By Erica Fox FOX 5 San Diego Reporter
4:42 p.m. PST, November 21, 2011
ENCINITAS, Calif. - For many, seeing a child crawl is common-place, but according to some educators in Encinitas it's crucial to brain development."We believe that the brain can change and best of all we can teach parents how they can facilitate that change with their kids," said Nancy Green, director and founder of Brain Highways in Encinitas.
Brain Highways in Encinitas is an unconventional educational program for kids ages three to 15 struggling with a variety of issues including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The program involves two eight week courses where movement is key."They basically are going back and paralleling how we used to move how we used to play," she said.
The idea is this - if a baby moves too fast through a significant stage of development, like crawling, it may interrupt the natural brain organization causing problems later in life.
"It seems to be that the brain has a very natural way that it likes to get organized and it's like we unknowingly create obstacles," said Green. "The cool thing is you can go back at any time at any age and get the work done if you didn't get it done the first time."
An average class involves a series of exercises and games like bean bag tossing, trampoline jumping, push-ups, pillow fights, creeping and crawling. The kids also learn how their brain works and why the movements are key to its development. Parents are also present during the class and integral to its success.
"You understand why your child is doing certain behaviors and what you can do to help develop their brain and give them the skills that they need to be who they were meant to be," said Catherine Deitchman whose six year old son Luke is enrolled in the program.
Rayna, 8, came to Brain Highways because she struggled with what was diagnosed as "distorted fears." "(She was not) able to go upstairs alone ever. She hasn't slept alone in her bedroom, not until probably 2, 3 weeks ago," said her mom Joty Vallandingham. "Now, she's sleeping on her own. She goes upstairs whenever I tell her to go."
Vallandinham said she has also seen improvements in her daughter's math and reading skills. Rayna credits what she has learned at Brain Highways for the breakthrough. "(It happened) by doing my swords, creeping and crawling with confidence just knowing that there's nothing in the house to be scared of," said Rayna.
Emory, 8, went through seven schools in five years keeping him from learning to read and write.
"(He had) severe behavior issues and as parents we ran out of options," said Emory's mother Jonette Burk.
Now Burk said he is in school and performing at grade level.
"Really what we say we're doing is putting families back together," said Green to summarize her program. "We're letting kids be who they're supposed to be, letting parents be who they're supposed to be."
Brain Highways has been operating for nearly 13 years. They are now enrolling for January classes which cost $675. Free screenings are offered to assess each child's need.Copyright © 2011, KSWB-TV