Brain Highways


At 12 years old, Rebekah is by far our youngest guest blogger.

Rebekah is our guest blogger.  She recently took a risk when she wrote an essay on Brain Highways for a school assignment. Until then, she had not shared with anyone (other than her family) how she had been organizing her brain. 

But In Rebekah’s essay, we get to “experience” a community screening session through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl. She holds nothing back in regards to what she thinks about her first time at the Brain Highways Center.  Yet, at the end of the essay, Rebekah shares incredible insights and reflections about her experience organizing her brain over the past four months. And at that point, it’s hard to believe Rebekah is just 12.

There is a life changing class called Brain Highways. The basic concept of Brain Highways is that when we were babies we crept and crawled, and while we did, our brain got developed because of those movements. If we didn’t do as much creeping and crawling as we should have, because of all the strollers and playpens, our brain isn’t fully developed.

When our brain is being developed, neurons connect and make ‘highways.” So when our highways aren’t complete, we walk around with what’s called a “disorganized brain.”

When kids have a disorganized brain, they may not feel full, get overly anxious, have irrational behavior, get distracted and go off topic really easily, talk a lot or talk too little, and lose their place when reading.

It turns out that almost everyone has an underdeveloped brain. We just learn to live with it. As we get older, it gets more difficult to cope with, so we get overwhelmed. It really stinks to be underdeveloped.

There is still hope! When people go to Brain Highways, they “go back in time” and creep and crawl like a baby would and that connects the neurons we should have connected and we have a completed brain! The cool thing is that it’s never too late to do the class. There are four year olds and people who are eighty who did it!

When my mom heard about Brain Highways, she wanted me to go with her to go check it out. I didn’t want to go. I had seen all the videos on their website (brainhighways.com) and I thought they were funny and interesting, but I didn’t want that extra work in my life. At the moment, the concept was silly; creeping on our bellies and crawling like a dog.

“Mom! I don’t want to go! I’ll look ridiculous!” I would whine. “This is going to be soooo embarrassing! Arggg!”

Then my mom would sigh and say, “Rebekah, have a good attitude about this. Now, I’m going. Are you?

Eventually I agreed to go. It was a long drive from San Diego to Encinitas, and I thought we would never make it. I thought about how ridiculous and stupid this was. When we walked, or in my case, “slouched” into the center, I saw a bunch of kids creeping on the floor. I looked at them with disgust. Why would I want to be with them, making a fool out of myself?

We were taken to a back room with about 6 to 7 other kids. There were mostly boys and all of them were 6 to 10 years old, and being the only 12 year old was awkward. The parents had to stay behind to talk or something. I didn’t want to leave them, but I followed all the other kids in the room.

The room was filled with toys like silly putty, slinkies, squishy things, and building blocks. There were a few pictures of kids playing with toys on the wall. One of the adults came over and invited me to a game with a few other kids. I thought that playing with building blocks was for kids, but I eventually gave in.

While I was playing with those stupidly silly toys, my mom and the other parents were watching a video on Brain Highways and red flags for an underdeveloped pons and that sort of stuff.

Then they took us out of the back room and did a bunch of screenings to see how developed our brains were.

First, they had us creep down a lane and then crawl down a lane. Unfortunately, my shirt kept on sticking to the floor. Then the director, Nancy, took out a pencil with a weird pencil topper on it

“Follow it with just your eyes,” Nancy said to me. I did, and she started talking to me. We talked about school, how annoying English can be, and why we need to learn long division when we have calculators. Or at least she talked. I sort of said a few words, and Nancy said that I did that because my brain was so occupied with following the pencil that I didn’t want to talk. I guess it makes sense, but I probably wouldn’t have wanted to talk even if she wasn’t assessing my eye tracking skills.

Next, she had us stand on one leg while she talked to us. Again, I didn’t want to talk. I passed the “she can balance” assessment, but didn’t pass the balance and “talk at the same time” assessment for the same reason I couldn’t track the pencil and talk at the same time.

After that, Nancy talked a bit more to us kids about Brain Highways. My mom signed me up (against my will) and we went home.

On Sundays and Tuesdays I would go the center and some other kids in my class and I would creep and crawl together. The director could think of some pretty wild games to play while creeping. After that we got assignment sheets on what to do in the week like activities, ideas for games, and statistics on how we were doing as far as our brain development.

I have to admit it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it gets easier and easier.

Everybody thinks I’m crazy for thinking that moving like a baby will help my brain, and I totally get it, but it’s that kind of thing where you have to do it to understand it. Every once in a while some new kids will come in for that first screening session. They see me creeping, and they look at me with the same distain that I once looked at the other kids. I just share a private giggle at how much their life will change.

As I look back and think of what I was and what I am, it doesn’t really matter how ridiculous I might have looked. It doesn’t matter how much time and energy it took. I have seen the change in me and the other kids in the class, and it was totally worth it to have a developed brain and an easier life!

Footnote: Rebekah’s teacher praised her greatly for both her essay and her skill as a writer (noting her incredible, mature  “voice” throughout her work), along with a comment that said: “I’d say creeping and crawling have certainly paid off!”

The Clean Slate Challenge


Wouldn’t it be great if we could interact with others with a clean slate—and leave the past . . . in the past?

This is one of my favorite stories, and it’s perfect for setting the stage for the Clean Slate Challenge.

Two monks were about to cross a deep river when they came across a young woman who was afraid to do so. When she asked for their help, the younger monk turned his back on her since members of their order were forbidden to touch women.  Leaving her alone on the shore, he crossed the river.  Yet, without saying a word, the older monk lifted the woman and carried her across.

However, once on the other side, the younger monk came after the older monk and began berating him for breaking his vows.  And as the day went on, the younger monk would not let up as he continued to express his disbelief that the older monk had actually touched the woman.

The older monk did not initially choose to respond. But finally, at the end of the day, he turned to the younger one and said, “I only carried the woman across the river. You, on the other hand, have been carrying her all day.”

So, how many of us “keeping carrying that woman” (i.e. can’t let go of the past) —and how many times does that then magnify an already not-so-great encounter in the present?

Enter the Clean Slate Challenge.  The goal of this game is to view whatever is going on . . . as if it were the only record on the books.  Here are some examples of how that might look:

  • We go to our child’s school conference with no memory of any negative comments other teachers told us.
  • When our spouse forgets to pick up something at the store—yep, that’s the first time this has ever happened.
  • If we’ve chosen to facilitate our child’s brain organization, we’ve erased all prior doomsday predictions and prognoses.
  • If our mother-in-law is late to dinner, we’ve never thought of her as someone who keeps everyone waiting.
  • If our child breaks the vase, he has never had a single accident in his life.

Is that way of thinking easier said than done? Absolutely. That’s why the point system of this challenge takes into account that truth. Here are the three simple rules:

1.  If you get through an entire encounter by truly staying in the present (no time traveling to the past), you give yourself five points.

2. If you catch yourself thinking about something from the past (triggered by whatever happened in the present)–but you don’t say that thought aloud–you give yourself two points.

3.  If you actually say that thought aloud—but you cut yourself off right away and don’t say any more than one sentence—you give yourself one point. (This is still better than going into a full-blown blast to the past.)

Now, if you’re not yet motivated to take on this challenge, then consider this question:  What happens if we do keep bringing the past to the present, when we don’t wipe the slate clean?

Well, in such case, we’d then “carry” all the frustration, disappointment, and angst of past teacher interactions to every conference. We’d be way more irritated when our spouse forgot to do whatever we asked. Our dread (which is really just fear of the future) would escalate as soon as we noted our child couldn’t do something predicted by others.  We’d definitely become more impatient and annoyed as soon as our mother-in-law was even a few minutes late and a whole lot angrier when our child, once again, broke something.

But then, here’s the telling question that may finally inspire us to truly adopt a clean slate mindset. Would any of those intensified negative emotions actually help the present situation—or would they only make everything worse???

I, personally, have been having fun with the Clean Slate Challenge.  For example, I’ve been married for nearly 31 years, but I recently had my “first” dinner with my husband. It was delightful in every way, and I marked myself down for five points.

Didn’t do quite as well when he said we weren’t returning something we just purchased after discovering it wasn’t what we really wanted. Now, if I had only thought, “Great. This is just going to join all the other purchases we have never used, stacked up in the garage,” I still could have given myself two points.

But no, I had to go and say that.  Yet, as soon as I did, I immediately thought, “Darn!  I didn’t hear his comment as the first time we didn’t return something we didn’t need!” But since I stopped myself from saying anything else, I still got my one point. :-)

You might be thinking: What if the other person isn’t interacting with us with a clean slate?

Well, if we’ve truly adopted the clean slate mentality, then we’d now only be “confused” by whatever that person was saying—and confusion would be a lot better than any of the other negative emotions that show up once we’re triggered by something in the past.

So, I really encourage you to take the Clean Slate Challenge. It’s a fun, “tangible” way that truly helps to keep our minds focused on staying in the moment. For example, over the years, I’ve certainly heard how staying in the moment was good, and I was convinced of that.

Yet, doing this challenge seemed to catapult me forward with this desirable mindset.  Simply, it’s a doable that stops old, negative, subconscious tapes from playing or (at the very least) makes us aware of when such tapes are creating more havoc in the present.

And  . . .  let’s face it:  A little healthy competition often helps get the ball rolling, right?  So, here’s what I’m throwing out there. Who do you think will find it easier to keep a clean slate—males or females?

To find out, I challenge everyone to take the Clean Slate Challenge for at least the next 24 hours. Then, post (below where this blog appears on our Brain Highways Facebook page) how many points you racked up–noting that even one point rocks!  We’ll add up the points from both the males and females—and then declare which gender wins. :-)

Game on!

Has Someone Hijacked Your Thoughts?


Studies prove that simply believing something will help or harm us . . . may be enough to produce that result.

What if some of our thoughts aren’t really ours—yet, we’ve been carrying them around for years, maybe even for decades, as though they originated in our own mind?

Here’s an example of how that might be possible.

Suppose the chronic pain in your knee miraculously disappears after taking a new medicine. But then, you discover you were actually in the clinical group that was given just sugar pills.  In other words, you were given a placebo, not the actual drug that was being tested.

So here’s my first question. Is there a subconscious positive or negative association with the word placebo? When I answered that question myself, I realized that I viewed placebos in a not-so-positive light.

Then I asked that same question to a random group of people. Every person, but one (who said the word was neutral to her), also viewed placebos in a negative way.

When I prodded a bit more to learn what was so negative about placebos, people said they associated the word with “being duped” or “proof that a problem was just in your head” or “to fall for a placebo, you couldn’t be very smart” or some other framing that did not paint a pretty picture of the word.

So, the second question was: Who may have imprinted placebos as negative—and without our awareness? The latter part of the question was interesting because of those I questioned, no one could recall a specific person or situation that actually caused them to think that way.

And yet, we all “got” the same message: Placebos aren’t viewed as something positive.

So then, who put that message out there? Well, I can only guess. For one, pharmaceutical companies can’t be thrilled with scientific studies that prove people can get better  . . . on their own, right?  That fact certainly doesn’t sell drugs.

And doctors who have gone to medical school for more than eight-plus years also aren’t going to be high on the list to imprint the idea that our very own minds might trump all their schooling and experience. And, in truth, we may have been very willing to believe that someone else needs to heal us because handing over all the power to someone smarter and more experienced then absolves us from taking personal responsibility to heal ourselves. (Note: This blog is not to challenge conventional medicine, so stay with me to get to the main point.)

But here’s the important part. I started thinking . . . what if I wiped out prior imprints about placebos from my mind?  In such case, what do I, Nancy Green, really think about placebos?

Well, I was floored.  Turns out that I actually think placebos are AMAZING!  Heck, they’re scientific proof that our very own minds can heal!  To me, that’s a happy dance, ten times over!

In fact, if I’m ever part of a formal study, and I improve with the placebo effect, I’m now going to think that I did even BETTER than those who did well by taking the actual medicine.  After all, that would mean I could get the same results as those taking the drugs, but without ever paying a dime or putting anything foreign into my body that may have potential side effects.  That would be awesome!

Again, the point here is not to forgo all medicine or to never to see a doctor.  I’m just using placebos as an example to encourage people to pause and ponder how many of their thoughts . . . may actually belong to someone else.

In other words, what if it’s someone else’s imprint that we’re not smart enough to (fill in the blank) or we’re not worthy enough to (fill in the blank) or we don’t even realize we’ve been carrying around other people’s fears and judgments?

So, why not take inventory of our thoughts? Which do we truly believe—and which may have been passed onto our subconscious mind?

Here are some common thoughts that we may certainly believe, or . . . did we inherit them from others, and they’re now masquerading as our own?

  • You need to go to college to get a good, respectable job.
  • It is a wise decision to become a home owner.
  • If my child has (fill in the diagnosis), he will never (fill in the blank).

Note that none of the above is a universal truth, meaning that not every person absolutely believes those statements as fact.  But what if we now decide such thoughts (or other thoughts from our inventory) do not truly reflect what we believe (i.e. they were ideas imprinted on our subconscious mind)? How might that then change what we are doing, right now in our life?  After all, it would really be a drag to continue to do this or that because we are acting on someone else’s beliefs.  That’s why becoming aware of other people’s imprints on our own subconscious mind can bring about such powerful changes.

So then, all that got me thinking . . . if positive thinking can improve physical symptoms, then could negative thoughts, in turn, create undesirable physical symptoms?

Well, it turns out the answer is yes. While not as well known as placebos, there is something called nocebos, where a negative imprint on the subconscious mind now has an adverse affect on someone’s health or well-being.

For example, when patients in clinical trials were warned of a drug’s potential side effects, approximately twenty-five percent of those taking just sugar pills actually experienced those noted symptoms!  In other words, the mere suggestion that patients may experience negative reactions to a medication may be a self-fulfilling prophecy—even if they are just taking sugar pills. There are even documented studies where patients were given nothing but saline (although they were told it was chemotherapy) who actually threw up and lost their hair!

Hmmm . . .  so just believing something negative is enough to create an undesirable outcome. So then, how might negative imprints be affecting us in ways we may not even realize?

Suddenly, having more positive than negative people in our lives seems really important. So, if you ranked the people you interact with most often, how many would you give a 10 (on a 1-10 scale), where a 10 score indicates a very positive, optimistic person? And, what ranking would others give you?

The latter answer is important, especially if we’re parents. That’s because our own subconscious minds are communicating with our kids’ subconscious minds almost 95% of the time!

That staggering fact is cause enough to ask ourselves: Each day, do we imprint positive or negative messages on our kids?  For example, do we imprint fear of failure, or do we imprint anything is possible?

Now, if you immediately find yourself thinking, well, not everything is possible– is that really your thought, or has that, too, been imprinted on you? (See, how crazy this can get?)

After all, once upon a time, people probably thought it was IMPOSSIBLE to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, let alone land on the moon. Yet, how many of us still carry the “it’s impossible” imprint, rather than this imprint:  Anything is possible, but we just haven’t yet figured out how to do (whatever).

It comes down to this. No, we can’t change that we have a subconscious mind or that we imprint and receive such messages all the time.  But we can decide whether we make our subconscious our best friend by reducing the overall negativity in our lives. Doing that then increases the probability that more positive than negative imprints enter our mind.

Here’s a short story that illustrates that point.

A bunch of frogs were given the challenge to climb to the top of a summit.  Along the way, onlookers were yelling:

 “You’ll never make it!”  

“That is way too difficult for you!”

“Who do you think you are . . .  to even think you can accomplish that!”  

In the end, only one frog made it all the way to the top.  But later on, the people discovered that this lone frog was actually hearing-impaired, and so  . . .  he never heard the naysayers.

Well, it sure is good to know that we don’t have to be a frog or hearing-impaired . . . to tune out those who do not move us forward.  But we do have to decide that we’re no longer willing to allow others to hijack our thoughts if we want to act in ways that truly reflect what we believe.

A 4-Year-Old Proves the Brain Can Change


As the brain “wakes up,” it becomes easy to do what seemed impossible in the past.

Jin Xiong is our guest blogger. She is presently participating in the Brain Highways program with her son and husband.

When we started the Brain Highways pons course for our 4-year-old son, we already had completed 2.5 years of all kinds of therapies, as well as received many diagnoses: Autism, Oral Apraxia, Limb Dyspraxia, Global Development Delay (the list goes on).

Needless to say, when we came to Brain Highway for the initial assessment, we didn’t really believe it could help. We thought: Sure, this might be a program that works for everyone else, but not our son. Yet, we still decided to enroll.

We definitely struggled the first week. However, by week 2, we started to see changes! For example, I took my son to a playground with stairs. When he was done fidgeting with chains on the lower half of the playground, he decided to go to the higher part.

But for the first time ever, he just walked on the stairs, without holding anything, alternating his steps, walking straight up all nine stairs!  I couldn’t believe what I just saw!

Walking up stairs—and with zero assistance—was HUGE for him. During our two years of physical therapy, they always told us that our son had low tone and that he needed to be stronger to do such things on his own. But right there–he did it!  He actually did it without even looking.  He appeared so natural walking up the stairs, just like everybody else!

And then his occupational therapist started to see changes in him. Suddenly, he had a better arousal level. He was no longer lying on the floor for the whole session, waiting for someone to rock him or swing him. He was now showing initiative by going over to equipment that he preferred.

Next, we noticed he had a better attention span, staying with in an activity for a much longer period of time. For example, previously he’d do two rounds of Ring around the Rosie—and then just walk away. But now, he was doing five or six repetitions, and all with a great smile.

Overall, our son seems so much more aware about his environment. He now pays attention when people walk by. He will turn to you when you call him. He just seems to be more organized and just seems to have extra energy that then makes it easier for him to pay attention to the world.

His scribble pattern has started to change, as well. Initially, he would just hold a piece of chalk and do a few scribbles, all while looking elsewhere. But now, he’s starting to make vertical lines—and lots of them, as well as arcs, all starting from the same point. Then one day we noticed three circles on the board!  And while he’s creating, he’s now completely focused on what he is doing.

And today, Week 5 of the pons course, he tried to put on his Crocs sandals. I noticed he lined up the shoes wrong—the left shoe was in front of the right foot and vice-versa. But before I could correct that, I was distracted by something else.

Yet, when I eventually turned to help him, I saw him rearranging the shoes so that they were now in front of the correct foot—and then I watched him carefully put his foot in each shoe!

I was very excited! We had never really even taught him how to do that!  While this may not seem like a big deal to many people, it shows that my son does have the ability to differentiate position and do a sequential action.

Best of all, I realize that this is all just the beginning of so many more wonderful changes that will continue to happen. Since we’ve begun Brain Highways, my son has a whole new way of looking at the world, so I’m eager to see what’s going to change next!

And, I’m very grateful  . . .  that through my son, I now know that the brain truly can change, once given a chance to do so.


Update on Nathan (from Jin)

After Nathan finished the pons and midbrain classes, he clocked another 50 hours of floor time. So, altogether, Nathan has now done 125 hours of brain organization work (We plan to resume floor time now that my baby is a little bigger.) 

When I originally shared the changes Nathan experienced while in the pons course, he had only completed16 hours of floor time at that time. As his brain keeps developing, we continue to see more and more changes.

Nathan’s teacher definitely saw him change throughout the year.  For example, his teacher said that his processing time (to respond) became much shorter. It used to seem like he couldn’t even   hear someone talking to him, or he’d take really long time to respond. But now, even if you call to Nathan from a distance, he will immediately start looking at you.

We also notice that when we’re at the zoo or near a lake, if we say, “Look, there’s a duck,” he now actually stops whatever he is doing at that moment and looks around. That never happened before.

About half-way through the midbrain class, Nathan finally understood the concept of throwing, and he can now throw overhead, using one arm or both arms. That had been delayed for years!

He also runs much better now. It used to be more like a fast walk, but now it’s a real running pattern.

Even walking seems to be easier. He can go a longer distance, walking with us with a good energy level from beginning to end, with no whining, no wanting to be carried, and no more needing reinforcers. And he asks to go for a walk every day.

Climbing has become easier, and the monkey bars now make sense to him.

He now also gets the idea of steering a tricycle or bike — left hand pull, right hand push, turn left and more. And he’s even able to turn while he keeps peddling. These may be lots of things others take for granted as being easy, but this all used to be impossible or so hard for him.

Just recently, Nathan put the body parts of a potato head into each correct spot—something that his teachers and ABA therapists had tried to teach him for years. I think he now has a better understanding of objects’ relative spatial position.

We’re looking forward to Nathan continuing to develop his lower centers of the brain so that he can just keep experiencing life in many more ways!

Here’s Nathan riding his bike for the first time in public:

Bypassing Dreaded Experiences


Do you dread going certain places with your child? If so, why not try something different . . . ?

At Brain Highways, we encourage parents to “anticipate, pre-empt, and enjoy” when it comes to their kids.

In other words, Brain Highways parents no longer blindly throw their kids into situations that they predict are going to end up disastrous. Instead, they’re now proactive by first anticipating how they think their child might act and then by doing something ahead of time that circumvents that situation from ever going “south.” In short, after anticipating and pre-empting, everyone can now enjoy . . . whatever.

It turns out that role-playing is an effective “pre-emptive” tool, especially if the lower centers of the brain are underdeveloped. Why’s that?

Well, if the pons is underdeveloped, we’re still wired to go into a fight-or-flight response whenever the brain perceives a threat.  But here’s the problem. The brain is not very adept at discerning what’s real and what’s not. So, someone with an underdeveloped pons may interpret anything new as threatening, which then triggers that fight-or-flight response.

And that’s where role-play can really help. Time and time again, Brain Highways families experience the value and importance of role-playing specific situations before they actually happen.

Why is this so effective?  Well, this is where the brain’s inability to differentiate between what’s real and not works in our favor. The mere act of role-playing lays down neural networks. So later, when the actual situation happens, the brain already has some familiarity with it—which then greatly decreases that fight-or-flight trigger from something new and unknown.

Recently, JetBlue Airways offered parents and their children with autism an opportunity to participate in an event that could be considered one step beyond general role-playing.  They set up practice runs where these families actually went through the entire airline process—including boarding the plane and being taxied around the tarmac for 20 minutes before returning. Amazing!

However, not all of the families capitalized on this experience as much as they might have.  For example, one parent was quoted as saying, “”I’m really glad we had this experience because I know he’s not quite ready for the real thing yet.”

Yet, a Brain Highways perspective would not have automatically jumped to that conclusion. Rather, we would ponder what else we might practice to “prepare” the child, especially since the experience now gave us specific information in terms of what to anticipate.  Or some parents said that the fellow passengers and workers were too nice—that these people are often not so supportive during real travel. Then why not include those variables during this hands-on role-playing?

The parents could have additionally role-played many times (at home) a simulation of what was going to happen once at the airport, which then would have increased the chances of the practice run going even more smoothly for the child.

Of course, there are never guarantees when it comes to kids—and that is true for all kids, not just those with autism.  And yes, plane rides are especially challenging because once in the air, there really is no way to just leave.

But here, too, we can anticipate what we may not be able to control and, therefore, still have a ready-to-go plan.  For example, I used to travel on business flights with my eldest when she was a baby, when I’d have to fly somewhere for the day to do a presentation. As part of those contracts, whoever was hiring me would agree that I could bring my baby, as well as someone else to watch her while I was actually at the conference or workshop.  That way, I wouldn’t be gone from my daughter for the entire day and evening.

Well, I gotta tell you. Stink-eye takes on a whole new meaning when you enter a passenger cabin with a small baby, and it’s filled with business professionals who are intending to work during the entire flight.

Since I fully anticipated that reaction, what did I do?  Well, I was proactive. As soon as I was seated, I’d turn to everyone in my vicinity and share that I, too, really hoped my baby was going to be quiet the entire flight—and that’s how she usually was. But if she did start to cry, I’d be more than happy to buy anyone around me a drink to offset that stress.

And then I’d get smiles instead of stink-eyes.

So no, we don’t have to enter situations with dread and conviction that it’s going to be awful, no matter what.  Rather, we can use our cortex to “see the bigger picture” and then plan accordingly.

And just having that kind of mindset already increases the odds that we do circumvent what we would have otherwise dreaded.  That’s because a positive perspective gives a very different subconscious message than one that expects the worst.

Actually, that statement might be worth reading twice  . . . since it applies to so, so many areas of our life.

How Does Your Child’s Classroom Rate?


Are your kids off to learn in an ideal classroom?

I’m often asked what I think an ideal classroom would look like.  So, here it goes.


  • The teacher is aware of her own brain profile and does not require students’ brain organization to “fit” hers.
  • The teacher views kids who do not naturally match her expectations and teaching style as gifts who will help her grow professionally.
  • The teacher honors all students by creating specific opportunities for every student to shine, as well as ways to challenge students to go a little beyond their comfort zone.


  • Students in an ideal classroom draw a blank if asked who’s the smartest or who gets in trouble the most, and so on.
  • Students honor each other, recognizing that they all have strengths, as well as areas to improve.
  • Students work together to solve problems and find common ground.
  • Students know how to find their “edge” so that challenges provide continuous opportunities to wrap the most myelin.
  • Students help their brain stay alert and focus by knowing how to self-regulate themselves via different sensory input.


  • Lessons are created and presented in ways that parallel how the brain learns naturally.
  • Lessons are rich in sensory stimuli to increase the probability that information actually registers in the brain (we can’t recall something if it was never processed in the first place).
  • Vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli—from having students spin or rock or jump to allowing them to chew gum or squeeze stress balls–are regularly infused within lessons to help students stay alert and remain in their cortex.
  • Lessons provide endless ways for students to move and stay engaged.
  • There is always a connection between what’s being learned and how that knowledge will enhance students’ lives at this point in time.
  • It is impossible to fail; mistakes are merely viewed as opportunities to wrap more myelin.
  • The act of thinking is valued more than getting answers right.
  • Critical and creative thinking and problem solving are emphasized (rather than memorizing facts).
  • Technology is included, but only as a way to provide multimedia stimuli and to enhance other lesson goals.
  • Learning is always joyful. 


  • Students choose from a variety of mediums to share what they’ve learned.
  • Assessments are part of daily lessons, yet students don’t even know they’re being assessed.
  • Assessments are viewed merely as feedback to know whether information was processed or whether it still needs to be presented in yet a new, different way.


  • The students sit in a way that encourages, rather than discourages interaction.
  • Student work (rather than purchased charts, etc.) cover bulletin boards and walls.
  • Student work on the walls is not perfect; rather, it reflects improvement and progress.
  • There are “safe places” around the room where there’s no extra “stuff” on the ledges or hanging from the ceiling (which is greatly appreciated by kids who get overstimulated).
  • There are sensory zones (with vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile stimuli) for students to “refuel,” as needed, throughout the day.

Here are a few simple ways to know if your child is learning in an ideal educational environment:

  • He’s excited when he comes home from school, and he tells you what he’s learning without being asked.
  • He wants to expand his knowledge beyond what he’s learning in the classroom—and does so on his own initiative.
  • He wants to go to school–even when he’s sick.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking that ideal classroom is not really feasible or within your child’s reach.  Well, if you believe that, then you’re probably right.

But look at that list. The overwhelming majority of those ideas don’t require spending a dime or passing any legislation.

That’s because the ideal classroom simply begins with the mindset of  . . . why not? Why not desire that kind of environment for our kids? Why not explore whether one or two or three or more of those ideas are already happening in a classroom in our school? Why not expect to send our kids to a learning environment where they thrive and truly discover the joy of learning?


What Skeptics Don’t Know


Skeptics often automatically dismiss an idea or program without ever exploring its merits in-depth.

I’ve met many people who think being skeptical is part of their innate personality. In fact, I often hear pride in their voice when they say, “Well, you know I am a skeptic”—as though ongoing skepticism was a true part of their DNA.

Yet, when I hear someone claim to be a skeptic, I actually hear that as a red flag of an underdeveloped pons—even though it’s unlikely the person has ever made this connection.

Why would I make such a claim? Well, first of all, people with an underdeveloped pons are still wired to be in a hyper-vigilant state—which means they’re always on the look-out for a possible threat and danger.  Such people are also more likely to react (before pondering and reflecting on whatever is happening), have distorted fears, and resist change.

So, a person who’s automatically skeptical about anything new and different is acting as though everything “out there” is always suspect. That’s why they need to be so wary, right?

Of course, that kind of distorted thinking then infers that the rest of us—those who do not view ourselves as skeptics—are all naïve. In other words, skeptics must think they’re somewhat superior to others since they’re ensuring that they’ll never be deceived (since they’re  automatically skeptical) while the rest of us are just sitting ducks for all the con artists and liars and thieves in the world. Yet, it’s that distorted fear of being duped that fuels their skepticism in the first place.

Well, then how do people with a well-organized brain process information about anything new and different? First, they’re open to hearing it without judgment. After all, there is no danger or threat in doing that. If warranted, they seek additional information.

Next, they reflect on what they’ve learned in order to decide whether the information resonates with their prior experiences. They then consider, based on what their intuition tells them, if whatever they’re exploring might be a “fit” for them or not. If they conclude the information has not been persuasive, then they’re done—but not necessarily because they think whatever they’re exploring is nefarious. Simply, they’ve decided that whatever they were pondering was not congruent with how they think is best to move forward—again, for them.

That’s because a person with a well-organized brain remains open to the possibility that others may still benefit greatly from whatever they did not choose for themselves. In other words, when looking at the bigger picture (another sign of a well-organized brain), not everything in life is a one-size-fits-all deal.

When people with a well-organized brain decide that information they’ve been exploring resonates with them, they now have the confidence to give whatever a whirl (i.e. act on it)—and they do so without being particularly attached to the outcome. They’ll engage with curiosity, rather than a “you need to prove it to me” mindset.

In fact, people with a well-organized mind “get” that having faith is actually an action, rather than a thought—and that we all (including the skeptics) act on faith every day. For example, none of us know with absolutely certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow.

And yet, we act today as though that were already true. If we didn’t have that faith, we’d spend today very differently.

Okay, suppose we move forward on something, but it does not actually turn out as we hoped. Well, that’s hardly a reason to now doubt everything else in the future. In fact, those kinds of experiences create a better organized brain because they become rich opportunities to “wrap myelin” (a great outcome in the brain that results from a little struggle) that then helps us to learn how to tweak our analysis skills. But skeptics miss out on all that—and a whole lot more.

Now, I realize that skeptics, by their very nature, will likely dismiss the possibility that their skepticism might be in any way related to incomplete lower brain development.  They may even feel it necessary to defend a universal need for skepticism or cast doubt on my own credibility since I’m the one suggesting that they may have incomplete lower brain development.

But from my vantage point, those reactions would just underscore my original perception that such responses come more from the pons rather than the cortex. Simply, if we were responding in our cortex, we’d be open to learning more about pons development before making a decision on whether the information was valid or not.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging those who identify themselves as skeptics. They can view the world any way they choose—for as long as they like. Truly.

I only present the possibility of a connection between skepticism and incomplete lower brain development because I honestly think it’s a much nicer world when we’re functioning in it with a well-organized brain. So if even just one skeptic decides to learn more about lower brain development after reading this post . . . then I’m good. :-)

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