1. Who benefits from participating in the Brain Highways classes?
Everyone. Years ago, we used to think that only people who were interested in losing weight needed to participate in physical exercise. Today, we no longer believe that. With that same perspective, movement and activities that enhance whole brain integration are good for everyone.
2. What if my child crawled as a baby? Would he still benefit from participating in the program?
The key question is whether the baby crawled in a way that developed the midbrain. For example, if a child did not turn off certain primitive reflexes during the first year of life and/or did not spend enough time creeping on his belly, then the way he crawled was likely affected. So, yes, the child may have moved on his hands and knees, but he may have positioned himself in a way that compensated for prior incomplete development. If so, the altered position then did not allow the child to gain the full benefits of crawling. The other key question is: Did the child crawl long enough to complete development?
3. What is the short-term goal of the Brain Highways program?
Until the lower centers of the brain are fully developed, parents and kids learn effective ways to help the brain compensate. In doing so, participants are able to pay better attention, complete work, and cooperate—even though the pons and midbrain are not yet fully developed.
4. What is the long-term goal of the Brain Highways program?
The long-term program goal is for parents and kids to gain automatic brain functions by integrating retained primitive reflexes and finishing the lower brain development. That way, the cortex is no longer preoccupied with trying to compensate, and participants are now able to consistently show their true potential. The long-term goal is to also shift from functioning with a brain in survival mode to one that’s thriving.
5. What is the minimum time requirement for the daily physical brain work?
Participants are required to do 30 minutes a day in the pons class. This requirement reflects the minimum amount of time that ensures participants experience results sooner than later.
6. What if participants do not do the required daily physical brain work or complete class assignments?
Both parents and kids are held accountable for doing the daily brain work, and parents are also held accountable for doing additional course assignments. (As a heads up: There’s no way to “cheat” when building highways. We can quickly tell when people have not spent the minimum time on the floor or have not reviewed materials prior to completing an assignment.) However, the curriculum suggests many ways to do the physical brain work component while simultaneously engaged in homework and other activities, and the course materials can be viewed on mobile devices (so participants are not limited to reviewing the materials just at home).
7. How much time does the average participant spend doing the brain organization work before the development is complete?
The average participant requires 150-300 hours—but that includes time to develop both the pons and midbrain. However, most participants observe some kind of notable change within the first 10-15 hours of doing the work. Note that we only keep track of the time participants are actually doing the brain work each day. If we kept track of the chronological time (e.g. days, months) that kids have been in the program, that would incorrectly imply that participants are doing the brain work 24 hours a day.
8. Do participants have to enroll in both the pons and midbrain courses?
When participants first enroll, they can only sign up for the pons class. They sign up for the midbrain class—if they choose to do so—only after they’ve completed the pons course.
9. Do participants have to do the pons and midbrain sessions back-to-back?
No. After completing the pons class, participants can opt to skip a session before enrolling in the midbrain class. In such cases, participants do not lose whatever was achieved during the pons class. However, they do not gain the midbrain functions until that part of the brain also becomes developed. Note that most participants do not take a break. Parents often state that they’d rather put something else on hold than stop the brain development—especially since they’ve already seen notable changes with their child’s participation in the pons class.
10. Are participants done with the program after they complete the midbrain class?
There aren’t any additional lower brain development classes after the midbrain course. However, while participants are done with the curriculum of both the pons and midbrain classes at that point in time, they’re not likely done with the overall brain development. That’s because participants will have clocked about 80 hours by the end of the midbrain course, and the average person needs between 150-300 hours to finish the entire lower brain development. Yet, families now know how to confidently continue on their own, recalling that the primary goal of the courses is to teach parents how to become independent facilitators of their child’s brain organization.
11. How do participants know when they are done with the brain organization?
We teach parents what the final, evolved creeping and crawling movements looks like (so they know what to observe). Participants must also demonstrate that they are now using their new highways in daily life.
12. Once the lower brain development is complete, do participants have to do maintenance work?
No. When the primitive reflexes are integrated and the lower centers of the brain are developed, the person is truly done. There is no need to do any further work. (Woo-hoo!)
13. Can a child do therapies and other programs at the same time he is participating in Brain Highways?
Yes. It makes no difference if a child is involved in other therapies or programs while doing Brain Highways. Our only cautionary note is to remind parents that kids need to have some free, unscheduled time in their day.
14. Is Brain Highways similar to occupational therapy?
In the Brain Highways program, we do include vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli—and that’s often also a focus of many occupational therapy sessions. However, Brain Highways is not therapy. We’re a hands-on, educational program that offers a multimedia curriculum to teach both parents and kids how the brain works and how to enhance their potential.
15. Why is it common for OT therapists to exit a child soon after he has enrolled in Brain Highways?
We do frequently hear that a child who has gone to occupational therapy for years—is now told that he no longer needs such services. Here’s why this may happen.
In order for the brain to function as intended, we need to go back to the point of development where we originally got “off track.” So, it’s been our experience that many people first need to integrate retained primitive reflexes and develop their pons and midbrain before engaging in other ways to help the brain. That means if kids have retained primitive reflexes and an underdeveloped pons and midbrain, we’d start there, noting that such kids will also likely have sensory issues and problems with motor skills as a result of that underdevelopment. And so, when these kids finish that lower brain development, well, now they no longer have the same problems that qualified them for occupational therapy in the first place.
16. How does vision therapy differ from Brain Highways?
In the Brain Highways program, vision skills are acquired naturally by integrating primitive reflexes and developing the pons and midbrain. In contrast, vision therapy is more of a cortex-based approach since functions are acquired by conscious, repeated practice of a targeted vision skill. Also, while some vision therapy programs may incorporate balance activities and a few primitive reflex movements, vision exercises are the primary focus of such therapy. In contrast, the Brain Highways curriculum offers just a few vision activities, and these are more of an option than a requirement. Again, it’s our experience that it’s possible for many people to acquire numerous vision skills naturally once they integrate retained primitive reflexes and develop the lower centers of their brain.
17. How does Brain Highways differ from other programs that focus on neuroplasticity?
Most therapies and programs are cortex-based. For example, some programs focus on strengthening a determined “weak” area of the left or right brain hemisphere by having children engage in repeated practice of a specific drill or activity. Such programs infer that the cortex needs some kind of assistance.
In contrast, the Brain Highways program makes no assumption about the cortex until the foundation is in place (i.e. primitive reflexes are integrated and the lower centers of the brain are fully developed). It is our experience that kids with a cluster of retained primitive reflexes and a significantly underdeveloped pons and midbrain are too preoccupied with survival to make notable gains in cortex-base programs. In such case it’s often like trying to patch cracks in the wall when the entire foundation is not yet stable.
We’re also unique in that our curriculum also addresses the “downside” of neuroplasticity. The truth is . . . we’ve already created neural networks in our brain that aren’t always helpful (e.g. yelling, glaring, whining, etc). However, we weren’t “born” with such highways. But that’s the downside of neuroplasticity. If we keep repeating a behavior, we will change our brain so that such highways have now become automatic responses. Yet, it’s possible to “de-activate” those highways—and learning how to do so is part of our course.
The Brain Highways program is additionally unique in that we focus on teaching kids of all ages how the brain actually works and then how to apply that information to their lives. We also teach the parents numerous creative techniques that truly result in positive interactions with their children. In fact, many of our prior child participants were “kicked out” of other neurological programs because their parents were left on their own to help their son or daughter comply (and weren’t able to do so). But these very same kids then fared well in our program.
Last, Brain Highways never charges for a lower brain assessment, and parents organize their own brain—for no extra charge—right alongside their child. Most other program charge for assessments, and we’re the only program (to our knowledge) that also gives parents a chance to organize their own brain without paying any more money. And while brain programs do vary in cost, most programs typically cost anywhere from five to twenty times more than what we charge.
18. Can a child be on medication while doing the Brain Highways program?
Yes. It makes no difference if a child is on medication (or if a family chooses not to medicate). Neither scenario interferes with developing the lower centers of the brain or improving sensory processing.
19. Do children go off medication after completing the Brain Highways program?
Yes. Many families report that their children were able to reduce and/or go completely off prior medications after completing the Brain Highways program. However, in all cases, such decisions were solely made by the family and their doctor. As a purely educational program, the Brain Highways staff is never involved in such decisions.
20. How do parents explain to a child why he’d be participating in the Brain Highways program?
This is the most simple, accurate answer: Everyone (including the parents) would prefer that his or her brain works most efficiently. Parents can also explain that the child is way smarter than everyone knows and is working harder than he should. If the child thinks “everything is just fine,” parents can also share (and it’s all true) that past Brain Highways participants have included doctors, neuroscientists, teachers, lawyers, dentists, journalists, and more. And, of course, the parent shares that she will also be organizing her own brain!
21. Is it possible to talk by phone to Brain Highways staff about my child before enrolling?
Since we deal with such a large volume of people each session—and our participants are from all over the world—it’s not feasible to do individual phone calls (the time changes alone would make this very challenging). However, we always respond to any individual concerns or questions sent via email.
22. Is it possible to talk to prior participants before enrolling?
We also do not directly connect prior participants to those interested in the program for several reasons. First, our experience is that such interactions usually don’t end up offering the kind of assurance people are seeking unless the contacted person’s child is the same gender and age, has the same diagnosis, and so on. But we do have results galleries that are filled with entries from both kids and adults—who give their first and last names, a photo of themselves, and tell their story—in the Family Section of this site. Collectively, these people share many, many ways that brain organization has helped them.
23. What is needed to view the course’s multimedia materials?
24. What kind of technical support does Brain Highways provide?
We can't solve a technical problem if it's not one we created (e.g. it's a compatibility problem unique to a version of a particular brand of computers). So, our tech support is limited to helping people set up accounts, process online payments, and suggest links to Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader (or to possible alternate browsers) if such programs are not already on the computer.