Indigo Children's Project
In May of 2010, a minister in Westland, Michigan, who is also an advocate for autism, called me to see if I would donate my neurofeedback services to his group of parents with autistic children called The Indigo Children's Network.
I offered to work with the parents from the network, as well as with those that responded to a Detroit News newspaper article that appeared about my offer to help. It resulted in me working with over 20 children, with conditions ranging from Aspergers to severe and non-verbal on the PDD spectrum, as well as with four children who had ADD or ADHD. I worked with these children for six months, from June to December of 2010.
Specifically, with 14 of the children I used the LENS system. They were the ones that had the greatest difficulty sitting still, and were the most severe on the spectrum.
I also made sure the parents did not tell other third parties that they were beginning treatment with LENS, in order to get a more objective view of any changes that may occur. Being there is a tendency for parents and family members to "look" for changes, they are sometimes not the best reporters.
The biggest litmus test of the success of this program is that six parents (40%) are still coming to see me and are now paying for treatment. Some are saying that they “never want to stop”, while others are traveling as long as 2 hours to get to my office. One mother stayed behind in Detroit an extra 3 months after her husband made a job-related move to Tennessee, solely to continue their son's LENS treatments.
Though I had worked with a few autistic children in the past and saw some profound changes with LENS, I was not prepared for the large number of parents every week that were hugging me, almost crying, telling of the positive changes that LENS had promoted in their children. Within 4 weeks time, often after changing the frequency (offset) of the individual treatment, the stories started rolling in.
In fact, I came up with a new category for my notes called:“The Nevers”. Parents were saying that their child had never done this or that, or never said things a certain way, or never acted a certain way before, prior to LENS.
"My son did the chores without prompting. He never did that before.”
“Never counted to 20 without being prompted."
“He is making 'I want' statements. Never did this before LENS."
“Saw him being silly for the first time.”
"Said his first 5-word sentence: 'Hi Dad, how are you?' ”
Out of the 14 parents who worked with LENS,
10 felt that they received great benefit from doing LENS treatments for their child.
Third party comments sounded like these after one to two months of treatment
“Amazing, amazing, amazing. I cannot believe how calm and cooperative your child is. She understands about 90% of what we are doing now!” -ABA therapist after not having seeing this child for two months, during which time she was receiving LENS treatments.
“Jesse is not playing with “little people” anymore. Interested in group activities and has made really good progress.” -Teacher at Jesse's school, parent-teacher conference.
“ I am very pleased with his progress. He would not even look at me before.” -Teacher at special ed school.
Greatest Improvement Areas
Almost across the board, these children started using more language. Three sets of parents each heard their child use a five word sentence for the first time. Names of siblings and dogs popped out for the first time. Children began using the phase “I want”. Verbs started to be used.
“My child now says one sentence every 10 minutes instead of every half hour.”
A Sense of Understanding
Parents reported that they could “see the wheels of thought turning” for the first time. Some children experienced a sense of understanding, or trying to understand what is happening, rather than a robot-like response to the world.
“We (the OT and parent) could see her trying to process her thoughts. I thought it was just me, but the OT saw the same thing.”
“He is starting to enjoy identifying things now.”
Many of the parents reported better impulse control. The ability to sit still in a doctor's office or at home improved.
"Not agitated in restaurants any more. He is just a new kid!”
“Best haircut he ever had. He sat still the whole time.”
Sense of Playfulness
A sense of play and playfulness started coming out in about six of the children; an impishness the parents had never seen before. Also, symbolic play emerged for the first time. Singing with less inhibition.
“He started telling knock-knock jokes.”
“Teasing and playfulness. He pretended he had a mustache by putting his finger below his nose.”
Sense of Self and Self-Assessment
Defending themselves for the first time with siblings, or saying the word “no” more. A better sense of what they want and how they want it. One parent said that LENS was filling in the developmental stages that their child had missed when younger.
“Went into a store all by himself and picked out the CD he wanted. Showing an amazing amount of initiative.”
“Started watching less TV and dancing more.”
“Picked out a Dumbo video all by himself!”
Drawing, paintings and singing started to erupt as treatments progressed. Coloring inside the lines more, with better and clearer shapes. Sometimes drawing shapes where there had previously only been scribbling.
“He wrote the name 'Harry Potter' by himself on the dry erase board.”
“She is singing all the time.”
So these are the main changes I have seen this past 6 months. It has been a life-changing experience for me, and I am now convinced that LENS can be a vital part in helping the brain connect-the-dots for severely autistic children. One child in particular did so well, (as if a “cascade effect” of connections started happening), that he seemed like a different child the last time I saw him. (The family has since moved to Tennessee.)