Inclusion of a resource among the links below does not constitute an endorsement by the McNatt Learning Center, Inc., of every opinion—or any opinion—featured in that resource. Please exercise discernment.
Also, none of the following statements has been evaluated by the FDA. None of the following statements is intended as medical advice, nor should any be construed as such. For medical advise, please see a qualified physician.
If you'd like to coordinate your visit to the McNatt Learning Center with an outing, here are some resources you may find helpful:
Events in Morris, Illinois, home of the McNatt Learning Center, Inc.
Events in Grundy County, our county.
Forecast for Morris, Illinois.
Morris, Illinois, is located along the Illinois River. You can click here to check water conditions.
The location of the McNatt Learning Center is ranked a "Very Walkable" by WalkScore.com. Click the link above to see sites within easy walking distance from the learning center, or visit WalkScore.com to score hotels for travel, your own address, or a home or apartment you're thinking of renting or buying.
Attention & Autism-Spectrum Conditions
Judith Bluestone's Fabric of Autism. This is a bedrock book for perspective on what causes some of the "strange" behaviors associated with learning difficulties and attachment issues. Fabric of Autism introduces Bluestone's Holistic Approach to Neuro-Development and Learning Efficiency (HANDLE). Highly recommended!
Dr. Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins' The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body draws from decades of research into EEG Biofeedback to provides helpful meditations that can complement HANDLE®. These meditations, while helpful in their own right, can also help a parent relate to the "awakening" a child may experience through HANDLE®. For older students, the meditations may also enhance mental rehearsal of HANDLE® Activities during moments that doing Activities is impractical. More Open Focus tools are available here.
Carola Speads' Ways to Better Breathing helps explain the difference between activities (which it calls "explorations") and exercises. It offers helpful breathing explorations that, while helful in their own right, can also help parents relate to the perceptual shifts their children may be experiencing through HANDLE®.
Emotions & Ethics
Dr. Terry Warner's Bonds That Make Us Free helps explain why a non-judgmental approach is essential to helping others and offers concrete steps to stop judging: it's truly life changing! This was the source book for the excellent bestsellers Leadership and Self-Deception, which explains how self-justification and accusation can destroy a workplace, and The Anatomy of Peace, which both explains how self-justification and accusation can destroy relationships and also provides guidance "out of the box." The children's book From I-ville to You-ville is a great introduction to these ideas from a Christian perspective for kids and families.
Dr. Eugene Gendlin's Focusing is the result of an unexpected discovery in experimental psychotherapy—that a client’s success or failure in psychotherapy, regardless of the school or method of the psychotherapist, could be reliably predicted from video recordings of the first two sessions: clients who could access their internal, bodily "felt sense" improved. Clients who didn't know how to listen to their bodies didn't improve, despite the best efforts of their psychotherapists and caseworkers. (Gendlin and his colleagues called this ability to access the "felt sense" Focusing.) This discovery has obvious implications for HANDLE® and Open Focus, which can help develop a reliable "felt sense" and coherent "sense of self." An accepting, HANDLE®-friendly school of Focusing has been further developed by Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D., and Barbara McGavin. Their "short form" of Focusing can be found online here; their training CDs can be ordered here.
Communication & Organization
Chalmers Brothers' Language and the Pursuit of Happiness (available through Amazon.com here) explains how language can convey and contain our ways of being. For individuals with Asperger’s, or for families of individuals with Asperger’s, this book may be a godsend. It explores differences between how we feel and how we come across to others; ways to be more flexible; ways to discern when and whom to trust; and ways to follow through in a timely manner, not only intending well and eventually following through but also doing what’s necessary now. The book's rationale for forgiveness is ultimately self-centered and, thus, flawed, but the section on forgiveness is a minor part of an otherwise great book.
David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is based on the premise that our productivity is directly proportional to our mind’s ability to relax. Especially helpful for individuals with inter-hemispheric issues, it explains how to move from getting something and wondering "What on earth do I do with this?" to actually getting things done on time. The abridged audio recording of his subsequent Ready for Anything is also a joy.
Book Recommendations for Education Professionals
Gerald Coles' The Learning Mystique: A Critical Look at "Learning Disabilities" helps explain problems with common explanations of and interventions for learning difficulties. Its thesis is that
both brain difference and brain dysfunction are created within dysfunctional social relationships and activity. Social interactivity and the brain functioning associated with them are mutable: a positive change in the former can allow for a positive change in the latter. Researchers pursuing the cause of LD have tried to filter out, divide up, and chart the features of the learning-disabled brain. Doing so has been like analyzing the wounds of gladiators mauled by lions in the amphitheater to determine the cause of their 'disabilities.' If a finger were pointed only to the immediate causes of brain dysfunctioning, it would be like blaming the lions and not the empire. (187–188)
If one views "dysfunctional social relationships" as those in which children with struggles are seen as problems to be fixed through behavior modification, rather than as people who are trying to get their needs met as best as they know how, and views "dysfunctional activity" as trying to do whatever is asked, regardless of stress response or opportunity to develop differentiation and foundational learning skills, this thesis—despite other challenging aspects of the text—is quite compatible with HANDLE® and the perspectives of the McNatt Learning Center, Inc.
Kieran Egan's homepage at Simon Fraser University. Egan is the author of what Matthew considers one of the best series in educational philosophy: The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding, Getting It Wrong from the Beginning: Our Progressivist Inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget, and An Imaginative Approach to Teaching. For a taste of Getting It Wrong from the Beginning, the lightest read in the above triad, see Egan's article "The Analytic and the Arbitrary in Educational Research."
Floating Bed: The Floating Bed is a round platform hung from a single point whose effects on the nervous system have to be experienced to be believed!
- If you have a child with an austism-spectrum condition who isn't sleeping through the night;
- If you and a loved one have difficulty having relaxed, focused conversation together;
- If you're personally suffering from insomnia, Ménière's disease, or vertigo; or
- If you're simply looking for the most restful, renewing sleep you've ever experienced…
You've got to try one out. Think of the Floating Bed as a vestibular therapy, learning platform, unconventional sofa, and unbeliably comfortable bed all rolled into one.
For more information, download articles on the Floating Bed and vestibular function, or click here to arrange to try a bed at the company's headquarters in Fairfield, Iowa—or just to drop them a line. Please mention the McNatt Learning Center when you email or call. Though we would heartily recommend the Floating Bed even without financial remuneration, the commission we receive from sales does help us to continue providing services to children and families in need.
emWave: Do you feel overwhelmed? Out of sync? Have difficulty falling asleep? The emWave Coherence System for PC or Mac and the portable emWave Personal Stress Reliever (PSR) are heartrate variability biofeedback devices that may help.
Stress Eraser: The Stress Eraser is a heartrate variability biofeedback device, much like the emWave PSR. Positively, the Stress Eraser times its audio feedback to provide cues to breathe out. The emWave PSR, on the other hand, works hands-free via a clip for the ear lobe, and it provides the same kind of feedback that learners may grow accustomed to in the engaging biofeedback games of the emWave Coherence System. Either system is good.
BEMER 3000: Matthew McNatt also makes regular use of a BEMER 3000, a device that emits a healthful EM field less than 1/40 the intensity of an electric blanket—hardly anything, but enough to have a profound effect on the immune and nervous systems. If you have multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), extreme lethargy, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, an anxiety disorder, or an autism-spectrum condition, please email BEMER USA, LLC for more information.
BioPulser Massager: A great tool for relaxing spastic muscles and providing proprioceptive feedback.
AccuMassage Self-Massage Tool: A great tool for providing relief of tight shoulder muscles and for self-calming by gently stroking either side of the spine.
CSPI's Food Additives Database: What's in your food?
Skin Deep's Cosmetic Safety Reviews: What are you putting on your skin? Is that natural shampoo or deodorant really safe?
Mercury-Free Dentistry: Dr. Paul V. Gallo, D.D.S. – Joliet, Illinois
Fluoride Facts: Is your drinking water safe? Should your child take fluoride pills?
Cancer Prevention Coalition: A cancer-prevention society that isn't in the pocket of agribusiness or big pharma.
Local Growers, Dairies, Meats, & Markets
Foothills Organics – 815- 667-4700 – 131 E Church St. – Utica, IL 61373: The Illinois Valley's family-run, alternative-minded grocery and sustainable living center. Open Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Closed Tuesdays. (Archive Article here.)
Heartland Meats: Free-range, humanely raised, Piedmontese beef from Mendota, Illinois.
Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm: Angus beef, turkey, and organic produce from Ottawa, Illinois.
Twin Oaks Meats: Naturally processed pork from Fairbury, Illinois.
Nature's Pantry: Locally grown, organic produce from Steator, Illinois.
Good Earth Farms: Organic, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork and poultry from Milladore, Wisconsin.
Pre- and Probiotics
Body Balance Whole-Food Nutrition: If you're hypoglycemic, lethargic, or have difficulties with digestion, you owe it to yourself to give Body Balance a try. It's one of the best prebiotic formulations on the market. We get nothing from the referral, so you know it's unbiased.
Colon Comfort Formula (CCF, formerly Perfect Colon Formula): If you have leaky gut, nutrient absorption problems, elimination problems, or simply want an excellent, safe, non-addictive probiotic, CCF is a great resource. Four quarts of Body Balance and one 20-oz. bottle of CCF last one person about two months.
Nutritional Resources & Cooperatives
Weston A. Price Foundation: Support in and advocacy for traditional meal preparation. Find your local chapter here.
Local Harvest: Find sustainable agriculture practices and educational opportunities near you.
Belle's Lunchbox: Unprocessed dairy products in the Chicagoland area and and southern Wisconsin.
Doctors & Therapists
Kelly Simms, N.D.: Naturopathic medical care, help weaning off drugs.
Worst Pills: Your expert, independent second opinion for prescription drug information.
CCHR: Is psychiatry a friend? What is CCHR? (Please visit this page before downloading the booklet below.)
(PDF Download) The Side-Effects of Common Psychiatric Drugs: If your child is on psychiatric drugs, please download and read this.
Toxic Psychiatry and Drug Awareness: These websites have many articles and links on the risks of anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs. Please visit one or both before taking mind-altering substances, legal or illegal: they're not as safe as advertising has led many to believe. If you're shocked by the information they contain, you might also appreciate SSRI Stories, which features case studies of drug reactions to anti-depresstans, and Healthy Skepticism.
Psychiatric Drugs & the Heart: An important article re: psychiatric drugs, cardiac health, and vagal tone.
Ritalin Death: This is a website created by Lawrence Smith, whose son's death certificate reads "Death caused from Long Term Use of Methylphenidate, (Ritalin)." Ritalin Death features articles on the risks of stimulant and psychotropic medications, with links to other sites with similar concerns.
CHAADA (Children and Adults Aainst Drugging America) is a newly formed information and advocacy group. CHAADA is certainly not to be confused with CHAAD, which sponsors support groups that promote the psychiatric drugging of children.
Unite for Life: This website examines the dangers of anti-depressants to mothers and their children.
The Icarus Project: Once you're on psychiatric drugs, cutting back or coming off isn't always easy. In fact, weaning off these drugs can be difficult and dangerous—even deadly. So can staying on them. For a free, 40-page booklet that can help, click above.
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA): Advocates for the right of people, even those with psychiatric diagnoses, to make their own choices regarding treatment; and for forced psychiatric treatment of all kinds to be abolished.
Flex-Away Facial Exercise System: Improve sphincter muscle response plus facial muscle tone and appearance in just two to four minutes per day.
FlexTend Extensor Strengthening Program: Strengthen your grip, improve neurologic discrimination, and help prevent carpal tunnel with only 10 minutes three times per week.
The Trainer: An intense, muscle-building workout from a highly portable device, which allows for creativity and variation among exciting, 12-minute workouts only three times per week.
Day 6 Bicycles: Given up cycling? Imagine bicycling for hours without pain: no back pain, no wrist pain, no shoulder pain—just a breeze through your hair as the wheels turn beneath you. Balance and coordination difficulties? Imagine riding a two-wheeler with minimal risk of falling over. Imagine no more—Day 6 Bicycles are here! Feel free to ask to try our "Dream" if you're at the learning center during summer months. We're hoping to get a short-frame "Journey" sometime, too. The Journey has fewer gears, but it doesn't need the annual tune-ups that most bikes (including the Dream) generally need to run optimally.
Trikke Cambering Scooter: Train contralateral movement while getting great exercise, portable transportation, and a fun time outdoors. To train pelvic musculature, develop contralateral movement during inclement weather, or just for the variety of indoor exercise, consider the Lateral Thigh Trainer, too.
Joe's Goals: Track how often you do HANDLE® Activities or meet self-improvement goals. The ability to send scores to a friend can facilitate accountability, while totals and averages can help you gauge consistency.
Invisible Clock: Disguised as a pager and small enough to fit in one's pocket, this timer might remind you to think good thoughts, to take your vitamins, or to draw what you're doing to a close so you can make a meeting on time. Its automatic repeat feature is particularly helpful.
Kadon Enterprises' Fine Touch Collection: Tactile puzzles that can help redirect tactile sensitivities to enhance classroom focus.
Word Menu: A combined dictionary, thesaurus, and idea generator, Word Menu (software) is a great writer's companion and must-have composition resource for high school and college students—at least those who don't have Visual Thesaurus.
Visual Thesaurus: Similar to Word Menu, above, but particularly appropriate for the right-brained learner, Visual Thesaurus (software or website) is a great writer's companion and must-have composition tool for high school and college students—at least for those who don't have Word Menu.
Video Modeling: These videos teach social cues for children with Asperger and other autism-spectrum conditions. They are geared toward children in public/government schools.
LaneChanger Rearview Mirrors: When a driver with a poorly integrated Assymetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) does a shoulder check, if (s)he's under stress, (s)he can end up turning his/her head as (s)he turns the wheel—a dangerous and potentially fatal situation. Until the ATNR is integrated (and even afterward), a LaneChanger rearview mirror can help.
For an extensive list of cognitive training games, the abilities they train, and a few stores from which to purchase them, click here to visit our Structure of Intellect page.
F. W. Tamblyn's Home Instructor in Penmanship Course teaches wonderful ornate penmanship, picking up where Peterson Handwriting's instruction in business script leaves off. To read about an ornate penman who wrote without hands, click here.
Draw Right teaches ways to see the lines and shapes in what they're drawing. Due to the tremendous difference between seeing real things and seeing symbols, similar training used for handwriting can contribute to letter reversals. (A dinosaur facing right or a dinosaur facing left is still a dinosaur; a "d" facing right, in contrast, becomes a "b.") But there's no problem with learning to see real things afresh!
Lon Haverly teaches drawing using a "stroke first" method, much like Peterson Handwriting teaches cursive. For students who can "see" what they want to draw, Haverly's emphasis on posture, paper position, and pencil position help students make consistently beautiful and efficient strokes..
Lyrical Learning promotes scientific literacy through catchy songs. Learn about basic organisms, mammals and ecology, human anatomy, and basic earth science through song. Lyrical learning produces CDs, songbooks, and workbooks.
Solo Piano Radio: If you have a broadband connection to the Internet, you can enjoy wonderful piano music any time day or night!
Old Christian Radio: If you have a broadband connection to the Internet, you can enjoy wonderful Christian hymns and gospel music any time day or night!
Ancient Faith Radio: If you have a broadband connection to the Internet, you can enjoy uplifting, ancient choral music; enlightening homilies; and thought-provoking dialogue about Orthodox Christianity.
The Feher Family's folksy Scripture Songs are a real blessing. You can listen to samples and explore Patti Vaillant's Scripture Songs I through V while you're on this site.
Children's Bible Story Songs teach children Bible stories through music.
The Harrow Family's Sing the Word series offer a contemporary, uplifting collection of Scripture memory songs.
Gigi Baba Shadid's music teaches children Orthodox Christianity through song.
Music for Rhythmic Marching, Handwriting, and Poi Spinning
Music with a consistent beat can make rhythm training easier. While many children's songs offer a steady cadence, music for older students can be hard to come by. Rock, polka, and waltz have • | | • | | or | • • | • • beat structures, which don't work, and in many pieces of classical music, the beat structure is difficult to discern. The following resources may help:
Strictly Sousa (Dallas Wind Symphony). March music needn't sound like an oompah band. Here's a creative, fresh rendition of some of Sousa's best.
Stars and Stripes Forever (Boston Pops Orchestra). A vibrant, uplifting rendition of march music.
Who Needs Guitars, Anyway?* (Alice DeeJay) Creative, classically inspired techno music.
Believe* (4 Strings). Creative techno music with amazing, soaring vocals.
* Listener discretion advised: not all songs on these albums have uplifting, appropriate lyrics. Encoding appropriate songs into MP3 format can provide appropriate training music.
Learning to sing or play an instrument can be immensely beneficial—cognitively, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. If you're interested in learning music, these resources may help:
Christian Leaders' Home Discipleship Hymbook: Learn to sing in parts with classic hymns. This Family Pack comes with five alphabetized hymnals of Christian classics and CD's with separate tracks for different vocal ranges.
Indelible Grace has helpful CD's and songbooks with classic hymns re-written to fresh, yet tasteful, contemporary tunes.
Dean Kincaid's Piano Course for Christians offers a sound, skills-based piano instruction program that can be used with a teacher (preferably) or in self-study.
Wayne Simms's Compact Bowed Psaltry, a modified version of a traditional instrument, provides the bowed equivalent of 2 1/2 octaves of a piano. Unlike portable, electronic keyboards, a Waynie Compact Psaltry resonates beautifully. Waynie Compact Psaltries are easy and fun to learn alongside piano, which can be a real plus when studying music theory. The resonance, particularly from psaltries of heavier hard woods, may also help children with auditory processing or autism-spectrum conditions relax and focus.
Alternatives in Education for the Hearing Impaired: The Chicago area's primary center for instruction in cued speech, an empowering alternative for children who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Open Walforf: Did you know that Walforf education is religious in nature, based on the religion of anthroposophy? Few do, which may be one reason that Walforf education can receive public-school funding in the U.S., while other distinctively religious education generally cannot. Waldorf education may foster sensory integration, peer acceptance, and creativity. It may also facilitate contact with spirit worlds. Please visit Open Waldorf before enrolling your child in any Waldorf school, so you can make an informed decision.
Literacy & Dyslexia
Confusing Literature with Literacy: This article from Spelling.org presents myths and realities about learning disabilities and dyslexia.
Support for College Students with Disabilities
We Connect Now unites and informs college students with disabilities.