By age three and a half, Casey Gangwish was astounding his mother with his grasp of scientific concepts like buoyancy, water displacement and kinetic energy. It wasn’t until he started preschool that the trouble began.
“It was evident that Casey couldn’t learn his letters and numbers,” says his mom, Kim Gangwish. “By kindergarten, he only knew three letters, and he would sit on the ground and roll around during class, bumping into other kids. He said he had a traffic jam in his head.”
Casey’s teachers wanted to put him in special education; they said he disrupted the class and told Gangwish that they suspected Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That suspicion sent Gangwish to a pediatrician who indeed diagnosed Casey with ADHD and prescribed a low daily dose of Ritalin, which presumably affects a self-control center in the brain. “Even though it was a very low dose, Casey seemed really zoned out on the Ritalin,” she recalls.
ADHD is prevalent, characterized by impulsivity, distractibility and, in two thirds of those diagnosed, by hyperactivity. Dyslexia, another common disorder, can cause difficulties in speech and language development, and confusion in the way print is seen on the page.
Gangwish’s search led her to Susan McCrossin, an applied physiologist in Boulder, Colo., who hypothesizes that kinesiology and acupressure can reintegrate critical connections in the corpus callosum, the band of fibers uniting the cerebral hemispheres of the brain. The fibers can be blocked or can dysfunction, causing learning difficulties. After nine sessions with McCrossin, Casey was able to focus in class and learn to read, spell and perform at grade level. His mom took him off the Ritalin.
McCrossin’s brain integration technique is one of a growing number of natural treatment options parents of children with learning disorders can consider. Casey’s story underscores the potential for new treatments, such as McCrossin’s brain integration technique, as well as diet modification, behavior modification and nutritional supplements, which may effectively get to the root of the learning disorder without using Ritalin.
The method, called the Brain Integration Technique, is based in part on acupressure–a 5,000-year-old Japanese method similar to acupuncture, but without the needles, and designed to increase blood flow and restore body functions, including the brain.
McCrossin developed BIT in 1989 with her ex-husband, Charles T. Krebs. Brain Integration incorporates applied physiology, a form of kinesiology that enables the Practitioner to access and change specific body functions. Learning disabilities are usually caused by “software glitches,” meaning they are caused by biochemical problems that affect the flow of information in the brain, not brain damage. The BIT Practitioner performs “muscle testing” to determine which brain areas are malfunctioning. The Practitioner then treats the affected areas of the brain, through holding and releasing acupressure points. Those points correlate to a specific brain region, according to Eastern medicine.
Carol Mann, an anesthetist in San Diego says her son’s life turned around two years ago when he received a weekend of intensive treatment of BIT. Mann says her son, Alex Mann, now 12, had been diagnosed with ADHD at age nine. He did not pay attention in class, didn’t do his homework and was day dreaming.
Teachers at the school insisted he be put on Ritalin. Mann says she didn’t want her son to be taking Ritalin for the rest of his life. She says after BIT treatment for eight hours one day, and two hours the next day, she took him off Ritalin “cold turkey.”
Although she admits she hasn’t noticed much change at home–she says his behavior was always better at home than at school–his teachers never noticed that he was no longer on Ritalin and stopped calling her, she says. Alex went from a C-D student to a B student, she says.
“Not one person has since said, ‘Your child should be on Ritalin,’” Mann says. “The liberation from a lifelong label is a priceless gift. It allows the child to create life that is driven by their passion and not their arbitrary diagnosis.”
1. Glairon, Susan. “Pressure Points.” Boulder Daily Camera. July, 2002.
2. Raterman, Karen. “Looking for Answers.” Healthwell.com. October, 2004.