Eleven to be exact, for Brain Balance that is. Last Wednesday we got our first progress report. So far so good, he seems to be progressing in the right direction at least. As I predicted he has improved in his core exercises but is still lacking in eye coordination. His reading on their scale has jumped from 1st grade to 2nd grade and we have begun to notice his fluency for reading actually improving. Realistically, from a home standpoint the reading is one of the few things we can really pinpoint as progress at this point. Unfortunately his overall social behavior has notably worsened. He does also seem to be getting physically stronger which is a little more worrying for us when his aggression is still at an all time high!
So our progress report read as follows:
2 levels in proprioception and balance beam. 1 level in eye muscle coordination. 1 level in visual processing, fine motor, supine and lateral core, upper body, brachiation, interactive metronome and gait/aerobics.
Academically: from 1st to 2nd grade getting the main idea and drawing conclusions in reading. In math, from 1st to 2nd grade in addition, subtraction multistep word problems (which was very challenging for him when we started) and is working on 2nd grade coins, money and decimals.
They advised us to keep working on his eye exercises, and continue the other exercises we had already committed to work on at home. We were also given additional exercises for fine motor skills and to try to increase his sit-ups and push-ups. Overall not a bad first session, this was after 9 sessions in total. As outlined before, and per their prediction his overall social skills have regressed somewhat but apparently those first 9 sessions have a tendency to do that. Personally I am looking forward to some upward momentum in the next set of sessions as is my son no doubt.
Finally I also realized that his mood wasn’t totally attributable to just his Brain Balance experience, at the end of last week, while he was in the midst of a week-long tantrum melt-down he asked if he could just have ice for dinner. It was only while he was sat on the couch crunching a large plastic container of crushed ice that I had my very own ah ha moment. It occurred to me that ice-crunching is often an indication of low iron levels. He has certainly had this problem multiple times before. It’s not just the ice crunching, he is also irritable, angry, moody and tired when his iron levels dip, how did it take me so long to react to this I wondered? After a week of Floradix his mood is infinitely improved and his tantrums are thankfully back to a minimum. I also added in some Inositol and Calm-PRT to help him feel better while his iron levels stabilize. It can also be said that with his new school starting on Monday, a meet the teacher evening thrown in for good measure and the iron levels dropping, his anxiety level was super high, which in turn displays as oppositional, aggressive, uncontrollable behavior.
Yesterday he finally started school, in what I can only describe as a great environment. There are only 7 children in his class (this school boasts an all time low classroom number, with never more than 10 children in each class) most of whom are boys. Drop-off went well, although he insisted I stay in the classroom well beyond the other parents leaving. Eventually I managed to leave and he looked panicked but did keep it together. Later when I went to pick him up, I sat in the carpool line with a very nervous stomach but was ecstatic to hear that he had the best day of school ever (his words). He loves this school, again his words. I am hopeful the honeymoon period extends way beyond the normal 2 weeks and we have really found him a good fit. Anyway, he was bright, alert and excited to be at school yesterday. Today, we had a slight push back at breakfast and then he made me sit in his classroom again well into lesson time, but at least this time he looked happy and content when I left. I have hope finally that this school might work out for him.
While he was concentrating on school I was meeting with a new LSW/therapist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders. She has a very long wait list and it has taken several months to get to the stage where we could meet for a parent consultation. Finally this came to fruition yesterday. My husband and I were so reassured when we left, it seems that if she can find B a spot on her schedule she will be a great resource for teaching him tools to control his anxiety and in turn his depression. I have much more faith that she will be able to see him as a whole child rather than a group of medicate-able symptoms.