Epigenetics and Attitude- Using the Power In the past , it was assumed our genes were inherited and could not be changed. In recent years and fortunately for me before JB was born, scientists have discovered that genes are in fact changeable dependent on environmental influences. So what kinds of things change our genes? Firstly, nutrition which many of us by now are aware of. In addition though and equally important are our actions, thoughts, our unconscious beliefs, our emotions, perceptions, exercise, toxins, daylight, sunlight and attitudes! What does this mean for us and our children; born and unborn? It means we are the drivers, we have the power and control over our health in every way: mental, emotional, physical, cognitive. All this of course also gives us greater responsibilities over our total being and that of our loved ones. I started to read on the subject when I was pregnant with JB. Thus I began to practice daily manageable activities that would influence his genes and give him a greater headstart in life and for the rest of it. So, this is how it works: if you play a musical instrument during pregnancy, your child's musical genes will be expressed and have a natural inclination for music. If you deeply engage and study the concept of speed and velocity, dance, design or lay around and do nothing much, those genes will be expressed in your baby.
  • Moving - I began to exercise more. I had practiced yoga for around 11 years and this was a natural continuation for me although learning new postures for my condition was a refreshing experience. I joined a yoga for 'mums to be' class and found it wonderfully nourishing both emotionally and physically. In addition, I began to set time aside every day to walk. 40 minutes and sometimes more. I knew this would influence JB by expressing those genes and therefore help make him physically active, further enhancing his lifetime emotional, mental and physical health.
 
  • Language - I read daily to JB out loud. I talked to him, sang rhymes and read stories and scriptures. JB's daddy also spoke to him daily. After JB was born, I extended his language and learning potential by exposing him to his own voice. Something I knew would be effective and enhance his language as I'd used the A.R.R.O.W. Programme in the past and had seen the effects. Also Dr. Lane's research into the self-voice demontrates this. In his book; Self-Voice A Major Rethink, Dr Lane states, 'Whilst any one of the A.R.R.O.W. components may be stressed at any particular time, it is the student's own voice, the self-voice, which remains central to the approach.' Many other researchers have demontrated that when a baby hears its own voice, whether gurgling or crying, the baby becomes more vocal.
  • Music - I played my favourite music which is classical. My particular favourites during my pregnancy included Chopin, Mozart and my all time soundtrack love; Pride and Prejudice. After JB was born, he noticeably recognised the music especially form the soundtrack and the pieces seemed to calm and soothe him. To this day, JB is instantly calmed when I play any of these pieces of music to him.
  • Attitude - With hormones rushing around during the initial stages of pregnancy, this was quite a struggle. I did though consciously try to stay positive and calm and cheerful. I continued to work part time and took ample rest as well as the exercise. I tried to keep my days peaceful and balanced.
  • Diet - As descibed in my previous blog, I consumed food that was high in nutrients and fibre with plenty of water. Research on epigenetics in 2009 showed that rat fetuses who received poor nutrition had as a result adapted genes primed for poor nutrition. The results included smaller sized rats at birth and high risk of obesity, diabetes, neurodevelopmental delays and cardiovascular disease.
  • Deep breathing - The brain needs oxygen. The more clean air we get into our brains, the better they will function. During exercise, and also yoga, this happens naturally. I did however set aside a few extra minutes each day to breathe deeply, so that the oxygen would help to nourish and enrich JB's system.
This information is obviously not only usedful for babies with Trisomy 21 or any other condition, but for all babies, all children, all parents everywhere! IMG_6060a Acting on epigenetics will make a huge difference for the future generations and significantly help provide a promising future. We all have the freedom and choice to express our genes throughout our lives. Effective therapies can regulate our genetic expression, be it emotional, physical or cognitive. As such, we continue to create a favourable environment for JB to be at his optimum as much as we possibly and comfortably can. Having healthy family relationships and expressing love and support to our children in addition to the other environmental influences will give him the platform he needs to continue to thrive and have a promising future. Thanks for reading. Tune in to my next blog on schooling! It's been a great learning experience so far! Cornelia x    
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Down’s Syndrome – What’s worked for my Little Man…

I am now going to fast forward in time from my last blog….. 7 years forward; the birth of my son who has Down’s Syndrome or Trisomy 21 as I prefer to call it. There is so much to share and so I will break it down to a few key areas during my next few blogs:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Epigenetics and Attitude – The Power
  • Schooling
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech
  • Emotions
  • Cognition including Attention
  • Waking up His Brain
  • Books, Publications and Blogs

 

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Diet and Nutrition…….

I have decided to start with diet and nutrition because this is what I focused on primarily before he was born.

My own diet was clean. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables many of which were organic balanced with proteins, carbs and plenty of water. This was my fourth and very different pregnancy. We didn’t actually know he would have special needs, I just wanted the best for my baby based on what I had learned during my 14 years since my last child was born.

I included smoothies daily containing brewers yeast, wheatgrass and sunflower seeds. I also had the DHA plus pregnancy supplements.

When J.B was born, 5 weeks early at 5lb 11 oz all seemed well. A paediatrician commented on how well he looked and asked if I took vitamin supplements during pregnancy! I  continued my nutrient packed diet to keep my milk as nourishing as possible. Then at 3 months it was clear that all was not so well. J.B suffered heart failure and was losing weight drastically. He needed immediate surgery and so I flew from the Caribbean where there were no paediatric heart surgeons to the UK. A week later he was on the operating table and by then also being fed formula milk. We continued with the formula post surgery in addition to my breast milk, weight gain was serious business at this stage.

Before we knew it, he was six months old and happily chubby. JB started his own food. In addition to his first foods which included paw paw, sweet potato, pumpkin and yam, he started to drink green smoothies which he loved!  However, at 11 months, it was apparent that JB became congested every time he drank formula milk, he also became overactive. After reviewing the milk benefits and realising that there was sugar added as well as other questionable ingredients, I stopped the formula and continued to breast feed which then increased my supply and I continued to breast feed until he was 26 months old. I wished I had done this earlier:(

 

Eventually I discovered that JB’s digestion was not working well enough to digest chicken or fish and he also had a bad reaction to eggs. So JB became a vegan!

Since then I have introduced him to Nutrivene D supplements, zinc, magnesium, calcium, omega 3 and high protein foods including beans and brown rice, quinoa and raw organic vegetables, especially broccoli which he loved from the start.

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Of late, (he is now 4 years), to further increase his protein intake (on the advice of Robin Pauc), I have reintroduced fish and chicken, he now can digest both easily and he is also eating eggs successfully.

So this is what JB eats. I want to let you know what he doesn’t eat. JB does not eat anything containing wheat, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial colour, heated oils other than coconut oil, or dairy products. His diet is clean and all meals are cooked from scratch. The majority of his foods are organic.

JB is physically active, alert, fast, responsive, well built, strong and lean. He is also mentally alert, fast, responsive, observant, keen to learn and has a great sense of humour!

Ensuring this super balanced diet is achieved daily takes planning and practice and it has taken me a while to get it right. I am still learning  and still tweaking. I prepare meals in advance when possible to allow more time with JB, and plan weekly menus to avoid the ‘what shall I cook tonight?’ syndrome. I keep it simple and manageable and it works.

In a nutshell, this is JB’s diet…and mine. I practice what I preach and I have been able to keep up with this ever energetic and growing boy by keeping my own health a priority.

If you would like to know more about our food and meal-planning, let me know. I will get some simple recipes to you…. meanwhile watch this space for my next blog on epigenetics and attitude… our state of mind and the power behind them!

Thanks for reading,

Cornelia x

 

 

 

The Boy from Barataria

The late afternoon I drove to the Primary School in North Trinidad in the area of Barataria, I remember three things; the classroom was stiflingly hot and humid, it was cramped and there were no more that a dozen parents present including a friend.

My brief was to tell them about dyslexia and the specialised programme I was beginning to use.

This was a first for me in many ways; the first school I was presenting to, the first client I was to work with , and unwittingly, this was to be my first big lesson on how the brain works!

I had previously worked with nine students who completed the programme and immediately improved in many and incredible ways not only with their literacy skills but with confidence, listening skills and handwriting. I was therefore confident that my new client would smoothly follow suit.

Isaiah promptly arrived with his father at my office in Port of Spain, and I began the process. Reading test. Spelling test. He was a small built child approaching his 7th year and had particular difficulties with phonics. And so for the next few weeks, this was the main emphasis of his programme material, using his own voice and multi-sensory techniques repeatedly.

I was confident that Isaiah would do extremely well as he was focused and followed the instructions well. I carried out his final tests and was DEVASTATED to discover that his improvements were at best minimal! He had hardly shifted. His father had reported similar findings from his home and school work, “NO!”

How could this be possible? what did I do wrong? Why did this not work?

Being a most gracious person, Isaiah’s father expressed gratitude for my efforts and reverently left hand in hand with his child.

I could hardly sleep for days, I discussed this with my husband, what should I do? Finally and not many days after, I decided that I would offer another complimentary programme for Isaiah. The moments that followed were filled with the first big lesson on the brain. As I was aplogising and offering another programme to Isaiah’s father on the phone, I heard him laugh and to my complete surprise he rejected the offer and began to explain how Isaiah had suddenly started to read, he no longer had a phonics problem, his confidence grew and he was totally elated. “Thank you, but he wont need another programme”.

As I put the phone dawn, I just stood staring, agape as I tried to work out how this happened. Relieved but bewildered.

Basically it had taken a little longer for Isaiah’s brain to process the learning that had taken place during the programme. It reminded me of when my daughter’s years of learning had suddenly unlocked and manifested itself, and since have realised this is what happens if there is sufficient and efficient input from the early years. In Isaiah’s case the unlocking process was delayed, and the reasons could be numerous, but information has to travel around the brain until it finally gets processed into long term memory.

I must add that this has been the only time that a student on the programme has displayed this delayed learning tendency in my years of using the programme.

Finally I would like to thank Dr. Colin Lane for developing such a life changing programme and giving me the privilege of using it. A.R.R.O.W. was to be a big part of my life during the next ten years in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

 

Behind Waking up the Children

If you have responsibilities as a parent or teacher for a child or children with learning difficulties, no matter how mild or extreme and you struggle with giving them the actual learning that they need and you’re on a budget, you’ve come to the right place. My years spent in the Caribbean have given me much to share.

Waking up the Children is all about waking up the brain. Some practices may make slight brain changes, whereas others will impact and fire neurons extensively causing visible and profound developments in the child or adult using them.

Having obsessively researched techniques, strategies and programmes that claim to do this, I have been able to try many of these myself and have seen the benefits or pitfalls with my own children and those I have worked with over the years. In doing so, I have sifted out the expensive, time consuming, exhausting and unnecessary and I am going to write and share everyday practices and programmes encapsulated in the stories and the events that took place on the Island of Trinidad. You will find that we can use these in a relaxed family or school setting.

I was born in London and at 35 moved to the Caribbean with my husband and three children. Having previously studied and worked in the Early Years, obtained a BSc in Education and Social Science, and for a while was child-minding while running a playgroup with events that go with that, I also trained as a tutor in a specialised programme that uses many brain waking techniques including multi-sensory and the learners own voice; A.R.R.O.W.

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I spent eleven years in Trinidad and Tobago using my knowledge (which was still growing daily), skills and training working closely with schools and parents and watching many (although not all) children’s (and adults) brains wake up. Children who had reading deficits of two, three, four and more years, poor self-esteem, poor concentration, poor speech, behaviour challenges, children with complex needs such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Trisomy 21… the list goes on.

Since returning to the U.K. in 2015, and now a mother of four, with my own young child who has Trisomy 21, I realise how these experiences are unique and worth sharing. The value of parents and teachers are priceless in bringing about the change that the children in need are desperately waiting for us to deliver.

I know together we can and will wake up more and more brains and provide that promising future deserved by all.

I’m  looking forward to this journey with you as we continue to learn and wake up.

Cornelia Bonterre