Archive for the ‘Personal Testimonials’ Category

Personal testimonial from the grandfather of a child with autism

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by admin

Riley was diagnosed with autism and is completely nonverbal. He was five years old when his parents approached Camp Academia, Inc.  Riley’s family lives overseas and discovered Camp Academia, Inc. online.  Prior to being introduced to Brainjogging, Riley manifested various adverse behaviors: spitting on things and polishing them; compulsively doing crunches; climbing on furniture; standing directly in front of the television or washing machine and refusing to be moved; and failing to show interest in personal relationships, among other habits.

After spending several weeks with Camp Academia, Inc., Riley and his family returned home. Riley’s grandfather sent a letter to Camp Academia, Inc. two months after leaving LaGrange and settling back into a home routine.  One weekend, Riley went to his grandparents’ house.  Following the visit, his grandfather sent a letter to Camp Academia, Inc., outlining various changes in Riley’s behavior.  The following are excerpts from Riley’s grandfather’s letter.  Please note that the excerpts have been edited for grammatical consistency and protection of personal identity, but have not been otherwise altered.

Riley’s behavior actually changed…
As you are aware Riley had built up a lot of “habits” in his behavior and initially this was what gave us the clue some 4 years ago that perhaps he was autistic and we brought this up with Riley’s pediatrician. It was not about what he should be doing it was about what he was doing when he came to our house or we took him out that we brought up with the pediatrician. There has been a big change in regards to the habits Riley had 2 months ago.

Riley’s actions reflected personal investment in relationships…
When his dad left, there were a lot of tears and crying as Riley saw his dad get in his car and go. Riley was deeply upset. Prior to [Brainjogging], Riley would never have given a darn who came and went and had absolutely no interest in what other people were doing, only what he was doing at the time.

Riley’s grandfather was able to engage him in a bedtime activity…
I read his first story to him that night in bed.  Previously, he would show absolutely no interest and would want to play with the light switch, jump on the bed or anything other than lie there and listen and look at the pictures. Actually, he went to sleep as I read. He really likes the repeating ABC song and wanted to hear it the next morning after he had got out of bed and was dressed.

Riley now understands instructions and takes “no” for an answer …
Riley liked to jump, swing and clamber on side tables and do lots of things on the bed. Now this is minimal. Sure, he has a bounce or two, but not for 20 minutes. Riley accepts a no and stopped [jumping on the bed] when he first started to do it on his visit.

Riley desired to communicate with others …
I saw and heard Riley telling his dad about the day, making all sorts of sounds. None of them intelligible, just a lot of excited noises that went on and on, but clearly he was pleased to see his dad and was, in his way, telling his dad about the day and making Luke sit in the one spot whilst this went on.

Even over a short span of time, Riley’s behavioral changes were evident …
We had him just overnight and these were all the changes we saw and we thought we would share these with you about the progress we see happening.  We are both thrilled at what is happening to our boy.

Helping students create efficient visual aids

Friday, January 7th, 2011 by admin

Brainjogging’s Wednesday post (found here) discussed recent research regarding practice tests and their effectiveness in improving cognition.  Kent State University researchers Dr. Katherine Rawson, associate professor in Kent State’s Department of Psychology, and Mary Pyc, a former Kent State graduate student recently published an article on the extent to which practice tests help individuals develop efficient encoding strategies for information (Science Daily).  More simply put, Rawson’s and Pyc’s research quantifies the extent to which taking practice tests, especially ones that compel test-takers to recall information from memory, can increase the likelihood of enhancing one’s memory and successfully recalling information at a later date.

Rawson and Pyc looked into the effectiveness of “mediators,” or keywords, that help test-takers recall information.  Brainjogging often invokes mediators to facilitate successful retention of information. The following is an example of the way one student and instructor recently developed visual equivalents of mediators for the student’s vocabulary unit.

The first word in the student’s vocabulary unit was “acme,” which is a noun that means “the highest point.”  Acme can refer to a physical high point, like the peak of a mountain, or a metaphorical high point, like receiving a promotion.

First, the student and instructor developed a visual picture for the physical definition of “acme.” This was initially inhibited by the student’s existing correlation between “acme” and the explosive devices often found in cartoons:

The instructor asked the student to incorporate his existing understanding of “acme” into his illustration.  He created the following visual aid:

The student was able to create a visual that incorporated both his existing understanding of “acme” and the actual definition of the word.  Unfortunately, the illustration of a mountain with fireworks being shot off from its peak illuminated only the physical meaning of “acme.”  The word can also refer to the high point in someone’s career, day, etc.  The instructor asked the student about the acme of his fall semester.  The student received an “A” on a World History exam for which he and the instructor had heavily prepared by creating visual aids like these and generating several subject-specific word lists.  The student modified his illustration as follows:

Cooper: Dealing with potential labels

Monday, November 8th, 2010 by admin

As the mother of two wonderful kids, I was so excited to watch each of them grow and develop into their own interesting personalities.  Cooper is my youngest, five and a half years younger than my daughter.  Cooper was a very quiet, solemn baby who very quickly got his legs under him – crawling at six months, walking at ten months.  We were such proud parents, feeling our little boy must really be something special.

Despite exhibiting upsetting behaviors at school, Cooper got along well with friends and family, including his older sister, pictured here.

At two years old, we recognized that Cooper was not talking the way his peers were.  His second year continued on; still no talking.  My husband and I were concerned.  Our first thought was, “Let’s change his daycare situation.”  We moved Cooper from an “in home” setting to a more vibrant, active arrangement where there were more children, less TV and more learning opportunities.  This did help: by the age of three, I finally heard “Momma” for the first time.

Along with Cooper starting to make some progress with talking, he also started exhibiting other more emotional, aggressive behaviors at daycare.  However, it did not seem to be a big issue with the daycare; consequently, we did not think much of it.  As time passed and Cooper graduated into a traditional school setting and attended Pre-kindergarten it became a huge issue.  Every day we got behavior reports listing so many upsetting behaviors: having tantrums, putting hands on others, disrupting class, crying, not staying in his space, hitting, spitting, screaming and hiding.  I was getting calls at work, being asked to talk to my son on the phone and calm him down and to come to the school and calm Cooper down.  Then the teacher suggested we meet.

I walked into the school to meet the teacher and found myself in a room with four people: the teacher, the principal, the Pre-k administrator and the school counselor.  My heart sank; I was sick at my stomach and this was all before the conversation began. I knew this was serious business.  I was quizzed about Cooper’s home life, my husband’s and my marriage, our family’s routine.  I was so taken aback by everything that was being asked of me.  Even worse,  all these behaviors that Cooper exhibited at school he rarely ever had at home.  The meeting ended, and I was walking around the room absorbing all that had happened when his teacher suggested to me that Cooper might be autistic.

Yes, this sweet boy, again pictured with his older sister, was struggling behaviorally at school.

WHAT???  At that point, I knew I had to take the bull by the horns and get to the bottom of whatever was going on with Cooper; someone had found a label for him and we couldn’t let that happen.  My husband and I discussed how to proceed.  We visited his physician and because Cooper was only four there was nothing that she could recommend short of seeing a psychologist, as he was too young for testing.  At this point, we were completely overwhelmed and thought we were just going to have to deal with whatever was going on until Cooper was old enough to be tested.

Autism, what does that mean?  My husband and I got on the internet and did some digging.  Cooper just didn’t fit the description, in our eyes.  He was so sociable in our home environment and with friends and family.  It did not make sense.  Yet, his teacher said he didn’t know any of his classmates’ names and he wouldn’t play with others.  We kept looking and we found all sorts of disorders that might fit some of his issues.  Still no answers, and the school days passed with countless notes, calls and teacher meetings and even a suspension . . .  in Pre-kindergarten.

Chase Johnson: Living life to the fullest extent

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by admin

A few of Brainjogging’s staff members had the pleasure of meeting Chase Johnson at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s (KKI) 10th Annual CARD Conference.  Chase is a 21 year old with Asperger’s Syndrome.  He was a KKI intern from April to August, 2010 and has recently helped start an Autism Support Group.

Chase Johnson, a 21 year old man with Asperger's Syndrome, makes his diagnosis work with his life rather than against it.

Chase was born three to four weeks premature; he achieved typical developmental milestones until age two, when his family realized that he seemed to have a speech delay.  His parents even questioned his hearing and discovered that Chase was prone to chronic ear infection; tubes did not resolve his delayed communication.  Chase was echolalic in his vocabulary, “sucking up words and phrases from commercials and everything around [him] and not having the slightest clue what [these words] meant.”  His mind “drew connections where there were none.”  Echolalia renders communication exceedingly difficult; if a child draws a mental connection between a seemingly random word and situation and doesn’t possess the language capabilities to further explain the perceived relationship, he or she literally cannot help others understand communicative intention.

Chase received a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome in the sixth grade, after years of being tormented by peers and even his sister.  Chase’s sister envied the attention he received as a child; she, like many siblings of children on the spectrum, wasn’t able to understand that ASD requires extended attention.  Chase suggests that parents “show compassion to the sibling on the spectrum” but also to “find a way to show a deeper sense of attention to the non-ASD sibling” so that the neurotypical sibling won’t feel cheated of attention.

Although he has overcome nearly all conventional ASD social barriers, Chase still struggles with the communicative inabilities often associated with ASD.  Chase occasionally suffers from mind blindness, or an inability to recognize that others may not share his own conventions.  He was overwhelmed by anxiety for much of his life; anxiety is a hallmark of ASD. Chase explained his own former aversion to eye contact as distaste for feeling as though someone were staring into him, forcibly commanding his attention.  Aversion to eye contact is a stereotypical ASD behavior, but hearing Chase’s insight into why he feels he averted eye contact is significant.  Throughout his life, however, Chase has been lucky  to have family and friends to help him manage his anxiety levels and propel him toward the successful life he now leads. Chase is a student in Indiana and attended American University for a year and a half.  Chase provides fellow individuals on the spectrum with an example of how to make Asperger’s Syndrome work within the constructs of successful interpersonal  experiences.

To read more about Chase’s experiences, visit his blog.

Soldier Will

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by admin

Brainjogging strives to provide readers with access to current neurological and behavioral research and parent testimonials – but we also want readers to know our wonderful students!  They bring joy to our lives with their successes and, yes, their humor, albeit often unintentional humor.

Will, a five year old Brainjogger on the autistic spectrum, came in for his Brainjogging training session, during which students are introduced to the program and taught exactly how to use it.  Will promptly introduced his Brainjogging instructor to a vast array of helicopters that he brought from home.  His instructor expressed interest, smiled and said something along the lines of, “Wow, sunshine!  These are awesome!”  She noticed Will’s expression cloud a bit, but the moment passed and they moved along.

This particular instructor tends to refer to her students by numerous nicknames: sunshine, silly billy, buddy, smart girl, smart boy, kiddo, captain, Mr. Man, Mrs. Ma’am, etc.  As the instructor turned on Will’s computer and guided his attention to the Camp Academia, Inc. icon, Will explained that he already knew how to access Brainjogging and that he could do it himself.  His instructor promptly acknowledged his knowledge, exclaiming, “Well done, sunshine!”

Brainjogging’s little soldier, Will.

Will grew grave.  He patted his chest and said, “Soldier Will.”

“Excuse me?” the instructor replied.

Will patted his chest again, “I’m Soldier Will, not ‘sunshine’.”

Will’s father is an active service member; their family lives on Fort Benning.  To date, aside from “soldier,” Will has suffered himself to be called “captain,” but “sunshine” doesn’t fly anymore, and neither does “buddy.”  His instructors are careful to call him only those names that appeal to his sense of civic duty – perhaps one day, with Brainjogging’s help, Will will become the service member to which he aspires!

A mother’s perspective: September 2010 (sixth installment)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 by admin

Brainjogging's added bonus: making new friends. Nicola and fellow Brainjogger, Cooper, have become great buddies through Brainjogging!

Brainjogging is thrilled to reveal N.’s identity: Nicola.  Nicola’s family is so excited about her progress and her current level of cognition that they want readers to be able to picture “N.” as an actual person with a name and an identity, rather than as a mere initial on a blog.

“It is difficult to find the right words to express how excited we are with Nicola’s progress.”

– Nicola’s mother

Over the last few weeks, readers have been able to read Nicola’s mother’s personal testimonials of her daughter’s progress using Brainjogging.  Nicola’s mother has gifted Brainjogging and readers, especially, with six months of personal insight into Nicola’s gradual cognitive development.

At least for a while, this will be the last installment regarding Nicola’s wonderful progress.  As further developments occur, Brainjogging will share them with readers, but there are other success stories to share!

Nicola asks for Cooper every time she comes to LaGrange, Georgia for Brainjogging sessions!

September 16, 2010

Dear Brain Jogging,

It is difficult to find the right words to express how excited we are with Nicola’s progress.  We had another wonderful week at Brian Jogging!  During this visit, I am leaving Nicola to play with her teachers without me in the room, and I think she focuses a little better.  She worked really hard on making sentences and fine motor activities.  I feel like at the end of this week, we are saying more sentences!  Her brain jogging itself has improved.  Nic is starting to point at the letters and continues to improve with saying three letters.  We still have some challenging days, but we push through them, and we are doing some wonderful things.

A wonderful memory from this week will be Nicola deciding to count beyond 10 and going for 20!  She started with 11 all by herself and got some of the other numbers on her own.   AMAZING!!  We are now going to practice counting to 20….I think we can do it.  She also requested to go to the potty.  Her memory is improving and more and more words are coming.  I am really hoping to break through on some of her fine motor skills as well. She is going to work hard on elbow to knee as well.  Her language is really coming; I can’t imagine when we have all our words and sentences flowing what we are going to learn from Nicola.  Nicola’s school is very excited for her as well!

Thank you very much for all your support…we cannot wait to show off [during] the month of October.



*As always, this parent testimonial has been reprinted without editing for content; testimonials are occasionally edited for grammar, but all changes are bracketed.

A mother’s perspective: August 2010 (fifth installment)

Monday, September 13th, 2010 by admin

N. continues to progress in her verbalization and enunciation – her memory is improving and her attention is increasing, too!  Below, N.’s mother, J., shares the changes she’s noted during August 2010, N.’s fifth month of Brainjogging.

August 12, 2010

Dear Brainjogging –

Hi!  Yeah … another wonderful week!  N. has once again made great progress, and we will leave with PROUD smiles.  It has been interesting to look back at the initial testing and retesting done at the 5 month mark.  It is a good reminder not to stress about some of the things I wish N. were doing or achieving at a higher level.  She is so [much] better at verbalizing everything … There are phrases coming out!  She is definitely expressing her opinion J.  She can count 1-10; it is not all the time, but we can do it!  ABCs are there, and we will get the sequence.  N. is more in tune to the world around her.  She noticed my new shoes today without me saying a word.  She loved her visit at First Baptist.  I was delighted that she did not want to leave.  She loves other children.  We are still working on balance, but N. is starting to pedal a little on the tricycle.  She can stand on one foot.  Amazing to see her name all the flashcards without repeating the “teacher” … that is on her own.

We definitely still have our moments where we don’t want to Brainjog, but we are always doing it, and N. has some wonderful pronunciations of Xs.  The three letter sequence is still improving!!  What is so exciting is the compliments from her therapists and family!  Everyone is so proud of her.  Her memory is there.  For instance I told her one day she would take tap, and she is reminding me.  It is so great to know we are tapping into everything that is inside my smart girl.  Once we are 100% verbal, I can’t imagine.  It still feels like a lot of work, but the progress makes it seem like a no-brainer to always do our work.  I am raising my expectation.  We start school tomorrow.  She is going to do so well!  Thank you for a wonderful week.

-J. and N.

P.S.  I am going to step up the potty-training.  She comprehends the act; it’s a matter of effort!

*As always, this parent testimonial has been reprinted without editing for content; testimonials are occasionally edited for grammar, but all changes are bracketed.

A mother’s perspective: July 2010 (fourth installment)

Friday, September 10th, 2010 by admin

The following is J.’s letter from July 2010 about her daughter’s continuing progress using Brainjogging!  Little N.  is doing a great job!

July 16, 2010

Dear Brainjogging –

Yeah!  We are at our fourth weekly visit to Brainjogging, and once again N. has done very well.  She is really waking up.  By the end of the week, N.’s focus during the sessions increased.  She demonstrated her throwing ability by launching chalk as Ms. Anna when she did not get her way.  She typically would only do that kind of thing at home.  It is amazing how her cognition is just popping.  She had a definite opinion on what shoes she wanted to wear … now this is my child.  She was even telling me she did not want to wear a particular shirt.  Very exciting!!  N. was able to recall a friends son’s name, as well as an aunt and uncle!  [My husband] C. and I are so proud.  In the elevator today, I was stalling and she told me to push up.  Articulation needed work, but it was there!  She has improved repeating the three letter sequences.  We have discussed possible ways to assist N. with focusing on the computer; hopefully, once she pays more attention to Brainjogging, letter recognition and memory will continue to increase.  I have worked a lot with physical and fine motor skills, and she has improved there as well.  She learned to chew Bubble Gum without swallowing.  We are moving forward in Bear Crawl.  I am just so proud of her, and my expectation is rising.  Thanks for a great week!  Oh, I love it that she knows all her teachers by name at Brainjogging!  Can’t wait to see what every day brings!!


A mother’s perspective: June 2010 (third installment)

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 by admin

June brought more changes in N.’s life.  Her mother, J., shares her reflections on N.’s third month of Brainjogging!

June 18, 2010

Dear Brainjogging,

Hello.  Well, N. will complete her third week here at Camp Academia tomorrow.  Once again, I am just in awe of how much progress she has made! Our family is so proud of her!

Over the past few months, we have been faithful to Brainjogging at home.  As I have said, there have been some very challenging moments where N. has not wanted to Brainjog; however, we have not given her the option.  One could pull from those times that N. is demonstrating her strong will and own personal opinions, which is a great thing to see J.  It is great to see some of the older students because I know eventually it will become second nature and just part of her life, or our lives.

This week, N. has continued to say some amazing things.  I will forever smile at the moment of N. coming up to me in our hotel and saying, “Hi, Jamie.”  She can name all her immediate family members … now that is a new N.!!  She has continued to say some more words, and she seems so much better at pronunciation.  N. even remembered we have always gone to the park after Brainjogging on previous visits.  Monday, she asked to go to the park.  We switched to the pool, and Tuesday she requested “pool” J.

The past few months, we have made Brainjogging part of our lifestyle.  It is a big commitment, and I was terrified of how to fit it in.  I am proud to say Brainojogging fits in nicely … the laptop travels, and we have just made it a priority.  Even when N. refused and closed her eyes J, it is “N.’s job.”  N. has a lot of homework all around.  I do feel like we’ve got a great home-program that complements goals of Brainjogging.  Play is very intentional, and we try to use our time wisely.

I arrived wondering what the week would hold because the first week was so intense.  I mean we went from not saying ABC letters to saying them.  Cognition is popping.  Following instructions, memory improvement.  I loved that Shirley said Brainjogging will lead to improvement in motor coordination and fine motor.  When one steps back and realizes how much is going on and what N. is doing now … well it is awesome!  I was watching N. and I realized I was wondering why she wasn’t recognizing all the letters yet when I almost missed all of the great things that she is improving on.  I mean we all saw her catch and throw today, and she knew when to roll.  She recognizes most pictures in the flash cards, which she loves those cards.

There is a remarkable difference in saying two or three syllables.  Today was a great day.  She was actually recalling more three letters in her letter flash … She was consistently following two-step instructions.  Remember the ball throwing!!  There were smiles across the room.  Her ball throwing and catching has improved.  We are getting better and better at saying ABCs on our own, as well as counting 1-10, wow!  Colors … we are getting them!  Letter recognition will come, I know it!  As I’ve said before, I am kind of a “chop chop” person J so N. teaches me everyday to be in the moment and enjoy the ride.  I can still get overwhelmed with many things, I [want] her to accomplish on my time frame.  But if you look at how much she has learned and is doing since April, it is just fantastic!!  We have come so far.

The people around her are excited to see her progress.  We have received compliments on “how much better N. is doing.”  Without a doubt, N. is a bright little lady.  Brainjogging is helping us pull all the parts to get it out.  Even tonight I was reading 8 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed with N..  I stopped to see if she could complete the sentence, and N. said “bumped his head” and “doctor.”  All I can say, bright smile from me J.

N. is doing so well, and I feel like we are just starting … stay tuned, so much more to come!  Thanks so much!!  Brainjogging everyday!!


J. and N.

P.S.  … I forgot to add how excited I am already for N. to strut her stuff once she starts school.  Her therapists are already so excited about her progress.  N. has shown so much improvement this week.  She just took a bow, and I did not know she can do that.  She also did an incredible drawing.  Each color was in a circle, and she named all the colors.  Thanks again!!

*As always, this parent testimonial has been reprinted without editing for content; testimonials are occasionally edited for grammar, but all changes are bracketed.

A mother’s perspective: May 2010 (second installment)

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 by admin

The following is the second letter mother J. wrote Brainjogging about her daughter N. and N.’s progress, from May 2010.  Over the coming days, you’ll be able to read J.’s letters from June, July and August and watch N.’s progress from her mother’s perspective (April’s letter can be found here).  *Please note that each letter reads exactly as it was written by J., the exception being the presence of initials instead of names, which Brainjogging did with the intention of protecting this family’s identity.

May marked N.’s second month of Brainjogging.  Her mother, J., continues to be thrilled with N.’s progress!

May 20, 2010

Dear Brainjogging –

Well, N. and I are back after one month of Brainjogging!  Obviously, we are back because Brainjogging has brought so many wonderful leaps for N..  It was a little emotional to walk in the first day and see N. start rocking and singing her ABCs!  Now that is a different child compared to the first day we walked into Brainjogging!  It is very emotional to realize her progress.  She first of all is singing ABCs; she can say the anticipated next letter; and I feel we are really close to having it on our own.  She can tell you her name … and that she is four.  N. has received praises from her dance teacher, who announced how great N. is doing.  N. resumed Hippotherapy after an 8 month break:  her teacher was amazed; she is a different rider, and so much more verbal!  It has been the little sentences randomly popping out that has stopped us in our tracks.  For instance, N. telling her daddy, “I want a hamburger.”  The PB & J went in the lunchbox, and N. got the hamburger.  Although, we are working on consistency, naming colors is improving.  I feel like attending and following directions has improved.  N.’s grandparents have noticed improvement in speech as well!  That is a compliment because they do not see her every day.  My mother announced, “Wow, N. is going to be just fine.”  N. has gotten good reports at school regarding participation and being vocal!

As I said before, Brainjogging at home is a big commitment with three small children, but we are getting it in, and it is just part of our day.  I think a huge change is N.’s progress with the actual Brainjogging program.  She is doing well with the letters.  I do have to monitor her eye movements closely because she will just anticipate the next letter.  Can you believe she easily recites 2 letters from letter flash?  My heart pounds to think of three, but I know we can do it!  As a mom, I’ll always worry, and I have those days where you just want everything to be “normal” with a snap, but when I realize how much N. has done and how far she has come, especially in the last month … okay, I’m tearing up now … I know she will be fine and continue to thrive.  She gives our family a great gift of being in the moment and resilience … perseverance.  N. has her moments where she isn’t into Brainjogging, but overall, she has done well with the program.  In fact, this week every am and pm, she is asking me to get the computer out.

Since we’ve been here this week – N. has memorized key words to “Suzy Q” only after hearing it once!!  What do you say to that.  She is matching numbers to cards!!  She learned the rhyming cards within an hour.  She cut her own piece of paper for the first time.  Unbelievable, N. just recited 3 letters (a few times!) on letter flash … Wow, so exciting!!  She has been attending well.  Potty training is still a goal.  N. has done well with staying dry during the day, much better!  We are emphasizing clapping and patting, N. has made progress, and we will continue working on it, as well as catching the ball.  Any fine motor activities we can incorporate, we will.

It has been a great week with more improvement!  It will be exciting to see what comes.  I have this picture that stays in my head.  N., A. [her sister], and I ran a race with W. [her brother] in the stroller.  N. ran the ½ mile perfect.  Because she had a little cough, I put her in the stroller.  As the finish line approached down a lengthy path, I asked N. if she wanted to run.  She was already coming out of the stroller.   She refused to hold my hand; she shouted, “ME!”  I was amazed she knew what the flags meant, and she ran with ALL her might.  Behind, A. and I crossed that finish line beaming!  Brainjogging is helping cross many finish lines beaming with the brightest “N. smile!”

Thank you!  J.

*As always, this parent testimonial has been reprinted without editing for content; testimonials are occasionally edited for grammar, but all changes are bracketed.