Marcia Washington, OTR/L, has been practicing pediatric occupational therapy for more than 10 years. She is the owner of KidSense Therapy, a sensory clinic providing occupational therapy for children birth to age 18 years in Pontotoc, Mississippi. We recently had the chance to catch up with Marcia and ask her about her experience using NeuroNet programs in her therapy practice:
NeuroNet: How are you using NeuroNet programs?
Marcia: I began using NeuroNet in 2013. At that time, I focused on using it with one patient 2-3 times a week. I saw such great benefits that I began to use it with other patients and recommended it as a home program with some families. In addition, my husband and I have two biological daughters ages 15 and 11. In 2014, we adopted a 2 year old boy from Poland. When he was 4 years old, I began using NeuroNet with him 3-4 times a week.
NN: What do you find most useful about the program?
MW: The focus on “automaticity.” No other program focuses so intently on this. I use Integrated Listening System, Handwriting Without Tears, Interactive Metronome, Yoga for Kids, Hear Builder Auditory Memory and a variety of therapeutic coordination tasks. No other program is so comprehensive and easy to begin with one child or a group of children.
NN: What gains have you seen from the program?
MW: The first patient I began using it with had a diagnosis of ADHD. He was in the 2nd grade. He had significant coordination, handwriting, attention, and balance/muscle tone delays. He enjoyed activities on the computer. He craved structure and routine. NeuroNet was just what he needed! He could not smoothly cross midline, or stand on one foot. He had poor rhythmic timing. He had to have a personal assistant with him during the school day due to impulsivity and difficulty staying on task. I have initial videos of him tripping up/down and on/off the stool and falling off the twist board used in previous programs. Now in 7th grade, he has progressed tremendously overall. He can complete Level 2 tasks to step over an item, up on the stool, and back down all while sequencing math/alphabet and keeping within 2-3 beats of the video model! Rhythmic timing and writing remain difficult however he is now writing cursive as well. He has remained in general education classes and has been without the personal assistant since 5th grade. He receives help in a resource room at the end of the day and accommodations. He is a child who could not carry on social question and answer conversations and will now spend 20 minutes telling me about things he enjoys. I strongly believe he would have been in a self-contained room at this point had he not received NeuroNet intervention. It worked his skills from bottom levels up.
NN: That is so wonderful to hear! Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
MW: I have many stories of the success I’ve seen in patients like this after using NeuroNet programs! At my pediatric sensory clinic, KidSense Therapy, we use 2 – 3 tasks per session as part of our therapy program. For example, two brothers with Autism and significant sensory issues, ages 7 and 9, receive treatment at the same time from myself and a COTA. At the beginning of treatment, they could not follow 2 – 3 step directions. Now they will now complete a NeuroNet PreK exercise “on the stool, jump down, this way, walk around” together and also with attention to directionality and body in space.
With my adopted son, NeuroNet was a key piece to his success in kindergarten. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 2017. Even before that, I had discovered significant reflex delays, poor coordination, poor handwriting, poor visual perceptual skills, and poor problem solving for day to day sequencing such as dressing, teeth brushing, etc. He has very subtle signs of Dyslexia which may never be diagnosed because we intervened so early. NeuroNet is targeting all the areas which are seen in ADHD and Dyslexia. Focused attention (not just auditory but visual as well: poor convergence/divergence and tracking, as well as, poor eye teaming), impulsivity, rhythmic coordination, bilateral coordination, balance, core tone and stability, handwriting, letter/number sequencing and processing, auditory discrimination and adaptive responses for daily challenges. I’ve also seen it work on his self-control and ability to correct mistakes without a meltdown.
NN: Yes! NeuroNet is designed to encourage self-evaluation and trial and error problem solving! Tell us more about what changes you noticed.
MW: When he began the PreK exercises, my son literally could not stare at the model on the screen for more than 30 seconds and then fell off the stool rubbing his eyes as he fell.
More about great programs: Working on muscle tone, coordination and reflex integration. One of my favorite beginning videos here! Makes me laugh although wasn’t funny at the time. Gehrig began the NeuroNet program 2 years ago. He completed all levels of the first program called PreK and is on to Program 0. (There are 4 programs total, 8 levels in each). This takes commitment, but is so adaptable. Can be done in as little as 5 min a day from your computer at home or up to 40 min. NeuroNet Learning is an excellent program for ages 2-18. We’ve used it with children we did not think would attend to it. Often our kids who have Autism love the rhythmic metronome pattern and video modeling. What I want to point out here is the vestibular/auditory/visual connection. This showed us visual issues with eye teaming Gehrig had that did not show up at just a vision check up. He could watch TV (that is fast moving pixels) but he could not focus visually on a still stimulus for longer than 30 seconds-which then creates symptoms of inattentiveness! This program coordinates it all: vision, focused attention, multi step process ceasing for cognition, body in space, rhythmic coordination, 2 side coordination, balance/core stability, auditory processing…On the video, Gehrig is repeating “Swing, pat your knees”Sounds is off this time to focus on his actions, next clip I’ll have it on.
Posted by Kidsense PA on Tuesday, January 30, 2018
I watched him build his visual attention, as well as, other areas such as learning to cross midline. He worked through reflexes which weren’t integrated when he had to be in quadruped which helps the ATNR and STNR. His Moro reflex improved as he had to balance on one foot and then the other. His Spinal Galant improved as he had to lay on his back with sequencing motor tasks.
He had a rough start to kindergarten this year. During the whole first semester, he would be given warnings daily (sometimes 4 times a day!) for talking, pushing, or impulsivity. We pushed through the semester using NeuroNet and some other exercises.
NeuroNet continued. This simple move of stepping on and off the stool can be a higher challenge then we realize for many kids. Core balance and stability is key and so many kids struggle with this. He is balancing, stepping in rhythm, keeping left and right separate, clapping and saying “shoe, 1, clap clap, shoe, 2, clap clap..”NeuroNet does a great job working on right/left without saying it. The child wears a shoe only on one foot to feel the surface difference and differentiate which foot leads each time. This can be hard if you have not established a dominant hand or foot. You have to think about each step, which can throw balance off. Try this with a child: stepping up and down with the same foot on and off a stool while counting to 10 in rhythm while clapping. More to it than it looks! These are called “Adaptive responses”
Posted by Kidsense PA on Thursday, February 1, 2018
Now this semester, we are making it an entire week without one warning! That is huge for him! He’s learning self-control and how to function in a busy environment. He’s reading and spelling on a 1st grade level. And his writing has progressed from a preschool level to a Kindergarten level with letters formed consistently and neatly. I’m so thankful for the guidance of NeuroNet for our patients, and for my son!