Looking back in the past Vincent was developing normally as a baby. The only source of concern was a delay in speech at 12 months. He was saying random words but he was not speaking at a level typical of his age. After a series of vaccinations we observed Vincent’s eye contact stopped. He shut down. He stopped engaging with us and retreated into a world of his own.
In a panic, we called professionals who connected us with early intervention practitioners. All arrows, they said, pointed to autism. We were inundated with information and we were told Vincent would need all kinds of therapies. As you can imagine we rushed out to comply and enrolled him in many programs – speech, occupational and ABA. However, we weren’t seeing anything except lots of crying and resistance. All our efforts seemed futile.
Only the biomedical route was helpful. For longest time the only improvements we saw were physical through our work with the Naturopath, however, Vincent’s levels of awareness and understanding were not coming along. Our pediatrician gave us a very bleak prognosis. He warned us not to expect much and that we needed to accept what is. He knew of many people who had done a lot of therapies for many years and seen only small improvements. We felt crushed by these harsh words coming from our doctor. Had I not followed my gut, I don’t know where Vincent would be right now.
We heard about the Listening Centre through Dr. Norman Doidge speaking on TV and came to the Centre in desperation hoping to see some kind of change. Everything Dr. Doidge was saying about neuroplasticity made sense. We could understand that the effectiveness of a therapy could be limited by the child’s ability to absorb it. It seemed logical that if you could make changes within the brain, you could possibly make some real changes in a child’s abilities to respond in general and to his therapies.
Vincent completed his first three weeks of listening, stopped for a month long pause between intensives and then completed his second three weeks of listening. Only his Speech Therapist knew he was doing the program at the Listening Centre. When Vincent returned to work with his Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, ABA therapy supervisor and Optometrist, each of them were amazed. They all reported changes in his sense of spatial awareness and awareness of his own body. Eye contact was returning and even though he was still not verbal he was interacting much more. Vincent also stopped grinding teeth shortly after starting the listening training and suddenly began letting me brush his teeth - something ABA had worked on unsuccessfully for months.
Slowly he was stepping back into our world after a long dry plateau of nothing happening. The light that had gone ‘off’ was coming back on. The Listening Centre’s program had definitely sparked positive changes. Even the pediatrician commented Vincent seemed better and asked us what we had done. Unfortunately, when I described the Centre’s program he responded with skepticism.
We continue with all of Vincent’s therapies. He goes and does well but they’re always working at the same level. However, when we bring Vincent in for a boost at the Listening Centre he always experiences a boost forward in his abilities. While we don’t tell his therapists Vincent has returned to the Centre for listening, each time they always notice a significant improvement which facilitates their work and helps them push him ahead even further.
Since starting at the Listening Centre Vincent is more curious, has a faster reaction time and is following things a lot better. Food and sound sensitivities have decreased. Eye tracking and coordination have improved – he used to fall a lot more often – and fine motor skills are better. Recently, he passed his first level of swimming in a regular class. Being in the water used to be so difficult because he was so fearful. Now he loves to be in the water and we find he is able to better engage with the swimming pool setting and other environments.
After this most recent boost at the Listening Centre we find Vincent can participate in activities for longer periods of time. This week he sat with the ABA therapist for 2 hours without interruption! Vincent has never been able to do that – before he could only sit for a maximum of fifteen minutes.
Overall, Vincent’s entire temperament has changed. While he used to wake up grumpy, now he wakes up happy and laughs whole heartedly. Unlike before now he wants to share in things he enjoys. He brings us blocks so we can play with him. All of these stages of improvement have meant big changes for our family. Everything works more smoothly now and we have a lot more fun together.
Mainstream therapy has its merits but it is like they are working with external part of problem. In contrast, we feel the Listening Centre is working on the core of him - improving the function of his brain and that is what is facilitating his work with all the therapists. The proof is in how Vincent keeps jumping forward with each boost. We know the listening is an essential part of his therapy – something that is needed in order for Vincent to improve even more.
We look forward to continuing with Vincent’s listening and helping him as much as we can. Morana and the staff at the Listening Centre are wonderful. He loves being there. It is a positive and calming environment and a place where something is actually happening.