Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You Know, I Used To Be A Lawyer

While Spark Development officially opened its doors in April of 2005, its origins date back to December of 1989 when my first son, Robert (aka "Poppy"), was born.  You see, if there had been no Robert, there would be no SPARK.

If you were to meet Robert today, you would find a creative and intelligent college student, gifted in art and music.  You would also find an amazingly independent, confident and unique (I, for one, could live without the lip ring, but his girlfriend and his sister both say he looks good with it.  Go figure.)  young man with many goods friends.  So, what's his connection to Spark?

Before he turned five, Robert had been diagnosed with "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" possibly coupled with "Oppositional Defiance Disorder."   By age six, "Pervasive Developmental Disorder" had been added to the list (just in case anyone is wondering, these were official diagnoses made by a team of specialists at Schneider Children's Hospital, three school psychologists, a neurologist, and three "big-deal" psychiatrists (I won't mention any names. . .))

Despite the efforts of his special education teachers and one-to-one aide, individual and group counseling and multiple drug therapy, Robert made little progress.  Indeed, in many ways, Robert’s issues only worsened.

Desperate, Tina and I began exploring alternatives including dietary changes and sensory integration training.  Employing such therapies, by third grade, Robert had been mainstreamed and was off all medications.  By sixth grade, Robert demonstrated few, if any, issues.

During this time, I was practicing law.  I was a litigator at a fairly large mid-town Manhattan law firm. The hours were killing me, and the time I spent traipsing around from one doctor/program/specialist to another for Robert was tearing me apart.  It was no cake-walk (does anyone know where this expression comes from?) for Tina either.  Robert was more than a handful, and I was barely around to help.

I started working part-time, which, for all intents and purposes, put an end to my legal career, but you do what you have to do for your family.  Also, as I looked into Robert's issues, schooling, and therapies, I found that I was fascinated.  I was actually in the process of starting a school for kids like Robert -- a mainstream school for this incredibly intelligent kids with attention and behavior issues (but that's another story entirely), when we began using these alternative therapies on Robert.

Suffice it to say that Robert’s remarkable recovery spurred me into leaving the law behind to pursue a career of helping children like my son.  Even more remarkable to me, it led Tina to return to graduate school to add a Masters degree in Nutrition to her BS degree in Biology.

So, now you know the inspiration for Spark Development.  We employ the same therapies (and a few new ones we picked up along the way) that worked for Robert here at the center.

I've been at this now for over ten years.  Where did the time go?



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