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No longer blind-The story of our baby born blind and brain-injured

Sterling was born blind and brain-injured due to a massive cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) he sustained in utero or at birth. The prognosis was that our son would remain blind and a vegetable for the rest of his life and the doctors suggested that we institutionalize him and move on with our lives. We refused to go in agreement with them and began our own research which led us to discover a controversial sensory stimulation program, the patterning exercises, that we could implement in the privacy of our own home with the help of volunteers. Sterling's progress has been amazing. This is his story.....

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Our Baby is Born Blind and Brain-Injured

15 year old Sterling with Shirley in 1994During the first few weeks of our baby's life, my husband and I weren't aware that our beautiful baby boy was blind and brain injured. Even his pediatrician didn't know. When he was 6 weeks old, we began to suspect something was wrong. Special medical test revealed that Sterling was cortically blind and suffered from other neurological problems.

At 6 months of age, Sterling had little tactile feelings, was unable to hold his head up, roll over, sit up, crawl, play with toys, he was completely blind. He was sleeping all the time and had a hard time breastfeeding because of spasticity and poor sucking reflexes. (I still managed to breastfeed him for 3 years.)

Doctors at Children hospital determined that our son would be a vegetable the rest of his life and suggested that we institutionalize him, have another child and move on with our lives. We certainly didn't agree with their suggestion and began a journey of researching how to help our son.

One month after we started the Patterning Program, Sterling recovered his vision. We continued the Patterning program for 12 more months in which time Sterling learned to hold his head, sit up, finger feed on crackers and play with toys. Sterling is far from being a vegetable. He is very active in his own right, having learned to move his body across the floor by rolling on himself. He is a happy boy and he is a God-sent to us, a most precious blessing in our lives.

Sterling's Neurological Damage

Presentation at the Lanterman Regional Center in Los Angeles, November 1996

I am pleased to have this opportunity to share with you the story about my son Sterling. At last month's meeting, Dr. Yetenekian had an interesting discussion on how to cope with children with developmental disabilities. He told us about children who had achieved a certain level of development and who may be displaying behavior problems. Sterling's situation is different from these children in that for a long time I had a child who could not achieve even the lowest level of normal development.

Sterling's neurological damage had left him blind and unable to function at any level, other than breathing, eating, and sleeping. In addition to this, he also suffered from severe health problems. Therefore, our main goal and focus with regard to Sterling has always been to find ways to bring life into him, to stimulate him, to sharpen his senses and his awareness and to try to improve his health (when I say "our" or "we", I'm always referring to my husband and I.)

What to do about your brain injured child During this presentation, I will tell you a little about Sterling's birth, and I will explain to you the nature of his disabilities and health problems. You will learn about the dramatic improvement that he experienced over the years despite ongoing negative medical prognosis. I will also describe to you how we have adapted our lives and our home to meet Sterling's very special needs. Our lives with Sterling has been a most incredible experience of mutual growth and learning on the job. Therefore, I have titled this presentation "Life with Sterling: living and learning with a very special child"

Sterling was born in 1979, a full term 7 1/2 lb. baby. He is our only child. My pregnancy was uncomplicated and I had planned to give birth to my baby at home, unfortunately due to complications, it just didn't work out as we had planned. When I arrived in the hospital, I insisted to have a natural, drugless delivery and as soon as our baby was born, the doctor laid him on my stomach and gave my husband the scissors to cut the umbilical cord.

We would not allow the nurses to take our baby away to the nursery room as is routinely done in hospitals, because we felt that a baby's place after birth belonged in his mother's arms, at the warmth of its mother's bosom, and not alone in lifeless crib. We felt it was important to preserve an uninterrupted closeness between mother and baby which is necessary in establishing vital bonding. So I kept my baby on my stomach or at my side all the time, until we were discharged from the hospital 24 hours later. We also didn't allow our baby to be circumcised as it is routinely done in the US hospitals because we believe that it is a barbaric act against an innocent and helpless newborn. Studies have demonstrated that the hygienic aspect of a circumcised penis is a myth.

None of the doctors or nurses at the hospital had noticed anything wrong with Sterling, even though there were already signs that something was not quite right. The first clue that something was wrong with our baby was that I could not wake him up to get him to feed. He appeared to be sleeping deeply, in actuality I think that he was in a state of semi-unconsciousness. As I was desperate to get him some nourishment, I turned for help to the La Leche League organization which is a support group for nursing mothers. They advised me to manually extract some of my milk (colostrum ) and to feed my baby with an eye dropper. I followed their advice and for 2 days I was able to feed him a little of my milk with an eye dropper.

Eventually Sterling began to nurse on his own. But there was something wrong in the way he was nursing. He was unable to suck properly and had difficulty holding on to the nipple. It would have probably been easier for Sterling to nurse at a bottle, but I was reluctant to extract my milk or to give him formula. We believed that while cow milk is fine for calves, my milk would be best for my baby. Despite the problems I persevered with a lot of patience and special nursing positions and continued to breastfeed my baby for 3 years. It wasn't until a few months later that we learned that Sterling's difficulties with nursing was caused by the fact that he was spastic and had poor coordination reflexes.

When Sterling was 6 weeks old, we began to wonder why he wasn't showing an interest in making eye contact with us or looking at objects. Our pediatrician and specialists at children's hospital ran a number of tests on him. They informed us that Sterling was cortically blind, and that he would most likely be blind for the rest of his life. They also told us that our son would also be a vegetable and recommended to us that we would be better off to place our baby in an institution, and get on with our lives. At first, we were shocked and devastated by their prognosis, but we never gave in or gave up. We decided to get opinions from other experts and to do our own research on cortical blindness and brain-injury. None of the medical experts could determine the cause of his condition. There was speculation that he may have suffered a massive brain hemorrhage or a stroke at birth, and/or that he may have suffered from congenital brain malformation during the gestation period.

At 3 months, Sterling began to experience seizures and severe constipation. He was placed on an anti-convulsive medication, Phenobarbital. This was extremely frustrating to me because I didn't like drugs and I was very concerned about its side- effects. We were desperate and determined to find help for our son and for the next few months, we took our baby from one medical specialist to another and he was subjected to endless medical tests. Unfortunately no medical answers or solutions were offered to help him and the prognosis about his condition remained very negative. Medical experts patiently explained to us that damaged or injured brain cells do not regenerate or heal. We were told time after time that Sterling would remain blind and a vegetable the rest of his life. But we just wouldn't give up hope, and we continued to search for more help.

Learning About the Patterning Sensory Stimulation Program

When Sterling was about 5 months old, we learned about a controversial therapy program which claimed to produce good results with brain injured children. This sensory stimulation program (the patterning) which was to be done at home by parents and volunteers consisted of simple, yet extensive series of repeated exercises.

The purpose of this therapy was to simply stimulate the brain and to train healthy brain cells to take over the function of the damaged cells. At first we were skeptical about this program, but after reading "What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child ' we decided to go ahead and try it on Sterling. We felt that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. (The author of that book, Glen Doman, is also the founder of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia)

We took Sterling to the institute's sister organization in in La Habra, CA Help For Brain Injured Children' (HBIC) for a consultation with Dr. Bob Doman (Glen Doman's brother) and Dr. Spitz, the neurologist from the Institute in Philadelphia. We were relieved that Dr. Spits and Dr. Doman did not recommend surgery for Sterling and they offered us a hopeful prognosis.

When Sterling started the program he was 6 months old. He was blind, he was unable to hold his head up or to sit, he had no muscle tone and no coordination, and he continued to experience difficulty nursing. In addition, we also found out that he had very poor tactile feelings, meaning that his skin sensitivity to touch was very low. At 6 months Sterling was still functioning at the level of a newborn, in other words, he was doing nothing more than sleeping or nursing all the time.

I don't think that I have time today to discuss the details of this therapy program, and this is not really the focus of this presentation anyway. So I'm going to move along and just tell you about the results.

One month after I started Sterling on this program I noticed something unusual about him. He seemed to be smiling directly at me. At first I thought I was imagining things. I couldn't believe that he was able to see after only one month on this program. This was like a miracle! But it was true, those big, beautiful eyes were focusing on me, and he was actually making eye contact with me! He also began to play with his hands by flipping his fingers repeatedly in front of his eyes.

Sterling Recovered his Vision at 8 months old

To see Sterling recover his vision so quickly gave me the encouragement to hope for more miracles. So for the next 18 months I diligently continued to do the therapy with him. I have to admit that the long hours spent in doing the program with Sterling was very hard work, both for me and for him.

But it paid off because Sterling made tremendous progress in the development of his muscle tone and motor control. Of course, Sterling is not walking or talking and he is still obviously very delayed in his overall development, but he his certainly far from being a vegetable as some doctors had predicted he would be. In fact, Sterling learned many important skills on this program.

He has acquired the ability to sit on his own and he can pull himself onto his knees. He has also learned to use his hands to grasp objects and play with them, and he can finger feed on rice cakes. But I think that his biggest achievement on this program, other than the recovery of his vision, is that he has gained mobility skills. However, Sterling does not move his body as most children do. Instead of learning to crawl or creep like a regular toddler, which Sterling is unable to do because of weakness in his arms and legs, he has learned to move his body in a most peculiar way: he simply rolls on himself. In this fashion, he has gained precious independence and enjoys traveling all over the apartment as he pleases.

Its amazing to me to witness how a child can learn to compensate for his disabilities and overcome his weakness. Sterling is hypotonic, meaning that he has floppy muscle tone. Developmentally, he still performs at the level of about a 9 month old baby and he requires the same care and attention as an infant. Like a toddler, he expresses his joy by squealing and screaming and for those who are not familiar with him, these sounds may appear as though he was crying or having a tamper tantrum. But just one good look at his face will show only a big shining smile or an expression of happiness.

The patterning slide board was used to teach 12 month old Sterling to crawl

Despite the fact that Sterling is a teenager now, there are no more discipline issues with him than there are for a 9 month old infant. What Sterling needs more than anything, is plenty of tender loving care, and a safe and stimulating environment. Sterling has a very sweet and happy disposition. I have never seen him being angry or having a tamper tantrum.

At home he is always babbling and smiling. Sterling is like a living doll. In the process of helping Sterling on this therapy program, I learned that no matter how serious an injury or a health situation may be, we all have tremendous recuperative power. .We should never give up hope, no matter how desperate a situation in life may be or how negative a medical prognosis is. I also learned to not succumb to despair or stay victim of any given circumstances! With a positive attitude and determination and with lots of love and patience miracles do occur.

Nurturing Sterling and the Family Bed

Now I'd like to tell you a little about our Family Bed. But before I do so, I need to explain to you about how life was for me when I was a baby. I was born in the late forties and at that time, in the Western world mothers followed unnatural and rigid standards in the care of their infants. For example, as a baby, I was left to sleep in a crib in a room by myself. When I cried no one was allowed to pick me up or attend to me for fear of "spoiling" me. The feeding and care of babies in those days, ran similar to a strict military schedule, with the same lack of human warmth. As a young child, I also sadly witnessed my younger siblings being subjected to the same tragic treatment. We were raised by the rod and the whip at the hand of our mother. When Sterling was born, I was determined to care for my child with warmth and love in the most natural setting as possible. I have always admired how babies are cared for and loved in the 3rd world. The Family Bed concept is a lifestyle that promotes closeness and emotional warmth between parents, children, and children are welcomed to sleep with their parents at night. I learned about this concept at the breastfeeding support group and by reading a book titled "The Family Bed".

The family bed played a very, very important role in the care of Sterling, and continues to be an integral part of his life to this day. In addition of promoting bonding between us and Sterling, this lifestyle also significantly reduced stress in our lives.

Photo taken in Nov 93 - 14 year old Sterling in the family bed with Shirley, looking at himself in the mirror.

For several years, when Sterling was still unable to move his body, the most comfortable place to keep him day or night was at my side in our bed. This arrangement was very comforting and relaxing to both me and Sterling. He felt very secure and contented to be next to his mommy all the time, and I was able to watch TV in bed, or to study, or to simply rest as much as I needed to. The other reason we choose to have Sterling sleep with us was because he was prone to violent, life threatening seizures which occurred mostly during sleep time.

We had to be close to Sterling at all times to immediately help him breathe and give him assistance during the seizure attack. I have always been very protective of my baby and I never felt safe unless he was close to me all the time. Our family bed is large and very comfortable. It is made simply of 2 double mattresses placed side by side and it stands low to the floor without a frame.

When Sterling gained mobility and wanted to move about in the apartment, he learned to roll off the bed onto the thick carpeted floor without hurting himself. And to this day, Sterling continues to spend a lot of time relaxing or napping in bed with me while I work on my laptop computer or watch TV. This past year Sterling has become much more active and independent and he no longer sleeps with us at night. He has comfortably graduated from the family bed to his own little bed next to our bedroom. His seizure activities have diminished and he requires less attention. Occasionally, I still have to get up in the middle of the night to help him through a seizure or discomfort. However, during daytime, he and I continue to spend a lot of quiet time together in the family bed.

Because of his health condition and other issues, we choose to homeschool Sterling. Everyday at home, we implemented a sensory stimulation program (devised by Help For Brain Injured Children (HBIC) ) and we spent hours patiently teaching Sterling various skills.

Using food as a motivational tool

When Sterling was just a couple of years old, and still unable to hold his head up or move his body in any fashion, I used food as part of his sensory stimulation program to motivate and stimulate his developmental skills. For example, I stopped feeding him in a high chair and instead, I put him on his stomach on the floor to feed him. When he wanted to eat, he had to lift his head up long enough to allow me to slip a spoon of food into his mouth. With time, his neck muscle tone improved and he learned to hold his head up. In the same fashion food was used to motivate and to teach him to roll over and eventually to crawl as he learned to move his body on the floor inch by inch toward his food. Finally in the same manner he also learned to sit up on his own.

Feeding Time, Finger Feeding

11 year old Sterling and Shasta 1990Sterling is too big now to sit in a high chair and he doesn't sit at a table to eat. Instead, he eats his meal seated in a corner of the kitchen floor, or sometimes he prefers to lay flat on his back on the floor to eat. I let him decide which way he likes best. Sterling suffers from digestive problems and he eats a simple diet of vegetarian foods.

Sterling likes to finger feed on rice-cakes. I encourage him to finger feed because it provides him with important small motor exercises and helps improve his hand-eye coordination. However, Sterling has a problem with finger feeding, because he does not understand how to hold on to his rice cake. As soon as he takes a bite, he compulsively opens his fingers and drops the rice cake onto the floor. Naturally, it is not possible for me to keep giving him the rice cake back over and over again.

The only way to resolve this problem in a way that permits Sterling to eat all the rice cakes he wants any time he likes is to maintain a good supply of rice-cakes on the kitchen floor at all times. It isn't good enough to keep just one or two rice cakes on the floor for him because he does not understand how to visually locate where the rice cakes have fallen, although sometimes he tries to feel with his hand like a blind person, but he often misses locating the rice cake. We found that the best answer to this problem is to simply keep a bunch of rice cakes on the kitchen floor all the time. With so many rice cakes all around him, Sterling can easily locate one and grab it.

Mirrors and Dolls
As I mentioned earlier, Sterling was born blind and he recovered his vision at about 7 months of age, after receiving intensive special visual stimulation therapy at home for one month. Eventually, Sterling obtained excellent vision and he used his sight to play with objects, however, he rarely looked at people or paid any attention to them. This made me believe that he might be autistic but experts reassured me that he wasn't autistic, only that he was very shy.

1995 - 16 year old Sterling kneeling over the coffee table, looking at himself in the mirror.)

To help Sterling overcome his extreme shyness and to improve his confidence level I got the idea to hang a lot of mirrors and dolls on every walls in ourapartment, including the kitchen and the bathroom. Wherever he goes Sterling always finds himself surrounded by mirrors and dolls. At the beginning, he ignored the dolls and his own image in the mirror but gradually he began to timidly make brief eye contact and eventually began to smile and even babble with the dolls and with his own reflection in the mirror. In time, he gradually developed a fascination with his own image. He'll grab a mirror and bring it close to his face and press his lips on it to kiss himself. Now I constantly hear him babbling and giggling with his own little bad self and he also likes to watch himself eat rice cakes in front of the mirror.

June 1999- 20 year old Sterling "chatting" with a neighbor

His interaction with the dolls and his own image have raised Sterling's awareness and confidence level and helped improve his eye contact with people. He is still shy, but he seems to have more self-assurance and when he feels well he will respond and interact with someone who says hello to him. I have to mention that despite his extreme shyness toward strangers, Sterling has always demonstrated a great deal of interest and affection toward his father. For example, I remember when he was just a few months old and still blind, he used to always turn his head toward the sound of his daddy's voice and smile. Perhaps he remembered the sweet little nothing chats that his daddy used to have with him through my abdomen when I was pregnant.

The Living Room
Despite his disabilities, Sterling is a very active and independent child, and he loves his freedom of mobility that he is accustomed to. We have always encouraged Sterling to exercise his body as much as possible on the floor and he is always free to travel anywhere he likes in the apartment. He has never been restricted in a playpen or a crib. As I explained earlier, Sterling never learned to crawl or creep because of weakness in his arms and legs, instead, he learned to move his body by rolling on himself. To protect him from hurting himself, we have cleared the center of our living room from most furniture items except for a sofa and a coffee table. Sterling is using the coffee table as a "pull up" exercise bench. We have even glued a toy and a mirror on top of the coffee table to encourage him to lift his body up on his knee to reach for the toy and the mirror.

Nov '94 - 15 year old Sterling with Shirley) - July 1995, 16 y old Sterling exercising muscle tone over coffee table.

Sterling's Digestive problems

Sterling has suffered from poor digestive process his entire life. For years we consulted with several medical specialists and Sterling was subjected to numerous medical tests bu we never found the cause of his problems nor a cure. We suspect that the vagus nerve may have been damaged during his brain injury which in turn is affecting his entire digestive system. Special diets and feeding plans were developed by dietitians at UCLA to help put weight on Sterling but that didn't work either.

Putting weight on Sterling, and keeping it on has always been a major struggle for me and for him. He likes to eat and is always willing to eat but the problem is that the wrong kind of food or too much food triggers seizures or vomiting. Early on, when I began introducing solids into his diet- when he was weaned at the age of 3- I realized that Sterling did not tolerate animal proteins, fruits or vegetables. The food he tolerates best consist primarily of grains like millet, amaranth, quinoa, oats, rye and barley, organic butter, olive oil, flaxseed oil, bee pollen, Spirulina - kelp - Chlorella and sea salt. The grains must be well cooked and processed into a puree in the blender for easier digestion.

* In Feb. 2003, I read an article from Patricia Kane Ph.D., The Neurobiology of Lipids In Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which said "Omega 6 essential fatty acids (in this case the precursor PG1 as evening prim rose oil) must be repleted and stabilized before omega 3 supplementation commences". I never gave Sterling evening primrose oil rich in Omega 6 or Flaxseed oil which is rich in Omega 3. I wish I had this information years ago.

To help put weight on him, I also add barley malt, rice syrup and glucose (Polycose) in his food. Whenever Sterling gets sick with seizures or vomiting and cannot eat, I resorted to use slippery elm in powder form . When mixed with water (cold, warm or hot water) slippery elm powder takes on the consistency of a pudding which is highly digestible and nourishing. To help improve his digestion, I give him a capsule of Enzymes with each meal and a capsule of friendly digestive bacterias. Lately, I have also discovered the wonderful healing power of Calcium Montmorillonite Clay which provide much needed trace minerals, improves digestion and detoxifies the system. Another wonderful nourishing and soothing product is the raw Chia seed soaked in water, broth, or juice . (Always consult with a physician before using herbs or other products as they could interfere with anti seizure or other types of medication.)

NOTE: 2006: If I had known about the phytoplankton nutrients , and given these to Sterling, I think it would have made a huge difference in his health and well being. These juices have been used in the treatment of atrophic gastritis, weakened digestion due to reduced stomach activity.

SLIPPERY ELM In times of famine, early American settlers used slippery elm as a survival food. A strengthening, soothing demulcent herb, slippery elm is ideal for sore, inflamed, ulcerated mucous membranes and wasting disease. Primary uses:

  • Slippery elm can be used by weak or debilitated people as a mild food to help build up the body. It is especially helpful when no other food can be kept down. It is a highly nutritive, tonic herbal food and is further helpful for conditions of tissue deficiency.
  • As a key part of combinations for stomach, bowel and colon sores, ulcers and inflammation. As a specific for stomach and lung cancer lesions; as a throat coat and demulcent expectorant for dry sore throats and coughs.
  • As the soothing part of a formula or indigestion and gastritis; a soothing astringent for diarrhea.
  • Slippery elm is useful in treating digestive conditions with inflamed mucous membrane linings such as gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, enteritis, and colitis, where it has a soothing demulcent action.

Mom Overcoming Stress and Fatigue

Our lifestyle with Sterling may seem strange perhaps to some people. But we do what we feel is necessary to survive and to make life as comfortable as possible for all of us. Together, we learned to adapt to a unique and exceptional situation. Sterling has lived all his life at home with us and we want him to spend the rest of his life with us. So again, it is important that we organize our lives with him in a way as to make things as stress-less, and as harmonious as possible for all of us. I would like to share with you some of my experience with stress which I endured for several years after Sterling was born. But most importantly, I'd like to tell you how I learned to overcome and manage my stress. There were basically 3 main sources of stress in my life:

  • I suffered from ongoing sleep deprivation because of Sterling's health problems.
  • My overall state of health was in very poor condition and I was sick most of the time which made my life miserable.
  • I was a victim of negative emotions and attitudes.

Sleep deprivation was a very big issue for me. The pains and seizures that poor little Sterling experienced kept him, and us, awake late into the night. When he finally did fall asleep, it was only to be jerked awake by more pain or seizures at all hours of the night. Our sleep was constantly interrupted. There came a point, when Sterling was about 5 years old, when I became so tired that I could no longer function normally. Eventually, I suffered a nervous exhaustion- breakdown.

We had to take immediate action and change our sleeping habits. We decided that at this point, the priority in the family was for me to get some rest. And so we resolved that I would sleep by myself, and that Chuck (my husband) would stay up with Sterling all night. Fortunately Chuck was self employed and had no problem to change his working schedule from daytime to nighttime so that he could take care of Sterling at night. We kept this arrangement for a long time until Sterling's condition and seizure activities improved. When he was able to sleep better, we started to sleep together again.

As I mentioned earlier, Sterling is sleeping by himself now. He has grown and matured and has become more active and independent. His seizures have improved to the point that he no longer requires constant attention and care during the night. So for me, sleep deprivation is the exception now, rather than the rule. And I'm happy to say that over the hump in that regard.

Health Condition: My poor My poor state of health was another tremendous source of stress for me. I had very little energy because my body was unhealthy and overweight as a result of bad eating habits. I suffered from a wide variety of chronic ailments such as allergies, repeated infections, horrendous back aches which totally debilitated me, and I had recurring huge cysts in my breast. I experienced only temporary relief from the cortisone and antibiotics which I had been taking or a very long time, but which unfortunately caused severe side effects. By the time that Sterling had turned two, my breast was in such bad shape that the doctors recommended that I undergo a mastectomy (surgery to remove the breast). I refused to go along with their program, because I just didn't believe in surgery. Nevertheless, I was compelled to try to improve my overall health for the sake of Sterling, because more than anything, I wanted to be there for him for many more years to come. I was advised by Sterling's pediatrician to consult with a Naturopath and a Homeopath (doctors of alternative medicine.) I knew little about natural, holistic health and even less about homeopathy but I trusted her and followed her advice.

Shirley and Sterling Photo in 1981 Shirley with 2 year old Sterling - I was overweight (185 lbs), suffered from chronic fatigue and depression, and my health was steadily going down the drain. For years I had been a 'junkie' addicted to prescription and over the counter drugs.

Dog, Sterling, and Shirley In 1983 with 4 year old Sterling. I lost 60 pounds effortlessly in 3 months, and fully recovered my physical and mental health entirely with natural means. Holistic Health, specifically homeopathic medicine had a major impact on my life and turned my health around to 180 degrees!

First of all, my health improved in all areas. Breast surgery was no longer required because the cysts in my breast went into remission and never came back. As my immune system improved, I became naturally healthier and the other symptoms I mentioned earlier eventually cleared up without any further use of prescription drugs. My energy level increased and I noticed that I was better able to function and to deal with stress. I was calmer and felt happier with my life. I was thrilled with my looks too, because as a result of my new natural diet I had dropped 60 pounds in 3 months effortlessly

Finally, the third source of stress in my life originated from emotional factors. Anxiety, stress and worry were big issues for me, especially during the first few years of Sterling's life. I constantly worried and feared for my baby's very survival. Each time I watched him experience one of those horribly violent Nov '93 - 14 year old Sterling with Shirleyseizures which impeded his breathing, I feared that he might not make it through. It is hard for a helpless mother to watch her baby in so much pain.

Fortunately, Sterling is doing much better now. The frequency and severity of his seizure activity has diminished and he is able to eat, sleep and function much better. The improvement of his seizure activity was the result of a carefully monitored diet, as well a herbal and homeopathic treatments and the selection of the right medication.

During moments of discouragement my husband was always a great source of support for me. He had little tolerance for negative attitude, and he patiently taught me how to maintain a positive outlook and keep hope alive no matter how desperate things appeared to be. He taught me that I have the power within me to react to any situation with positive and constructive thoughts rather than fear, worry or any other destructive thinking. I also learned to go with the flow and take one day at the time. I tried to accept the things that I could not change and continued to try to change the things that I could.

(photo taken in Nov '93 - 14 year old Sterling with Shirley on a swing)

The love we have for Sterling carried us to the top of the mountain. We made Sterling the center piece of our lives, because he was so innocent and helpless, he had so many problems and he needed us more than anything in the world. Some people think that we have given up, or sacrificed a lot from our lives for Sterling. But what we have done for our child in all those years, we don't consider as a sacrifice, rather we see it as an investment, in both him, and us as well. Sterling is not and never has been a burden for us, quite to the contrary. He is our precious little treasure.

Sterling has brought so many blessings into my life. If it hadn't been for him, I would have probably stayed with my old ways of life and old belief system and I would have missed out on challenging learning experiences and new opportunities. Because you see, I feel that if it hadn't been for Sterling, I would probably never have discovered homeopathic medicine and holistic healing, and I would not have been motivated to change my diet and improve my health. I was so impressed with the results I obtained with my health that as a natural evolution, I decided to learn more about holistic healing by reading a lot of books. The great thing about my home studies is that it was done in a very relaxed manner, at my own pace, with Sterling by my side in bed, most of the time.

When a member of my family becomes sick or injured, they seldom need to see a doctor, because I have the know-how to treat them at home with effective, safe and natural remedies. (And I would like to add at this point, that anyone can have access to this information and can easily learn how to practice natural medicine at home. There are also short homeopathic study courses available for lay people or beginners. Courses info can be obtained from The National Center for Homeopathy

Also, my fascination with the healing power of natural raw foods ignited in me the desire to want to learn to grow my own food, without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

In 1987 my rooftop garden won the New American Garden Contest Special Merit Award from the National Gardening Association, and the National Gardening Magazine featured an article on my container garden. For 8 years I grew a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as grapes, corn, apples, bananas, cabbages, blackberries and much more.

Everything was grown entirely in containers on the rooftop of my Hollywood apartment building. By the 5th year, my container garden produced over 1 1/2 ton (or 1500 pounds) per year of organically grown fruits and vegetables.

But the best thing about my garden was that Sterling was never very far away from me. If he was not in the garden with me, then he was just a few flight of stairs away taking a nap in our apartment. My husband would call me from our apartment window to let me know when Sterling had just awakened from his nap and needed me back home.

In 1995 another great opportunity knocked at my door because of my commitment to homeopathic medicine. A grateful retired school teacher and computer consultant offered to teach me how to use a computer as a trade off for the successful results she achieved with my homeopathic treatments. At first I hesitated to accept her offer because computers intimidated me and even frightened me.

Also I didn't think I was smart enough to learn about those machines. But the opportunity was too good to pass, so I went ahead and got myself a laptop. I was surprised to discover how easy it is actually to learn to use a computer. The teacher taught me the rudiment of using a computer and word processing. Unfortunately, the teacher didn't have enough tech knowledge to teach me the internet and website publishing business so I learned at home on my own, with the help of various phone tech supports like AOL, Netscape.

With the word processor I have learned to truly enjoy writing. I write articles on homeopathy, on nutrition, on holistic veterinary medicine, and of course I also write articles about Sterling. And again, for me, the best thing about working with a laptop is that I can take it in bed with me, and write to my heart's content or surf the web while Sterling is happily playing, relaxing or napping right by my side. My life with Sterling has been that of an extraordinary experience of love, mutual growth, and overcoming challenges together. This is why I have titled this presentation "Life with Sterling: living and learning with a very special child".

In concluding this presentation, I'd like to say again, that despite his disabilities, we think that Sterling is the most precious gift that life has ever given us. And despite the difficulties and the stress that we experienced because of the circumstance of his neurological condition, Sterling has brought more joy into our lives than we ever thought possible. He is our true little blessing.

December 30, 2000 - Goodbye My Love

Sterling Robinson On this day, my adored little angel Sterling has departed from this earthly plane of existence and returned "Home". ( Life After Life and miraculous healing experience video ). He stopped breathing peacefully at home during his nap time sleep. In his death, Sterling looked so beautiful and so peaceful. Needless to tell you that losing Sterling was the worst pain that my husband and I experienced in our entire lives. It was like losing part of our own body and soul. But in our sorrow, we feel eternally grateful for having received this wonderful gift from the Universe (Sterling) and having had the honor and joy to care for him and to love him for 21 years. I'm so grateful for the riches and the wonders he brought to our lives. Everyone says that it is a miracle that he lived that long. Despite his many health problems, Sterling was a very happy little boy in the loving environment we provided for him. Sterling has touched the lives of almost everyone that came into contact with him.

(photo taken in Nov '98 - 19 year old Sterling )

Received from reverent Michael James, from the PERFECT PRAYER by St. Francis of Assisi.

Do no stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

From the mailbag:

From: Jodi Abbinanti
Email: jkabbin@optonline.net
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
Date: February 2005

Shirley- I wanted to thank you for sharing your story about Sterling. It truly has touched my heart- and changed our lives. My Daughter Kyli Margaret is 33 months old. She went through every test imaginable including a skin/muscle biopsy. Nothing turned up. The good news is- we don't have a diagnosis - and yet that is frustrating. Kyli was in the hospital at 11 weeks, 6 months, 9 months, 15 months, 16mos, and finally 18 mos. Around the 6th month mark I came across your website and ordered Glenn Doman's book "What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child." I read it - but it took a long time to finish b/c of all we were going through. After starting the recommended patterning program and building an incline plane as well as working w/ therapists etc., I finally attended the course at The Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) in Dec. 2004. It was amazing. By your story, I know you read the book but not clear if you took the course.

Needless to say, Kyli is 33 months old and developmentally around 7 months. Since beginning patterning in Aug. 2004, Kyli has increased her neurological age by 3.7 months (Practically doubled her development in 4 months!) She too is considered legally blind, and she now is seeing functionally in the outline perception stage. I could go on forever about Kyli's story and recent accomplishments. But what I really wanted you to know is that Sterling's life is a living miracle. Because you have had the courage to share his story, we are experiencing tiny miracles every day. I can tell by the way you expressed your love for Sterling that you understand that I have no idea what tomorrow brings, but that each day we celebrate the tiny miracles. Sterling's story is a miracle to us, b/c it lead us to the wonderful resources IAHP has to offer and we are seeing joyful improvements as a result. I know Kyli is being watched over by a legion of angels. Often she bursts out in laughter while in her crib or high chair and I believe the Angels are telling her jokes. Perhaps Sterling is one of the Angels she has met along the way. Thank you so much for having the courage to share what you have learned and to let Sterling's life touch ours. God Bless you and your family.

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Micah Lee Rock's Story . When Micah was born his heart stopped beating and he could not breathe on his own.. The doctors did an x-ray and found he had a collapsed lung. They removed the free air from his chest cavity and brought him back to life after at least 30 minutes. Read Micah's story and watch the video.

The Boy Who Sees Without Eyes Ben Underwood is blind. Both eyes were removed when he was just three years old, leaving him with no vision at all. So how on earth does he play basketball, roller blade and cycle his bike? Ben lost his eyes to retinal cancer but, unbelievably, he's taught himself to see; with sound.

Abby was a girl who had meningitis as a baby and suffered brain-damage. She was blind, could not sit up or crawl, and could not feed herself.

Her parents read "What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child", by Glenn Doman. They began patterning, and after a few months, Abby began crawling. After six months, she began creeping. Then she began to walk.

She is no longer blind, can read at a second grade level, and can feed herself. She walks a mile a day, is funny and smart. Abby is like thousands of other brain injured children who have been helped by The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, the non-profit organization founded by Glenn Doman.

Testimonial from Nanci Mikels about her son who suffered from seizures: " At the age of 2 yrs. I had a healthy boy. When he turned 29 month old, Josh had a seizure which put him in the hospital and we found out he had Hydrocephalus and so they put a shunt in his head at that time. From then on, Josh was in the hospital a lot. He had seizures, and he always threw up and suffered with pain of migraine headaches. The vomiting was possibly also from the mal-functioning of the shunt. The shunt was revised at age 7. When he turned 9 when we heard about this Immune Modulator Nutritional. We gave him the recommended dosage, which is 3 per day. Within 2 months his seizures had reduced and vomiting had stopped and he only had to go to the hospital once within those two months. He had gone to the hospital in a ambulance every month from age 29 months until he started taking this Immune Modulator Nutritional but between that time and now, age 12, he has not been in the hospital and does not throw up. It has amazed us how this has changed his life. The product became available when he was 9 and we gave him 2 in the a.m. and 2 in the p.m., working up to 6 a day. He is now 12 and he takes: 3 TF Advanced in the a.m. and 3 in the p.m. He also takes the RioVida juice on some days. He sleeps well at night now. His disposition is good, he is definitely a happy kid."

Kyle, a brain injured boy, was blind until 8 months of age. He did not move for the first year and a half of life. After only a week on the program of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, a non-profit organization founded by Glenn Doman, Kyle began to scoot on his stomach. After a year on the program, Kyle is not only crawling, but, pulling up to a standing position, and cruising furniture. He is now very funny and social, as well as smart. Kyle is like thousands of other brain injured children who have been helped by The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential , the non-profit organization founded by Glenn Doman.