You Can Grow Your Child’s Brain

Susan Humphries, Son-Rise Program Teacher
As a Son-Rise Program Intensive Teacher, I have the honor of working with a different family each week at the Autism Treatment Center of America®.  Hundreds of families worldwide have shared their child’s story with me from the moment of diagnosis onward.  Even though these families come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, their child’s autism prognosis is similar. 
If you’ve heard these prognosis-related comments from professionals, families and friends, you’re not alone! 
  • Your child will never speak.
  • Your child will never feel or express emotion.
  • Your child will never have friends.
  • Your child will not know the difference between you and a stranger.
  • Your child will not be cured of autism, it’s a life-long disorder.
  • Your child will never be “normal.”
  • Your child will be better off institutionalized, so you can focus on your other children.

These statements are simply other people’s beliefs.  Prognosis, by definition, is a prediction of how a future outcome may develop. The real question is: what do youbelieve about your child’s prognosis? 

Imagine if no one believed you could walk as a child. Or if your parent’s never held you up to stand.  What if no one believed you’d ever be able to read? Would anyone have given you a book?  What if no one believed you could speak? Would anyone have listened to you?
In The Son-Rise Program®, we have firsthand experience of children passionately defying all types of restricting and limiting beliefs.  Why? Because loved ones who believe in a future filled with hope and possibility, offer them opportunities! It’s what we believe about our children that determines what we offer them.  Here are a few encouraging studies and beliefs that will give you hope about your child’s future. 

1. Believe in limitless possibilities for your child’s future growth!   We will only offer the opportunity for our children to grow if we believe it is possible. 
  • Not long ago, it was believed that the brain stopped developing after early childhood. There’s exciting research in neuroscience that suggests the brain keeps growing. Our brains are elastic not static! The Wikipedia Article titled Neuroplasiticity states, “During most of the 20th century, the consensus among neuroscientists was that brain structure is relatively immutable after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by findings revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood.”
  • Our brains change in response to our experiences. In the journal NACD, the article, Neurodevelopment Perspectives on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by Robert J. Doman Jr. states, “Specific auditory, visual, and tactile input stimulates the brain and triggers neuro-growth that physically changes the brain and its function.”

These findings tell us that our children have flexibility baked into their DNA and that they are influenced by sensory exposure. In other words, whatever you focus on with your child will grow his/her brain.  The Son-Rise Program® principles are ideal tools to foster growth in your child.

2.  Create an environment that helps your child focus. Remember, the brain responds to input.  The Son-Rise Playroom is an environment set up to encourage play, interaction, and learning without over stimulating your child’s senses.  At a playground, you have no control over the environment, which is often busy and full of distractions, and other people’s judgments of your child. 

3.  Stimulate the brain with play.  When you’re playing with your child and he/she is motivated, which is the optimal time for growth, request one of the Four Fundamentals: Eye Contact, Communication, Interactive Attention Span and Flexibility. For example, simply ask your child to look at you when you’re in the middle of a game. This moment will excite and stimulate your child’s nervous system, and help them grow!

4. Celebrate what your child does. Every celebration stimulates billions of cells, creating and strengthening neural pathways. It stimulates your cells, too. Plus, when you celebrate your child, you’re giving them, and yourself, a gift of love.

5.  Join your child’s exclusive and repetitious behaviorsAs your child grows, self-imposed, exclusive breaks are an important part of their learning process.  A study from New York University shows that the brain learns more effectively when it has periods of “wake rest.” This resting state helps the mind focus and retain what we’ve just learned. Son-Rise Program Child Facilitatorshave witnessed many children learn a new skill after being exclusive for some time.
Remember that believing in your child’s limitless potential influences what you offer them, and helps grow their brain!  I hope you have fun inspiring your child to grow those billions and billions of brilliant neural pathways, and showering your love upon them!

2 Responses

  1. Neither autism nor Asperger's have cures, but they can be treated especially therapy started a very young age.

  2. Wonderful message Susan. Thank you for the powerful reminder of the positive effects of unconditional love and the belief in unlimited possibilities. My son Eric and our entire family have benefited so much from our Son-Rise program and I am very grateful for our seven-year journey. None of the treatments and therapies has benefited him more, including ABA. Eric hasn't fully recovered but he is happy, well-liked, funny and talented. Looking forward to the next eight years and our continued adventures together! Sincerely, Kris

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