Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. Jennifer Dustow, a Cognitive Learning Specialist
We are speaking with Dr. Jennifer Dustow, who has a doctorate in Education, on how she increases left and right brain communication in Autistic children to calm the mind and increase focus.
Tell Us How You Help Kids Diagnosed With Autism Improve Focus and Socialization
I have been working with children diagnosed with autism for over 17 years. Having a child diagnosed with autism participate in ‘normal’ activities can be very challenging. In order to increase their success, their brains need to be focused, ready to receive messages.
For my doctorate dissertation in 2006, I conducted a study with 88 preschoolers diagnosed under the autism spectrum using the intervention Midline Exercises, a therapy used for years with recovering stroke victims. Midline Exercises promote brain communication between the hemispheres.
What Can Be Achieved With Midline Exercises?
For a child with autism this left and right hemisphere communication is limited, leaving the child unable to participate like others within their age grouping. Midline Exercises force the brain to communicate in order to increase focus, readying the child to learn, and achieve the midline activity.
Since I have a very eclectic approach, one approach does not fit all. In many situations the outcome or goal is the same (interactions with others) but the path there is very unique to each child. But for off task behaviors such as hitting, biting, running off, self talk, and yelling, the outcome of Midline Exercises is outstanding.
During Midline Exercise Treatment, How Does the Autistic Child Do In Between Visits?
In practice, a common problem that arose was that in between a child’s appointments with me, they would have “social homework” which was disappointingly very limited. One day a parent helped me to address this problem by mentioning to me that it would be awesome if I could create an app for midline exercises that children could use in between appointments to assist with their focus and social interactions.
So together with a team I set out to do just that… Happy DRJ app was created. This app provides easy to follow midline exercises to ready the brain. It also alleviated much of the cost and time spent for office visits. This app has helped the child experience more successes which makes them better equipped to take their place in society.
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic, Integrative, or Natural Health Path?
I personally believe in daily exercising because of the benefits to the mind and body. For a child diagnosed with autism, the mind and body connection is hindered due to what is occurring within the brain. Through midline exercising, a child’s brain is tasked with sharing of information, resulting in a calmer more focused child.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Professional Experiences Taught You and What Has Been the Affect on Your Lifestyle?
Working with these wonderful children throughout the years, I have learned first hand just how awesome they are when given the chance to succeed.
I hold a doctorate in education along with being a Cognitive Behavioral Learning specialist.
I’ve worked with families for over 17 years to find answers through my private practice. Due to the COVID I have developed into a remote approach seeing clients throughout the world.
Dr. Jennifer Dustow, Doctorate in Education, and a Cognitive Behavioral Learning Specialist
Specializing in Autism in Kids
Lāna’i City, Hawaii, USA
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