"His balance improved so much right away. He is reaching out and grabbing things, and using his hands more purposefully in swatting at things. He is wanting to interact with the world and is better at self-regulating his emotions."
"She's bringing her hands together at midline and holding onto her toy. She's holding her head up more and I see more moments of focal vision."
Heather Joy Magdelano, Parent
HANDLE® and Special Medical Needs
Human growth and development is generally an organized and hierarchical process. That is one thing develops and then another. Development at one phase influences behavior, communication, and learning at later stages.
Conditions that result in special medical needs interrupt this developmental process. These conditions can occur before birth, such as genetic variations, or maternal infection; at birth, such as prematurity, or traumatic birth; or after birth such as infection, illness or injury.
The bad news is with the resulting diagnoses, such as specific syndromes, Cerebral Palsy, or Traumatic Brain Injury, parents can feel overwhelmed and powerless. The what is - the diagnosis - can get in the way of the what is possible - what we can do.
The good news is our nervous systems are developing from conception to death. Once the initial structure is set in place in the development of the person, it is the environment and experiences that further that development. This is where what we can do makes a difference.
Using the example of my son Dylan, I'll demonstrate what I mean. He has CHARGE Syndrome, including no hearing, limited vision, underdeveloped semi-circular canals, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. These conditions are permanent and related to how his body developed in utero. Yet, using the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, he scores anywhere from the 90-99th percentile of severity of autism symptoms (the most severe) to the 30-39th percentile (his best.)
He has the same conditions, so why does he function so differently in different phases of his life? The environment, the activities, the supports, and the expectations are different, as well as health factors such as illness, constipation, and or pain. Some I can influence, others I can't.
Dylan's experience and my HANDLE education have taught me that all people change moment to moment based on everything that goes on inside of and around them and helped me to sort out the variables that I have some control of, in my quest to support his health and well-being.
Applying this learning to work with other families, it's my passion to first help children to be understood, second to provide parents with hope and something they can do to support their child's development, and third to help children thrive.