The Death Sentence
Years ago in another life I was working as a police officer assigned to criminal investigations. During my tour of duty, I was involved in investigating a Capital Murder case which would carry the death penalty as the punishment. In the course of the investigation, I reported to the prosecutor’s office as requested. The case prosecutor informed me that if the main defendant in the case received a death sentence it would be the result of my work. For the first time in my life I began to question the “rightness” of the death penalty.
Fast forward a number of years to a time when I adopted a child diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Living with my son, I realized there was more going on than just #FAS. A short time later, he was also diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
At the age of 4 the professionals pronounced a death sentence on my son. I was told numerous times my son would be in residential treatment or juvenile detention by the time he was ten years old. They indicated he would never be able to live independently and likely would be incarcerated most of his adult life. With that said, I am sure you would agree this is a death sentence. I don’t believe in the death sentence.
The search began for help. Along the way, there was respite which helped me to maintain my sanity. Larry, Sherri and Autumn you helped me but also my son. You dealt with his behaviors in a calm manner while I tried various medications. He still speaks of you and the lessons he learned.
The next major step was to attend Camp Revolution where Dr. Myron Thurber, his staff and therapist Sarah Jordan mapped my son’s brain. These folks of Neurotherapy Northwest were able to confirm a number of things that I instinctively knew as a mother. I also learned my son’s anxiety levels were so high he was not able to successfully attend school and other areas of his brain were so inactive that neurotherapy would not help him at this time. Their recommendations were for vision therapy, music therapy and HeartMath to lower his anxiety levels. The vision therapy was because he had trouble seeing the world like the rest of us who are not alcohol impaired at birth. Imagine how disconcerting it was to have a distorted picture of life.
His hearing was also out of whack so I became certified with the Focus Program of iLs. This allowed him to listen to full spectrum music which worked to calm him by stimulating his vagus nerve. That tied into using HeartMath twice a day for five minutes brought his resting heart rate down from 155 beats per minute to a consistent 110 beats per minute or less.
There were three neurotherapy camps we attended during which numerous camp volunteers had to protect my son from harming himself or others for hours at a time. He also remembers you as people who treated him with respect, kindness and patience while he learned to process his out of control feelings. There were two more camps in which his progress was monitored using brain maps and more neurotherapy. During those camps he began to learn how to give back. We collected the camp trash three times a day, cleaned toilets and sometimes participated in the fun camp activities.
He also learned to give back by acting in videos that helped parents learn tips and techniques that would assist them in raising their own children. It was during those films that we nicknamed him “Sprout.” Sprout continued to grow but there were still pieces missing.
For 1.5 years the entire family went on the GAPS diet. We all did it to support Sprout and knew it would be more successful if everyone took the plunge. The good nutrition did much to rebuild his digestive system that had been so damaged by the alcohol. We gradually returned to a still nutritious diet at the end of that time. It was then Sprout realized how eating good food could help his body. He was given permission to put any food in his body but he was responsible for his behavior afterwards. He still watches what he eats and keeps the junk out of his diet.
Neurotherapy Northwest also developed a Neurotherapy Intensive. We attended for 12 days. This program allowed Sprout to experience months of neurotherapy in the span of just days. The improvement was very noticeable.
Later I learned about the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP). This is also a form of music therapy which assists with anxiety, social engagement and feeling safe. Shortly after becoming certified, I was able to have Sprout undergo this therapy.
Through these eight years, the violence has disappeared. Sprout has become more motivated in all areas of his life. He is more able to cope with everyday life. Additionally he has informed us that he is “Sprout” no longer but wishes to be called “Dauntless” instead.
He is currently attending high school with an IEP. The IEP only allows him to have extra time to take tests and to have emotional support. Seven out of his eight classes are in regular classes and he has maintained an A/B average in all his classes. Nine months ago he submitted his resume for a part-time job shoveling horse and cow manure as well as doing other odd jobs around a nearby ranch. His soon to be employer called her other employees together all of whom are college age or adults and showed them his resume stating “this is what a resume should look like.” He was given a job interview and had the job when he walked into the room attired in a dress shirt, tie, shined shoes and spiffy cleaned. All of this he did independently. He also joined the Civil Air Patrol (the official Auxiliary of the United States Air Force) and has been twice promoted in the span of seven months and he is preparing for his next promotional tests. When I ask Dauntless how much money he has in his checking account he is able to tell me within $10. There are still bumps in the road as there would be with any 17 year old but his life has improved due to his hard work.
A week ago, Sarah Jordan did another brain scan on Dauntless. After reading the maps, she told both of us there was NOTHING in the maps that would indicate Dauntless was diagnosed with FAS or RAD!
When the experts pronounce the #FAS or #RAD death sentence on your child – don’t believe them. There is help and hope.
www.integratedlistening.com Integrated Listening Systems – Focus Music
https://www.covd.org/ College of Optometrists in Vision Development – not just an eye doctor
https://www.facebook.com/nnwboise/ Neurotherapy Northwest Boise for neuro intensives
www.attachment.org Nancy Thomas Parenting
Proudly the Mother of Dauntless,