Starting even in the womb, kids are exposed to a wide variety of stressors. Research is now finding that many of the early developmental, behavioral and learning problems in children are at least in part due to the stress of the mother throughout her pregnancy. If life is stressful for mom, her baby absorbs her stress hormones through the placenta, and then goes through a kind of withdrawal at birth.
As reported in the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Science Briefs: "Stress during pregnancy can have adverse influences on children after birth by altering the development of brain and endocrine systems that control behavior. It is thought that such changes also may have long-term consequences well into adult life."
This early stress can manifest in a variety of developmental, behavioral and learning difficulties. Imagine how this further challenges a child trying to cope with the typical everyday stressors of childhood and family life. Often misdiagnosed, these children are frequently labeled, medicated, put in special classes, or they just struggle.
What if we could make life a little easier for these children by calming their nervous system and giving them more resilience to deal with stress? As you can imagine, behavior can change, school and athletic performance can change. It's not uncommon to hear a parent comment: "he (or she) is like a new kid."
Keep in mind, the symptoms of fight-or-flight in a child can mimic other conditions. What is interesting is that sometimes a child who comes in with a specific diagnosis, leaves having significantly fewer of those symptoms after completing their Fight or Flight Therapy.
In such cases one of two things may have occurred. If the original diagnosis was correct, performance improved because the child's ability to handle the stress of living life with their disorder has improved. Instead of having to deal with their disorder and fight-or-flight issues, now they are left with only one. We've lightened their load, and performance and behavior improves.
On the other hand, remember that most practitioners and educators are not trained to think in terms of fight-or-flight. With the overlapping of symptoms, it's easy to see how mistakes can be made. For example, think how the hypervigilance of fight-or-flight might look very much like the distractability of attention deficit. Indeed, there are cases where the symptomatic improvement with Fight or Flight Therapy is so great, it must be concluded that the child was originally misdiagnosed.
In either case, a child's life has been changed for the better.
Here's how Fight or Flight Therapy changed one boy's life:
11 yr old boy diagnosed with sensory integration problems
as infant cried a lot until started crawling late @ 9 months
nearly deaf as baby, ear tubes cleared out fluid @ age 1
hearing now reportedly normal
did vision therapy for 1 yr in 4th grade:
some hand/eye improvement some reading improvement (had been at 1st grade level)
got reading glasses that don't seem to help anymore
6 months of occupational therapy at age 10
currently working with orafacial myologist
seems to be helping
reduced muscle tone
vestibular and coordination problems
orientation and body awareness problems
needs to do weight-bearing exercises (lift books, etc.) to orient in his body when standing
has to frequently re-orient to body and surroundings
left/right and top/bottom problems
still problem with bed-wetting
can't feel pain
things need to be really hot to feel hot, or really cold to feel cold
needs multiple layers of clothes to feel covered
can't keep train of thought
poor concentration, problems with reading and math
sports: poor hand/eye coordination
learns kinesthetically, not visually
hockey coach has to move his feet for him, usually just stands there
seeing more clearly
more aware of his surroundings
reacting to things quicker
actually playing instead of just standing around
grade level jumped from 3.2 to 5.7, comprehension and retention better
better at video games
seeing the 'bigger picture'
"he seems to be blossoming"
fewer sensory problems
places don't seem so big and overwhelming anymore
falls asleep quicker, more motivated to go to bed
possibly less bedwetting
less grouchy or frustrated
completing schoolwork faster
orafacial myologist says big jump in lip strength
even more aware of surroundings
sees sister sneaking up on him quicker
comfort boundaries expanded
used to only feel safe at home, now other places as well
schoolwork going much faster, video games better
mom says: more talkative and outspoken
waking up drier more often
copying quicker, less laborious
huge: starting to learn hockey more visually
without the coach needing to move his feet or grip his stick for him
mom says: functioning at "a whole new level" ("it's like everything is starting to wake up")
with muscle tone problems everything needed to be 'big' for him to feel things
now notices bumps and texture in things
tasting better, noticing hunger
holding urination better w/o accidents
now feels sleepy at bedtime and falls asleep quicker (5 min. vs. 25 min. previously)
doesn't wake up at 2 AM anymore
able to comprehend audio tapes without having to listen over and over
reading better: able to read for half hour w/o taking a break
hockey: even better, now doing really well
from just standing around, to being involved, to being able to anticipate plays
more actively involved
hockey gear stinks of sweat, never did before
guitar: used to go through the motions now actually playing
"imagination kicking in"
seeing pictures in leaves of trees, creating more complex and creative Leggos
reading even better
can process more pieces on game boards better
hockey even better
coach now putting him on offense!
huge: mom says they are really questioning whether he still has his muscle tone problem
don't notice anymore
mom: "this is a totally different kid"
Excerpts from a note from mom:
"His current testing levels are very good. When we did his IOWA test in 7th grade, he scored a composite of grade level 8.8, and his core score was 7.3. We were very pleased!
"He scored in the 11th and 12th grade levels of science and social studies. So, his brain continues to just blossom. We see him catching up in chunks and he continues to love to learn…he is doing great!
"He is now one of the stars on his ice hockey team at the YMCA level. He has been reading book after book…we continue to be amazed at the changes."
The Fight or Flight Questionnaire
Is Flight or Flight Therapy right for you?
These area a sampling of symptoms common to people stuck in fight or flight.
How many symptoms do you have?
You might be surprised, or maybe you will confirm what you already suspect.
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