Brighter Pathways ©  2017

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1237 E. Livingston Street, Suite B

Orlando, FL 32803-5401

Ph: 407-895-0540 ~ Fax: (407) 228-9771

Licenses:  SS00305 ~ MH02676 ~ PCE-9

Non-Medical Help with Stress 504 Plans Cognitive-Beh. Animal Therapy Visualization Stress-Busters

In the early 1980s, I worked at an exceptional education center for children with severe learning handicaps and behavior disorders. There I met Benjamin. He was a student with a harsh history of abuse and neglect. His mother, only in her mid to late-20's, already had six children! Plus, there was another infant in the home because  Benjamin's oldest sister–barely a teenager herself–was also a single mother. You can imagine the chaos.

This family often subsisted on canned pasta or cold cereal. When money was tight, it would go for beer and cigarettes before food. In his very early years, Benjamin had sometimes been locked in a closet rather than having a baby sitter. There was also a series of "uncles" who came and went. These live-in boyfriends of Mom were often cruel, especially when drunk. Benjamin's cigarette-burn scars proved that.  Certainly, there was neglect and physical abuse; whether there was also sexual abuse or other trauma was unknown.

At the age of 6, Benjamin had been removed from his home by HRS (now known as Department of Children and Family Services, DCF). He was evaluated and found to have an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of 69. This score fell within the range called Educable Mentally Handicapped -- or, to the layman, Benjamin was mentally retarded. His “intelligence” was measured to be in the lowest 2% of the population. Typically, one would expect very little to become of a life such as this. Benjamin would most likely be another hopeless victim, repeating the pattern of destitution and dependency into another generation.

Happily, fortune intervened. Benjamin was placed in a loving home with his grandmother, his aunt and her son (Benjamin's cousin). They provided not only affection and support, but much stimulation. Although there was little money (they also lived on welfare), they took Benjamin to the library, read to him, played games, and practiced homework skills. He also worked with a specially-trained teacher in a small classroom.

At age 9, Benjamin was required by state law to be re-evaluated. When I tested his IQ, this time it had jumped to 85! This is considered Low Average. Now his intelligence level was above about 1/8 of the population, instead of the lowest 2% -- at the retardation level!

Special education teachers and Benjamin's new family continued to work with him and encourage him. When he was next evaluated at age 12, Benjamin's IQ was tested as 100! This is exactly in the middle of the Average Range. He placed above 1/2 of the population and below 1/2 of the population. He was NORMAL! Opportunities for his life as an adult were multiplied. Here again, a blessing!

Dramatic jumps in test scores such as this are rare. But this case beautifully illustrates the power of intervention. What if Benjamin had stayed in his early environment? Would he still be "retarded" today? Would he be depending upon taxpayers' dollars to just survive each day?

Let us always remember the power of intervention that is ours to claim. Let each of us strive to make a difference in the lives of those who cross our path.

Notice:  Leave of Absence Closure

Dr. Messenger will be starting  A Leave of Absence as of Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 for an unspecified time.  Assessments and consultation can be scheduled until then.  The website will remain available for educational purposes, until the office is reopened.

Live out of your imagination, not your history.
                     - Stephen Covey

Although the world is full of suffering,
it is full also of the overcoming of it.
My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil,
but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good
and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good,
that it may prevail.

                               - Helen Keller