Couldn't resist posting this article I just read. Jan Brain Gym helps autistic son focus Until their number is called ... Feb 3, 2007 Teresa Latchford, Staff Writer (York Region) - At least one area mother is taking it upon herself to provide education to her autistic child as he sits on a two year waiting list to receive help from the government. Despite the province's recent announcement it would provide funding to help another 225 Ontario children access necessary therapy that costs to more than $80,000 a year, the waiting list for behavioural intervention still tops 1,000 children's names. The province allocated an additional $13 million to its annual $115 million to help autistic children with costly intensive behavioural intervention therapy. But that still only scratches the surface, according to Newmarket resident Sharon King-Todd, who is raising an autistic son, whom she requested not be named to avoid him being labelled. "My son was registered for the therapy two years ago and we are still a long way from the top of the list," she said. "It is so important for children with autism get this programing in the early years or it affects their future." Without behavioural therapy, her son cannot stay focused for long periods of time or respond automatically to a situation the same as children without autism, she explained. The younger the child learns vital behavioural skills, the faster they pick it up and can begin to make it an everyday practice. Timing is of the essence, Mrs. King-Todd said, adding waiting lists don't match the urgency of these much needed services. Desperate to help her son, Mrs. King-Todd accessed community services, turned to the private sector for education outside of the classroom and took workshops to give her the tools she needed to support her now four-year-old child. "Managing all of the appointments and things is a lot of work," she said. "I apply for funding to help me with the costs of things my son needs." Among other services, her son works with speech and occupational therapists to improve language and motor skills and a mediator to help him socialize with other children. The cost for professional assistance does not include the price of extra tools and equipment needed in the home, she explained. Toys for sensory stimulation, special tools for everyday tasks, orthotics, fencing in the yard to prevent wandering, workshops, seminars and home safety gadgets are just a few, Mrs. King-Todd said. Programs and therapy, while costly, help autistic children develop emotionally and intellectually to function in society. "If autistic children cannot get this therapy, they won't be able to get the life skills they need to survive," she said. "Some will end up in group homes and never be able to live independently." On her quest to provide her child with the extra help he needs, Mrs. King-Todd stumbled on a program called the Brain Gym. She attended a conference last summer to help parents stimulate their children using the program. "This is my plan B," she said. The Brain Gym movements create new, healthy and balanced neurological pathways in the brain, she said. As a result of using four simple movements every morning, her son is able to think more clearly, co-ordinate his brain and body, while improving his memory, ability to focus and reducing stress. "The biggest impact on my son has been behavioural," she added. Transitioning from one activity, such as eating breakfast to brushing his teeth used to be an ordeal, Mrs. King-Todd explained, adding after using these four movements every morning, it is less difficult. She knows of teachers who use Brain Gym, which offers 26 simple movements, in the classroom. Seeing the results for herself, she is bringing Beverly Hunter -- co-owner of Turning on the Light Centre Inc. in British Columbia -- to Newmarket to offer parents and professionals a chance to experience Brain Gym for themselves. The workshop, learning and gravity, is a two-day balance play shop involving listening activities using a balance board. Through the presentation of practical strategies and the introduction of simple movements, autistic children can begin to connect their body and brain. "The research shows programs using a balance board have so many benefits," she said. "I just want to show people there are other ways to help your autistic child develop while on a waiting list." This specific program improves cognitive, behavioural, emotional, visual, reading and motor aspects of autism. For more information on the Brain Gym program, visit www.turningonthelight.com. ·························································································· CAN YOU DO IT? Try these Brain Gym movements for yourself to regain focus: ·BRAIN BUTTONS: To increase blood flow to the brain, place one hand on the top of your head and a hand on your stomach. ·CROSS CRAWL: To access both brain hemispheres simultaneously, touch your left elbow to your right knee and vice versa. ·HOOK UPS: To connect electrical circuits in the body, focusing energy and attention to the task at hand, cross arms at the wrist in front of your body and intertwine fingers. Bring to chest without releasing your grip and hold. Also cross legs at the ankles.