Coquelicot Gilland

Coquelicot's work has evolved through her more than 20 years of experience of being a minister with the Association & Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). To every session, Coquelicot brings her intuition and vast knowledge base. Then she gets out of the way to let something else arise; she makes room for a larger knowledge, and invites grace to enter. Coquelicot has a capacity for deep listening, listening beyond the limits of her personality and academic learning. By dropping and melting into something much larger than herself, she becomes simultaneously a student and a teacher, a facilitator and a catalyst. From there, she supports people to free themselves from the internal obstacles that block their innate ability to access this source directly.

Hacking My Child's Brain, Part 1

What if your computer missed your keystrokes whenever it was playing music? Or what if it couldn't read from the hard drive when a picture was on the screen? Or maybe every time the CD tray opened, a random window would close? Imagine that all system functions work fine by themselves, but not in combination. You would probably send your computer to the repair shop, if not the dump.

What if it wasn't your computer that acted this way, but your child's brain? Now what would you do?
My son's brain can't handle all of the sensory input his body is sending him. Caleb has Sensory Processing Disorder, the human equivalent of a computer that can't adequately multitask, or a network that drops packets when there is a lot of traffic. All of his senses work individually, but his brain loses information when they are combined. This problem wasn't obvious to us when he was younger, but now that he is in first grade, the complications are growing.

This disorder effects everything Caleb does. New situations or rooms full of people are information-overload. He needs heavy routine and structure just so that he can learn without being overwhelmed by his environment. He can listen to what I'm saying as long as he doesn't have to look me in the eye. (If I demand eye contact, it takes so much concentration that he literally can't understand my words.) If he needs to say something, the effort of self-expression shuts out everything else. He doesn't notice he's blocking the grocery aisle, or that he's hopping on one foot, or that he needs to use the bathroom.

Caleb lives in the abstract, because the concrete world just doesn't mean much to him. He is the epitome of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes; reality competes with (and often loses to) his vivid imagination.
The conventional treatment for somebody like Caleb is occupational therapy, coping strategies, and even special education programs. But that doesn't satisfy me. I'm a software engineer, and I can't help but see the human brain as a beautiful combination of software and hardware (or wetware, if you like.) It is hard to imagine Caleb in a special ed program; he's brilliant and reads years ahead of his peers. His senses work fine individually -- just not in concert.

After reading about so-called "brain hacks" like that of Dilbert creator Scott Adams, I've become solidly convinced that my son Caleb doesn't need a coping strategy, he needs his brain to be recalibrated. With the help of some professionals and some surreal neurotechnology, I'm going to try doing just that. We're going to try to hack my child's brain.

Today our family will travel to a clinic in Boulder, Colorado to do initial tests with Caleb. The treatment itself begins in earnest next Friday, which is when the neurotech comes into play. In this multiple-part series, I'll take you with us on the journey. I don't know what the outcome will be, but we can watch it unfold together.
Beery VMI

Six weeks ago I set out upon an experiment to rewire my son's brain. We wanted to see if a little-known treatment would relieve some of the symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. SPD (formerly known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction) is a neurological condition that impedes one's ability to receive or correctly interpret sensory information from his body.

Last weekend we returned to the Sensory Learning Institute for follow-up testing after completion of the 30 day treatment. He had gone to the clinic for 12 days, and then we continued the light therapy portion of the treatment for another 18 days at home.

Some of the test results were encouraging. One of them was jaw-dropping. Before the Hack
Prior to the first day of treatment, Caleb underwent testing for his hearing, vision, and visual-motor perception.
The hearing tests revealed that he had varying sensitivities to different frequencies in each ear, indicating potential trouble for processing sound -- especially speech -- correctly.

The vision tests showed that his field of vision in both eyes was significantly constricted; even though his eyes were physically capable of processing more around the periphery, his brain just wasn't using that information. In short, he effectively had tunnel vision. This has broad impacts on situational awareness, perceiving social cues, balance, and motor coordination.

Caleb's visual-motor perception was measured with the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration:

Internationally respected and backed by decades of research and clinical use, the Beery VMI, now in its fifth edition, offers a convenient and economical way to screen for visual-motor deficits that can lead to learning, neuropsychological, and behavior problems.

The Beery VMI helps assess the extent to which individuals can integrate their visual and motor abilities. The Short Format and Full Format tests present drawings of geometric forms arranged in order of increasing difficulty that the individual is asked to copy. The Short Format is often used with children ages 2-8 years.
The test is fairly straight-forward: You copy a shape drawn for you in a booklet, and your score depends on how accurate you are in certain criteria. Depending on the form to be copied, your ability to reproduce shape intersections, angles, symmetry, or even layers is scored. The test score compares your drawing to the typical abilities people have at a certain age.

Despite his intellect (Caleb, now 7, reads 5th grade books for pleasure), his pre-treatment Beery VMI score showed visual-motor skills at 6 years, 5 months. This isn't bad, really, but it did show he was at least slightly behind his peers in this area. One question on our minds was whether the treatment's combined focus on the visual and vestibular systems would manifest changes in Caleb's visual-motor abilities.

The Nutrition Factor

Before I talk about the post-treatment test results, I should also note that we were also strongly encouraged by the Institute to regulate Caleb's diet. People with SPD and those in the Autism spectrum often have nutrition sensitivities. Much of the conventional wisdom on this topic includes eliminating the usual suspects like white flour and white sugar. From there you'll find discussion on everything from gluten to soy to non-homogenized milk.

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Coquelicot teaches didactically, experientially and by example. She brings to each session a lifetime's worth of tools, exercises and practices that I use at home to further my own development. Her genius combines intuition, sensing and a comprehensive knowledge of human emotional and biological development. What I've learned from her has not only given me a deeper understanding of my own patterns, dynamics and behaviors, it's also enhanced my understanding of others. I am a far more compassionate person thanks Coquelicot. In fact to the degree that I am a more evolved being in any regard, Coquelicot was instrumental in my transformation.

-L. M. Artist and wellness ally

"Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life, all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen."
- Author unknown, The Knots Prayer

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