My adopted daughter was born in Russia. Her biological family’s story was wrought with poverty, alcoholism, and stress. At three months, her parents abandoned her at a local hospital. At five months an orphanage took her for more than two years. Her institutional life was characterized by neglect, malnutrition, lack of nurturing, and deprivation of everything that a human being needs for well-being.
When she came into my life as a three-year-old, she was below the growth charts on every possible measure. She did not want to be touched, had no meaningful eye contact, and barely spoke. She did not feel pain or hot and cold. She did not tolerate sunlight or any noise. She was clumsy and did not know where she was in “space.” She was easily frustrated and scared. She unpredictably jumped off a bed into a cabinet or somersaulted into a wall. She often retreated into a blank, faraway expression.
A well-known medical specialist diagnosed her with “institutional autism.” He declared that her brain was permanently impaired, and that she would need special education for the rest of her life. The doctor described her as a tremendously damaged child, and sadly viewed my parenting predicament as “an adoption gone wrong.” Although discouraged, I looked at her many positive aspects. Even though she could not express herself through language, I saw a lot of potential brainpower and problem solving skills. She was very observant, curious, engaging, and wanted to connect with people.
Initially, I found help through the early intervention program with home therapy visits and a special education class. Over time, her physical body grew into a little girl as though her cells were awaiting the nutrition with open arms. But her behavior lagged, and her neurological progress was slow. Every professional was at a loss as how to heal that aspect of her.
The Family Hope Center team presented a program individually tailored to her developmental needs. Dietary supplements and CFT were also instituted. Even though the exercises and treatments did not appear directly related to her deficiencies, their total package provided nutrition to her brain in the same way that the food had healed her malnourished little body.
Progress came quickly and steadily. Within a few months, she sustained eye contact. She gained language comprehension to hold a conversation. She threw and caught a ball, her balance improved, and she dressed without assistance. She went from knowing only a few letters of the alphabet to reading and writing some words. She kept up with her peers at preschool, and even surpassed them at certain skills. She formed friendships easily and even became a leader. Now just turning five, she will attend kindergarten on her own this coming year with children her age.
Her progress has been nothing short of remarkable. I understand that her complete healing is a work in progress, since mending earlier institutional assaults will take some time. Our lives have been changed in ways that no one else has been able to do and in ways that I never thought possible.
Doctors diagnosed our sixteen-year-old son with autism at four years of age. Since little support was available at the time, they told us to go home, enjoy our other child, and work on our marriage. The diagnosis was devastating, but being left with nowhere to turn was even worse. My husband and I researched and implemented many forms of intervention. Some treatments resulted in improvement, but none offered him the hope of an independent, happy life.
At The Family Hope Center parent information seminar, we developed a better understanding of brain function. Most importantly, many avenues of treatment like CFT were available that could finally set him on a course where an independent, happy life was a real possibility.
In ten months of doing his neurological program, we have seen many positive changes. Before, his behavior was disruptive during a disagreement. He now tells us, “We have to talk.” While he had little previous interaction with his brother, they now talk and play games together. He has gone from shuffling his feet when running to lifting them off the ground with ease. For the first time in our life we have eye contact with our son. It is a joy to see his beautiful brown eyes looking back at us.
Doctors diagnosed my son with autism at 18 months of age. He needed a table lamp to sleep through the night. He migrated toward the light as he slept, sometimes laying his face on the table. He ate only macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheese fries, or French fries for breakfast. He often watched television with his face nearly touching the screen. He lined his toys in a perfect order and became highly anxious and irritable when they became disorganized.
He was unable to take tests in his classroom, as the sound of the pencils on paper was too noisy for him. He wore earplugs every day at school to filter sound. He fled the building as frequently as he could or hid in the lavatory. Since he disrupted classroom activities, his private school asked us to find another educational institution for him. He had panic attacks, which inhibited his mobility to the point where he had to be carried. He was quite awkward in his gait and ran with his arms flapping. He did not wear clothing with embroidery, and seams also irritated him.
The Family Hope Center team evaluated him in 2006. When Matthew Newell told me that he had a zero-second brain cycle, I was nervous to have my son‟s brain altered. But I found that the CFT session was relaxing and safe for him. He amazingly slept soundly through that night for the first time in over six years. I was so used to waking up with him that I ran into his room in the middle of the night, concerned that something was terribly wrong. He finally experienced the restful, peaceful sleep that his body needed.
We incorporated an excellent diet, and physical, olfactory and hearing programs for him over the next six months. He came running into the kitchen around the three-month mark to share with me that, “It’s like somebody lifted the clouds.” I collapsed to the floor in disbelief and elation.
When my son was four years old, doctors diagnosed him with a type of autism called Pervasive Developmental Delay—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). This diagnosis came after years of watching him struggle in many areas of neurological development. My husband and I were confused because no one presented a clear course of treatment for him. Even though I found many coping strategies on my own to handle his disabilities and idiosyncratic behaviors, I did not find any therapies in my frustration to help his brain function better.
I attended The Family Hope Center educational session, which vastly expanded my understanding of how the brain functioned. I learned many strategies to help heal my child’s brain. His evaluation revealed that although he was biologically five-and-a-half years old, he was neurologically functioning at a three-year-old level.
The team started his care with some CFT sessions, and then we implemented the neurological program at home. In the first six months, my son made 20 months of developmental progress. Family and friends immediately noticed positive changes in him. Even the school’s occupational therapist observed how he had gone from a child who was “struggling in four out of five developmental areas” to “a completely typical child.” Today, he continues to do the program and make significant strides in his development.