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Autism
ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia

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ADD / ADHD, Dyslexia.  It's a family issue.   Improve grades and self-esteem.  Evaluation and non-drug therapy that really works!

Important Information Regarding Progress in and 
Expectations of the Sharper Minds Program.

We want you to achieve the highest results possible with the Sharper Minds program.  Therefore, it is VERY important that you follow the instructions as provided to you by your therapist, and put in the steps required by the services agreement.  To help you understand why results may not come as quickly or as desired, following are some answers to questions that families may have.  If you can identify with any of these, please take steps to reduce or eliminate their negative impact.

1. Why isn’t progress sometimes noted or coming slower than a family would like?

The brain is dynamic and changeable (this is called the principle of neuroplasticity). Change can either be for the positive or negative, based upon the dominant stimuli that the child is exposed to.  If negatives are the dominant force/stimuli on a child’s mind, progress in the Sharper Minds program will be at best, slowed down or in the more severe cases may not be realized.  In very severe cases, there may even be deterioration.

From a scientific standpoint . . .

Within a given time period, only so many new stem cells are generated in the certain sections of the brain.  These migrate through the corpus callosum to the area of greatest stimulation, where they differentiate into mature neurons.  If stress, physical or emotional trauma, conflict, other educational demands, or competing passive entertainments, etc. are present, these stem cells migrate to those dominant points of stimulation, rather than the points of need created by the Sharper Minds exercises.  Hence the integration progress is hindered and results will be diminished or come slower than desired. 

 

2. What is meant by stressors?

Nearly anything that causes emotional or physical stress can have negative effects.  These include (but are not limited to):

  1. Adjusting medication dosages or switching medications,
  2. Prevalence of conflict or stress in the family dynamics,
  3. Conflict between, separation or divorce of the parents,
  4. Physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse,
  5. Negative dynamics and/or other factors at school, church, after school care, or other settings,
  6. Abandonment/rejection issues that include, but are not limited to the lack of a present, actively involved and emotionally present mother and (especially) a father,
  7. Inconsistent parenting and discipline (i.e. boundaries keep changing),
  8. Parents emotionally checking out of the program prior to completing Module M. Kids sense this dichotomy and shut down as well.
  9. Being shuttled between homes, extended absences by one parent, frequent moves, and adoption issues etc.

The lower the levels of stress or conflict in the child’s life, the more it will facilitate proper skill and brain development through the Sharper Minds program.

 

3. Does Sharper Minds guarantee that my child will be able to discontinue medications?

No.  We have never guaranteed that all children will be able to get off all medications.  Nearly all will experience cognitive improvements, but once again, not that every child will be able to discontinue medications.  In our experience, around 4 of the 600 or children that we've dealt with will be kept on or need to be on medications for reasons mentioned on this web page.  Some children have co-morbid mental health conditions (Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD, Schizophrenia, and Depression, etc.) that may require treatment including medication. These issues are not specifically addressed or corrected by our program.   Secondly in some cases, the adults in their lives, usually due to reasons listed in the answers to question 2, leave some children on medications.  And there are a few parents who resolved to keep their child on medications whether or not there was improvement.  In still other cases, parents or educators are sensitive to energetic children or don’t tolerate creativity and innovation.  The habits of 10 to 15 years are not easily broken or changed in just one year of therapy.  (For example, “Love and Logic” authors Cline and Fay estimate that it takes 1 month of consistent effective Love and Logic parenting to undo 1 year of ineffective inconsistent parenting.  Parenting styles and habits can be just as hard if not more difficult to change.)

The Sharper Minds program is designed to create positive brain changes, and to make it easier for other therapy, tutoring or counseling to be effective.  Many of you have heard the billiard ball example:  A billiard ball will not absorb water no matter how much you pour over it.  You must first make it porous (such as by dipping it in an acid which etches away the acrylic), and then it will be able to absorb the water.  The same is true with an ADHD child.  The Sharper Minds program is designed to equip the child’s mind with the circuitry to learn.  The teachers in the schools must still teach the information.  Habits must still be properly formed and guided by the parents.  The Sharper Minds program is not a substitute for proper parenting, education or counseling by a trained professional.

 

4. After going through the Sharper Minds program, will all my troubles with my child be gone?

While most problems will be diminished, your children will still be normal immature, but growing children.  If one attends an anger management class, does that mean one will never get angry again?  Of course not!  By attending the class, one will be exposed to the tools and skills necessary to better manage and control their anger.  Hopefully, an attendee will learn and use the tools and skills necessary to manage their anger, thus decreasing the frequency and severity of angry outbursts.  The same is true with the Sharper Minds program.  Going through the program exposes the child to and hopefully provides many of the skills and tools necessary to improve academic performance and related behavioral issues.  However, it is up the child whether or not they choose to use or not use the tools and skills they were given.  A failure on the part of the child to use the tools they were given in a particular situation does not usually mean that the Sharper Mind Program did not work or was ineffective.

We recommend that the parent record on audio and/or videotape what your child was like prior to starting the program.  Record the progress as they continue through it.  Note the changes in a personal diary.  Sometimes their progress is so gradual, parents don’t see it, or forget where they came from. 

A realistic goal is not a perfect child, but to see a substantially reduced number or severity of problems in your child.  It is unrealistic to expect to NEVER see problems again (that would be nice though, wouldn’t it?).  We don’t promise straight A-students after they complete all the modules, although many students do achieve a consistent A/B grade level. 

Additionally, most of the time there is a genetic component to a child’s issues.  That means that frequently, one or more of the parents may have similar or lingering issues as well.  It is strongly recommended that the parents personally work through all the modules of the program with their child, but often this does not happen.  We have also seen where one or both parents may have unresolved issues, (e.g. negativism, criticism or perfectionism), that may perpetuate conflict with a child even after the program is completed (wouldn’t it be nice if the Sharper Minds program made perfect parents?).

 

5. Should I expect my child’s personality to change?

Most parents will notice that their child become calmer, more readily able to sit still for longer periods of time.  If the child was predominantly right brain (creative), the program should help them with self-discipline besides reading and language.  If the child was predominantly left brain (detailed, logical), the program should encourage new creative skills (though it is much more difficult to wire the right brain into a left-brained person than vice versa).  Academically, there are usually noticeable improvements.  The child’s ability to be self-disciplined should improve if the Program Success Principles were applied as instructed.  However, if a child is innately a quick and active (within reason) kid, then this high level of energy should not be disparaged, but rather properly focused through constructive activities.  Leaders in all walks of life were often the most active children when younger.  We do not claim to nor does the Sharper Mind Program make personality changes.

 

6. Why do teachers put up a fuss when you tell them you are going to take your child off of medications?

When a child is taken off of psychotropics (such as Ritalin, Concerta, or Adderall), there are frequently withdrawal symptoms that may last up to 6 weeks.  These can include irritability, emotional lability, withdrawal, moodiness, forgetfulness, rebound hyperactivity, agitation, insomnia, abdominal cramps, nausea, severe emotional depression, exhaustion, anxiety etc.  Some of these same behaviors may also be seen when a child is changed from one psychotropic medication to another (e.g. from methylphenidate (Ritalin/Concerta) to Dextroamphetamine Sulfate/Amphetamine blend (Adderall) or to Strattera, which deals with a different neurotransmitter.  Since pharmacologically, psychotropics are very similar to cocaine, withdrawal symptoms can be nearly indistinguishable.  For more specifics, search the Internet for the terms, “Withdrawal symptoms of __________” where you add the name of the medication that your child is on.  If you wish to discontinue meds, ask your doctor for recommendations on a tapering-off schedule.  High stress times are not good times to make changes.

7. My child just started school and his new teacher is concerned about his attention span.

Completing the Sharper Minds program (all modules as instructed) increases attention span and academic performance by the end of the program in everyone who diligently does the program as directed.  However, classroom attention span is affected by more than the Sharper Mind Program.  Classroom attention can be adversely influenced by a variety of issues including (but not limited to): what the child had for breakfast (sugar and caffeine are sure ways to create attention problems), conflict in the home, large class size, classroom and other background noise, the ability of the teacher to maintain order, or present materials in a way that kids find appealing, whether or not the child is a kinesthetic learner, level of maturity, etc.  Often a teacher at the beginning of a new school year won’t know how far your child has come in terms of improvements.  Ask them to be patient, explain where your child was and how far they’ve come, and educate them on effective ways to work with your child.  Most teachers are eager for and will appreciate your suggestions.

 

8. What happens when one switches medication or changes dosage?

Every change places the body in a mild biochemical crisis.  It may take up to 6 weeks for the biochemistry to stabilize and for the desired nerve growth to begin again.  Therefore, unless it is critically important to change the dosage or switch medications, we recommend that you focus on the exercises as taught by your therapist and minimize changes and instability. If changes need to be made, make gradual, rather than abrupt changes.  Psychotropics have been shown to impair or slow nerve growth and in higher doses are known to be neuro-toxic (that’s why some studies show a diminished brain size, a decreased numbers of neurons, as compared to a normal brain).

 

9. What other things do I need to consider?

a)      Make sure your child gets excellent nutrition (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and adequate protein.  Minimize the eating of sugars, simple carbohydrates, such as white flours or white rice, food additives and dyes.  Avoid caffeine and known food allergies).  It may also be helpful to place them on nutritional supplements including Gingko Biloba (which stimulates circulation to the brain) and B-vitamins, which help the body to deal with stress.

b)      Make sure your child gets enough sleep (8-10 hours) at night, especially during growth spurts.

c)      Make sure your child doesn’t spend a lot of time doing sedentary activities such as playing on the computer or other electronic devices and/or watching TV.  These are mental cotton candy, which “tastes good” and can be highly addicting to the mind, but ultimately undermines the ability to the brain to do sustained and/or challenging mental work.

d)      Do not permit violent or sexually explicit videos or video games, nor permit your child to become involved in chat rooms or online pornography (this is a form of sexual abuse).

e)      Rap and heavy metal music (noise pollution) is very damaging to the brain and ears, and should not be permitted.  Minimize isolative listening through headphones for hours on end.  High volume noise and/or music can also be very damaging to the hearing and neural pathways.

f)       Minimize as much as possible sibling rivalry. As the “dysfunctional” child improves, the other “functional children” in the family may become uncomfortable with the change of roles, and feel threatened. They may try to sabotage the progress, criticize their brother or sister or act out to get more attention.  Let your children know that all of them can be winners.

g)      Family members should not be permitted to make denigrating comments to or about one another. A person should never make a comment to another such as “so-and-so is stupid!” even if in jest.

h)      There may still need to be some parental involvement regarding turning in homework and accomplishing tasks, though most commonly less than before.  Some students may slip back into lazy behavior patterns, allowing peer pressure or behavior to influence their thinking and attitudes.  In some circles, it’s not “cool” to be smart or get good grades.  Monitor and if necessary, control who your child associates with.  Gradually allow them to assume total responsibility for their grades.

i)        Encourage physical exercise that involves both sides of the body in balance.  Optimal exercise includes swimming laps, gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do.

j)        If there are parental conflicts, get appropriate marital counseling.  Be proactive.  Instability, especially in a marriage, impairs a child ability to learn and emotionally mature.

k)      Make sure the father plays an active and present role in the child’s life (avoid lengthy business trips and/or excessively long hours at the office).  Spend time building a relationship with each child.

l)        Be positive about the progress being made.  Changes can be small and gradual, but the cumulative effect over the entire program can be quite substantial.  You will see what you are looking for.  If you look for progress, you will see progress.  If you look for problems, you will see problems.

m)    Children will live or attempt to live up to your expectations.  So have realistic but positive ones.  We’re not going to turn every child into a genius, or change the habits of poor behavior in only 1/10th of the time it took for a child to develop them.  It still requires good parenting and loving discipline to guide the child in his or her development.

n)      As mentioned earlier, while nearly all children at some point are able to discontinue medications, about 3% are not able to do so.  Generally, this is due to factors beyond Sharper Minds control, including but not limited to: a clear biochemical need for psychotropic medication and ongoing emotional or physical stressors on the child, with family dynamics playing a dominant role.  But even in those cases, improvements are usually noted.

o)      Realize that all humans under fatigue, stress, low blood sugar or a myriad of other situations can and do “flake out” from time to time and make mistakes, including misspellings, omissions, etc.  In addition, under high amounts of stress, it is not unusual to experience regression though again, it should be less often then before going through the program.  It is at these times that you need to allow your child regroup time and to treat your child with compassion and understanding.  After all, we are all fallible humans.  None of us are perfect.

 

10. If we feel we aren’t getting the results we are looking for, what should we do?

Firstly, examine what you can do to remove or resolve any of the above stressors.  Secondly, contact management and schedule a meeting to discuss what's happening.  As a team, we may be able to find the real barriers to progress, and help you remove or go around them.  In some cases, we may need to allow more time to complete all of the Modules.

 

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Last modified: February 16, 2015