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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Saturday, February 17, 2018

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5/8/2017 1:04:00 PM
For REACH Family Institute, no one is a lost cause
Charles and Conceição Solis celebrate with a young patient. St. John Paul praised their work.

Charles and Conceição Solis celebrate with a young patient. St. John Paul praised their work.

Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

MEDFORD — Charles and Conceição Solis believe God keeps working on us long after we’re born. Members of Sacred Heart Parish here, they offer therapy for struggling children, convinced there are no lost causes. 

Founders of REACH Family Institute, the Solis’s offer parents techniques to help children’s brains develop, especially if there was a problem along the way — traumatic birth, a car crash, near drowning, autism, dyslexia, attention deficit, epilepsy, cerebral palsy or neglect.

Movement, they teach, is critical because it gets all the body’s systems and functions going. If a child is not moving much, they often start with that as a way to spark better brain organization.   

“It’s a beautifully designed system,” Charles says.  

They tell parents not to be discouraged, no matter what they hear about how intractable their children’s disabilities might be. 

Ahead of the curve, the couple has been teaching for 40 years that we are all on a neurological continuum. So, no one is really normal or standard; those are the kids who just happen to be near the middle of the spectrum. The Solis’s contend that no one is stuck. A person can move along the continuum, they say, by developing or organizing the brain.  

In 1997, Charles and Conceição were invited to organize and speak at a Vatican conference on children with brain injuries. They met St. John Paul, who during his own speech cited their work as an extension of the gospel of life.

They worked with one girl who had very little brain cortex and was not expected to live, or who at least would be in a vegetative state. After the Solis’s began their plan, she made progress. Now 11, she attends school, can understand language and has a sense of humor. 

“The brain is such an extraordinary thing that it can shift functions to other parts,” Charles says. 

A Newberg girl in their care went from struggling in school and extreme clumsiness to being a high-achiever who reads 1,000-word books over a weekend and won a varsity letter in swimming. 

The couple offered a workshop last month on how to unleash your special needs child’s hidden potential.

The session, held at Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, explained brain development during the first three years of life and offered practices to transform the function of children with special needs.  

In 1997, St. John Paul praised their work by saying, “they are truly living the gospel of life, and the medical community should see what they are doing ... they are helping the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the mute to speak.”

To find out more, go to BrainFitKids.org.


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