Testimonial: "A Life Full of Joy, Pleasure, Achievement, and Success."

 

by Fernand & Sandy Morgan

February 6, 1999

Our son Paul entered Dr. Zelazo's program sometime in March 1997. At the time Paul was 3 years and 2 months old. From a physical point of view, he seemed no different than other children his age. From a language and behavioral perspective, however, he was quite unlike his peers. Paul did not speak—not even a simple mama or papa. Four months prior to entering the program Paul did not even babble in baby-talk.

From the very beginning, we could not help but notice that Paul was different than his other two siblings. At first, he did not give us any trouble; he seemed to be a "golden baby". He was a sedate baby. He did not make noise, he did not cry. He would only cry when he was hungry. Paul smiled for the first time at approximately 6 months of age, as opposed to his brothers who were smiling much earlier in response to our "cooing". Paul's behaviour was always very different from our other two children. He had an aversion to strangers. When people would come over to our house, he would either ignore them completely, acknowledging their presence a long time into the visit, or he would cry, scream, rant and rave to no end. We also noted an aggressive disposition, perhaps as a result of sheer frustration, due to his inability to communicate verbally with us. Paul would let out ear-piercing screams without any advance notice and go through so called "temper tantrums". These "temper tantrums" would last only a few seconds but would take place numerous times during each day. No matter how much we would admonish him, he would continue in the same destructive manner.

Paul would not listen to us; it was as though he could not hear us. We would tell him "No" for instance and he would continue doing whatever it was he was doing. Paul originally (before the age of one), seemed locked within himself. His motor skills also seemed different from those of other children his age. He did not creep or crawl on the floor. His favorite physical activity consisted in placing his head face down in his crib or in the playpen, feet locked firmly on the mat, stomach raised, so as to rock back and forth for hours on end. If we would try to stop him, he would get extremely upset and become aggressive. As soon as he was old enough to sit in a sofa chair, he would take pleasure in continuously hitting the back of his head onto the back rest of the sofa chair. At age two, he had the disturbing habit of hitting his forehead against the wall. No doubt the activity caused him considerable pain; he would whimper and almost cry. Surprisingly, however, he would hit his head again and again, the pain notwithstanding.

The startle reflex seemed non existent in our son while he was awake. He would not get startled when we would turn the vacuum on, or if anything else that made a lot of noise. Once, to test if he was deaf, we snuck up behind him and dropped a volume of the encyclopedia Britannica on the floor. Paul continued to play as if nothing had happened. He was totally unfazed. It is noteworthy to say however, that at night, while he'd be asleep, Paul would get startled at the slightest noise. It was only during his waking hours that he seemed unaware of the noise level around him. It was then that we decided to have his hearing tested. Needless to say the auditory test turned out negative, Paul has nothing wrong with his hearing.
As soon as he was able to walk on his own, at 18 months, he would enjoy spinning round and round for a long, long time. What he would actually do was look at his shadow on the floor, which was usually at a 120 degree angle from his side. He would then cross both eyes, focus on his shadow, and spin round and round, hundreds of times without seeming to get dizzy. Paul's disconcerting habit of crossing his eyes would take place even when he would not be spinning. Something else Paul liked to do was watch still life on the television, such as the real estate channel, or different television pattern, as well as "snow" on the non-existing channels.
We tried in vain to teach him language, we would repeat the same word several times in hope that he would mimic us, but he would not. Surprisingly enough, although he could not talk Paul was able to read some words. It was almost impossible to take Paul out with us. He wanted us to always follow the same directions (we had taken previously) when we would be going somewhere and he also wanted to always sit in exactly the same place he sat previously when we would go out to restaurants. Failure to do so would result in extreme temper tantrums. Obviously we could not guarantee same place seating as well as consistency in our every day activities. We ended up isolating ourselves from our friends and we avoided going any place with him. As his behaviour deteriorated, it put a stress on our whole family. Our life became a living hell. It was at this moment that Paul was accepted in Dr. Zelazo's program, and not a moment too soon.

Dr. Zelazo used the Zelazo, Information Processing Procedure (Zelazo IPP™) to evaluate Paul's visual and auditory information. Paul's responses to the information processing events reflected age-appropriate ability implying normal intelligence. Conventional normative testing however, revealed a different profile, indicating that Paul was a child with low average intelligence.

After discussion with Dr. Zelazo as to how to go about the parent implemented therapy program, we decided to participate hoping we would get the results we were waiting for. The program was relatively easy to follow. The focus of the therapy was to first produce compliance with actions and later with words, and to finally encourage spontaneous expressive language by asking questions and requiring generalization within the natural home context. Both my husband and I participated actively in the therapy. My husband took 6 months leave of absence so he could constantly be with Paul, since Paul seemed to interact better with him rather than me. Things started falling into place for us at a slow but steady pace. Paul's tantrums started to diminish a little bit at a time. We were able to start venturing out as a family again. We felt more in control of our lives and less stressed. Six months into the therapy, I remember my husband asking me "How were we able to survive before?" The nightmare seemed to be going away. Our other children were also aware of Paul's improvement. They no longer had to dread being with him, expecting him to behave aggressively towards them. As a whole, our family was no longer falling apart at the seams.

Paul's one year follow-up assessment by Dr. Zelazo revealed that he functioned at a normal rate of development. Paul also achieved a normal intelligence score on the Griffiths Developmental Scales. His progress had been so sharp, that Dr. Zelazo told us there was room for improvement. He suggested we continue with the therapy for a few more months so as not to curtail his improvement.

When Paul was reevaluated after 16 months of therapy, the results revealed age appropriate or higher functioning on all formal measures of development. Dr. Zelazo recommended to us to further increase our expectations for Paul's development. He also recommended that it would be appropriate to enroll Paul in a Kindergarten with normally developing children.

Our fears have finally come to rest. My husband and I are no longer plagued by constant fear and anxiety with regards to Paul and the future. We no longer have visions of Paul being sent away to an institution by men in white coats, so as to prevent him from harming himself or others around him for that matter. Gone are the images of long sterile corridors where patients sit endlessly in their cells lost inside themselves, with no hope for the future. We actually dare to hope that Paul will perhaps lead a full and productive life—A life full of joy, pleasure, achievement and success, hopefully with as few disappointments and regrets as possible.
We are grateful to have been able to participate in Dr. Zelazo's program. Use of Dr. Zelazo's Information Processing Procedures correctly evaluated Paul's attention to visual and auditory information at a period of his life where speech was practically non-existent (conventional measures of development rely on speech and gross motor performance instead). By encouraging compliance, we were able to totally eradicate all spinning, rocking as well as any other non-appropriate behavior in our son. It is no longer dreadful to try and be with Paul. We are now able to focus on teaching Paul new and challenging things everyday. We have not let up however. Until Paul goes to Kindergarten and is able to be totally independent and functional on his own, my husband and I will continue to maintain the contingencies established for him by Dr. Zelazo's program.

Sandy & Fernand Morgan
Parents