“Some have said that the single most common disorder seen by child psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists is the ‘attentional deficit syndrome with learning disorders’ or ‘minimal cerebral dysfunction,’ as it is also called,” said Michael E. Cohen, M.D.. Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatricts at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine.
“Typically, youngsters with this syndrome are boys who are believed to have a dysfunction in motor activity. Coordination, attention, cognitive function, impulse control, interpersonal relationships, and responsiveness to social influences.” Dr. Cohen clarified. He agreed that the symptoms may arise from genetic variations, bio-chemical irregularities, perinatal brain insults or other illnesses or injuries sustained during the years which are critical for the development and maturation of the central nervous system, or from unknown causes.
He also observed that the various specialists who see the child focus on the syndrome from the particular point of view of their own specialty, so that the orthodox child psychiatrist may see it as indicative of a seriously disturbed child, the orthomolecular psychiatrist may see it as a nutritional deficiency, and the allergist may suspect that an environmental toxin or food additive is the basis for the problem. The pharmacologist, neurophysiologist, and to some extent the neurologist, Dr. Cohen added, view this as “an organic syndrome resulting from abnormal balance or neurotransmitter function.”
The result is that there have been many different approaches developed for treatment of the child who is learning disabled. The treatment varies with the specialty training of the individual doctor the parents consult, and if one medical discipline fails to confront the problem adequately another is tried. This is what causes parents to shunt their learning disabled children from doctor to doctor, spending thousands of dollars in the process.
Not only do the children get experimented on treatment by trial and error – but many physicians in the business of treating the mind and emotions don’t I want anything to do with hyperactive and learning disabled patients. For example, R. Glen Green, M.D.. An orthomolecular physician in general practice for thirty-one years in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, said at the Second Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Children with Learning Disabilities:” When I went to medical school, hyperactivity was a rare disease. Certainly teachers feel and know there is an increase; the real question is why. We do not recognize or accept anything, unless it is within the realm of our own experience. Many doctors do not want to be involved with these children.
They pass off the child and the parents by saying, ‘Oh, he’s just a real boy, he’ll grow out of it.'”
Therefore, while many procedures to correct learning disabilities exist, in this book we will discuss the one method that involves itself with coordination correction through exercise – especially the method of *reboundology.
Alfhild Akselsen, Ph.D. has developed a series of tests and movement activities to aid youngsters with coordination problems and learning disabilities. The tests show a child’s lack of rhythm, his problem with timing, strength or agility, or the more serious difficulties associated with brain damage. Dr. Akselsen’s investigation in the learning disabled field has allowed her to slowly and painstakingly develop some muscle control movements to overcome those various coordination problems. They definitely include the application of re-bounding aerobics, with special emphasis on the use of a rebound device having a double suspension system. Rebounding supplies corrective exercises for slow learners and retarded children, alike.
“Rebounding should start in nursery school,” said Dr. Akselsen. “I see mind/body improvement occur throughout the growth period of the human organism. When I work with a child who has all kinds of coordination problems culminating in learning disabilities it means he or she has not worked with the gross and fine motor nerve/muscle coordinates. A child should do this from at least first or second grade. I have put rebounding devices in schools not only around the United States but also in schools around the world. The children have to be given a chance to learn up to their capacities. I don’t say they’ll all end up being geniuses, but they will coordinate their senses up to their own inborn intelligence.”Dr. Akselsen was a school psychologist in Norway more than forty years ago. She had responsibility for learning disabled children for whom everything avail-able was done to bring them into normality. In some cases, she met failure. With one little boy who was absolutely unable to do what he was supposed to, some-thing pushed the psychologist into requesting the child to walk backwards. He walked three steps and fell on the floor. For the first time, she realized that this type of child does not know left from right or front from back. Such children only recognize a forward direction. From this point onward. Dr. Akselsen knew that coordination, balance and rhythm through exercising, was called for. She has worked with exercises ever since.
“I came upon the use of rebounding equipment by experimenting with many different devices made of wood. For a long time I employed something called the ‘trampoline board,’ a twelve-foot-long plank, twelve inches wide and two inches thick, that had to be placed eight inches from the floor. It was made of a special springy wood. The children jumped on this plank to get the spring. Other plywood forms also gave spring. Then I began to use ordinary trampolines.
“One day, while I was visiting with Victor Green at his Tri-Flex manufacturing plant and asked that a special type of rebound unit be made. I found he already had it available. This baby form of trampoline works best,” Dr. Akselsen said.Now she is working with mentally retarded infants with IQ’s as low as twenty-five. Using massage, exercises, and rebounding, she is succeeding with these babies.
Why does the rebounding device work for improving the body/mind connection? “Because when you are re-bounding, you are moving and exercising every brain cell as you are each of the other body cells. Toxic heavy metals are leached out of these brains cells to free up the neurons to work more effectively. Better nourishment has a chance to penetrate the cell walls, too. Furthermore, rebounding has you work from the outside, from the nerve endings toward the brain,” said Dr. Akselsen.”That’s what I think it does. We don’t know for certain, of course, but I can’t see the results any other way. I am trying to build a sense of the truth, at this time.”
In general, Dr. Akselsen is working with children who are ignored by society – sometimes hidden away in institutions – and turns them into whatever are their mental capacities. In many cases, these learning disabled people turn out to be above average and exceptional human beings. Their primary problem is actually a neuromuscular dysfunction – not reduced intelligence- that prevents them from releasing the information stored within. Dr. Akselsen merely trains the body to respond to the brain. The training involves the eyes, nose, larynx, tongue, fingers, and other organs so that learning disabled persons can finally get to read, write, see properly, speak, and manipulate their muscles in order to put to use the information they have been gathering in all of their lives.
Witnesses tell of seeing children previously unable to speak during fifteen or sixteen years of life – using only three or four words accompanied by grunts to ex-press themselves – in a month or two opening up with full sentences, complete paragraphs, and competent expressions of thoughts, following a program of coordinated exercises, *reboundology, massage, neuro-muscular training, and testing done by Alfhild Akselsen, Ph.D.
Her entire technique is concerned with teaching the body to respond to the brain’s output. When the physical defect is corrected, the mental defect is also corrected. There are multiple places in the body where there maybe a neurological short circuit. When it affects a muscle, the brain’s command to the left hand to move may cause the right hand to move. Or, the left hand may move but also the left foot comes along with it. Or, the child’s eye may twitch, or nothing may happen.
The learning disabled person lives in his or her own small, private Hell!
The person knows what’s happening to him. He knows that others are making a judgment of his actions so as to believe eventually that the person doesn’t know anything.
Dr. Akselsen’s work is helping these learning disabled people to free themselves from their physical handicaps, which most of the time are diagnosed as mentally retarded, brain damaged, or antisocially be-having. They may show no brain damage on an electro-encephalogram (EEG) or no lumpy brain area on the computerized axial tomograph (CAT) scan thus offering no clinical evidence of brain damage.
A chapter in a book such as this cannot do justice to the Akselsen techniques, but we shall endeavour to en-lighten you a little on some of her procedures. She uses rebound exercise units, giant trampolines, deep nerve massage, light sensory massage, excellent nutrition, and a lot more. Rebound International, Inc. of South Houston, Texas, using the Tri-Flex Manufacturing Company facilities, is a layperson group of volunteers actively engaged in carrying on Dr. Akselsen’s work.
The following are some of the testing procedures applied:
A. With the child lying on his back, legs extended, feet together, arms at sides; you analyse his ability to stay in a place in a straight line. Correct any deviation from a straight position.
B. In the same position as A above, the child lifts his head and turns it to the right and left.
C. The child stands, bent forward at the waist, hands on knees, legs straight, and rotates the head right and left.
D. Lying on his back, the child raises one arm and while watching it, rotates this arm in a circular motion in one direction and then another; repeating with the other arm.
E. The child bounces on the rebound unit while his eyes are affixed on one spot.
F. Lying on his back, the child watches an object suspended by a string from the ceiling as it swings in a circle.
G. Lying on his back, the child raises one leg with the knee stiff and watches his foot while he rotates his leg in one direction and then the other; alternating legs.
H. While on his back, the child rolls in a straight line.
I. Lying flat on the stomach with head raised, the child crawls forward using hands, feet, elbows and knees for movement.
J. The child rises to his hands and knees and crawls forward across the floor. Then he crawls backward.
K. Lying flat on the back, the child lifts one leg slowly with the knee stiff; repeating with the other leg. Then he lifts both legs slowly together.
L. The child performs sit-ups with legs extended and feet together, first with the fingers touching the toes and then with the hands folded behind the head.
M. The child performs push-ups.
N. The child performs a push-up with the hands turned inward, fingertips touching.
0. The child does sit-ups and stand-ups while holdings the arms crossed over the chest.
P. The child walks in a coordinated manner.
Q. The child stands with his back against a wall; eyes affixed to a spot on the opposite wall, arms held straight out, and walks across the room by touching the heel to the toe of each foot with each step. Then he backs up the same way.
R. The above testing procedure is repeated with the arms out to the side, the hands on the head, or the eyes closed.
S. The child does all of the above walking on a balance beam, two inches by four inches wide, with the eyes open.
T. With feet together and arms slightly bent at the elbows, the child stands and hops on a carpeted floor or on a rebounding device. In a series of short jumps, he hops forward and backward.
U. The child repeats the hops on the rebound unit but on just one foot and then on the other.
V. The child jumps straight up and down three times, either on the floor or on the rebound device.
W. The child performs jumping jacks either on the floor or on the rebound device.
X. The child balances on one leg for one minute, first with eyes open and then with eyes closed.
Confirmation of Learning Disability Improvement from Rebounding
A statement written by Mrs. Florence M. Franet, teacher of aphasic students, Mount Diablo Unified School District, Concord, California, says the following:
I purchased a rebound unit for my own use and that of my family. I felt so well as a result of using it, I wanted to share it with my students, too. Transporting it back on forth from home to school everyday became a real chore, so I purchased a second one for the specific use of students in the school’s handicap program. This re-bound unit was used as a source for daily activities and exercise in my classroom for special education of aphasic students during the 1976-77 school year. Six students’ ages eight and nine participated starting in September1976.The students began using the rebound unit by just trying to stand and balancing themselves on it. Then they bounced with two feet together and then jogging easily. Three of the students were able to bounce by themselves from the start, but the other three had to be assisted. Gradually all could bounce alone and begin the exercises, although the most severely involved student took nine days before she could even stand alone. Let us take time to follow this student’s development. At the beginning of this school year Frances could not coordinate her small motor development enough to draw a circle or copy a single letter. She did attempt to write her first name, but one had to know what Frances was attempting in order to read it. Her eye/hand coordination was nil. Her speech was unintelligible. She used only small words and sometimes short phrases. After one month on the Rebounder she was bouncing with two feet together by herself. Following this she developed enough coordination to turn slowly on the Rebounder and in four months time she was running fast, jogging, and dancing. Her language developed along with this. In four months time, one could read her written name and she could draw a circle. In six months time, she was able to trace the letter of her last name, in eight months she could COPY her last name, and after nine months, she could write it herself. She was able to write some other letters by this time too. Needless to say, she was a very happy little girl, her parents were pleased too. Her verbal expression developed along with this written and motor expression. She was using simple sentences, gradually extending them into paragraphs by the end of these nine months. Her receptive language improved too. Another student, (A.S.), whose large motor development was fairly well coordinated, could bounce and jog on the Rebounder but could not hop on either foot alone without losing his balance. His verbal expressive language consisted of phrases and sentences without verbs. His comprehension (receptive language) was impaired. After five months he could hop on either foot for 300 or 400 counts, and after six months he could jump rope while on the Rebounder, and after another month he was SKIPPING rope on the Rebounder. His expressive verbal language had developed considerably during the first three or four months, and the receptive language improved by about 21/2 to 3 years.
All of these students showed growth in their coordination, language skills, health, and attitudes. I had expected to see growth for each student during the school year and had worked with the Aphasic students for five years previous to working with the group, but this growth far exceeded expectations and I attribute this additional gain to their developments and total stimulation by use of the Rebounder.
This 1977/’78 school year, I am using the Rebounder with high school age Aphasic students, and again I am seeing beautiful developments in physical coordination, muscle development, self-concepts, and language skills. We coordinate the Rebounder ‘s use into math and social studies programs. A 3″ to 4″ cross is on each wall (for N, S, E, & W directions) at eye-level. The assignment may be to bounce 360 times total but to divided it equally while facing each of the four directions.
Some of the better coordinated boys decided to challenge one another to see who could hop on one foot the most number of times. They started out with a 200, then 300, 700, and 1000 It was getting to be too difficult trying to count the number of times accurately (taking longer to say a number than to take a hop) so we began to use a stopwatch, and they set five minute periods of time for themselves. Each of the three boys could do this on one foot but not the other, so each was challenging himself to develop his weaker side. One boy did it in three weeks time, a second did it in seven weeks time, and the third is still trying to master that second side. After six months time now, he is very close to mastering it.
I would like to see all of our handicapped students have the opportunity to use a Rebounder on a daily basis in order to minimize their handicaps more rapidly.
Aphasic is a severe language handicap attributed to neurological brain damage. The student’ handicaps vary greatly, the problem being expressive, receptive, or both, and auditory or visual or both. The motor coordination usually is poorly developed also.
MSS refers to Most Severe Student in this particular class