I wanted to share the following testimony from Bella’s grandmother. They begin each session with Bella’s Prayer:
“Open my eyes to see,
Open my ears to hear,
Open my mouth to speak words,
Open my mind to understand everything.
I love you, Jesus.
In the name of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit, Amen”
My granddaughter Bella is 7 years old and was diagnosed with Classic/Moderate ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Global Developmental Delay, just prior to her 3rd birthday. Bella had many basic interventions during her preschool years. Speech, Occupation, and ABA(Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapies, and made some progress.
However, she quickly plateaued and then seemed to regress, falling behind her typical peers in cognitive, social and physical development.
In 2015, my brother, sister-in-law, Judy and their daughter, Anna (who has Down’s Syndrome) moved to Ohio, where we also reside. Before I proceed further, I would like to share a testimony on the work of God as it is the driving force behind our life’s purpose.
I have great faith, trust, and reliance on God, and believe He hears and answers our prayers. I wrote a prayer for Bella in November 2012 and I would like to share a part of it as follows: “I accept your will, your timing Lord in all things, yet I do continue day after day to seek your mercy and grace for this healing. Tell me, Lord, what You desire of me and I will do it.”
Exactly 3 years later, Judy brought me this answer. Judy had a friend who shared about Carol Brown and Equipping Minds Cognitive Therapy and decided to try the program for her daughter, Anna. After 8 weeks of Anna and Carol doing EM (Equipping Minds) via Skype, Judy noticed an improvement in Anna’s processing, speed of reading and comprehension skills. Judy called me and asked if she could bring some “games” to try with Bella. Thanksgiving Day 2015, Bella had her first exposure and lesson through Spot It and Blink. It was incredibly challenging for Bella, but I immediately recognized it’s value and more importantly, I could learn to do this cognitive therapy with Bella at home! Much gratitude to Judy for being instrumental in ‘being’ that conduit of answered prayer.
It has been 15 months since initiating EM. Bella has made great strides and yet has much work ahead of her. She currently attends full-time kindergarten with a personal aide. In October 2016, Bella met Carol Brown for the first time at her residence in Kentucky. I shared with Carol that I no longer had those 2-3 hour morning sessions with Bella that we had prior to her attending full-time school. I grew frustrated attempting to do what took 2-3 hours to do, in 60 minutes! Carol alleviated my doubts and frustration by honing in on specific exercises, games and layering multiple cognitive skills onto one worksheet. She also introduced us to Sound Therapy.
Bella has now reached over 200 hours of listening time with Sound Therapy as of February 2017. At the beginning of the school year, August 2016, Bella was tested for her reading skills and scored 394, an “emergent reader.” In early December, she scored 723, a “transitional reader.” Can I prove that EM therapy and the addition of Sound Therapy is linked to this increase in reading skills? I cannot. However, I have no doubt both made an impact.
Bella has become more attentive. I also see an improved spatial awareness, a need for fewer breaks and a noticeable improvement of auditory response and processing. Physically I have noticed an improvement of her willingness to imitate which I believe is a sign that mirror neurons are engaging.
All days are not equal during our sessions. There are days when Bella is easily frustrated, cries even before we begin, cannot sit still, may not feel well but cannot verbalize how she is feeling.
Bella’s family and I have learned that she can learn, she can improve, and what she can’t do today, she has the hope to do in the future. The worst thing anyone could do for a child, special need or typically developing, is to limit their future because of the struggles and limitations seen today. Children are resilient and eager to learn, the limitations of the brain as it applies to plasticity is amazing and immeasurable. And it is for the following reason, I do not give up on hope and persevere with Equipping Minds. Although Bella has some speech, her self initiated responses are very limited.
Recently, after getting Bella and her brother at the bus stop and fastened into their car seats, Bella spontaneously said, “Beppe, where is Mommy?” I thought I didn’t hear right, turned around and asked: “what did you say?” She replied, “where is Mommy?” I repeated her words out loud, confirming for myself that I truly heard her correctly. Then she asked, “Is she in the house?” I explained Mommy was at work but would be coming home soon. This conversation ended with her asking, “can I have an apple?” For a typical 7-year-old such communication would be nothing extraordinary. In Bella’s case, it was a revelation.
Thank you, from the depths of my soul, Equipping Minds founder, Dr. Carol Brown. You have been instrumental in ways known and yet unknown, in delivering hope to many children and adults, special needs or typical who have hurdles and struggles to overcome.”I plead with you, never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire and never become discouraged.” ~ St John Paul ll
Rita (Bella’s Grandmother, a.k.a. ‘Beppe’ which is Dutch for grandmother)