Friday, August 17, 2012

Three HOURS!

I recently attended a three-day seminar for professionals who work with children with challenges.  There were approximately 25 attendees from a variety of professions---occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, physical therapists, etc.  They were all very dedicated to their work and exhibited a real passion for helping children.  It was a pleasure to learn with them.  During this seminar, the instructor told of a family she had worked with, and how they had successfully overcome their son's challenges.  However, there was a disclaimer---this family had worked THREE HOURS A DAY with their son.  An audible gasp swept the room.  THREE HOURS!?!?

I gasped, too---and thinking about it makes me gasp every time.  But I am gasping at the gasping.  I feel a wave of sentiments when I think about people being shocked by a family spending three hours a day helping their child.  Is it so rare that a parent would devote 1/8 of their time each day to the lifelong progress of their child?  I hope not.  I really, really hope not.

I know none of us thinks we have any "extra" time.   But please consider that your work with your child(ren) is worth more than the spare change of your day.  I know there are responsibilities parents must not neglect---yes, clothes must be washed, food prepared, bills paid, etc.  But with careful planning, you can dovetail those tasks to be happening WHILE you are doing the program.  Washing machines, crockpots, auto bill pay, etc are all tools that I would recommend investigating.  Find out how you can organize your household tasks to maximize your availability.  If you are not quite sure how to do this, you may want to consider .  She is a wonderful coach for organizing your household---and more.

It is great to actually track how you spend your time each day.  Write down what you do and for how long.  Then look at that list and decide if those activities can be re-arranged.  And you will inevitably find that some of them have to go.  You can't do everything every day.  So it becomes about priorities.  What is the MOST important thing you can do each day?  What will give you the most lifelong rewards and satisfaction?  When you look at your day through that lens, how you manage your time becomes clearer. 

And you MUST manage your time.  It is entirely too easy to let tasks take more time than they should.  I read once that cleaning out a closet will take exactly as much time as you give it.  If you don't set a time limit, it could take all day.  And what closet is really worth an entire day of your life???

It requires a lot of self-discipline to continue working on a program when there is precious little immediate gratification.  Your child's brain will most likely not be drastically improved after three days of programs---or perhaps three months.  The speed of their new brain organization is very, very individual and depends on a LOT of different factors.  One of those important factors is CONSISTENCY.  And that consistency will take a lot of commitment from you.  And I'm pretty sure that when you look at the big picture, you see that you ARE committed to your child(ren) and working through their challenges.

Ahhhh, the big picture.  We all love the "big picture."  I've climbed mountains, been in the Sears tower in Chicago, Reunion Tower in Dallas, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and even climbed trees----just to have a view of the "big picture".  I wanted to take in the entire scene at once.  People everywhere are always seeking the best vantage point for the "big picture".  We are inspired when we look out and see the sweeping landscape.  It is sometimes peaceful when we are "above" the crowd and can see things without the hustle and bustle of being "in" the crowd.  So make sure you keep your big picture fresh--review how your child is doing, what is their next step for progress and how are you doing in achieving those steps.  If your child has been evaluated by Parents With Purpose, review the documents from that evaluation.  They figuratively give you a perch at the top of the tower so you can see the big picture.

So back to gasping at the seminar.  THREE HOURS???? GASP!!  Yes, you will need to devote time to helping your child's brain grow.  But I am confident that you can do it if you

  • organize your daily tasks
  • track how you spend your time
  • prioritize your activities
  • eliminate time-killers that don't contribute to your goals
  • limit the time you give to certain tasks
  • keep the "big picture" fresh in your mind
One more tip---listen to other mothers who have taken this journey before.  Learn from their wisdom and be inspired by their examples.  Contact me for encouragement and answers to questions.  

Ready yourself to say, "Yes, I devote <insert however long it takes> amount of time to my child's growth and development each day.  I've made it the priority because that is how I see being a mother.  I can't think of anything more important to do with my day."  You may even want to write this down and remind yourself when there are tough days---and there will be MANY TOUGH DAYS---especially at the beginning.

And then you will win.  And then we will celebrate.  And then you will look back and say, "It was all worth it" because the prize is that good!

If you are struggling with your child, please take it one step at a time .  Feel free to share this information with a friend who might benefit.  Parents With Purpose is happy to help.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympics---the Rising Tide

Like many of you, I absolutely LOVE watching the Olympics.  They are so exciting.  I love cheering, of course, for the American athletes.  I even find myself cheering for other countries when there is a heart-warming human interest story behind their Olympic journey.  I've been an Olympics fan for as long as I can remember.  I remember so many fantastic performances over the years---Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Greg Lougainis, Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps---and many others.  It thrills me to even remember these events.  

As we look back over all the years of Olympic performances, one thing that occurs to me is how much better these athletes perform.  Runners are running faster, vaulters are vaulting higher, divers are sharper, swimmers are swifter.  The World Records, Olympic Records and American Records seem to be dropping like flies.

And thus it is with children who are struggling.  Struggling readers are becoming proficient, uncoordinated runners are becoming accomplished athletes, children with social struggles are becoming gracious.  And this should cause you to cheer.   Just as  Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile opens the door for EVERYONE to run the mile in under 4 minutes----when these children overcome being hypersensitive, being physically slow, poor speech, learning disabilities, social inappropriateness, hyperactivity, and many other challenges, THIS OPENS THE DOOR FOR EVERYONE to overcome these same challenges.  

The records in the Olympics are dropping like flies----and the records for our children are being broken even faster.  They are getting so well neurologically and so fast!  Just as it takes years of training to win an Olympic medal (or even to be able to compete in the Olympics), it is an investment of time and training for children who struggle.  But THEY ARE WINNING---and one look at their faces and the faces of their parents will tell you this---they would make the same investment of time and effort all over again in order to overcome this challenge.

If you would like to hear other mothers talk about their journey and their child's success, please listen here .

The Olympics excite me and help me remember that the victory is worth all the trials!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penn State Sanctions and Families

Yes, another post about football.  I truly cannot help myself---nor do I feel the need for help of that kind. :)  Unless you live on another planet or under a rock, I'm sure you've heard of the terrible things that happened involving pedophile, Jerry Sanduskey, and the Penn State football program.  You've probably also heard about the sanctions imposed on that university and its football program by the NCAA.  The sanctions include the loss of 20 scholarships per year, a $60 million fine, no post-season appearances for 4 years and other various things in the fine print.  I've heard many different responses to this penalty, but the one I want to address today is the sentiment that you shouldn't punish the innocent student athletes.  And I can see their point---there will be at least 80 student athletes who will not have a scholarship. (And I know they can transfer, but the fact is that this reduces the number of scholarships available in total "out there"---no other university is getting "extra" scholarships to make up for Penn State's loss.)  But I was reading a column written by Jim Burton of The Ogden Standard-Examiner about the subject (his article can be found here: ), when the fog cleared and I understood why I agree with the NCAA.  I promise this WILL wind its way back to brain development, just get comfortable and hang on for the ride.

I want to share a story (and I promise I had to choose this one from thousands that came to mind.) Ben Laures was the starting linebacker for the Varsity Team at Plano Sr. High and shattered his wrist during a game.  However, before Ben was injured, he was penalized during the game.  On our team, players who are penalized have to run extra during the next practice.  But during the next practice, Ben was in surgery.  So the linebackers all got together and ran Ben's laps--without any word from the Coach.   Throughout more years as a Football Mom than I will admit publicly, I've seen my boys have to run the same play more than 30 times because ONE other player kept making the same mistake.  I've seen my boys have to run hills (yes, we had to build our own in Plano, TX) because another teammate mouthed off to the Coach.  I've seen the Varsity football team penalized THIRTY YARDS because one of our cheerleaders used inappropriate language with a referee. In a nutshell--football is a TEAM sport---to me, it is the most TEAM of all team sports.  We win as a team, we lose as a team, we are penalized as a team, we advance as a team, we celebrate as a team, and we are punished as a team.  I can't count the number of times I've heard coaches say and my sons repeat "There is no 'I' in team."

So there it is.  There are young men who had nothing to do with the terrible actions of Jerry Sanduskey nor did they participate in the coverup of those actions.  But if they are on Penn State's team, they will be punished along with the rest of the team.  The crimes committed were so heinous that no yellow flag, no whistle, and no run-til-you-puke practices will be an adequate punishment.  But if Penn State is truly a team, then they will do just as Plano Sr. High's linebackers did when they ran laps for Ben----they will take the punishment without complaint and bear the burden of their teammates.  If State College, PA understands this, they will also bear this penalty without whining---because the folks in the stands are very much a part of that team.  I hope Penn State will do just as Plano's linebackers did----bear the punishment and then focus on the next game.  Hopefully, they will emerge from this better and stronger, with more resolve to always do right.  They stand at the threshold of an opportunity to do so.

And so it is in families----we are also a team.  We win as a family, we suffer loss as a family, we celebrate as a family and sometimes we endure life's seeming lack of fairness as a family.  And I've never met anyone who thought a family member with a brain injury (in its many and varied forms) was fair.  Honestly, isn't life hard enough without someone's brain bearing challenges?  But the BEST teams and the BEST families pull together and focus on moving forward together instead of whining and complaining about the circumstances.  They don't crumble and fall apart because something didn't go their way, they pull each other up (another time-honored football tradition) and get in the huddle and figure out how to make the next play work in their favor.  I've seen teams and families get angry with one another, blame on another, and single out members as the cause of the problem----and those teams and families don't win. 

PLEASE win!  If your child is struggling with learning and academics, social interaction or physical coordination, please call me.  Please read every single page at to inform yourself of the options to help your child----and then solve the problem as a team!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sad . . .

As you can tell from my nearly two-month absence on the blog, I've been BUSY!  In fact, BUSY may be an understatement.  I'll be posting more about that busy-ness later---it's all great stuff and I'm very excited about future developments.  But back to the busy-ness at hand.  

Today I decided to spend one hour excavating my office.  I've been ignoring piles of stuff for so long that I couldn't really even work on them.  So I busted out the virtual backhoe and go to work.  As I was filing, I realized I would have to sift through some of the files because they no longer fit in their assigned filing cabinet.  So I needed to further categorize----and I did.  And that's why I'm sad.

I'm sad because it became necessary to filter out the "inactive" clients from my files.  I had to put in a less accessible place the files of those clients whose parents do not respond to email and phone attempts to contact them.  I can't coach those who don't respond, so I need to put their files in the "inactive" filing cabinet.  DRAT!

I have avoided doing this for a long time because I get my heart invested in these families and I don't want to give up on them.  I've spent at least 6 hours designing plans for their future.  I've visited them in their homes and gotten to know at least part of their family.  I really LIKE them.  And now I have to put them in the "inactive" file.  :(

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you haven't heard from me in a while, if you have heard from me but haven't responded, or if you think you might possibly in some shape, form or fashion have fallen into the "inactive" file and your child is not yet functioning at their best-----PLEASE email me, call me, text me, send up smoke signals, or somehow contact me.  I don't "judge" what has gone on in the past, I just celebrate moving forward in the future.  Honestly and sincerely, there is no "chastisement" only encouragement about today and tomorrow.  

In the meantime, I'm sad.  I'm sad about every one of those cute faces that are not yet free of neurological disorganization.  I want to help them all!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stephanie Pruitt---Guest Post!!

This is Donna---Stephanie Pruitt is the author of the book The Truth About Tummy Time.  Her book has been reviewed on this blog, and I highly recommend it.  I'm honored to have her blog here!
It is always a pleasure to work with other professionals on a shared interest.  Thank you, Donna, for the opportunity to post this guest blog on your site. 
In working with parents for the last several years, I am always shocked to hear one say “The doctor told me this would just go away.”  In terms of torticollis (shortened neck muscles) and plagiocephaly (flattening of the skull), this cannot be further from the truth.  Both conditions can and will get worse if nothing is done to correct the situation. 
Although torticollis and plagiocephaly have a number of things that cause them, the most common cause we see today is positional related.  What this means is the baby spends a disproportionate amount of time in one position throughout the day.  This can be long hours spent in car seats, swings or bouncers or always being placed in the same position when laid down to sleep.  These conditions have become much more common since the advent of the Back to Sleep campaign as most parents always place babies on their backs and rarely place babies on their stomachs even to play. 
If left untreated, torticollis can lead to a number of difficulties for the baby as he or she grows Some of these include scoliosis, shoulder alignment problems, muscle imbalance of the neck and back resulting in developmental delay or compensatory movements to accomplish movement goals- developmental milestones.  The eyes can also be affected if the baby is unable to turn his or her head to one direction or if the head is tilted to one side.  The brain will reset the horizontal for this tilted view of the world which can then lead to balance challenges.  Lastly, a baby can experience facial and ear deformity as a result of the abnormal muscle pull on the face and side of the head. 
Studies have shown that untreated plagiocephaly can lead to long-term problems such as subtle brain dysfunction which present as language disorders, learning disabilities, and attention deficits when a child reaches school age.  This may be due to “compression in certain areas of the brain” during growth in the first year.* It is estimated that 40% of children with untreated, persistent plagiocephaly require additional services such as special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology.  Plagiocephaly can also cause facial deformity due to the disproportionate forces on the head. 
While torticollis and plagiocephaly are treatable, the best treatment is prevention.  Placing your baby in a variety of positions- tummy, on each side as well as on the back- will ensure balanced muscle development and head rounding.  If you are concerned about a head tilt or the shape of your baby’s head, ask for a referral to a pediatric physical therapist to assist you in treatment.  
For further information about Torticollis and Plagiocephaly or to read more about The Truth About Tummy Time A Parent’s Guide to SIDS, the Back to Sleep program, Car Seats and More visit or follow the blog at  

Stephanie J. Pruitt, PT
Director of Pediatric Physical Therapy at Eagle Rehab, Madison, AL
Author of The Truth About Tummy Time

*Miller, R., S. K. Clarren. Long-Term Developmental Outcomes in Patients with Deformational Plagiocephaly 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking!

If you've ever heard me speak (if you haven't, email me and let's see what we can do to arrange a presentation for your group) or you know me very well, you know that I love FOOTBALL.  I proudly wear my FOOTBALL MOM brooch (thank you, Teresa Michelsen) with my blinged-out football shirt and earrings.  Watching my sons play football is one of my favorite things ON EARTH to do----I've even been known to watch practice just to feed my craving.  Besides the fact that Texas High School Football has no peer in the world, and Plano Senior High School has the winningest record in the state over the last 50 years----there is one thing about high school football that I love best.  It has taught my sons and me so much about life. It's true.  There are countless lessons about life that I've learned on the sidelines or at a booster club meeting---important, good lessons.  And it is one of those lessons I'd like to share today.  And YES, this is really applicable to brain development. 

Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking---Some football players are well known for "trash talking".  This is where they try to get inside the head of their opponents by saying "less than complimentery" things to and about them.  Certain teams are known to "talk a lot of trash", which means they say things about your family heritage, about about much they're going to beat you by, about how stupid you are, about how slow and clumsy you are, etc.  My sons have been taught by good coaches to "let the scoreboard do the talking."  While I must confess they are not completely innocent of ever talking a little trash, they usually stay out of that mess.  They don't respond much when someone else starts it with them.  If they just MUST respond, they'll usually say, "Scoreboard" (especially if we are winning).  
Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking is the modern-day football equivalent of judging the tree by the fruit.  In other words, "Talk all you want to, we're going to beat you where it matters---on the scoreboard."

I find a LOT of wisdom in this approach.  This keeps the player focused on his job on that football field---whatever that job may be---which contributes to winning the game.  It keeps the subject, the REAL subject---we're all here to score the most points and win the game, not discuss your opinion of my <insert whatever topic the opposition has chosen here.>  It's important to note that you can insert a host of different topics in the above sentence because if you are on the opposing team, they will find SOMETHING to harass you about.

I did promise this would relate to brain development and now I will keep that promise---I get comments and sometimes frantic phone calls from parents who have friends and/or family that harass them about the program they are doing for their child's brain.  The concerned parties want to see research or "proof" that the program works.  They can think of many reasons why the program is such a bad idea---it's not proven, it takes up your whole day, your social life is suffering, you are too involved with your child, your child isn't getting enough socialization, your child may resent the program you've chosen, etc. etc. etc.  While I admit the comments are well-intentioned, to me they are about the same as trash talking.  They are not helping you achieve your goal for your child.  They are distracting you from something you have found to be important for your child to truly succeed.  They are taking up time that could <should> be better spent doing something pro-active for your child's progress and/or your family.  

So I suggest the best response might be "Scoreboard".  Just like the football game, we're all here in the game, and we all have to make decisions about the best plays to run to win the game with whatever situation we currently have.  Let's just let everybody play the game the way they think is best, and we'll let the scoreboard do the talking.  When your child is reading well, succeeding in school, physically coordinated and doing well socially, then that is the scoreboard.  You just keep on doing the program (running the plays) and scoring at every opportunity.  If you stay the course, you will win.  And, interestingly enough, that is usually when the trash talking ends.  Accomplish your goals for/with your children, and the negative talk goes away.

Huddle up, and get your plays set---the job of the evaluation and progress reports---then just do it.  Do it with every bit of energy and heart you have.  Football players who are "less than enthusiastic" don't win---and you'll win a lot better and faster if you do it with some gusto!

Keep track of your child's successes along the way---scoring is no fun without a scoreboard.  And be sure to dust off the proverbial pom poms and celebrate each and every point toward your goal.  Just like the football players are revved up by the roar of the crowd and music of the band, your children are motivated by your sincere praise and by racking up those victories.  And we ALL love to celebrate a WIN!

If you know of a child who is struggling, please consider inviting their parents to read the information on .  Even the best of coaches learn from other coaches, and perhaps we could teach you a play or two that would make the ultimate difference in the scoreboard!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

I am beginning the book review with the disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Simon & Schuster.  I am reviewing the book with no further remuneration.  In fact, I am going to give away my free copy to a random winner chosen from those who subscribe to this blog.  So, really, I'm not getting anything for free at all since I am giving away the book---except the distinct pleasure of reading this delightful book.  

This was the first book by A.J. Jacobs that I've read (I will definitely read others now), and as I was reading, I was surprised by the number of people in random places who would stop me and comment, "Is that the same guy who wrote (insert one of his previous titles) . . .?"  It seems Mr. Jacobs is a well-known author that I have somehow missed---until now.

The premise of Drop Dead Healthy is that the author is going to spend his time and resources to figure out which of all the "it's good for you" claims are really true.  He sometimes devotes an entire month to learn about optimal health for a specific body part---like his heart, his brain, his stomach (twice), his butt, etc.  He does a lot of research and reads scientific studies about his "body part of the month", and what the latest new medical advances say he should do.

A.J. Jacobs is very practical in his approach----for example, he says he only does interval training sessions (HIIT) once a week because the science behind them is still a little shaky and they make him nauseous!  I also appreciate his wife's comments throughout the process---sometimes she even joins him in whatever he is focusing on at the time.

Some of the approaches he tries are:
The Paleo diet
Running barefoot
Increasing his hours of sleep
Setting up his workstation on the treadmill
Neti pot
Obssessive hand washing
Disinfecting household items (phones, remotes, etc)
Counting chewing per bite

Some of them are hilarious, some are common sense.  His descriptions are always funny, yet thought provoking.

This book was an enjoyable read and it did get me thinking about my health.  I read portions out loud to my husband and he is going to read it next.  Any health book that my husband will read gets five stars from me!  

Soooooooo, everyone who is a subscriber to this blog will be entered into a random drawing for the twice-read copy of Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs.  You'll laugh and ponder at the same time---which is a good thing!

And keep track of what's going on with me at ---we're always adding something new!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Air Purifiers---Expert Guest Post--Bruce Colbert

Bruce Colbert is an amazing dad who wanted to do everything possible to help his son---and clean air is certainly part of that equation.  Bruce spent countless hours doing the research (honestly, we all know we should do it, but no one wants to---including me!), and he shares the results of that research on his website.  I'm honored and delighted to have Bruce give us a little taste of what is available to us on his site!  He is generously sharing his vast knowledge and will even take questions! Without further adieu---I give you Bruce Colbert!

Here's the story about how "just a dad" went research-crazy on air purifiers to [finally] come up with some common sense air cleaning recommendations, which I readily share with you today

We lived in an 1890 built home with a wet basement; two indoor pets mixed in.  Elijah, my adopted son, who had suffered brain injury in-utero, constantly walked around with a thick mucous running from his nose. 

His lungs were overloaded trying to deal with mold and other allergens.  When we don't breathe well, less life-giving oxygen makes it into our system.  Critical for all of us…

…absolutely essential for brain injured children to thrive.

At the time, I knew nothing about air purification, so I dove in to find the best air purifier, and boy, the pool was deep.  Combine the existence of many types of technologies with the difficulty of measuring actual results via the naked eye (you don't usually see less particles)…

…scams breed like rabbits, and some of the best air purifiers get lost in the shuffle.

I was able to find the best air purifier for our situation, and it boils down to this: 

The best air purifer will:

--clean the air the best (quality of air)
--while cleaning a lot of that clean air (quanitity of air)
--while having the best secondary features (cost, build quality, particular needs of the family, etc.)

You might express it as a formula:

(quality of air) x (quantity of air cleaned) + (best secondary features) = best air purifier.

Where The Trouble Starts:

Most trouble starts with understanding what technology actually cleans the air, (quality) and making sure that technology is really present in the air purifier selected. 

(Marketers are good at taking advantage of this...Oreck air purifiers being one of the best at marketing while delivering almost worthless, sometimes even dangerous air cleaners)

The absolute bare minimum needed for good performance on the "quality" end: 

--A filter that works at least at true HEPA quality for filtering dust, pollen, and other particle based pollutants
--and ample charcoal-based filtering to filter out harmful volatile organic compounds, typically in gas form.

Putting it all together:

Is your head spinning from all this information?  I understand.  Mine still does, and I'm a bootstrap-expert in the field.

Don't stress it...

...If you can take the basic understanding I've presented here, and consult with a trustworthy source (may I humbly suggest my own you'll easily come away with a winner for your child, and even the rest of your family to breath better, live better.

If you're looking for specific brand recommendations, I invite readers over to to take a look, and for a limited time, will even take questions on specifics at

I'm a Guest Poster!

I recently came upon a fantastic book, "The Truth About Tummy Time", by Stephanie Pruitt.  I've written a review of that book on this blog.  Mrs. Pruitt also has a blog---which I HIGHLY recommend you follow.  She is GREAT at providing more research data and progress at making this message available to new parents.  I was privileged to write a guest post for her blog, and you can read it here.  While you're reading my post, don't forget to "follow" the "About Tummy Time" blog!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review: The Truth About Tummy Time

I don't know which of the following I want to say first:
At last . . . .
Amen and Halelujah!
I told you so!
Please listen!
I think I will settle for all of the above!  

Author, Stephanie Pruitt, is a physical therapist and the mother of three sons.  She began to question some of the advice given to her during the infancy of her first child when he developed some conditions that required intervention.  She did her research, and combined with her experience, she began to blow away the fog of professional advice given to young mothers.

Stephanie gives us a good foundation of physical development milestones of infants from a PT perspective----PLUS the added bonus of appropriate respect for reflexes.  She explains in everyday terms the importance of these things and the potential consequences of the lack of tummy time.  Stephanie makes the subject understandable but doesn't condescend---artfully done!  She recommends some good preventative measures to avoid plagiocephaly and other consequences of insufficient time in the prone position.

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is correctly defined, and the statistics are explained and put into their appropriate context---this one item alone makes the book worth its weight in gold! 

Below are some of my favorite excerpts from the book:

There is a direct relationship between the amount of physical activity engaged in and whether a child will meet motor milestones on schedule. (I feel another AMEN coming on!)

...many reflexes can only be accessed from the prone position.  In other words, they require that the baby be placed on his stomach to utilize them.

It is possible that there may not be a single cause of sudden infant death syndrome, but rather, many different causes.  As researchers are learning more by investigating infants who died unexpectedly, we are possibly getting closer to explaining most if not all sudden infant deaths.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) policy statement reveals that because of this change in infant mortality diagnostics, the "true SIDS rate" since 1999 may remain the same. (This is VERY significant because many pediatricians teach their patients that SIDS was reduced by 53% because of the advent of the "back to sleep" campaign.  Mrs. Pruitt goes into much more depth to explain the real meaning behind the statistics.)

Since the inception of the Back to Sleep program, the incidence of torticollis has increased by 84%.

The incidence of plagiocephaly has increased by 48% since the introduction of the Back to Sleep program.

Parents have told me that the doctor assured them the head deformation will go away on its own over time. This cannot be further from the truth.  Plagiocephaly will not resolve by itself if nothing changes about the way the infant is cared for.  If he continues to lie in the favored position, the plagiocephaly---and torticollis---will get worse.

I recommend this book and will be giving it as a baby gift when I am invited to showers.  Stephanie Pruitt has done the world a great service by writing The Truth About Tummy Time.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sometimes I Get Torn

In my practice, I see children of all levels of function.  I have evaluated some children who are actually OVER 100% by 20-30%.  I see many children in the 90-ish percentile.  Many children begin their programs in the 70-ish percentile.  And yet, sometimes when I make my recommendations about how to help these children, I see parents complain and even cry because they will need to change their diet or incorporate creeping/crawling into their day.  And somehow doing some portion of program ten times a day can push them right over the edge.

And then I meet with mothers whose children are functioning below 10-15%.  And they must CONSTANTLY be suctioning trachs, watching for aspiration.  Feeding can take an hour or more and must be done 4-5 times a days.  They would be delighted if their child could make sounds at all, much less talk too much----if their child could lift their head, much less run on the track team in high school.  They are perhaps the ONLY person in the world who believes their child is a person worth the investment of time and resources.  And yet, when I give recommendations to the mothers of these children they say, "Bring it!"  They are in a battle to save their child and they are absolutely ready to do whatever it takes.  And believe me when I say my recommendations are as extreme as the problem we're trying to solve---they always are.

So, sometimes I get torn when I see the divergent reactions.  The mothers of children who are profoundly affected would be prostrate on the ground with tears of joy to only need to make moderate changes in their life for a couple of years.  They would praise God with ever fiber of their being if they had to do things only 10 times a day instead of around the clock.

I'm sure there are lots of reasons for the different reactions, and I am NOT trying to condemn anyone.  But sometimes I get torn---especially if I meet with the opposite ends of the spectrum on the same day.  I wish parents with very hurt children could understand that "almost well" kids are still a big challenge and it's not easy---EVER.  And I wish parents of "almost well" children could understand how much they have and what a small thing they are asked to do in order to allow that child to really soar.  Both ends of this spectrum tear at my heart----a lot.  And I wish I could help them all see the whole vista.  I am torn.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Calendar Time

The road trips continue!  

March 18-21 in Seattle, Washington---Evaluations only      ONE evaluation spot open---contact  if you would like to schedule

March 24--- Brain Development 101 in the Portland Oregon area (Aloha, OR)  contact Erika Glancy at or register online at

March 23, March 25-28---Evaluations---contact to schedule

Looking forward to working with more great families and seeing the wonderful progress in their children!

Parents With Purpose On the Road

I wanted to share some of the wonderful adventures of February!  It was a jam-packed month both personally and professionally.  Personally, my son Kent left home on February 13 to begin serving a full-time two-year mission for our Church.  We have planned for this moment his entire life, but it is always an emotional moment when you say that final goodbye for two years.

There were parties and many visitors dropping in to say farewell---it was a week of intense love and EXHAUSTING! (Yes, that is Dawson photo-bombing my "moment"!) Immediately following Kent's departure,  Callie was playing the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical.  I don't have the pictures from Seussical back yet (had to order them from a service), but she was fabulous.  Another very fun and EXHAUSTING experience.  The last day of musical performance, I hopped on a plane to San Jose.  What a GREAT trip!

I saw one child who began program 18 months ago at 54.9% and is now 92.8%!!  They have eliminated Concerta and Prozac and now have a wonderful goofy kid to enjoy.  Another family with three children saw all three of them having moved from the 70's to the 90's in percentage of expected function.  The family of another child who was diagnosed by a medical doctor as being autistic, greeted me with "Hi, Donna" and a look square in the eye as he was running through his home with a buddy over for a playdate.  I giggled with delight at seeing the transformation---three and a half years ago, this child never made eye contact, mainly jargoned for language, never interacted with friends and didn't have that glint in his eye.  I also saw several clients for their initial evaluation---it's so exciting to see the relief on the mother's face.  One mother hugged me and said, "Thank you for proving that I'm not crazy.  Now I know that I was right---and exactly what to do about it."

It was a GREAT trip to lovely San Jose!  I also was able to accomplish the goal of having Brain Development 101 professionally filmed.  Stay tuned to hear when it will be available online!  New testimonial videos from moms whose kids are soaring---they'll be online under "Our Approach" then "Testimonials" at .

Exciting times!  How are your children doing on program these days???

Jammin' Minute

There is progress happening in the Mesquite ISD here in Texas.  They are using a program called "Jammin' Minutes" in grades K-8.  These are one-minute exercise sessions that can be done standing beside a desk or even sitting in a desk.  The story I read about the local school district using this program doesn't give a lot of information (which is honestly pertinent to the story) such as:
1.  Are teachers required to use these sessions in their classroom?
2.  How many times per day are the sessions recommended?  Is there a minimum or a maximum?
3.  Do the sessions HAVE to be limited to one minute?
4.  Is anyone keeping data on classroom performance before the program compared to after the program?
5.  Have teachers received any training on the importance of and implementation of this program?

All that aside---this is GOOD news!  Educators are understanding the role of movement in brain function---at least for one minute.  I hope they are keeping some data so it will spur them on to further changes incorporating movement into the classroom.  I would honestly recommend 15 minutes out of every hour be spent moving---it is an investment that would pay nearly immediate benefits---but I emphasize that one minute is a big start!

The Fort Worth ISD is using this program and report that tardies have gone down 30% because they "jam" immediately after the bell every morning.  Students report they don't want to miss the jam so they make extra effort to be punctual.

If your school district isn't doing SOMETHING to incorporate movement into the classroom, please encourage them to do so.  The particular program I'm referring to is free to school districts---the ever-present money issue should not stop this from moving forward.  

Do NOT, however, think this is the solution.  It's not.  It's a starting point from which there needs to be a LOT of progress going forward.  But starting points are GREAT and I wanted to celebrate a move in the right direction!

These "jammin' minutes" are the product of a California non-profit which you can read about at .   The original story by Janet St. James can be seen/read here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shackles for Babies

Yep, you read it right---"Shackles for Babies".  I can hear you---"WHAT!"  You are outraged and really hoping this is some sick, twisted practical joke.  Sorry to disappoint, but this is no joke.  This awful thing is happening to babies all over the United States!  The "Shackles for Babies" devices are sold by the finest and well-known retailers and are frequently the "most favorite" presents at baby showers.  "WHAT????"

One definition of shackles is "anything that serves to prevent freedom or movement."  Using that definition, here are some additional illustrations of "Shackles for Babies":

Perhaps you have some "Shackles for Babies" in your home.  Perhaps your child "loves" them.  Perhaps you don't think you could live without them.  But, please consider some information before you use your "Shackles for Babies" again.

Humans are built to move.   Before birth, one of the most important signs of health is movement.  Your obstetrician is sure to ask, "How much does the baby move?"  They may even have you do a "kick count" to measure your baby's wellbeing.  If you report to a healthcare professional that your child is not moving in utero, everyone starts getting serious.  You'll likely get an ultrasound and numerous little tricks will be tried in an attempt to wake up that baby and get it moving.  Bbbbbbbuuuuuuutttttttt . . . . once that little one enters the world, they are wiped off, swaddled up like a burrito and flipped on their back.  They are unable to move their arms, legs or even turn their heads.  Hhhhhhmmmmmmmm . . . what just happened?  Why is movement so vital one moment and strictly prohibited the next?

Paralysis, paraplegia, quadraplegia, etc.----those are all words that strike fear into the hearts of mothers.  We would be devastated for our children to suffer from any of those conditions.  Yet we IMPOSE those conditions on our child by strapping them into devices that prevent them from moving.  A wheelchair can move much better than an infant swing, but we'd be heartbroken to put our child in a wheelchair.  Why aren't we heartbroken to put them into "Shackles for Babies"?

When men sit on the couch watching sports all day, we call them Couch Potatoes.  When people laze around in their pajamas in bed all day, we call them Slugs or Sloths.  Why would we force our infants into the same conditions we abhor in adults?

Movement is beautiful.  People love to watch beautiful movement.  During the Olympics, we all re-arrange our schedules to see the gymnastics, track & field, swimming, figure skating, etc.  When people run or swim or flip gracefully and skillfully, it is one of the most exhilarating sights.  Why would deny our offspring the opportunity to begin that most liberating task of movement?

Babies are born to move---they need freedom in the prone position to learn to use their arms and legs in a coordinated way culminating with independent travel---getting across the room to find out what is in the cabinets, under the plant, in Mommy's purse, etc.  They learn independence by moving to satisfy their wants and desires.  They learn to use their two eyes together to focus on a single object, and thus LEARN depth perception.  Yes, depth perception is LEARNED first by being in the prone position----and not for just 15 minutes a day.  

Infants should spend their waking hours in a safe, clean, warm environment in the prone position.  Infants can only see a short distance initially---on their backs they don't have the opportunity to learn to use their vision and converge the vision of their two eyes.  (Nope, mobiles and baby gyms don't change this---the mobiles don't give them an opportunity to learn and explore their environment, visually or otherwise.)  The perfect way for an infant to learn to use his vision properly is to be on his tummy, when the ground/floor is just a short distance away and his toys are nearby.  He learns neck control and back strength in a much healthier and functional way.

The natural progression of mobility is to first crawl on your belly (sometimes called the army crawl or commando crawl), then creep on your hands/knees (medical definition is creeping, most Americans call it crawling), THEN walk, hop and run.  This development is crucial for vision, respiration, digestive motility, coordination and neurological organization.

Please do not use the "Shackles for Babies" for convenience.  These devices cause terrible results in the structure of these infants (look at the pictures and see how misaligned their legs, back and head are).  They keep the precious little one from exploring his world.  They also isolate the child from other people---who is playing with a baby in one of these devices????  Usually, no one.  

Is your house going to get torn up if your baby is free to move?  Yes.  Is it going to be harder to clean, cook and do laundry if your baby is on their stomach on the floor?  Yes.  Are their clothes going to get more worn out and dirty?  Yes.  Are you going to have to be a LOT more diligent about keeping the floor clean and free to small things that might be choking hazards?  Yes.  Are the results worth it?  More Yeses than I have space to type!

Please do not limit your child's opportunity to move during his waking hours.  Please let life on the floor be a way of life.  (I have an opinion about sleeping hours, but that is another post for another day.)  Please do not deny your child the chance to enter into the joyous world of movement.  Let them figure out their arms  & legs and use them for the purpose God designed them.  That is a designer I don't think should be argued with.

"They'll Outgrow It"

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard the phrase, "They'll outgrow it."  I'd be rich because this is one of the default answers given to so many mothers whose children are struggling.  I have some real problems with this answer.

1.  Why did they grow into the issue in the first place?  If this is a problem, it's a problem.  Why do they have the problem?  Something is obviously going awry, and the CAUSE is my biggest concern.

2.  How do you know?  Maybe they will and maybe they won't.  You cannot guarantee they'll "outgrow" an issue, and then you will have #3.

3. Why wait?  Why waste my child's growing and maturation time just watching a problem?  Why not identify what the root cause is and go to work right away to ameliorate the issue?

Sometimes--not always, but sometimes--the "they'll outgrow it" advice comes from a lack of information about what to do about the problem.  They don't have anything left in their tool kit to combat the issue, so "wait and see" is the bottom of the advice barrel.  

If you are uncomfortable with your child's development, YOU ARE RIGHT.  If you see your child falling behind their peers in social graces, academics or motor skills, don't feel ashamed about wanting to start work right away to help them.  If someone tells you to "wait and see", then don't hesitate to get another opinion.  Information is easily-obtainable in this information age---keep looking until you find what your heart tells you is right!

Then your child has a much better chance of "outgrowing" an issue because their parent is setting up the right environment/activities to support the brain in that growth.