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Dianne Craft was the key note speaker at a local two day conference for educators back in July. Many had not heard of her before. Surprisingly after the first 15 minutes she had everyone mesmerized and enthusiastic, so much so that attendance had doubled the next day.
Dianne (with two N’s) holds a Master’s Degree in special education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. She has 35 years of experience working with children of all strengths; many of whom are labeled Autistic, Asberger, ADHD, ADD, OCD, behavior problems and those with sensory dysfunctions. Rather than mask the problems these children experienced with medication or excuses, she looks for viable methods of treatment to help them succeed.
Dianne discovered there was more going on in the little brains of each child she worked with. Slowly she started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Children who hate to write or read. Children who seem lazy or too tired, who refuse to sit up in their chair to do their work, those labeled difficult or lazy, and those deemed a problem child. Dianne realized that these children through no fault of their own, or their parents, lacked the normal sensory input/output that enables us to function in normal everyday routines.
When we go to tie our shoe the action is automatic. The act of tying ones shoe is a struggle and usually takes longer for someone with a sensory deficiency issue. Many times a child who appears to have great difficulty with focusing and attending to a task is really struggling with a sensory processing problem. Examples of errant signals due to sensory dysfunction would be a bothersome tag on a shirt, the line at the toe of a sock, bright sunlight, covers ears to block out noises, the inability to focus, hates to read or write, and transitions. Dianne notes that instead of learning to compensate for the before mentioned struggles we can all learn to make sensible corrections that will inadvertently open up a that particular “learning gate” thus reducing the stress.
The Four Learning Gates:
A. Visual Processing
B. Visual/Motor (Writing)
C. Auditory Processing
Dianne works with children all over the country teaching them how to correct these glitches, rather than focusing on methods of compensating. Dianne refers to a compensation as, “making learning a task easier while the correction reduces the stress in the child’s learning system so that learning can flow.” Dianne calls this “opening up the child’s learning gate.”
A child who hates to write has more going on inside his brain than we realize. While we may see defiance, Ms. Craft believes the child’s mixed eye/hand dominance inhibits their “ability to easily think and write at the same time.” The writing process is not automatic, therefore the child is forced to think about letter formation rather than the subject matter he or she is writing about. A child who struggles with writing is taught to compensate by using a keyboard, oral dictation or limiting the amount of required writing. A correction exercise would include perceptual motor skills that strengthen the essential muscles along the spine and shoulders, in addition to a daily writing exercise, as seen below in the picture. Neural-pathway exercises teach the brain how to write the letters requiring less energy.
The Dianne Craft website has available to purchase nutritional supplements (also found in local stores in most cities) and books that address sensory dysfunctions. If sensory issues and blocked learning gates are a concern begin with the book on Brain Integration Therapy. It is a step by step guide to get the those neuro-pathways running like a super highway rather than a country road with potholes. There are several edited videos to view on her website and youtube. Lesson plans with exercises in the areas of reading, math, and writing are also available.
Other children thought to have ADHD or Spectrum Disorders faired well with a change of diet. The CD “The Biology of Behavior” focuses on overcoming glitches through nutrition. The book outlines recommended changes to diet to combat the residual effects from illnesses, antibiotics and a sensitive digestive system. Research is discovering that the lack of good gut flora contributes to behavior issues and sensitivities to foods. Dianne recommends cleansing the body of yeast with a daily regiment of vitamins, omega fish oil pills, primadophilus 3 times a day, and Grapeseed extract by Nutri-biotics for the yeast and fungus. To achieve the most success Dianne’s diet can be combined with the Feingold plan and must be followed exactly.
Helping these children feel more comfortable in their skin makes home life all the more enjoyable. If you know of someone with sensory, behavioral, or spectrum disorders pass it on.
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