Friday, May 18, 2012

I Know Who The Batman Is!

It's no secret.  Anyone who has seen my office or the pictures from our Spark Halloween parties knows I'm a big fan of Batman.  While obsessive (and probably a bit psychotic), I have always been amazed by the characters drive and resolve.  He has overcome a tragic incident, turning the inevitable hurt, feelings of helplessness, and (unjustified) guilt caused by that incident into a crusade.  With no "superpowers," he has pushed himself to learn, train and practice the skills he needs to fight his battles -- to insure that what happened to him would not happen to anyone else, to do what the "established authorities" could not.  And, he undertook this extreme dedication, in the shadows,  -- away from the spotlight, although he truly has no need to do so.

But, it wasn't until the other day that I discovered his true identity.  No, it's not Bruce Wayne.  The real Batman is . . .
my wife, Tina.

How did I come upon this revelation?  As we often do, Tina and I were discussing the progress of the kids at Spark, and lamenting about the poor state of understanding that exists with respect to the causes and treatments of ASDs,  and how lucky we were to figure out how to help Robert.  That, of course, turned into thoughts about how wrongly we were led by those originally treating Robert all those years ago, how Robert suffered because of it, and how Robert's problems were probably preventable in the first place.

At that point, Tina turned to me and said, "I still feel so guilty about what happened to him."

To which I replied, "How can you feel 'guilty'?  We had a limited knowledge base, and we did everything that all the doctors told us to do.  We did everything we were supposed to do for Robert.  Feel bad for what happened, even feel angry about what happened, but how can you feel guilty?"

"I just do," she said.

And then it hit me.  Tina is The Batman!

A life changing, tragic incident -- our first born, our son, diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and PDD.  Hurt, helplessness and unjustified guilt over the incident and all that befell Robert because of it.  An obsessive quest for knowledge -- never giving up hope that we could really help Robert -- all the searching, all the research, all the time and effort to find the approaches that would work.  Even going back to school for her Masters in Nutrition Counseling -- pregnant with our third child -- because she realized how important and potentially life changing such interventions could be for others.  Researching nearly everyday, and taking on the crusade for kids like Robert.  To do, what the "established authorities" cannot.

And she, too, works in the "shadows" -- or, as I like to call it, "Spark Development" -- even though Robert is completely fine now.

So, why does she do it?  Because, Tina is The Batman.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga, Meditation and The Spark Program

Did you see Part II in Newsday on April 10th?  Yoga and meditation, surprise, surprise, are good for you!

Tina and I are big fans of both, and we try to take a yoga class whenever we can.  While I initially thought yoga was just about stretching, I have discovered it is far more.  It is about control -- control of your breath, control of your body, control of your mind.  Being focused, allowing your body to find the pose -- not forcing your body into a pose -- concentrating on your breath, finding a balance, being in the moment.

And, it's hard!  I work out a lot, and I run, and I think I'm in pretty good shape, but I'm looking at the clock after thirty minutes and wondering when my hour long class is going to end because I'm beat!

So, what's this have to do with the Spark Program?  Well, if you look at martial arts, yoga, meditation, etc., you discover common threads.  Common movements, common goals.  Look at OT, look at programs like Brain Gym, and you see what's been "borrowed" from each discipline.

And that's why we incorporate breathing, balance and movement exercises like those used in all of these disciplines directly into the Spark Development Program.  Of course, we adjust each exercise to the skill level of our students, but in the end, the results are the same.  And, that's why Spark Development works!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One in 88

The numbers just keep going up and up and up.

No sooner do we hear about a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, but the CDC now says that one (1) in eight-eight (88) children now have ASD.

We can continue to quibble about why there is such a staggering increase in these numbers, and exactly what is causing such disorders (of course, from past posts, you surely know where we stand on these issues), but what about turning our attention to how best to treat these disorders?

How about some research into the effectiveness of different therapies (other than just meds)?

How about some insurance coverage for such therapies?

We know for a fact, as do the parents we serve, that life for these children can be dramatically improved -- through, among other things, sensory work, cognitive work, behavior management, and diet and nutrition -- all healthy forms of interventions designed to work on skill deficits and biological issues associated with ASDs (including ADHD).

But, most of all, these kids and their families need acceptance.  We, as a society, undoubtedly have contributed to these problems.  Instead of trying to pin the blame on genetics or parental age or obesity (see next post), we seriously need to turn our attention to helping those affected.