Where Hope Comes Home
© Article, images, videos and all other material courtesy of The Homeschool Magazine
Many homeschool families have a child (or children) with special needs that can range from minor (behind in academics, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD) to severe (seizures, cerebral palsy, blindness, severe autism, paralysis). Most families hope that there is more that can be done for their child. A lot of times, well-meaning doctors only treat the symptoms, leaving families feeling discouraged, frustrated, and hopeless. The Family Hope Center has given back hope to thousands of families. It was founded by Matthew and Carol Newell, who teach that these issues are caused by injuries to very specific parts of the brain. With the proper therapy, training, and nutrition the brain can be healed and restored.
Located in Norristown, Pennsylvania (just northwest of Philadelphia), The Family Hope Center addresses the neurological reasons for special needs. Their highly trained staff includes medical doctors, therapists, and nutritionists. They offer a three-day intensive training conference titled “How to Help Your Child with Special Needs,” specialized two-day comprehensive in-clinic appointments, and a complete at-home program for those with mild to severe to profound injuries or no obvious “special needs” at all. They also have traveled around the world to teach and minister to families and professionals in other countries, including Mexico, Denmark, England, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, and France. Recently I had the privilege of sitting down to visit with Matthew and Carol and asked them to explain their mission and programs in greater detail.
Our mission is to inform parents and really help them to understand the neurological potential, as well as the neurological challenges of their children, and then bridge that gap.
TOS: What is your mission at The Family Hope Center?
Matthew: Our mission is to inform parents and really help them to understand the neurological potential, as well as the neurological challenges, of their children, and then bridge that gap. We want the parents to feel empowered to understand their kids and say, “Okay, here’s where my kids are, and here’s where I know they need to get to, to be everything that they need to be to reach their potential, within their gifts.” Our mission is to get parents into the driver’s seat, to be co-engineers with us to support their children neurologically. Whether they are homeschooling well kids or they have a child who has become hurt through anything from a car accident to drowning or they have a child who is adopted, and they have this beautiful child but they are inheriting the neurological complications the adopted child suffers from not getting the proper attention and care as an infant. We want to elevate the parents into a position of really understanding the brain and not being mystified by it. Then by understanding it, we put some practical procedures in place to support the neurological development of the child. If you are just dealing with the symptoms, you are never going to get ahead of the curve. Instead of focusing on the symptoms, we focus on the neurological abilities the child needs to gain. A parent then goes from being hopeless to being hopeful. We want to train the parents so they can understand that if a specific part of the brain is neurologically compromised, we can show them how to heal it. Meanwhile, we develop a structure so that child can succeed but with the purpose of finishing the neurological organization of the child’s brain. It’s a completely different way of looking at it.
TOS: What ages do you treat?
Matthew: All ages. From the infant who is born with Down syndrome to the 55-year-old man who had a stroke and his children are bringing him in. It doesn’t really matter to us. The brain is the brain. It’s a family-oriented outpatient program.
TOS: When a child is first brought to you, what is the first step? How do you assess the child’s needs?
Matthew: When a child first comes to us, the parents have already been to our three-day seminar, so they are familiar with the vocabulary; we’re all on the same page. When I see the child, I do a comprehensive neurological evaluation, which takes somewhere from 3½ to 4 hours, and then I give a diagnosis. That diagnosis will be based on where, in fact, the injury is. Telling them the child has ADD, cerebral palsy, autism—those are all just labels. We do not focus on the labels. For example, we will tell them that their child has extensive bilateral injury in the brain stem and cortex. All the labels are stripped down and we’re just looking at the neurological aspects of the brain and not assigning any name to it except what it is. The limbic area injury is usually labeled “autism,” the midbrain injury would be labeled “cerebral palsy,” and the cortex would be labeled as “ADD/ADHD,” and that type of thing. Once we diagnose the child’s problem, we see what we are looking at on the map of the brain. After this evaluation and diagnosis, they then see the medical director. After that, we do some more lecturing and give them more information. In terms of brain development, we start working on that child the first day, which is often a ten-hour day. The parents come back the next day and we give them their individualized homeschooling program and also show them what they need to do intellectually, physiologically, socially, and physically. We design a homeschooling day for them and teach them the “why’s” and the “how’s.” Over the next six months of the program, we are there to support them 24/7. They can call us, Skype with us, email and fax us. We are their teachers. If they get a little off track, we work with them to get them back on track. We move the homeschool program along as the child developmentally progresses.
With the proper therapy, training, and nutrition the brain can be healed and restored.
TOS: Can you explain the Your Thriving Child Program?
Matthew: Your Thriving Child Program is an at-home program for those with mild or no obvious “special needs” at all. It was born out of our desire to help parents who are homeschooling but don’t have the foggiest idea that the brain is really the central piece they should be understanding first. A lot of parents are very confused about why their kids are struggling and aren’t succeeding. Carol and I realized that there are a lot of parents who don’t understand the brain. They read all sorts of books and hope and pray that their child meets all these milestones, and when they don’t, they become confused and panic. We had many parents come back and tell us that they had implemented all the information we had taught them to do with their hurt child. They then used a similar track with their well kids whom they were training at home, and those children did spectacularly well. We thought: “Well, yeah, that makes sense. If it helps the hurt child, then we can also use it with the well child who is struggling. They are just going to get better faster because the brain is going to get wired faster.” After working with 15–20,000 parents, Carol said, “Let’s develop a two-day curriculum that talks about the thriving family and child—something families can use at home, that really puts the parent in the driver’s seat.” It’s born out of a way to help young mothers who are reading all of these books and not really understanding the big picture. For example, crawling on your belly is so important in the healthy development of attention, focus, bowel control, mouth control, and using your eyes side to side. No one has the foggiest idea why crawling on your belly is such an important neurological ability. Healthy development of the feet, of the trunk, to walk with stability and run—a lot of it has to do with whether you crawled on your belly or not. So we decided to create this two-day video and build a curriculum around it. We wanted it to be something that parents would watch and then want to pass on to friends and family.
TOS: Any last things you would like to add?
Matthew: This information isn’t old fashioned. If we learn about the way neurological development occurs; support it with love, good nutrition, and lots of playing outside; and then combine it with Biblical boundaries and discipline, and you have been trained to know what you are looking at, then your children can have a spectacular developmental pathway. In our opinion, as Christians, we think that this is the way that God made us, the way we were supposed to always work. Meanwhile, we are helping a whole lot of hurt kids. We know the homeschool community is completely focused on helping their children. That’s why we are reaching out to the homeschooling community. We know we can collaborate with them to hopefully be a huge blessing.
TOS: The work you have done to help families is just amazing. I know that this information will definitely be a huge blessing to many families. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me!
Denice has been married to her wonderful husband Lance for twenty-four years. They have been blessed with five amazing children, ranging in ages from 2 to 22, and they live in Wisconsin. They have homeschooled for fourteen years. Denice has worked at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine for the past year as a Senior Ad Sales Representative. Matthew and Carol Newell and the FHC Team specialize in helping parents and families of children with injuries to their brain. These injuries may manifest themselves as labels many people refer to as “autism” or “ADD” or “dyslexia” and so on. The Family Hope Center believes that parents know their children better than anyone, and that every child is different and deserves individual treatment.
Written by Denise Gustafson from The Homeschool Magazine
Courtesy of © The Homeschool Magazine