Cameron, Diana’s second son, was what sent her on the tireless search for answers. Here is his story in Diana’s words.
Cameron was born in 1992 when not much was known about auditory processing disorder. As is common with many of the children I work with, he had a history of the following:
- Terrible pregnancy – I was sick for the full 9 months and even continued vomiting after the birth until the hormone levels started to come down.
- Terrible delivery – emergency C section. He was transverse the entire pregnancy and got stuck in delivery. Both he and I nearly died and it was an extremely traumatic birth. They put me in an induced coma for 3 days.
- He was a constantly sick child. He cried all the time, he would not settle, would not feed, did not thrive.
- At age 10 months, he was pale and sickly looking. He had grown but had not put on weight so looked like a starving child from a third world country with skin folding in between his ribs. The doctors said they didn’t know what was wrong but we were losing him.
- I decided to put him on soy milk against the wishes of the doctors. He used to turn his head away from the bottle, and screamed all the time but now he didn’t turn his head away. He ate easily and the screaming got a little less.
- He started to put on weight. Later, we learned he was allergic to not only the lactose but the milk protein as well.
- He was starting to be a happy child. He smiled and laughed and was a joy to be around.
He continued to grow and started meeting milestones. He didn’t like tummy time if he was awake but preferred to sleep on his stomach. He would laugh and be funny, but then at odd times would scream like a girl. The screaming got worse and more often. He would do it and then laugh and laugh but it got to the point where it was uncomfortable for the rest of us.
He continued to grow but then we started to see other behaviors:
- He had a massive appetite and would ask for more food even when he had eaten more than an adult.
- He would often eat until he was ill (because he didn’t have a system that was telling him he was full)
- He would get angry if he didn’t get what he wanted
- He would pick up things and throw them at you – hammers, wood, anything he could find.
- His personality was changing, and I felt like I was losing that joyful, happy child I knew
- His tongue was blotchy and never pink
- He had rings under his eyes all the time and creases as well that never went away
- He was putting on too much weight and started to become very overweight
I was tired. I was a single parent with 2 children trying to work, look after them and his behavior would wear me out. I remember crying to my Mum one day saying “I love him, he is my son. But I can’t say that I like him. I feel like a terrible Mother and have no idea how to take care of this child.”
Nothing I did worked. I started to track food and noticed that there were many things he could not eat. As we started to eliminate those foods, the behavior started to get better. By the time he went to school he could not have:
- dairy products of any kind
- he could have sugar in small amounts but I had to be careful
At that time, gluten free flours and products were not available so I learned how to make my own gluten free flour but it was hard.
He Was Smart But Didn’t Learn Easily
By the time Cameron went to school he had awfully bad separation anxiety. He didn’t want to be away from me and dropping him off at school was a nightmare.
It was grade 3 before he would go without the tears and screaming for me not to leave him there and before he would stop trying to run away from school to get back home.
He went into grade one with 3 sight words and came out with the same 3 sight words. I knew he was a smart child but it was like there was a door in his brain that he just couldn’t open. Learning was hard and I didn’t know how to help him.
He was frustrated and it showed in his behavior.
The strange thing was he was an excellent reader. He could read years ahead of his age group but could not tell you what he had read.
He was really good at numbers, but anything in an English question, and he couldn’t pull the numbers out to make sense of it. It was like trying to read Chinese.
Homework was a nightmare with spending hours to extract one or two sentences from him. He was a brilliant storyteller, but lacked the knowhow to get it on paper.
I Went Looking For Answers
In desperation, I went looking and started to study everything I could. I studied primitive reflexes, floor programs, sensory integration, and nutrition. I discovered that he had retained reflexes and sensory issues and so we started floor programs right away.
Twice a day for 45 minutes each time. We needed a lot of equipment – pieces of linoleum, balls, wobble boards, scooter boards etc. I didn’t mind as I was willing to do anything if it would help.
After 2 years of doing that, we saw increases, but I still felt there should be more. I kept on my search and then learned about auditory processing disorder.
Auditory Processing Disorder Described My Child
I remember crying the first time I read about the symptoms and behaviors displayed by children with auditory processing disorder. It was describing my child in a way that made sense and completely portrayed his behavior. That was the beginning of a journey for me that has led me to work with so many children with learning challenges, not to mention helping myself after my fall.
I am embarrassed to say it took me a further 2 years to go and become certified in sound therapy because I just couldn’t see how putting on headphones and listening to music could get more gains than our floor programs – but that is what I was being told.
It was at that training that I learned the importance and power of sound in the role of learning and one that has fascinated me ever since. As a musician, music and rhythm have been part of my life since I was 3 years old, but to really start to understand the power it has on the human body excited me.
I certified, bought the equipment and was excited to see what it would do for Cameron. The family dynamic was stretched with his behavior but I knew, at the same time, that it was not his fault.
I didn’t tell any schoolteachers what we were doing because I wanted to know if they noticed anything different.
We were on the program for about 6 months, and I hadn’t noticed anything big, but I also knew that changes in the brain take time.
Little did I know what was actually happening. There were big changes, but they were happening so gradually, I didn’t notice them – until my dad passed away.
Stopping The Program Was Eye Opening
When my dad passed away, we stopped everything for 2 weeks. Our whole lives had been turned upside down. We had lived next door for all of Cameron’s life and as a single parent, my father was more of a Dad to my boys than a grandfather.
We started to get back to our normal routine when I got a letter from Cameron’s teacher from school saying “If you insist on doing Cameron’s homework he will never learn anything.”
That was all it said so I thought I had better go and see her to find out what she was talking about. Apparently, once we had been back on the program for 2 weeks, Cameron had written a piece in English that was beautiful. It was like someone had unlocked his brain and all the learning had poured in, allowing him to be who he really was.
His had had not help from anyone and his handwriting was even different. It was then that I really understood the significance of what had been happening, with gradual changes adding up to a huge difference in his ability to think, write and understand.
This was a sample of Cameron’s handwriting and an English exercise after stopping the program for 2 weeks. He was given quite a bit of help and it took him a long time to get this out.
One week after being back on the program, he was asked to redo the exercise. He had minimal help and as you can see, there are more expressive thoughts and words and more in-depth development of ideas.
He was asked to do a more difficult exercise 2 weeks after being back on the program. This was with no help and took him much less time to complete. The handwriting is better, the sentence construction is much better and there are less mistakes. His thoughts made sense and make it to the paper in a coherent way.
He had to make a positive paragraph from a series of negative thoughts on a page.
This was the piece that prompted the letter from his teacher.
Today, Cameron is married, 28 years old and studying finance in an overseas University. He no longer suffers from anxiety, and he is keeping a GPA of 4.0.
We never thought that would even be possible when he was little. I always knew he was intelligent but struggled so much with learning that I thought he would go into a trade.
He has overloaded every semester he has been at university so does much more than the average student and he is thriving. We know firsthand how much sound therapy and other therapies I used with him not only changed his life, but that of the whole family.
If you want to apply to have Diana work with your child, fill out this form.