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Linda's Story

You're Warmly Welcomed 

After Doran was born

Three days after his birth my own son Doran was given a terrible prognosis. His back arched, his hands were fisted, his eyes crossed, he couldn't hear. I was told that he had severe athetoid cerebral palsy and severe bilateral hearing loss.

His doctors explained that he would never be able to sit, stand, walk independently or feed himself and was unlikely to have any form of speech; he would not grow normally and any understanding he might have had would be frustrated by his sensory motor loss.

 I cradled my son in my arms, I knew in this case love alone would not be enough, I was questioning everything, and surely there was a way to help him? I had no clear idea then how this could be achieved; I simply believed in Doran’s potential and determined to find the means to restore what was surely his birthright.

Doran Today

Today Doran has an athletic body, runs half marathons, travels independently and is a talented artist. At the age of 36 he continues to gain ability and skills, which were not available to him as a child.

The reality now is that Doran has achieved more than any physiotherapist or medical professional ever believed. It did not happen overnight and has come about as a gradual and continuously rewarding process. 

Where we began

Given Doran’s bleak diagnosis as a young baby, when medicine and physiotherapy could offer no hope for him, I started looking at other options, therapies or approaches. I saw it was possible for Doran to make some progress but then it slowed down and finally stopped.

I sensed that in someway all of these approaches were failing to address a fundamental area, which was crucial for Doran to have progressive improvements. I was spurred on to provide Doran with some critical developmental cornerstone which once in place would allow more and more normal abilities to emerge.

My beginnings

My early career as an artist encouraged me to look closely at the finer details of disability. I noticed two things. Firstly I noticed the unusual shape of the chests of disabled children, which was obvious in some but more subtle in others. The second was that it was often possible to hear disabled children breathing in a laboured or irregular pattern.

Perhaps, what I could identify was just the tip of the iceberg? Perhaps in fact if I could find a means to investigate more closely I would find that all children with neurological disabilities might breathe abnormally?

Eventually bursting with ideas and questions I couldn’t answer without help, I turned to University College London and by nothing less than a miracle I found myself accepted into the Department of Neuroscience as a PhD student.

Researching the role of breathing

As I researched further into breathing and child development I was able to show that there were sound reasons why all children with neurological problems from CP to ASD would also have abnormal breathing and how abnormal breathing could slow or stop the recovery potential of disabled children.

My research also showed how abnormal breathing impacted the development of brain growth, posture, circulation, muscular skeletal structure and limb control as well as influencing cerebral-spinal fluid flow, speech production, sleep, learning ability and digestion.

 All of these were typical issues in disabled children. This indicated that some of the problems that disabled children experienced could be connected to their abnormal breathing.  

Replicating breathing pressures

I found a way to replicate the effects of breathing pressures on the microcirculation of the diaphragm, lungs and abdominal organs. Doran became my first client.

As the weeks and months passed I became amazed and excited to see the changes in Doran’s physical structure and abilities. I had learned that a major contributor to the acquisition of the developmental milestones, like sitting, standing and speech quality, even digestion and learning ability, was actually breathing development and breathing quality.

The birth of TST exercises

Gradually I developed light pulse like massages to copy the effects of both breathing pressures and pressures from early infant movement on a child’s breathing organs particularly pressures occurring during the early months and years.

By now I had founded the charity Advance and called the therapy TST (The Scotson Technique). Soon I was beginning to see the same positive changes occurring in all of the other children we were treating.

Problems ranged from cerebral palsy to autism/ASD and to children without a diagnosis, either because their condition was too complex, too obscure or too mild. All outcomes were similarly encouraging because I wasn't trying to treat the individual disease but to restore the dynamics of normal process that depend on normal breathing.

TST into mainstream

Over 14 years later, with interest in the approach supported by both clinicians and academics and my MPhil/PhD viva expected by late Autumn 2016, University College London asked me to apply for a research grant for a control study of TST with a view to bringing the ideas into NHS mainstream physiotherapy.

The TST approach is gentle and adaptable and with patience the results will continue to surprise. For me it allowed me to help Doran with my own hands. It took away some of the anxiety and pressure of finding someone to help my son. I could at last do that myself. Moreover TST builds and enhances the warmest connections between parent and child.

What parents say

I am always so happy to listen to what parents tell me about their own journey with TST whether it has been for a matter of months or years. For them to be doing these exercises and helping to transform the outcomes for their children gives me the same excitement and joy I have when I think of how TST has and is transforming Doran. You can find and enjoy many of the other children’s stories Click Here.

Now, when to begin

It does not matter how old your child may be when you begin TST because the exercises at first reflect the means by which a newborn baby begins to develop its breathing. I believe breathing development may be the cornerstone that has previously been missing in attempts to improve the lives of children with disabilities.

TST is a dynamic process with many wonderful surprises. Looking at Doran now I am so thrilled I kept going to gently maintain his upward path to heights even beyond my initial hopes and dreams.

You are welcome

I, and my team at Advance, will be with you on your journey. You will find warmth, encouragement and friendship from all the parents and children in our Advance Family who like you now, know how much Breathing really Matters.

Linda Scotson- Director and Founder of Advance and TST

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