How to Teach Your Baby to Read , written for parents, this exciting book presents us with a revolutionary idea: children are far more intelligent than we suspect. In fact, we have wasted the best ages of our children by not allowing them to learn, simultaneously, all that they are capable of at the age when all new information is most easily absorbed. This now classic book, which has had the virtue of uniting parents with their children for more than a quarter of a century, is the first volume in the series The Peaceful Revolution and an international best-seller.
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- 1 Foreword
- 2 Chapter I
- 3 Author details
- 4 Sources
The beginning of a project, in clinical research, is like getting on a train with an unknown destination. It is something full of mystery and interest, but you never know if you will find a first or third class ticket, if the train will have a restaurant-car or not, if the trip will cost us a dollar or everything we have and, above all Yes, we will end up reaching where we wanted or some strange place that we had never dreamed of knowing.
As our teammates boarded this train at various stations, we assumed our destiny was rather to get treatment for severely brain-injured children. None of us imagined that by achieving this goal we would stay on the train until we reached a place, a point, where children with brain injuries might even outperform healthy children.
The trip lasted almost twenty years, the facilities were third class, dinner based mostly on sandwiches night after night, and, very frequently, taken at three in the morning. The tickets cost us everything we owned — more than one of us did not live long enough to finish the trip — and none of us would have given it up for anything the world could offer us. It has been a fascinating journey.
The original passenger list consisted of a neurosurgeon, a physiatrist (a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation), a physiotherapist, a speech therapist, a psychologist, an educator and a nurse. At present we exceed one hundred, joining the group many other classes of specialists. The origin of the small team was due to the fact that each of us had individually taken care of a phase of treatment for children with severe brain injuries … and one by one we were failing individually.
If you are going to choose a creative field in which to work, it is difficult to choose one that has no more development capacity than that of 100 percent failure and in which success is practically non-existent. When we started working together twenty years ago, we had never seen or heard of a single child who, with a brain injury, had fully recovered.
The group that was formed after our individual failures would today be called the “rehab team.” In those distant days none of those words were in fashion and we did not consider ourselves as illustrious as all that. Perhaps we saw each other, more pathetically and clearly, as a group that had come together, convoy style, hoping to be stronger together than we had turned out to be separately.
We began by tackling the most basic problem faced by those who, two decades earlier, had dedicated themselves to children with brain injuries. This problem was identification. There were three very different kinds of problem children who were invariably mixed up as if their problem were the same. In fact, they weren’t even second cousins. They were clustered in those days (and, tragically, they still do in many parts of the world) for the poor reason that they often seemed, and sometimes acted, as if they had the same problem.
The three classes, which were continually grouped into one, were thus integrated: mentally handicapped children whose brains were qualitatively and quantitatively inferior to normal; psychopathic children with physically normal brains, but whose minds were defective, and, finally, children with true brain injuries, with previously healthy brains, but who had been physically damaged. We treated only the latter type of children. We came to realize that while truly mentally handicapped and truly psychopathic children were comparatively few in number, hundreds of thousands of children were, and are, diagnosed as mentally handicapped or psychopaths when they are actually brain-injured children. Generally, this misdiagnosis occurred because, in many of these children,
Having learned to distinguish, after many years of working in the operating room and at the headboards, which children were truly brain-injured, we were finally able to tackle the problem itself: damaged brains.
We found that it mattered very little (except from a purely investigative point of view) whether a child’s brain had been injured prenatally, at birth, or after birth. This signals something like trying to find out if a child had a car caught before noon, noon, or after noon. The really important thing was knowing what part of his brain had been injured, the severity of this injury and what should be done. Later we also discovered that it was not important that the child’s brain was injured because the Rh factor of his parents was incompatible, or that his mother had an infectious disease, such as rubella, during the first three months of pregnancy, or if the brain had not obtained enough oxygen during the prenatal period,
The brain can be injured as a result of prolonged labor, because the child has hit the head at two months and has suffered a cerebral thrombosis, due to encephalitis with very high temperatures at three years, due to being caught by a car at five, or by many factors.
We repeat again that although all this is significant from the point of view of the investigation, something like worrying about knowing if the child has been hit by a car or a hammer would occur. The important thing, then, was which part of the brain had been injured, whether it was more or less severe and what we were going to do. At that time, the world that cared for children whose brains were damaged held that the problems of these children should be solved by treating the symptoms that appeared in the ears, in the eyes, in the nose, in the mouth, in the chest , on the shoulders, on the elbows, on the wrists, on the fingers, on the hips, on the knees, on the ankles and on the toes. Much of the world still thinks this way. An approach like this did not work out well then and possibly never can.
Due to the total failure, we concluded that to resolve the multiple symptoms that children with brain injuries present we would have to tackle the root of the problem and approach the human brain itself.
If at first this seemed an impossible or at least monumental task, in the following years we found, with the collaboration of other researchers, surgical and non-surgical methods to treat the brain.
We have held the simple belief that treating the symptoms of an illness or injury and waiting for the illness to go away was unmedical, unscientific and irrational, and if these reasons weren’t enough to make us forget such an attempt, the simple fact remained that children with brain injuries, treated in this way, never recovered.
On the contrary, we believed that if we could attack the problem itself, the symptoms would disappear spontaneously to the same extent as we managed to heal the lesions in the same brain.
We first approach the problem from a non-surgical point of view. The following years convinced us that if we were to hope to be successful in healing the brain, we would have to find the means to reproduce, in some way, the neurological blueprints of normal child development. This involves knowing how a normal child’s brain begins, develops, and matures. We have carefully studied many hundreds of newborn babies, babies of months and children a little older, totally normal. We have studied them carefully.
Having come to know what normal brain development is and what it means, we become convinced that the well-known basic activities of normal children, such as crawling and crawling, are of the utmost importance to the brain. We also learned that if normal children are denied such activities, due to cultural, social or environmental factors, their potential is seriously limited. The potentiality of children with brain injuries is further affected.
As we learned more about the various means of reproducing this pattern of normal physical development, we began to see how children with brain injuries improved, even slightly.
It was then that the neurosurgeon components of our team began to confirm with conclusive evidence that the answer was found in the brain itself, having successfully developed surgical accesses to it. There were a few types of brain-injured children whose problems were of a progressive nature, and these children had died very soon, irretrievably. Among them, the most prominent group was the hydrocephalic, that is, children with “water on the brain.” These children had a huge head, due to the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid, since this, because of the injuries, was not reabsorbed in the normal way. However, the fluid continued to secrete as in normal people.
No one has ever been so simple as to try to treat the symptoms of this disease with massage, exercises, or ligatures. As the pressure in the brain was increasing, these children had always died. Our neurosurgeon, working with an engineer, managed a tube that carries excess cerebrospinal fluid from deposits called ventricles, deep in the human brain, to the jugular vein and from there to the bloodstream, where it is reabsorbed in the same way. normal. This tube had an ingenious valve inside to allow excess fluid to flow out, simultaneously preventing blood from invading the brain.
This quasi-magical device was surgically placed inside the brain, and was called a “VJ deviation.” There are twenty-five thousand children in the world today who could not have been alive if it were not for this simple tube. Many of them lead a completely normal life and go to school with normal children. Here, therefore, is a magnificent testimony to the utter uselessness of attacking the symptoms of brain injuries, as well as, logically, to the need to treat the brain itself.
Another interesting method will serve as an example of the many kinds of brain surgery being done successfully today to solve the problems of the brain-injured child.
There are actually two brains, one right and one left. These two brains are divided by a straight line, which runs through the middle of the head, from the forehead to the back. In normal humans, the right brain (or if you prefer, the right half of the brain) is in charge of controlling the left part of the body, while the left half of the brain is responsible for directing the right part of the body.
If one of these halves of the brain is deeply injured, the result is catastrophic: the opposite side of the body will be completely paralyzed and the child will be seriously restricted in all its functions. Many of these children have constant seizures, which do not respond to any known medications.
We must also say that these children die. The old resignation of those who preferred to do nothing stretched more and more for a few decades. “When a brain cell is dead, it is dead, and nothing can be done, so it is not worth trying.” But around 1955 the neurosurgeons on our team began to perform an almost incredible kind of surgery on these children, called hemispherectomy.
Hemispherectomy is exactly what its name suggests: the surgical removal of half (one hemisphere) of the human brain. Now we can see children with half a brain in their heads and the other half – trillions of brain cells in a jar, from the hospital – dead and out of place. But the children were not dead. On the contrary, we have seen that these children, with only half a brain, walked, talked and went to school like the others. Several of these children had an average intellectual capacity much higher than normal, and at least one of them had reached an IQ (IQ) bordering on genius.
It was thus obvious that if one unit of a child’s brain was seriously injured, it mattered little that the other half was perfectly fine, if the injured half remained in the head. Thus, p. For example, a child suffering from seizures due to injury to the left brain would be totally unable to demonstrate its function or intelligence until this diseased half was removed, thus leaving the intact right brain free to perform all its functions without obstacles.
We have long held, contrary to popular belief, that a child could have ten dead brain cells and we wouldn’t know it. Perhaps, we said, he could have a hundred dead brain cells and we would not even be aware of it. Maybe even a thousand.
Not even in our wildest dreams would we have dared to believe that a child could have millions of dead brain cells and yet act as well, and sometimes even better, than most children. The reader must now join us in a speculation. How long could we look at Juanito, who had half his brain removed, seeing him act as well as Pepito, who has an intact brain? Why doesn’t Pepito, who has twice as much brain as Juanito, not act twice better or, at least, better than this one? Having seen that this happens repeatedly, we begin to look at most normal children with new, questioning eyes. Did the generality of normal children act as well as they could? Here is an important question that we would never have dreamed of asking.
In the meantime, non-surgeon researchers on our team had acquired a host of new insights into these children’s growth and brain development. As we expanded our understanding of normality, our simple methods of reproducing this normality in brain-injured children kept pace. At this time we are beginning to see a small number of children with brain injuries reach normality through the use of simple non-surgical treatment methods, which are constantly evolving and improving.
It is not the purpose of this book to detail the concepts or methods used to solve the many problems of children with brain injuries. Other books, already published or still in manuscript, talk about the treatment of the child’s brain injury. However, the fact that this is being done on a daily basis is significant in understanding the path that leads to the knowledge that normal children can function infinitely better than they are currently doing. Suffice it to say that extremely simple techniques have been invented to reproduce the blueprints of normal development in children with brain injuries. Thus, p. e.g. when a child with a brain injury is unable to move properly, it is led in an orderly progression through the stages of growth that occur in normal children. First, it helps him to move his arms and legs; then to crawl; then to crawl, and finally to walk. You are physically helped to do all of these things in sequences that adhere to a template. The child then progresses through these and even higher stages, in the same way that a child does in the school grades, thus being given unlimited opportunity to use these activities.
Very soon we began to see children with serious brain injuries whose performance rivaled that of children who have never suffered a brain injury. As these techniques improved, we began to see children with brain injuries emerge who not only behaved like most other children, but were even indistinguishable from others. As our neurological knowledge grew and normality began to assume a really clear meaning, and as the methods for the recapitulation of said normality multiplied, we could already see some children with brain injuries who acted beyond the normal level and even reaching levels very high. It was extremely exciting and even scary. It seemed clear that we had not appreciated enough, not even in a minimum, the potential of each child. This raised a fascinating question. Suppose we observe three seven-year-old children: Alberto, who had half a brain in a hospital jar; Pepito, whose brain was perfectly normal, and Carlitas, who had been treated with non-surgical methods and who now acted completely normal, although he still had millions of dead cells in his brain.
Alberto, without half his brain, was as smart as Pepito. So was Carlitas, with millions of dead cells in her head. What was wrong with Pepito, a healthy child like so many others? What was wrong with normal children?
Lasting for years, our work has been charged with the emotion of feeling like a predecessor of important events or great discoveries. Over the years, the mysterious haze that enveloped everything, surrounding our children with brain injuries, had gradually dissipated. We have also begun to realize other facts that we had not tried to consider. These facts referred to normal children. A logical connection emerged between the brain-injured child (and therefore neurologically disorganized) and the healthy child (and therefore neurologically organized), where initially there were only disconnected events not associated with normal children. This logical sequence, as it arose, he has been insistently pointing towards a path through which we will markedly change man himself, improving him. Was the manifestation of this neurological organization in a majority of children necessarily the end of the road?
Now that children with brain injuries are performing as well or better than most children, the possibility that the road will continue to spread can be fully seen.
It has always been accepted that neurological development and its end product, ability, were a static and irrevocable fact: this child had ability, and this child did not. This kid was brilliant, and this kid was not. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that neurological development, which we have always considered as a static and irrevocable fact, is a dynamic and continuously changing process.
In children with severe brain injuries we see the neurodevelopmental process completely stopped.
In the “retarded” child we observe that this process is considerably slow. In most children it occurs at a medium speed, and in the gifted child it occurs at a higher than average speed. We have come to realize that the brain-injured child, the average child, and the child who outperforms this average type are not three distinct classes of children, but instead represent a continuum from extreme Neurological disorganization that creates a severe brain injury, through a more moderate disorganization caused by a benign or moderate brain injury, through the average neurological organization that the average child presents, up to the high degree of neurological organization that invariably demonstrates the gifted child.
In the child with a serious brain injury, it has been successful to start this process that had stopped again, and in the “retarded” child, to accelerate it. It is clear now: that this process of neurological evolution can be accelerated as well as retarded.
Having repeatedly led brain-injured children from total disorganization to a new neurological organization at the mid-level or even higher, using simple evolving nonsurgical techniques, we have every reason to believe that these same techniques could be used to develop the neurological organization demonstrated by average children. One of these techniques is teaching very young children with damaged brains to read. Nowhere can the ability to increase neurological organization be more clearly demonstrated than when a normal baby is taught to read.
This gentle revolution started spontaneously. The strange thing about her is that she came to an end by chance.
The children, who are the little revolutionaries, did not know that they could read if they were given the means, and the adults dedicated to the television industry, who would finally provide them, did not know that children had the capacity to do so and that television would provide them. means that would bring such a revolution. The lack of means is the reason why it took so long to happen, but now that it has happened, we parents must cooperate to foster this splendid revolution; not to make it less nice, but to make it faster so that children can get their reward sooner.
It is really amazing that the children did not discover the secret long before. It is a miracle that the children, with all their vivacity – because they are very vivacious – have not grasped it.
Glenn Doman (1919-2013) born August 26, 1919 in Pennsylvania graduated in 1940 from the University of Pennsylvania. He began to pursue the treatment of children with brain injuries with neurologist Temple Fay. He used his methods, based on progressive movements, very effective both in motor areas and in more intellectual areas. They focused on working with reflexes, mainly with children with cerebral palsy. Observing the progress made in these children, Doman decided to transfer his knowledge to the rest of the children, in a way that would enhance their learning capacity. He elaborates his theory about brain development, a Neurological Development Profile and systematizes an educational work, structured through sequenced programs, with precise and effective methods.
In the late 1950s, he founded the Institutes for the Development of Human Potential (IAHP) in Philadelphia (USA), initiating what Doman and his disciples have called, a “peaceful Revolution.”
In 1964 he published his best-selling How to teach your baby to read (How to teach your baby to read), which, together with his book How to multiply your baby’s intelligence (How to multiply your baby’s intelligence, 1984), became at the foundation of your parent-child learning program. Today he is considered the highest authority on the matter.
In 1974 , Glenn Doman published the book What to do about your brain-injured child which describes the ideas and techniques used by the IAHP www.lectulandia.com – page 98. He is treating about 600 brain injured people from around the world and educates a group of healthy children from 0 to 14 years old in a pilot center. Although some of its postulates are accepted by the entire scientific community, there are important aspects that are strongly questioned, such as: the excessive simplification and generalization of its scientific proposals, its attempt to encompass the entire complex developmental pathology within rigid coordinates, and the excessive rigor of its methodology that forces unjustified efforts.