Friday, December 11, 2009

The Institutes

As the plane touched down into Philadelphia I had no idea what to expect in any way, shape or form. I had little idea of who these people really were and what I would really think of them and their program. I was kind of apprehensive, but so thirsty for knowledge at the same exact time. We had worked so very hard to get where we were and I have to admit, it only took us a few short hours of class to figure out that we had made the best decision of our entire lives.

The staff at the Institutes are some of the most hard core people you will ever come across. They have a burning passion pulsating through every inch of their bodies. They love and believe whole heartedly in what they are doing. They've got the brain on the brain 24/7.

Let me give you some examples of the fact that these people are very serious about getting hurt children well. They have worked extensively at making their auditorium perfect for learning. They keep it a cool, crisp 61 degrees at all times. They have figured out that this is the perfect temperature for you to learn best. They teach for 50 minutes and then provide a 10 minute break throughout the entire day. You are not to ever get up and leave except for at a break. They do not want there to be any distractions within the room. They ring a bell when the break is over. You have a one minute warning and your butt better be back in your seat. They lock you out if you are late. Not that you cannot continue attending that particular section of the lecture, but you are sequestered into a room where you can listen until the next break. All questions are to be asked and answered at the breaks, not within class. They also change your seat daily.

Each day is approximately 10 hours long, never shorter and many times longer! Why might you ask, would two adults care to follow all of these strict rules? It is crystal clear that it is for your very own benefit. They have worked hard over the years to perfect this course. There is so much ground to cover in a very small period of time. They try to do this as effectively and efficiently as possible.

So now it seems you may think these people are serious and strict. Well, they are also some of the most caring, loving, wonderful people you have ever laid eyes on. They LOVE brain injured children with all of their hearts. They had never even met Aviana while the course was in session and I could tell they already loved and adored her. Most importantly though, they understood her like no one else! Even more importantly than that, they have an arsenal of tools to help make her better.

Not only are they warm, caring people, but they provided the most beautiful and fully nutritious meals in the dining room every day. They also provide fruit, nuts, hot tea, coffee and apple cider at breaks. Every other day, there would be a soup break. We felt fully taken care of every step of the way.

At the Institutes we were to diagnose the severity of our very own child's injury. Well yes, the hospitals do that too. The difference is, at the hospital they tell you the terrible news, but don't have too much to say in the ways of helping them to recover. At the Institute it's so very different. We discovered that Aviana is profoundly brain injured. Her injury is in both hemispheres and is diffuse meaning all over. That being said, they then train you in many, many ways to work to make her better.

I know I have not gone into the details, but I have to go for now. Much, much more to come :)


  1. I'm loving this!!! Thank you for sharing in such detail! I can relive it through your posts :)!!!

  2. I am enjoying following this. It is always good information and wonderful to hear that there is help for Aviana above what you are doing.

  3. A friend of mine sent me to your blog b/c we are also looking at the institutes for my son- I am excited to read more about it!! Sounds amazing. I read back a few posts and saw your blog about having two daughters.... before and after. I have often thought that too. My son has brain cancer. He had surgery, chemo and radiation and will have many long term cognitive deficits. He is not the same little boy that he was but I love my new little boy just the same. We will be keeping you and your beautiful little girl in our prayers.
    With love and hope,
    Keri Jobe