Category Archives: Jacob’s Program

Its report time

As participants in the Intensive Treatment Program at IAHP, we are asked to submit reports halfway between our biannual visits to keep the staff up to date on Jacob’s progress.  Of course, any time we have questions we are encouraged to reach out, but these reports supply the regular contact that assures the program’s success. This rainy, blustery day coupled with the sweet sound of Jacob sleeping make the perfect environment for it.


In these reports we supply information on Jacob’s nutrition, program achieved, changes in abilities and the ever important question “is your child worse in any way?”  We also supply videos of Jacob doing his program.  The entire team meets to review the information we send and make recommendations for any changes.

We will tell them that Jacob is LOVING his Intellectual program.  He sees 25 “Bits of Intelligence” every day and 25 words or couplets.  Of these, 5 rotate daily so he is always getting new information.  His bits consist of large clear pictures with the corresponding title and the subject can vary greatly.  He may be learning about ocean fish, great works of art, vegetables or US presidents.  Soon we will move from couplets to phrases and then books!


Jacob is also doing well with his physical program.  This consists of his inclined track, gravity assisted environment, gravity free environment, patterning and flat floor crawling.  The inclined track is strategically designed crawling surface that is at a downward angle to decrease the burden of gravity.  Any movement Jacob makes will create motion to teach him what he needs to do to be successful.  Similarly, Jacob’s gravity assisted environment suspends Jacob in the crawling position and makes it even easier for Jacob’s movements to create motion.  Patterning is passive on Jacob’s part and we move his body in the pattern in which he will crawl to send the message to his brain “this is what it feels like to crawl.”  The gravity free environment is also passive on Jacob’s part.  It is like a bouncer on steroids.  Jacob can be suspended in many positions and move in all directions.  This will develop the vestibular areas of the brain that are responsible for coordination and integration.  Together, these activities will get our little guy moving.  He is SO close and he gets closer every day.  We have clear evidence that he has the ability to move his body in the correct way, we just need to connect all of the dots.  When he does, WATCH OUT!!


Admittedly, we have had some challenges in the last 3 months.  Our little guy has been having a hard time sleeping and swallowing.  This has disrupted quite a bit of his program.  Some nights he does not tolerate his respiratory patterning device and some days he sleeps into the afternoon which takes away our valuable program time.  Thankfully, the team at IAHP has been right along side us working to find a solution.  We are taking steps in the right direction and hope to be back on track soon.

Our greatest success in the last 3 months is the improvement in his nutrition.  Jacob has always had a very nutritious diet, but in an effort to increase calories, we fell out of balance.  This resulted in even more challenges achieving his calorie goals.  006 (2)
However, since we discovered our error and corrected it, he has been eating like a champ…and he is gaining the thighs to prove it!!


Well, I hear our little bug stirring and he is certain to be hungry.  Its applesauce time!

A Tribute to our Volunteers

We have been so blessed in the last 2 years meeting such incredible, giving and dedicated people.  One of the particular groups I would like to thank today is our patterners.  These wonderful men and women come to our house, traveling usually over 30 minutes, to spend an hour with us providing a very important therapy for Jacob.


Patterning is procedure that requires 3 people, one at Jacob’s head and one on each side.  Jacob’s head, arms and legs are moved in the pattern in which he will crawl and it sends the message to his brain, “this is what it feels like to crawl.”

Patterning is done 6 times a day, 7 days a week.  Rain or shine, holiday or not.

These men and women have given our family such an incredible gift in their love and support.  They tolerate Jacob’s occasionally irregular sleep schedule causing last minute cancellations and my weekly calls to request substitutes if someone is unable to come on their scheduled day.


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, dear friends!!

If you are local and would like to join our patterning team, we can always use more!  Its easy, its fun and it requires no more skill or training than moving your arms left to right.  Don’t worry, we can train you to be an expert patterner in no time!

Jacob’s most amazing Daddy!

We had a wonderful weekend around here gearing up for the addition of a new therapy for Jacob.  This therapy is called the Gravity Assisted Environment and was developed through a partnership between The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and NASA.


The device is a track from which Jacob is suspended in the crawling position that allows his movements to easily result in forward motion without the burden of holding his own body weight!  Sounds pretty simple…until you try to build it!

Enter Bryan!!

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When we were in Philadelphia, we had a great opportunity to try out this device.  Jacob loved it and we were thrilled with its possibilities to link his enthusiastic efforts with successful motion.  We had a chance to take pictures of their examples and see some pictures of devices other parents had built.  However, it was up to Bryan to make it a reality in our home.011

He researched, planned and built a truly incredible tool for Jacob.  I am so incredibly proud of his talent and dedication!  We sure are lucky!!


We have seen incredible improvement in Jacob’s mobility in the last 2 months and I am so eager to share how this new tool helps him progress further.  Stay tuned!!

They make blind children see!

I was thrilled to stumble across another mom’s blog article about the work of IAHP this weekend.  I know there are so many other families out there, but since the goal of IAHP is to help as many children around the world, not just in the US, it is a treat to find a family who has done the work and reaped the rewards right around the corner.

We see amazing progress in Jacob every day, but we still have a long way to go.  However, we know we will get there.  Jacob does things on his schedule…he always has.  In the meantime, we will enjoy the smiles, laughter and ever increasing chatter!!  He is so amazing!!

We are not the only ones that know about IAHP.  Adrian knows about them and you do too.  Do you know someone who needs to know about them?  Please enjoy my first guest post from Adrian!

I know some people who can do some pretty amazing things. Seriously, amazing things. Like making blind children see. Making children walk who had never walked before. You know, boring, everyday stuff like that.

Take this man. Looks a little like Santa Claus, doesn’t he? But he gives kids a gift that is much better than mere toys. His name is Glenn Doman and he has devoted his entire adult life to the treatment of brain injured children. Not just his own life, but his wife and at least two of his children have followed him into this field – (maybe all three, I can’t remember). That’s a rare level of dedication. He’s in his 90’s now and I haven’t seen him in a decade or so, but if I know him, he’s still going – as much as he can do. You can’t retire when you’ve got so many injured kids and their parents who need you.

I’m sure you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of this program. I am too. Isn’t it funny that we live in a world where everyone knows everything there is to know about Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, and Brittney Spears, but you don’t hear about a tiny little place in Philadelphia called the Institute of the Achievement of Human Potential ( that is doing these wonderful things. Although they aren’t just in Philadelphia any more. They are in Japan and Spain, and about 5 other countries.

Here are some actual numbers from their most recent report – out of 278 blind kids that were seen in a 2 year period, 236 of them are now able to see and 194 of them can see well enough to read. That’s an 85% success rate. Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not a hoax, or a gimmick, or a scam. What is it? It’s a lot of hard work, mostly by the parents of the kids.

To get a child to see, the parents do something very simple – they take the child into a dark room and they take a $2 flashlight and they turn it on and off. And on and off. For about five minutes out of every hour. For 10-12 hours a day. 7 days a week. 365 days of the year. Plus a bunch of other exercises – all day, every day. Yes, it is a drastic amount of work. But if your child is facing a lifetime of blindness, how much is too much?

Photo Credit

Seems completely bizarre doesn’t it? No one ever thought to shine a flashlight at a blind child. Why bother if they can’t see? But that’s just the point. There’s a natural law about the body – form follows function.

If you run long enough and hard enough, you’ll have the body of a runner. Seen Biggest Loser lately? If you do ballet for enough hours of the days for enough years, you’ll develop the body of a ballerina. If your brain senses a light shining in your eyes hundreds of thousands of times, it will slowly, gradually build a new pathway to the optic nerves. Weird, huh? But it’s worked for all these hundreds of kids. And not just blind kids – autistic kids, ADHD kids, children with Downs system, and disabled adults as well. They have done some groundbreaking work with stroke and epilepsy victims. It is a rare child they are not able to help in some way.

Check them out – I guarantee they are MUCH more interesting than Lindsay Lohan!   Their books are in every bookstore, just search for Glenn or Janet Doman, and their website is If you are the parent of any child – healthy or not healthy, I guarantee you will learn some things that will amaze you and might change the course of your life.

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WooHOOOO!!! He FINALLY hit 20 lbs!!!!

This is a feat that has been long awaited!!  Our sweet little boy has FINALLY hit 20 lbs!!  He has been a great eater since he got over his little post-Philly bug and we couldn’t be more thrilled.


As we were preparing for the trip, we reanalyzed his diet and found that as we had been so focused on maximizing his calories per ounce, we fell out of balance and were giving too much fat.  As a result, he was throwing up way too often.  Just think of the last time you ate a bowl of overly buttery alfredo pasta or something else with a lot of fat.  It makes your tummy feel yucky, right!?  Well, that is what was happening to Jacob.

Thankfully, we caught it and fixed it.  He has been a fantastic eater ever since.  In fact, today he hit 1289 calories and he has been eating 33-35 ounces per day for the past several days!  Boy, I sure hope I didn’t just jinx it.

Way to go, Jacob!!!  Next goal, 23!!


Wow!!  What a month it has been!  I didn’t mean to fall so behind on the blog but we just got so busy with our revisit to IAHP. Before I begin, I must extend a HUGE thank you for all the support we have received through donations and our fundraiser.  These revisits are absolutely critical to Jacob’s development and we couldn’t do it without you!!

So, without further ado…

Jacob’s Evaluation and New Program

The first day of our revisit is when Jacob’s progress is evaluated.  The specialists at IAHP essentially walk through Jacob’s existing program to see how he does.  They also measure him to see how his has grown.  Then his progress is compared both to that of a well child during the same period and to Jacob before the program.  So how did he do?


Intellectual growth – Jacob earned both his Seeing and Reading victories.  The Seeing victory means that he now has appreciation of detail within a configuration.  We saw the Ophthalmologist who examined Jacob at the last visit and he was very pleased with Jacob’s visual progress.  We even saw Jacob track an object!  It is one thing to have the ability to focus on an object, it is quite another to follow it as it moves through space!  His Reading victory is equally exciting!  This victory means that he has demonstrated the ability to read at least 100 words.  Whaaaat!?!  This formerly blind 2 year old can READ??  YES!!!  It is no surprise to us as it is something we work on every day.  But, how do we know?  Well, we brought samples of Jacob’s reading cards which have single, LARGE print words.  We held up 2 words and asked Jacob “which one says Corvette?”  or “which one says banana?”  Jacob would then look at the words and focus on the correct word.  He did it correctly all 5 times!!  So, we have shown Jacob over 200 words and he got them 100% right, therefore we can surely conclude that he can read at least 100!  Yipee!!

Physical Growth – Jacob is getting SO close with his crawling.  I realize that I have not yet completely explained Jacob’s physical program but I promise to outline it one of these days.  The bottom line is we are all very proud of Jacob.  He is clearly demonstrating that he has the ability to move his body in the necessary way to move, he just needs to put all of the pieces together.


His new project will do just that.  We will continue to give him plenty of opportunity to move and we will continue the patterning to show him the proper way to move.  We will add a “gravity free environment” and a “gravity assisted environment.”  The Gravity Free is like a bouncer on steroids.  It’s purpose is to develop the vestibular areas of the brain which are responsible for balance and integration.  The Gravity Assisted will suspend him in the crawling position and will support some of his weight while allowing him to still touch the ground .  When he moves his arms and legs, he will make progress easily.  He got to try it out in the mobility room and he LOVED it.  He just took off!

When a child has physical obstacles, gravity becomes their worst enemy.  In 1976, IAHP began working with NASA to develop programs for our children.  In fact, Dr. Ralph Pelligra,   Chief Medical Officer of the NASA Ames Research Center, is still on the board at IAHP.




Lecture – Tuesday and Wednesday were jam packed for Bryan and I attending lectures.  IAHP takes their education VERY seriously.  Every single detail is meticulously planned.  The auditorium was built to be the ideal learning environment.  It is even kept at a brisk 63 degrees because, as discovered by IAHP founder Dr. Temple Fey, the lower the ambient temperature, the less oxygen the brain requires and the easier it is to obtain and retain new information.  The speaker presents for exactly 50 minutes and, when the bell rings, they will stop, mid-sentence, and we take a 10 minute break.  At the end of 10 minutes the bell rings again and they pick up right where they left off.  At this visit we reviewed  intellectual growth, physical growth, social growth and physiological growth.


In addition to learning about the Gravity Free and Gravity Assisted environments, we also reviewed the effect of food, chemicals and the environment on health, behaviour and the brain.  Further, we learned how Applied Kinesiology can be used to help our kids.  The Chiropractor and Applied Kinesiologust on staff at IAHP evaluated Jacob and made recommendations that we will follow to further his progress.

Jacob with his advocate Suzy
Jacob with his advocate Suzy

IAHP takes social growth and development very seriously and we were thrilled to have our first lecture on this topic at this visit.  The IAHP plan is called “The Law” and, like most of their programs, it takes behavioral issues right down to the basics.  It is a simple plan of making very clear rules with appropriate consequenses.  This will surely come in very handy as Jacob gets older, but for now maybe we can use it to keep Bryan in line (haha!)

The final day of Lecture was focused on Intellectual Growth, joyousness of reading, the auditory pathway, communication and language development.  We learned about the impressive tool of Facilitated Communication, invented by Rosemary Crossely in Australia. We are currently using a choice board with Jacob and will be advancing from a simple yes/no board to more sophisticated communication with more options and better questions.  Later, we will use a letter board to aid in our communication and if necessary, we can also progress to using acomputer.  This will certainly not replace speaking and developing language, but it will help Jacob communicate with us while we work to understand what he is saying.  The examples of written work produced by the children of IAHP using facilitated communication is just astounding!!  As they always say, brain injury does not limit a child’s intelligence, only the child’s ability to express that intelligence.  We know Jacob is a VERY  smart little boy and he proves it more and more each day.

Other Fun

Although we have very little free time during our trips to IAHP, we did have a wonderful opportunity to get together with Bryan’s sisters.

Jacob with his Aunt Darlene
Jacob with his Aunt Darlene

We went to center city Philadelphia and toured all the sites.  It was a lovely day, although Jacob slept through most of it.



We are so grateful that they were able to make the trip in to see us!  During the week, our days often run very late.  However, we were able to get together with our wonderful IAHP friends, Ryan and Catie Lewis.  Their daughter, Cate, is about Jacob’s age and is doing incredibly well on the program.  You can check out Cate’s story at


Phew!  That was a lot.  Again, I apologize for the delay.  I look forward to sharing so much more.  Thanks for following and remember, if you would like to receive and email when I post, click the Follow by email button at the top right side of the page!

A day in the life of Jacob – Part 1

I have written before that Jacob works very hard and that his day is very full.  But what does that really mean?

Jacob’s program, developed by the specialists at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, was specially designed for his specific needs and to fill the gaps in his development.  It was also designed to be achievable by a child of his age.  I will say, however, that it takes significant strategy, planning and a little luck to get it all done each day.


To help with prioritization, Jacob’s program can be divided into 3 parts…Physiological, Intellectual and Physical.  In effort to explain each of these important programs, I will separate them into 3 posts.

The highest priority is Jacob’s Physiological program.  This portion has to do with Jacob’s overall health, nutrition and respiration.  I have written previously about Jacob’s nutrition and the importance of giving him all the building blocks he needs to accomplish all of his goals.  Of equal importance is proper respiration.

Because Jacob was born 4 months prematurely, his lungs were not fully developed.  He was on a ventilator for 74 days.  While this technology was absolutely critical to his survival, it also caused damage to his lungs.


The brain must have adequate oxygen to function properly.  So, in order to achieve proper brain function, we must improve Jacob’s breathing.  To accomplish this we do 2 therapies daily; masking and respiratory patterning.

Masking is done every 5 minutes throughout the day with a goal of 40 masks each day.  During this therapy, Jacob rebreathes his own air for a short period.  This has 2 outcomes.  First, it utilizes the natural reflex triggered by sensors in the brain to breathe in more quickly and deeply when the carbon dioxide levels increase.  This helps Jacob strengthen his chest walls and it also helps to expand his lungs.  Second, by inhaling a slightly higher ratio of carbon dioxide, the blood vessels dilate and take more oxygen rich blood to the brain.

Recently, many athletes have taken to a similar therapy to improve their performance.  The underlying principle is the same.  Exercise the lungs to make them stronger.

In addition to masking, Jacob wears a respiratory patterning device for 2 hours during the day and all night long.  It is similar to the leg compression sleeves that are used in the hospital to prevent blood clots in patients.  The device consists of a vest that goes around his chest and an air compressors with a regulator.  The vest fills with air at the designated rate, rhythm and pressure to gently suggest how to breath.  This feels wonderful and sends the message to Jacob’s brain, “this is how it feels to breath.”  Prior to using the device, Jacob would breath quite quickly and with shallow breaths.  Now, he breathes more slowly and deeply.

At our last visit to IAHP, we participated in a very impactful presentation.  A parent was asked to play the part of the child.  The instructor, playing the part of the parent, asked the child to take 5 large bites of applesauce.  Once the 5th bite was taken, the “child” was asked to run 5 laps around the auditorium.  When that was completed, the “child” was asked to repeat task of eating 5 bites of applesauce.  This was repeated with participants being asked to sing “Happy Birthday” and write their name on the chalkboard.  The purpose of this demonstration was to show how difficult these typically simple tasks are to our children who are not getting sufficient oxygen.

Breathing impacts all function…ability to speak, swallow, see and hear.  These little bursts of oxygen help all of these functions improve.   Even muscle tone and control improve when the brain receives the oxygen it needs to send its messages properly.  This is why the Physiological portion of Jacob’s program is of utmost importance.


What is truly amazing is that while doing all this every single day, Jacob is such a happy, giggly boy!  We are so incredibly blessed!  It may be hard to believe that we get SO MANY giant smile pictures, but that’s just our boy.  He has a light in his eyes that is beyond compare and a will to succeed that is certain to get him to wellness!  Thank you, God!!

The many faces of Jacob at mealtime

Getting the proper nutrients into Jacob is one of our highest priorities. IMG_4474 It makes sense.  He must have the building blocks necessary to do all the building we want him to do.  However, getting enough calories in is a continual battle.  That makes eating quite stressful…for us anyway.  Jacob, on the other hand, takes it all in stride.  As he does with everything!

Jacob’s diet was designed by the team at The Institutes for Achievement of Human Potential to give him optimal nutrition.  Each meal has a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrate, leafy green vegetable, green vegetable, another vegetable and a cold pressed oil.  We purchase as much of Jacob’s food as possible from local, organic farmers.  The ingredients we use are rotated with the goal of not repeating an ingredient within a 4 day period.  This is to help identify if he has any allergies.  Thankfully, to date, he does not.

035While this this meal is undoubtedly nutritious, it takes a large volume to get to the calorie goals we have for him.  We have learned a few tricks to help us reach our goal.  First, we made changes from the chicken and turkey breast we are used to cooking for ourselves to chicken and turkey thighs. We also supplement each meal with a variety of oils…olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, coconut oil and ghee (clarified butter).  Finally, our favorite discovery, almond meal pudding. 

Thanks to Pinterest, we found a great, super easy recipe for almond (or any other nut) meal pudding.  We simply put 1 cup of finely ground nuts into a skillet and add enough water to get to the consistency we like.  When it begins to bubble, we temper in an egg and Viola!  We later began adding flaxseeds and Chia seeds on an alternating basis for some extra nutrients.  Finally, we top his pudding with some fresh organic fruit and breakfast is served.  Fresh, healthful and calorically dense! IMG_4178[1] IMG_4215[1]

So far, it is going well. We have a goal of 30 ounces of food a day and we are up to averaging about 25. Each day is different, though. Thankfully, Jacob’s amazing smiles make the stress melt away!

So, what does “defying the diagnosis” mean?

Jacob has been given an laundry list of diagnoses.  First came profound hearing loss, then cortical blindness and potential cerebral palsy.  We even had someone tell us “your son will never see, hear, walk or talk.  No matter what you do.”  As you can imagine, we were terrified.

Thankfully, we found The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.  After reading the book What to do About Your Brain Injured Child by Glenn Doman, we knew we had found our hope!  The team at IAHP has been working with and successfully treating brain injured children, like Jacob, for 60 years.

what to do

You see, all of these labels that he has been given are simply symptoms of the brain injury he sustained at birth.  That is actually GOOD news because it can be fixed.  Our goal now is not to just live with these diagnoses, but to help Jacob heal and overcome them!

When Bryan and I attended the What to Do course at IAHP we learned a VERY important fact…brain growth can be slowed, brain growth can be stopped AND brain growth can be SPEEDED!  The best part is that the research the staff has been conducting over the last 60 year has uncovered just how to do that.

Our class with the staff at IAHP. Can you find us? Its like where’s Waldo!

It is really simple actually.  The staff uncovered the critical steps in child brain development and what causes these steps to occur.  We simply replicate this natural process with increased frequency, intensity and duration to rebuild the damaged pathways.  You’ve probably heard of neuroplasticity…well, they have been doing just that all along!

Jacob at his first IAHP visit
Jacob at his first IAHP visit

The other extremely important factors are giving Jacob the best nutrition possible so he has everything he needs to regrow the damaged tissue, improving his breathing and creating an environment that is ideal for his development.  I will write more about Jacob’s nutrition, respiratory program and what we do to give him the best possible environment in another post.

What this adds up to is a very intense program of stimulation and opportunity in recognition of the orderly way the brain develops.  Jacob does therapy all day every day. Every minute is on purpose.  At our last revisit, another mom asked me how many hours a day we spend on Jacob’s program.  The simple answer is all of them!  Yes, its a lot.  Yes, it takes a team. Yes, its hard.  But, YES, its working!  The clearest evidence of this is the change visible in Jacob’s brain via MRI.

Jacob Scans

This may be hard to understand at first, but just look at the increase in the dark parts of the scan on the right!

So, here we go!  Off to prove the naysayers wrong and delighting in every minute of it!  I look forward to posting videos of Jacob’s incredible improvement.  I welcome any questions and I cannot recommend more highly that everyone read the books written by Glenn Doman and the staff at IAHP.  They help both hurt children and well kids!

No time like the present…

July 25, 2014

Two years ago, possibly to the day, our world was turned up-side-down.  One day, my husband, Bryan, and I were hopping on a plane to my hometown, Bloomington, IL for a baby shower for our twin boys and the next I was strapped to a gurney, loaded onto a helicopter and given the most devastating news I could imagine.


Our world, since then, has been far, FAR different than we ever imagined.  We’ve walked hallways we hardly knew existed, had conversations we never fathomed and prayed harder than ever.  We also met some of the most amazing people, who have shared so much love and support, and we’ve also learned so much about life, love, faith and human development.  We have fought extraordinary battles and have had amazing victories…with plenty more to come.


My hope, with this blog, is to share our story and empower other families to fight for their children.  I must stress that I am NOT a doctor, therapist or a writer.  I am a mother.  I hope that our story helps, heals, brings a smile or inspires you to believe in the amazing power of children.  I hope you enjoy our story…