The Parent Perspective: Dana Latter
I’m excited to announce that we’re starting a new series here on the My Child Will Thrive Podcast called The Parent Perspective. Today’s debut episode is with Dana Latter.
Dana is a parent of a child who struggled with developmental delays. On the show we talked about her experience with her sons, what techniques worked or didn’t work and what she would’ve done differently if she knew what she did now. Her story has so many similarities to other parents out there and I was able to relate with her as well. She now shares her journey on her own podcast as well as helps other families just like hers.
If you’re a parent or caretaker and you’re interested in sharing your experience with us on the podcast, please fill out our form here and we read them all and you will always hear back from us:-) We look forward to sharing your story too!
I hope you enjoy this first parent podcast episode with Dana!
Show Notes for this Podcast
- The process of discovering that her son had some developmental challenges. (4:24)
- The first diagnosis she received and looking for support. (6:22)
- Looking into primitive reflexes and how that helped her son. (8:58)
- What Dana did when her son regressed during puberty. (12:58)
- The quality of life her son has now and what she’s doing to help both of her sons moving forward. (17:05)
- How Dana works with other families going through similar things. (20:37)
- Rezzimax and the experiences both Tara and Dana had with the tool. (22:50)
- The best advice that all parents need to hear and believe. (25:16)
Resources and Links
Dana’s book, “Against the Odds”
Articles Related to What you need to know about the CDC changes to developmental milestones
More about Dana Latter
Dana knows the overwhelming feelings of frustration of families with special needs, autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. She started learning about the subject when she realized that her son was “different” and could not accept the diagnosis. She knew in her heart that he could overcome his challenges and thrive. She works with parents one-on-one in a holistic approach based on the Melillo Method.
[00:00:00] Tara Hunkin: This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin nutritional therapy practitioner, certified GAPs practitioner, restorative wellness practitioner, and mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities.
[00:00:23] My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer, before we get started.
[00:00:46] My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds if not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.
[00:01:17] Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better judge what is normal or abnormal for your child. The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty. Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism,
[00:01:49] ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit. Hi everyone, I'm Tara Hunkin. I want to welcome you back to the My Child Will Thrive podcast. Today we have a special interview for you.
[00:02:18] We're starting a new interview series where we talk to parents, in particular parents that are open and willing to sharing their journeys that they've had with their children, things that went well, things that didn't and everything in between. So I hope you stick around for this. Our inaugural parent story podcast with Dana Latter and Dana knows very well the overwhelming feelings of frustration that families with special needs,
[00:02:47] autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, children with those things going on. She started learning about the subject when she realized that her son was quote unquote different and could not accept the diagnosis that she was given at the time. She knew in her heart that he could overcome his challenges and thrive. She now works with parents, one-on-one in a holistic approach based on the Melilo Method.
[00:03:12] So that's Dr. Melillo, which we talk about lots here on the podcast because we love the work that he, and all the people that he has trained over the years do in the area of functional neurology. So Dana, I'm so glad to have you here and appreciate your willingness to talk to us today about your story with your son so that other parents like us can benefit from your journey and experience.
[00:03:39] Dana Latter: Yeah. Thank you for having me. And I'm very excited to be here.
[00:03:44] Tara Hunkin: Good, actually. First of all, tell people, where are we hearing you from today? Like, are you in the world?
[00:03:51] Dana Latter: I'm in London, England. And my journey started many years ago. My son is almost 17.
[00:04:00] Tara Hunkin: Wow. Yeah, my daughter is 18 now, she just turned 18, so we started around the same time, which at that time, you can agree the internet was in its infancy so it was really hard to find great resources to know where to start. So maybe with that. Tell us about that process of discovering that your son was having some challenges and what you were told.
[00:04:24] Dana Latter: As I said, my son is almost 17 and his whole development was very delayed. So he walked at 19 months. He didn't speak until he was about four or five and then know that milestones matter a lot. And I wish I knew what all it years ago, but the doctor and my environment kept saying, that's okay, there's a kind of delay, but he's going to catch up and things will be good, but that wasn't the case.
[00:05:04] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. It's amazing how many of us hear that term catch-up and I don't mean the sauce. Catching up when it comes to milestones because what Dr. Melillo teaches people, which very well as you've been through a certification process is that milestones matter much.
[00:05:21] And we definitely want to be paying attention to when a child is not meeting their milestones and that window and we actually recorded a podcast with Dr. Peter Scire, who is also a colleague of Dr. Melillo and Dr. Melillo mentors him, just on that subject matter, that'll be coming out as well. If it hasn't already in terms of the timing of when yours comes out,
[00:05:45] but because a lot of conversation about milestones these days as well, because some of those milestones have been changed by certain organizations. We won't dive into that right now, but what milestones were you seeing? Obviously, the gross motor milestone of not walking on time, speech. Were there other ones that your son missed?
[00:06:05] Dana Latter: Yes. Like he was crawling in a very awkward way, like dragging his leg and the doctors always said that's okay. He'll catch up.
[00:06:16] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. So at what point did you receive any diagnoses specifically for your son?
[00:06:22] Dana Latter: Yes. When he was three the nursery, they referred me to their pediatrician who said that it's not autism, but she doesn't know exactly what it is and she doesn't know if he'll be able to speak or stuff like that. And he might always have severe delays.
[00:06:45] Tara Hunkin: Wow. So did they tell you what you could do in order to address those things? Did they give you any options or support services at that time?
[00:06:54] Dana Latter: They gave me speech and language and stuff, but it really didn't help and it didn't encourage any speech. It just brought a lot of frustration on my behalf and my husband's.
[00:07:10] Tara Hunkin: Yeah, that's the challenge when we doing any type of therapy, whether we're doing it ourselves, or we're bringing our children into that, obviously when expectations aren't set and then also you're not seeing progress. It becomes expensive as well as very frustrating process for people. So at what point, how old was son and at what point did you start to discover there might be other options for him.
[00:07:37] Dana Latter: When he went to school at the age of five and he got a special assistant in the class, but he wasn't progressing at all and if they do special language, so they had the same kind of activity each time, what comes first and what's next and he didn't get that. And they were just stuck at that point on what's first
[00:08:03] and what's next, like for the whole year or so. And I just got so frustrated and I started looking at the internet and trying to find other ways. And at that time, the brain research isn't as wonderful as it is today, but I still came across primitive reflexes, but it was just a few primitive reflexes and we started doing it and
[00:08:30] he really progressed amazingly that time he couldn't kick a ball, had bedwetting issues, he couldn't speak and he had many other difficulties. And slowly after starting to do these integrations, he was really developing in a much better way and had amazing progress.
[00:08:58] Tara Hunkin: Wow. So, for those of you who aren't as familiar, although we do talk about that here
[00:09:03] a lot of My Child Will Thrive, but primitive reflexes are the reflexes that children are born with. They're lifesaving reflexes as they're born, but they're supposed to be integrated by certain ages. If you want to learn about the reflexes we're talking about, we can well link to the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit, where you can find a primitive reflex cheat sheet that we have
[00:09:21] that references a lot of Dr. Melillo's work as well as Sally Goddard Blythe who wrote many books on primitive reflexes. I'm sure you came across those in your early days as well. So which reflexes specifically did you find in your son when you went to do that? I'm assuming you did a self-assessment at home?
[00:09:41] Dana Latter: No.
[00:09:41] So I found out about Sally Goddard's work and since there is in Chester in England, and there's another charity who works as well. And I contacted the charity, they're called bird and they just assess a few primitive reflexes, like they asses the ATNR, STNR and I think spinal gland and one more.
[00:10:13] So just work on this four reflexes, because the main program of that charity is to help people who have severe brain injury and not so much the distinct spectrum, but it did help us a lot.
[00:10:30] Tara Hunkin: So what differences then did you see? First of all, how long did you do the integration therapy and then what differences did you see once you had completed it?
[00:10:40] Dana Latter: Okay. We worked for about three years and I used to do the exercises at home and go and see them like once every three months, but it's quite the distance from London and the differences as such were understanding the speech. He stopped bedwetting. He was able to kick a ball, to catch a ball. And he was able to learn to write which he couldn't in school.
[00:11:12] In school he was given a computer, he was a smart boy, so he knew spelling, but they didn't think it was important to teach him what to try to work on handwriting.
[00:11:26] Tara Hunkin: Oh, that's amazing. So that's a lot of progress from one type of intervention that he had. How often did you work with him, just once a day? Like often were those sessions that you did with him versus going to see them obviously to have them discussed?
[00:11:43] Dana Latter: So we worked twice a day and each session would be 20 minutes.
[00:11:47] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. So a lot of times when we're talking about things where we're trying to induce positive neuroplasticity, it's about frequency, duration, and intensity. that's really helpful to know that.
[00:11:59] So after that, what happened next with him? So you made a lot of really important quality of life and progress. What happened next?
[00:12:09] Dana Latter: Then I came across vision therapy on one of my searches on the internet, and we started doing vision therapy and we did it for a couple of years. And there were also great results and his reading improved and his coordination improved and that was our journey until puberty.
[00:12:38] Tara Hunkin: Okay. The primitive reflex therapy and the vision therapy had great progress. And I know we've talked about this already a little bit. So now comes puberty and the teenage years, what happened when you got to this phase, and this is not an unusual story so this is really going to be helpful to parents either if they've already been through this before that.
[00:12:58] Dana Latter: So from being this nice, sweet, little boy, he became aggressive and violent towards us, and it wasn't the child I knew.
[00:13:12] Tara Hunkin: That's hard. So what did you start to look at because of that?
[00:13:17] Dana Latter: So then I came across Dr. Melillo's work and I started working with Dr. Daigle and it was located in Lake Charles. And we started seeing our son again,
[00:13:40] and he improved in many aspects and we started doing the primitive reflex integration. But this time we included many more primitive reflexes like we worked about eight to 10 primitive reflexes in comparison to four that we did before. And we did a lot of co-work and then I started to study them, the Melillo's course. And then we kept getting lots of benefits all the time.
[00:14:14] Tara Hunkin: That's amazing. So for people that aren't familiar with the Melillo Method and what Dr. Daigle does, which is another person who's been trained in that method, but is working, he's working on a number of different things. So what are all, cause it's a multimodal modal approach. And for those who haven't been through something like that, it's hard to envision.
[00:14:35] So why is it different from just doing what you did before, which was primitive reflex integration work, had some results, had good results, but not lasting results in the end. That's what I'm saying to myself. And same thing with the vision therapy. So why is it different when you went to do the Melillo method in that multimodal integrated way?
[00:14:55] Dana Latter: I think mainly because it speaks about a developmental manner that a brain develops. So we worked before on the vision therapy, so that's considered a top bottom approach, or if I tried, forgot it's name they a, you do say like brain work, but you've got, you work on a computer program and all the cables are connected. Yes.
[00:15:36] Tara Hunkin: I'm not sure. I'm not sure what the term you're referring to, but oh, you're talking about when the wires are crossed. Yes.
[00:15:43] Dana Latter: Yes. So that's also considered a top bottom approach, but what we need to do, we need work on the developmental lack, the baby progresses. So it's started a symmetry, it's primitive reflexes,
[00:16:00] and it's in the eyes of black at the top of the pyramid. So now I know it's a mistake developmentally to start working on his development from the eyes. And as you'd be working on the frontal cortex, instead of working in the developmental manner that I should have been doing.
[00:16:27] Tara Hunkin: So from the brainstem to the cerebellum and then up
[00:16:30] is what you're getting at. Yeah. So doing all that core work, which activates cerebellum, primitive reflex integration at the brainstem level. And then you get up to involving obviously the eyes and eye movements and things like that as you go.
[00:16:47] Dana Latter: Exactly. And also looking hemispherical, maybe the right hemisphere is much more developed than the left.
[00:16:56] So there's some sort of imbalance between the two hemispheres and we need to create a balanced brain.
[00:17:05] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. So obviously your son went through puberty. He had a lot of changes that went through because of that hormonal change, likely triggered made him regress. So how was his life now? So how is the quality of life for him and for you as a family after doing this work and how long did you do the work with the Melillo Method and are you still doing it?
[00:17:29] Dana Latter: Okay, so I've got two sons who smart, an oldest son. really progressed a lot and we still keep doing core and I think that doing core, it's for life and to keep you happy. And with my second son, who's 13, we're really doing a lot of the primitive reflexes,
[00:17:59] core. He had a lot of gut issues before, and we did certain testing that showed us inflammation in the brain and that inflammation in the gut, which we treated. And something to know also for parents who do the primitive reflex integration, that if you don't see any progress within the first six weeks, there's probably some autoimmune problem that you should deal with.
[00:18:29] Tara Hunkin: Yes, because we have to look at the biochemistry aspect as well. So it's that the one, if we're not supporting them, or there's something interfering from a biochemistry standpoint, then we won't get the same results from the neuro rehab work and vice versa. if we can do all the bio chemical stuff but if we don't do the neuro rehab, we're just not going to get lasting results.
[00:18:52] Dana Latter: Exactly. And sometimes parents think that they're not doing enough times during the day, or they're not doing it long enough and that's the reason that they don't see any progress and we need to look at them auto-immune as well.
[00:19:10] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. no, that's really great advice. Can you give me a picture of what your sons are doing now and what your hopes are for them moving forward based on the success you're having now?
[00:19:21] Dana Latter: Okay. So first of all, my oldest son had a real attachment disorder with me and before the treatment, and after the treatment it was much better, he's able to do so many more things by himself. He didn't learn for so many years
[00:19:41] and suddenly now he's on almost 17, he's doing exams and he's doing well. And just, I couldn't get him out of bed for a couple of years. It just, was so depressed that he wasn't interested in anything. And he's got interest in so many aspects and he wants to take the exams and I don't need to pull him out of bed anymore.
[00:20:08] Tara Hunkin: That's amazing. Yes. And how is your youngest son doing?
[00:20:14] Dana Latter: So my youngest son still has work to do, he's got a lot of social anxiety, but I'm sure that he'll overcome all these issues with the right approach.
[00:20:30] Tara Hunkin: That's wonderful. Yeah. It's nice when you know you have that confidence and the hope that things are going to change.
[00:20:37] You just have to stay the course and keep on adjusting as you go through. You now have taken what you've learned yourself and what you learned through the trainings that done, and you work one-on-one with clients. What does that look like and how do you do that?
[00:20:50] Dana Latter: Okay. So I've got a cost that I do over 12 weeks and we do it over zoom with people in different countries,
[00:21:03] and it's based on zoom calls with me. And it's a lot of it is the Melillo method, but it's also a lot of a sensory integration that I put into my program from my experience over the years. I think my aim is to make the program as interesting as possible, because if it's not interesting and it's not fun, then you won't succeed.
[00:21:31] And also I think that something that I added is giving follow up for the families and having contact with them on a weekly basis. Because if you just buy a program, it's difficult to follow it. You need the touch, you need the, someone to talk to, to see that you're doing the exercises correctly, but also to help you with family resilience and stuff like that
[00:22:01] to follow up the program. And I also work with young adults and especially I've worked with some in Eastern Europe that the research there or the help that they get from the country with autism isn't as advanced and I'm amazed to see how these young adults, people of 27, still can progress. And it's amazing for the families and without using expensive gadgets, just by doing the exercises, the only tool that a lot of them use would be the rezzimax, which isn't that expensive and just dedication, their mother's dedication and doing the exercises and you can see results.
[00:22:50] Tara Hunkin: Yeah. You mentioned the rezzimax, rezzimax is a tool that I'm familiar with, but many people aren't, maybe you can just describe what that tool is, because I'll put a link in the show notes as well so people know what it is and they can get their hands on one if they're interested, but what is that and why is that so important?
[00:23:07] Dana Latter: Okay. So when I first started in the primitive reflexes years ago, I didn't know that by adding a vibration with resonance, you can really progress much faster. So if we're talking for example about the routine reflex, we'll turn the rezzimax and vibrating it here, and even putting an attachment in the mouth that you just, I'll show it here, just a minute.
[00:23:43] Tara Hunkin: for those of you who are listening, if you go onto the website, you can see the video and you can see Dana demonstrating the device.
[00:23:53] Dana Latter: Yes. On the hand to integrate the Palmer reflex can help a lot with handwriting and just as a tool to wake up your nervous system on a daily basis, or stimulate your vagus nerve.
[00:24:12] Tara Hunkin: So the power of vibration what's special about the rezzimax has certain frequencies that are built into it, that aren't in just a standard vibration type massage tool that things that are out there, and it was developed by a physical therapist that discovered the frequencies and its ability to help with people with pain in particular. But now he's doing lots of work with functional neurologist and many other areas. I met the creator of that when I was at the IAFNR conference a number of years ago
[00:24:37] so it's great to see that. Yeah. Yeah. So it's great to see that it's out there and being used in the field and getting such great results. I love hearing all the stories. We are going to put all the links to where people can find you in the show notes. If you had one thing that you could tell yourself or a person just getting your former self, or a person just getting started out with their child and their journey, or someone who is stuck right now doesn't quite know what to do, what's the best advice that you wish someone had given you?
[00:25:16] Dana Latter: First of all, I think it's to look after myself as well, and to find ways to keep calm and keep my energy to continue in this journey and everything's going to be okay, but you should look after yourself first.
[00:25:39] Tara Hunkin: That is excellent advice that none of us ever take. So true. So it is actually, that is the best advice, because if we can't sustain ourselves, we won't be able to help our kids. And it the old oxygen mask analogy that they talk about on a plane, when you get on a plane, you put it on yourself first,
[00:25:59] so you can help others. So I, first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to have this conversation with me today, and to share your journey with your child so that other parents can get inspired as well. And I want to encourage everybody to go to the show notes so they can find all the links to where you can find Dana and the work that she does and the resources that she has out there that she's created over her years with her journey with her child.
[00:26:26] And I believe you have a podcast as well, too, don't you? What's the podcast called again? Sensory Change. So if you're looking for another great podcast, make sure you subscribe to Dana's. Thank you again for here with us today, Dana, and I wish you continued success on your journey with your kids and with all the clients that you're helping every day.
[00:26:51] Dana Latter: Oh, thank you. And thank you so much for inviting me.
[00:26:55] Tara Hunkin: My pleasure. So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village so join us in the, My Child Will Thrive village Facebook group,
[00:27:12] where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin, and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com
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