Friday, November 6, 2009
When it comes to interventions, much is written about "rewiring" the brain - the theory (and, for some, hope) that intensive interventions can cause an atypical child to be more neurologically typical. Is rewiring possible? I don't think anyone knows for certain.
But it is well settled that you can work with the wires you already have. During childhood, the brain undergoes a pruning process, during which underused neurons and synapses simply die off. This is perhaps the best argument for early diagnosis and early intervention. With early intervention, perhaps we can prevent some of those tenuous synapses from dying off, and the sooner we start, the better the chance for a positive outcome.
With that in mind, in the coming weeks, I will blog about interventions that we have tried. In the upper right, I indicate that we use "moderate interventions." I'm going to try to give that vague statement a little more shape, speaking of course from a parenting/anecdotal POV.
First, a prefatory note about goals. Because, of course, as any special needs mom or dad with an IEP knows, you need to start with goals. About one year and nine months ago, if you had asked me about my goals for Brad, I might have replied that there is only one and that it is that he acquire speech. Flash forward about six months later, I started thinking more about social pragmatics and empathy. I added warmth and humor to the list of goals for Brad. Today, on a high level, my goals for Brad have shifted to intellectual capacity, i.e. making those higher order connections and doing whatever we can today to avoid intellectual disability down the road. Not that communication and warmth and humor aren't goals for Brad - they most certainly are. But I no longer fear that Brad won't acquire speech or develop empathy.