The following is the history of our son James.
James was diagnosed dyslexic at the age of eight. He has, all his life caused us great concern and on occasions driven us and his teachers to the point of desperation. His failure to achieve at school was only part of the problem. Living with his frustration another. Despite his lack of academic success, he had moments of original thought which convinced me that one day he would learn and achieve. To find the help we needed for James took thirteen years of knocking on the ‘experts’ doors and came from a totally unexpected source – the Alphalearning Institute.
James was born in 1982. A normal pregnancy followed by a normal birth. For the first two years of his life, following a bout of influenza at the age of two weeks, he had a miserable time. He rarely slept and when he did, he would snore like a train and then there was silence. A silence which scared us so much we would wake him from this unnatural state of sleep. He could not suckle and we fed him milk from a teaspoon until he was old enough to eat solid foods. He developed slowly and was small for his age. He cried constantly. He was always sick and although he walked, he did not talk.
As we received little help from our local doctors, we took James to see David Morris, a London pediatrician. He diagnosed Apnea sleep syndrome – condition where during sleep, the brain can forget to tell the body to breathe and unconsciousness (sometimes death) results. It became clear to us that on many occasions over the preceding two years, we had revived James and avoided a tragedy. He recommended James’ enlarged tonsils and adenoids should be removed immediately to improve his breathing and we were to continue to monitor his sleep. James began to grow and started to talk when he was three, but he was six before he would take a full nights sleep and we could relax.
But our problems were far from over. James was always overactive and would never concentrate for long. He started school when he was four, but was slow to learn. He was always in a high state of tension when he came home and would slam doors, beat his head on the wall, shout and drive everyone crazy. We tested his tolerance to food additives and allergies, but always had a negative result.
As James was not achieving at his local primary school, we decided to send him to join his sister at prep school. He was now 8 1/2. He took to the boarding and social life immediately, but failed miserably in the classroom and began to be very disruptive. After the first term, we took James to see Anthony Glasberg, an educational psychologist at the Beve Hornsby Institute. He diagnosed dyslexia, but said that James was very bright. His IQ was 132 – non verbal, 103 – verbal and 119 – overall, but because of the wide variations, he would have major difficulties to overcome. I always associated his learning difficulties with the Apnea, but we were told it was a hereditary condition.
He continued at prep school with the help of a remedial teacher, but his work did not progress and his behaviour rapidly deteriorated. In 1991, we sent James to another prep school with a reputation of having the best dyslexic unit in the country. The tutors were highly trained and were very sympathetic to his needs. James, with expert tuition began to read and write, but his behaviour was intolerable and he was very unhappy. By now he was very aware of how much he was failing and he wrote, “My brain is like a bucket with holes in the bottom. Everything I put in drains out”. James’ tutor admitted defeat. He had seen a string of pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., but with no results. We decided to bring James home to the local high school so we could help him on a daily basis.
James did not achieve very much over the next two years and continued to be very disruptive. He is a bright child who was totally frustrated in his inability to learn and he used his temper to release this frustration. He was like a foreigner who was not totally fluent with our language. His concepts were different. I was often tempted to translate for him as he could sound foolish, although he would occasionally display wisdom beyond his years. He was always tense and could never keep a steady gaze.
When asked to read, his eyes would flicker all over the page. It was obviously painful for him. Although James was very difficult to live with, I have failed to say he is very loving and kind. He is wonderful with small children, but fails to maintain friendships with children of his own age. He is big and strong and a talented artist.
We were told there was someone who might help James. With a very sketchy knowledge and no literature of the Alphalearning Institutes’ work (it all was arranged so quickly), we took James to meet them with little idea of what to expect. Naturally, we were rather skeptical, but what followed was remarkable.
After giving Alphalearning some background information into James problem, he was given a reading test. It was painfully slow. All the time they were observing him. They noted the tension in James shoulders, neck and head and after asking James to swing his arms around, they released all the tension. James took on a whole new posture and looked relaxed. He then asked James to stand up and touch the tip of his nose with the middle finger. As he slowly brought his right arm across, he missed the tip of his nose by two inches and had to bring his finger back. A simple neurological test, indicating damage in the left back of his brain, but one which, to the best of my knowledge, had not been performed before. The damage was to be seen on the EEG which followed. There was very little activity in the left brain. I began to feel rather alarmed. It would appear James was starved of oxygen at some point when he had Apnea.
James then sat by the Brainwave 1 machine and was asked to put on glasses and earphones. For the next twelve minutes James heard sounds synchronised with flashing lights. Although they were careful to explain, we were not at all sure what was happening. It was all very new to us. He was then given a second EEG and asked to read again. He increased his reading speed. There was much more activity on the monitor, the left and right brain balanced and we could see the Alpha waves. We left uncertain of the significance of what had happened. Three hours later we asked James what he had been reading. He could not remember the first piece he had read prior to the treatment, but quoted the second piece. We were astonished as he had never been able to remember so much as a nursery rhyme.
During the following week we noticed many changes. He maintains his relaxed posture and he can hold a steady gaze. Each day he increases his reading speed and his eyes no longer flicker. He has produced essays for school which bear no resemblance to his previous work. He is making sense and, as his sister remarked, is “Coming out with all these big words”! He says he feel more coordinated and can concentrate much longer.
Nine days after his first experience with Brainwave 1, James was given another EEG and further tests before more Brainwave 1 and another EEG. I was able to see the remarkable improvements myself and the speed at which James’ brain is adjusting. He can put himself into Alpha – what an achievement!
It is very early days and James has a lot to learn and will have to change the habits of a life time. But he has already grown six foot in confidence knowing he can now make the grades and will no longer be regarded as “bottom of the heap” at school.
I personally will always be more than grateful to the Alphalearning Institute for, literally, giving James a life.
Mrs. P. Douglas, England