Thursday, May 13, 2010


These two beautiful girls continue to delight, amaze and tire us!


The other night Millie said with great seriousness: 'I'm only allowed to eat one sweet thing at dinner-time or I'll go crazy!' When she's tired after an energetic day (she's our 'non-stop' girl) her diet has to be monitored carefully, as sweets cause her to be even more hyper-active!

Last Monday night the little family came out to dinner with us, and I sat next to Millie. At (Knox) FoodStar smorgasbord restaurant the girls can choose small amounts of their favourite foods, and they tend to be more relaxed than at home (where there's pressure to 'eat up all the food on their plates' when they're tired). Millie and I had some beautiful conversations - especially when she described a game with arms and hands and fingers she'd learned from our neighbours, and taught to her classmates.

Millie's also proud of herself doing the 'splits' - from standing upright to sitting with legs wide apart on the floor: what a lithe little body she has!

Last week I had the enjoyable task of minding Millie upstairs, and she got an idea for making sweet biscuits. Half a dozen dry biscuits on waxed paper on a small tray, plus a dab of slightly melted icecream on each, another biscuit (cookie) on top of each, then we put the tray into the freezer. In a couple of hours we had a tray full of nice sweet cookies, which Millie and Bella (one each!) enjoyed, together with the adults. Where did she get that idea? 'Oh, I just made it up!'


The big question about Bella at the moment is 'What school is best for her next year?' A private school, but without government-assisted special help, or a public-school which specializes in helping children with special needs? Her parents are leaning towards the latter.

Bella is a non-socializer, unless she knows a little friend very well: so our prayer is that she'll make good friends, and also catch up with speech, spelling and numeracy skills. Jan is giving her some 'homework' most mornings, and we are careful to encourage her to speak clearly. This little one gets so frustrated when she can't be understood.

The other morning she wanted to play with 'Charlie', the little dog we bought her, but Charlie was nibbling a bone and growled when she came near. She crumpled into Grandma's arms in tears - until I suggested we go for a walk to look at the ducks in the nearby creek. She immediately brightened up, and we had a lovely 20 minutes together - with Lockie, our border collie.

Please pray for our little ones!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Hi praying friends

We're writing to seek your prayers for our youngest grand-daughter, Bella. She's a gorgeous, bright, smiling little four-year-old, and with her Mum (our daughter Amanda) and Dad (John) and sister (Millie) lives with us, so we enjoy her delightful company almost every day.

But Bella suffers from a 'Developmental Delay', which involves a severe speech delay and hypotonia (muscle laxity). She will be attending a four-year-old Kinder next year, leading up to her school years.

Will you please pray for her parents and Jan and her teachers who are doing skill development / right brain left brain exercises etc., that she will soon be able to conquer these disabilities and learn to socialize well with other children.

Thanks everyone!

Shalom/Salaam/Pax! Rowland and Croucher

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Yesterday Jan and I had the privilege of attending the special Grandparents' Day at the Ringwood Salvation Army, where Bella and Millie take their parents each Sunday.

As we swapped notes later, the key memories were of Millie dancing to the singing - what a lithe, athletic little body she has! And of Bella putting her hands together reverently for the prayer-time.

Their little friend Eva - who takes a special interest in befriending Bella, and Bella of course responds to her attention/love very warmly - sat between them.

Thanks to the Ringwood Salvos for the wonderful work you're doing: and congratulations on your efforts in last week's Red Shield Appeal.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009


... and she's learning lots of words and numbers and sounds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


It's been a while since posting here: mainly due to a building program at our place - a retreat-place for Urban Neighbours of Hope workers - and involvement in the 'Dawn Rowan Saga'.

Bella is as delightful as ever - loving, smiling (more than our four children and other five grandchildren all put together). She's now almost perfectly 'toilet trained' (which after the first few successful attempts she announced with 'I've done a Millie!'). She now knows the letters of the alphabet, and can match them up...

And Millie is a serious little school-girl who went back after holidays today in her winter uniform. Millie knows some of her favourite stories off by heart (and pretends to read them, when I'm sharing these with her !). She recently represented her grade in saying a prayer in front of the whole school.

This very timely piece of writing (below) addresses a common need: for parents and carers to adjust to the challenging task of raising a child with a disability.

Rowland Croucher, April 2009



by Emily Perl Kingsley.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

Thursday, January 29, 2009


(This is the disorder which describes the challenges we face with our youngest - 3-year old - gorgeous granddaughter, Bella. I've included one approach to cure - the Tomatis Method. Anyone know anything about it? Rowland. January 2009)

Developmental Delay

Development is a broad term that encompasses a great number of progressive achievements and abilities. For a child to develop normally they must attain physical milestones like sitting and walking. They must acquire the expression and the comprehension of language. They must be able to retain old knowledge and use it as the foundation for new knowledge. They must learn to relate effectively to the people and the environment around them. Development is a global process where no domain exists in isolation of another. It is rare to find a task that relies solely on one skill which is why if one area is lagging or dysfunctional, the entire process of development is compromised.
Developmental delay defined

Developmental delay refers to a pervasive problem that affects one or more areas of a child’s development. It usually takes time to make a clear diagnosis to be sure that the delay is not temporary or due to a treatable condition. Development in children is measured against the usual timeline for certain skills and abilities to appear; these benchmarks are known as developmental milestones and are achieved within a period of time defined as normal.3 It cannot be expected that every child will progress at the same rate, but there needs to be an age-range that allows parents or professionals to differentiate between children who are slightly behind and those who require attention and intervention.2

Because children do not acquire language immediately and cannot be tested for cognitive ability, developmental milestones can be recognized as physical accomplishments such as crawling, sitting without support and standing unassisted. Also, there are speech and language milestones such as monosyllabic and polysyllabic babbling, recognizing common words and combining words and gestures.2 If these milestones are achieved only slightly later than reasonably expected, the child may catch up eventually and suffer no academic consequences. However, late development and ongoing problems may also indicate a more severe form of developmental delay which can have a limited or overall effect on a child’s life.

Global delay is used to describe the condition of a child who suffers impairments in all developmental domains.2 Motor delay may be characterized by clumsiness, poor balance and coordination, inability to manipulate objects and poor gross and fine motor skills. Language disorders may be evident through the child’s inability to use and deliver language signals at the expected age, and this may progress into poor reading and language comprehension and limited vocabulary.2

Children with developmental delay commonly display unusually extreme reactions to neutral stimuli (e.g.. withdrawing from soft touch) or unusually unresponsive reactions to painful stimuli (e.g.. not reacting to a very loud noise). This reflects a problem with sensory integration, the way sensory information is interpreted by the brain.12 Any neurological problem such as developmental delay can impact the acquisition of language and the ability to communicate effectively, and learning difficulties may become apparent when the child begins to attend school.1

Children with developmental delay do not fail to develop – they just develop at a slower rate than most children of the same age. The progressions still occur and milestones can be eventually reached. Development ceases for all people at a certain stage but the end point for developmentally delayed adults tends to arrive before they have acquired enough skills to allow them to function without impairment. The prognosis for children with developmental delay depends entirely on the severity of their symptoms and has no conclusive or single cause. Some types of developmental problems are inherited and can be predicted or tested such as in the case of Down’s syndrome or dyslexia.1 Most developmental problems are suspected or found to occur in the critical period of a child’s growth before, during, or soon after birth, either because of infection, nutritional issues, exposure to toxins or a variety of other disruptions or abnormalities.4
The physiology of developmental delay

Although a child’s development can be observed, its foundation is neurological. This means that although developmental milestones may not be reached, such shortcomings are not related to the child’s intelligence or physical ability but the way their brain is processing information. Speech and language develop in synchrony with the growing brain. So do motor skills, balance, coordination and sensory integration. If any part of this process is disturbed or abnormal it is highly likely that the resulting problems will not be restricted to only one developmental domain. The only way to understand this is to appreciate how normal development takes place.

When a child is in the womb, the ear is the first organ to mature and become functional and after 16 weeks the child can hear sounds in the uterine environment and the mother’s voice. There are two organs in the inner ear that are responsible for perceiving sound. The cochlea attends to all sounds in the auditory spectrum while the vestibule responds to bone-conducted sound (sound waves hitting the body and the head). The vestibule has the equally important task of regulating the position of the body. It uses knowledge of gravity and where the head is to maintain physical balance and equilibrium and also enables smooth and controlled coordination.

The third function of the vestibule is as a sensory integrator. Because the ear is the first fully matured organ, the vestibule is the primary receptor of information from every sensory system in the body. That is, the vestibule receives all sensory input and relays the information to the appropriate part of the brain. The multitude of problems experienced by children with developmental delay starts to become clearer when the role of the inner ear is explored in detail. Because the cochlea and the vestibule share some of the same anatomical components it is not uncommon for language (cochlea), motor and sensory ability (vestibule) to demonstrate parallel strengths or weaknesses.9

Children with all types of developmental delay tend to demonstrate abnormal listening patterns. This is not to say that they have problems with their hearing – the problem exists in how the received sound is transmitted to the brain and interpreted for its meaning. Good listening involves the ability to analyze, perceive, inhibit and differentiate sounds, a system referred to as auditory processing. Listening is essential not only for learning and language acquisition but for communication and self-awareness. The multitude of problems experienced by children with developmental delay can be explained with reference to the inner ear, their pathways and the brain, making these areas important focal points for intervention.

Plasticity describes how sensory stimulation can strengthen old neural pathways and establish new ones. Permanent change in the synaptic organization of the brain can only occur when the exposure to stimulation is intense, sustained and frequent, thus retraining the brain to function at a more efficient level.6 Earlier work suggested that plasticity was only present in younger children and that the brain became fixed once adulthood was reached but research demonstrates that this is not the case7 – having said this, the plasticity of children’s brains is certainly greater than that of adults which is why early detection and treatment is so vital. Auditory processing interventions such as the Tomatis Method have been designed to optimize a child’s capabilities by making use of the brain’s remarkable ability to be shaped.

Treatment of developmental delay

It is vital that a child with developmental delay is identified early. Although there is no cure or infallible treatment for the condition many types of interventions have been shown to be of assistance if implemented early in the child’s life.4 There are countless numbers of specific programs and specialists that attend to the symptoms of the disorder. The Tomatis Method of listening training works at ear-to-brain level, stimulating many aspects of basic neurological processes that are functioning poorly. Other therapies that may be used instead or in conjunction with Tomatis include Developmental Movement Therapy, Integrated Listening Systems, Neurofeedback and other stimulation programs.

How the Tomatis Method can assist children with developmental delay

French physician, Alfred Tomatis, developed the Tomatis Listening Program about 50 years ago. The development of his technique for auditory training was based on the fundamental principle that the voice produces what the ear hears – a concept referred to as the Tomatis effect. The Tomatis method relies primarily on carefully controlled sound stimulation using Mozart music and Gregorian chant. Both the mother and the child wear headphones and use microphones when they speak. Their voices are fed from the microphones into an electronic device which modifies and filters the sound before returning it to the headphones. The auditory signals received by the child are continuously manipulated in order for the child to experience the audio-vocal loop as accurately as possible.9 This stimulation is to assist the auditory system to attend to auditory input, thereby enhancing language development. The mother’s voice is used while the child is encouraged to actively imitate or respond to what they hear. Each program is tailored to the child’s individual needs as identified through the initial assessment.

The headphones also amplify the sound delivered to the right ear to establish right-ear dominance for listening. The reason this is important is because the right ear transmits more information to the left side of the brain responsible for language. Children with any type of developmental delay tend not to have this automatic listening preference and language information is transmitted inefficiently and slowly. By creating an ideal auditory environment, the child learns to listen more selectively and competently. The top of the headphones is fitted with a device that vibrates in response to sound and allows the auditory system and vestibule to be stimulated through bone-conduction.

Listening assessments are undertaken every 10-15 hours throughout the program and the listening schedule is continually adjusted to reflect the client’s progress. The important thing to realize is that the Tomatis Method improves auditory processing with respect to language and the use of microphones by the mother and the child trains the reception of language signals to be achieved more effectively, both from the mother and from himself or herself.

It is difficult to generalize about the way a child will change once the Tomatis Method is administered. Children undertake the program to address different deficits or problems. The simplest way to explain what can be expected is that the child’s functioning will shift more an extreme to a more moderate position. The Tomatis Method aims to improve reception and expression of language communication – once this is underway, the indications of the progress are reflected behaviourally, emotionally, and socially. The effects of the Tomatis Method are not temporary as the program is not concerned with developing extraordinary functioning, but with restoring the auditory system to a greater equilibrium and thus improving receptive and expressive language which in turn can improve awareness, attention and learning.
Integrated Listening Systems (iLs)

An alternative to the Tomatis Method is Integrated Listening Systems which is a home-based sound stimulation program and which has been combined with a movement program. The auditory stimulation is based on the same scientific rationale as the Tomatis Method, using filtration techniques which are programmed onto CDs. While iLs does not involve the complex sound modification and equipment used in Tomatis training, it remains a highly effective and convenient alternative which may be suitable for some children. Sometimes iLs is used in combination with Developmental Movement Therapy but this is generally determined at the initial assessment.
Combining the Tomatis Method with Developmental Movement Therapy (DMT)

Our senses are only useful when the connections from the organ to the brain are operating normally,11 but children who experience early neurological problems often demonstrate sensory hyposensitivity (under-sensitivity) or hypersensitivity (over-sensitivity).8 This reflects a weakness in the way sensory information from various parts of the body is integrated and transmitted to the brain.10 Because the vestibule is where initial sensory integration takes place, the Tomatis Method is often combined with a program of Developmental Movement Therapy (DMT) so that the vestibule is stimulated through both sound and sensory input. This combination assists not only motor coordination and balance, greater physical awareness and better posture, but also improved receptive and expressive language and as a consequence greater confidence and self-esteem may be observed.5

When children are born, they emerge from the womb with primitive reflexes: physical responses initiated without conscious thought or intention. These reflexes allow the child to cope with the influx of new sensory information from the post-utero environment, but should soon be overtaken and inhibited by voluntary actions – these are referred to as postural reflexes or postural control. It has been found that problems with neurosensory integration may be attributed to partially uninhibited primitive reflexes. It is through movement that a child develops postural control as every movement stimulates specific neural connections but this is made difficult if the vestibule is not operating normally.10

The rationale behind Developmental Movement Therapy (DMT) is that sensory systems and reflexes are indivisible and that any existing partially retained primitive reflex can be actively inhibited by exercising the postural equivalent. Postural reflexes have the effect of maintaining and controlling posture, physical actions and equilibrium.12 Movements can be made because the brain sends messages to the area requiring action. The more often certain movements are performed, the better developed these neural pathways become. Developmental Movement Therapy involves a program of movements designed to retrace motor development as it ideally should have been experienced and it complements the auditory input of the Tomatis Method, by providing the vestibule with additional stimulation, leading to accelerated improvements in motor control and coordination.

Developmental Movement Therapy and the Tomatis Method of listening training both work at brain level, and they attempt to normalize many aspects of basic neurological processes that may be functioning poorly. This facilitates improvements in many areas and directly assists any subsequent interventions that address the manifestations of developmental delay.

1 Mathews, K. 1998. Developmental Delay. (

2 Keep Kids Healthy: Developmental Delays. (

3 University of Michigan Health System: Your Child: Development & Behaviour Resources. (

4 How Kids Develop, San Diego: What is developmental delay and what services are available if I think my child might be delayed? (

5 Madaule, P. 1989. Down’s Syndrome: Becoming just one of the kids. (

6 Schonbeck, Joan. Auditory Integration Training. (

7 Holloway, M. 2003. The mutable brain. Scientific American, pp.79–85. (

8 Carter, S.L. 2001. Motor Impairment Associated with Neurological Injury in Premature Infants. (

9 Sierra Dove Global Association: The beginnings and work of Alfred Tomatis. (

10 Goddard, S. 2002. Reflexes, Learning and Behavior. Fern Ridge Press, Oregon.

11 Heartland: Sensory Integration: The Concept. (

12 Sensory Integration International (The Ayers Clinic): Answers to frequently asked questions. (



Shalom/Salaam/Pax! Rowland Croucher

Justice for Dawn Rowan -

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Millie has developed the habit in the last couple of weeks of coming upstairs to us when she is disciplined by her parents.

Today, Grandma (her usual comforter) was out, but she sat on my knee, and the conversation went something like this:

Grandpa: 'What's wrong, little one?'

Millie: 'Daddy brought some gifts home for Bella and me, and Bella took the clock with the fairy princess, and Daddy gave me clothes. But I don't want clothes!'

Grandpa: 'So you really wanted the clock, not the clothes?' (using my best counselling skills :-)!

Millie: 'Yes, and Bella took it and wouldn't give it to me.'

Grandpa: 'And what did you say to Daddy?'

Millie: 'I told him I didn't want the clothes.'

Grandpa: 'And how do you feel?'

Millie: 'I feel left out!'

Now... friends. Where would you take the conversation from there...?

[ See the notes of the seminar on How to Help Your Friend ].