first Functional Neurodevelopmental Assessment and it is likely you had insights into the drivers of you or your child’s behaviors that have inspired you to do the daily work to organize your child’s brain to a highly level of functioning.
Now you are looking forward to 40 minutes a day of work, that is physical and unfamiliar. You may be finding this HARD! We definitely understand, so we are providing some keys to getting the work done.
1.) Setting your determination to get this done is one key to success.
Some parent perspectives: There are parents who have told us that their daily life with their child is normally a series of arguments and this is an argument worth pushing through.
“We’ll be better off doing this and there is nothing that he doesn’t fight about, so we might as well put our energy into something that will make a positive difference.” is a comment from one parent. Three months later that child was commenting on how his own brain was feeling stronger; his rages and oppositional behaviors had decreased, and he was far more willing to do the work to help his ‘brain muscles’ grow.
2.) Build up gradually. You don’t prepare for a 26 mile marathon by running 26 miles the first day. Certainly we want to get the program up to full speed as quickly as possible, but if it is tiring that is understandable. Under ordinary circumstances your brain uses more of your glucose/energy than any other part of your body and this work will demand even more of the brain’s energy.
A measure of whether you are doing too much follows. If, after a day of work you or your child are tired, but a night of sleep brings the energy back to normal you have not done too much. If, however, you are still tired by the next day you should back off by about 20% and then build up again.
3.) Regressions! Not all children experience them. But if a child regresses (starts talking in baby talk, has MORE rages, becomes forgetful, etc.) you don’t need to be alarmed. They usually disappear in two weeks. The brain is simply learning to use new pathways and that is the confusion. If it lasts more than two weeks, be sure to contact Bette Lamont. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
4.) Always remember that we are a team. Bette Lamont is available by email to answer questions at any time between appointments. Knowing that you have that support, that no question is too small, and that together we can brainstorm solutions; then USING that support is key to your success as well.
5.) You might want to call on your community for support. There is a community of people who are doing this work and one way to access them is through the Yahoo group NeuroConnections, whose reach is as wide as the internet itself. People from all over the U.S. the U.K., and beyond have gone to NeuroConnections to connect with other parents and get support.
You may also want to set up a local support group either on line or in person, with regular or irregular meetings to share ideas and do the work together.
And don’t forget the local community. Perhaps you can hire a responsible teen to help you inspire your child to do the work and come over 3 days a week to administer the program, be a sort of ‘coach’, and give you some respite. Perhaps a community that you belong to, such as a church, synagogue or temple, can offer volunteer time.
Support is available. Your job is to ask for that support.
6.) This program does not go on forever. As you move through the work you will watch the child go from a series of challenges that may seem insurmountable, to more neuro-typical behaviors. Please read testimonials on this website for some inspiration from families who have ‘been there; done that’.
7.) And finally, here are some guidelines that we offer as a separate document for families doing the work.
How To Get A Child To Do It
When faced with the prospect of supervising a child in doing the program, many parents ask “How can I get him to do it if he doesn’t want to?”
Keeping in mind two basic principles will help considerably. The first is that if the child is personally invested in doing the program, it is much easier to see that he or she gets it done. The second is that it is important to remember who is the parent and who is the child.
Some suggestions follow:
1) Be consistent. If you offer a reward for doing the program and the child does it, then make sure to honor that promise, every time.
2) Do not offer choices to the child that you are not prepared to honor. If you ask “Would you do your program now?” You must be prepared for your child to say” No, I won’t.” On the other hand, if you say, “ I want you to do your program now,” and your child says “No, I won’t,” you can tell your child “That is not a choice that you have.”
3) Establish consequences or benefits that are meaningful to your child. Determine what your child places value on, whether it is personal time with you, video games, T.V., food, or a bedtime story, and use this to motivate him or her. Some families offer this value item as a privilege (within reason) for doing the program. Other families find it more successful to take away the privilege when the child does not complete his program. (See item #1, whatever you do, be consistent.)
4) Do not get into a power struggle with your child. The child will usually win. A power struggle might sound like “you will” “I won’t” “If you do, I’ll let you …” etc. To avoid this situation, clearly tell your child what you expect. If he or she does not act on these expectations, execute appropriate consequences quickly, clearly, and definitively. In this way your child will learn that you mean what you say and that it is not up for debate.
Following these suggestions will eliminate the vast majority of problems that occur when supervising children in doing the program. This is not to suggest that it is easy to do. The more direct and consistent that you are, however, the easier it will get as time goes by.