Neck and Above

A Mis-Firing Trigeminal Nerve System

Understanding the Trigeminal Nerve system (Wikipedia) helps to explain sensory battlefields in our children.

Especially when you realize how much sensory activity there is in the neck and above.

Another link to help you understand the body’s wiring.

Until this nerve system is “integrated”, your child will have issues of oral defensiveness.

Building new, stronger neural pathways is the only path to success.

So, expect greater adventures in hair cuts, brushing teeth (flossing—ha!), dental checkups, and eating a variety of foods.

How can you help your child make progress?

Here are some of the ways we are building this sensory peace.

Haircuts:  Does your child hate hair cuts?

For years, I have wrestled John during haircuts, trying any tool and distraction.

It was always never fun.

Then one day, I was forced to take John into the hair salon with me.

He watched what was happening to me.  When I asked him if he “wanted to try this?“, he said “yes”.

Here are two photos of that unexpected gift from the angels (Ms. Monica and Ms. Dell).

Now, he gets to choose a store-bought hair cut or one at home.

Either way, he looks less shaggy.

Loud Noises:  Your child can learn to accept noise terror:



Dental Checkups (this link to growing natural curiosity in the face of sensory overload):

In the blurry photo of John in the blue shirt, you can see what our current pediatric dentistry practice uses:

Sunglasses, headphones, slow and easy approach.

John still comes out of his skin, nearly.

But at least we aren’t holding him down.

I helped hold him down once, age 3, and it took several of us.

We don’t go to that dentistry practice anymore.

Brushing Teeth:   The motor planning can be also be a challenge.

Sometimes it’s a battle to even hold still long enough to check his work.

Or to help him get them brushed when you are running out of time.

Birthday Candles:   Help your child with breath control, learning how to enjoy a birthday cake.

Breathing In and Out:   This process happens automatically when he isn’t aware.

But ask him to do it purposely, and he couldn’t.

Until we trained for it.

Swallowing PillsStarting small.

Working bigger.

New Foods:  Here is John’s first voluntary spoon of oatmeal.

He now really likes it.

But, I made him put it in his mouth for the first few bites.

Of course, he didn’t want to.  So, “we’ll just stand here until you do it.

Maybe these ideas can help in your house.

Peace be with us,


Value of Music. Choir for the Previously Non-Verbal.

Therapy is Where You Make It.

We have talked before about piano dexterity and piano games.

We also added percussion over the summer.

Ms. Melanie, our music teacher, devised unique ways to teach John proper form:

where to stand (duct tape on the floor),

where to put the drum stand (more duct tape),

how to hold the drum sticks (tape again, for fingers 1 & 2),

where to position the “piece of pizza” (basket & the little red hearts for Left & Right),


counting out the beats with and without a metronome.

She even made the little

stand-up cards of music.

Percussion doesn’t use the grand staff, but does count notes and rests.

All this is in

preparation for trying out for band.

What about singing?

John now shows up twice a week, before school, for Mixed Choir.

An adventure for someone with lagging expressive language.

For many years, John didn’t have out-loud sentences.

Now we do, and yet still lagging (so far, so far) behind, compared to his neuro-typical peers.

So, quite humorous that John is showing up for choir at school now.

I drive through, he jumps out of the car, and is off on his own,

following the flow of peers to the Choir Room, 7:45am.


Then he gets to (the right) class on time for morning announcements.

This Choir idea started last year when I heard John singing Christmas songs with his buddies at the restaurant table.

So, at the next opportunity, a new intervention for expressive speech:  Choir.

I have paid $15 for a shirt.

$15 for a year?

Do you know how much speech interventions cost?

The bargain of the century!

Moving on to another intervention that is “free”, but will be harder than you think:


Always talking about patience, aren’t we?

The patience to just watch, when our kids are having a manipulative hissy-fit?

Randomly frequent.

And with a quick grin on his face.

(He’s just checking my boundaries, and if I still love him enough to hold them.)

So that you don’t think this happens only at your house,

the first response out of John’s mouth to anything is usually “NO!”

(That’s the pervasive developmental delays talking.)

My job at that moment is to have no response.  No increase in blood pressure.  No re-negotiation.

Maybe this gives you some ideas for music for your child.

It’s OK we have tape all over the floor.

It is there for the “moving from Middle C to E” game.

You can see the feet move from tape to tape.

Anything for teachable moments.

Peace be with us,


Talk While We Walk (Maybe Even Vitamins and Breakfast)

First Work, Then Announcements

Does your child understand the passing of time?

What it means to meet a deadline?

I am not so sure John does truly understand time,

but he sure is motivated when I say, “I hope we don’t miss the bus!”

So we are working on comprehending time in several ways.

When I communicate “4 minutes” (holding up 4 fingers), he knows that is 4 real minutes before something is going to change.

Same story for 7 or any other number.  Real clock minutes.

We also compare phone or clock time (both analog and digital) to the computer clock time.

(Look in the bottom right corner of the computer screen—-kids see it constantly.)

In the morning, we set an alarm for “time-to-stop-breakfast-and-get-ready-to-go”.

Another concept to master:  how about time to listen v. keep talking?

So, when it is appropriate, I say, “My turn!”, and make John be silent.

Sometimes, I take my sweet time before I use my turn.

Everything is about creating self-control.

He likes to say, “I have an announcement!”, but not always at appropriate times.

Like if we are trying to get out the door on time, and his need to proclaim is more a stim than a real-time shared communication.

I tell him we get our work done first, then announcements.

Something to engage in as we walk to the bus, or drive away in the car onto the next adventure.

There is another thing John stalls on:  eating his breakfast and taking his vitamins.

Granted, there are a lot of vitamins to swallow, and some taste icky (my opinion).

Any of you doing bio-med nutritional (methylation) interventions know about this.

Nonetheless, John’s methylation is working.

His immune system is a huge battlefield, and we are absolutely going in the right direction.

This morning, on our walk to the bus stop, he got to finish something he hadn’t started yet.



This morning was all about lollygagging (including his too-loud-voice), testing Mom’s boundaries.

I have learned to remove the audience whenever possible.

So, the breakfast-is-over alarm went off, and we walked out the door to the bus stop.

Yes, I am carrying breakfast and vitamins and a cup.

And, yes, he gets to chew and swallow as we walk.

And he is always proud of himself when it’s over.

I really try not to nag—-to say instead, “be proud of yourself”.

And he is.

I hope this helps in your house.

Peace be with us,