Balancing Brains with Wendy Foster


Dr. Stafford is joined by Wendy Foster, the Enrollment Director for Brain Balance Tualatin in the Portland area. Brain Balance is a program dedicated to helping kids of all ages overcome challenges with behavior, academics, and socialization.


Topics discussed in this episode:

  • What is the Brain Balance program?

  • The initial intake and assessment process.

  • Some common struggles seen in kids at different stages.

  • How BB can address specific issues.

  • Story behind the owners of the local BB locations.

  • Success story from a local family.

Learn more about Brain Balance HERE.


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Dr. Stafford: Hi, it's Dr. Michelle Stafford here, World of Smiles with our podcasts and Mixed Dentition. And today my special guest star is Wendy Foster with Brain Balance. Thanks for coming Wendy.


Wendy Foster: Yes, of course. Thanks for having me.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, so let's start off by telling me what exactly is brain balance for our listeners out there?


Wendy Foster: Oh, that's such a good question. Brain Balance is a program that helps kids, struggling kids, all kinds of kids that may have some behavioral challenges, academic challenges or just social challenges that are kind of getting in the way of their everyday successes. So we just help to support kids and families so that they can, I know it sounds cliche, but start being the best version of themselves. And that there's not as much upset in the home and that the parenting can just be more enjoyable for the family.


Dr. Stafford: Oh I love that.


Wendy Foster: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: So maybe start by describing one of the programs or what would it be like if I brought my kids into you and there are certain scenarios and programs that you offer?


Wendy Foster: Yeah, so good question. So a Brain Balance is a national franchise and we have a program, we always start with a comprehensive assessment. So every family comes in, their child goes through a two hour assessment and during that time as an enrollment director of the Brain Balance center in Oregon and Portland and Tualatin, I meet with the families, they fill out a really thorough intake form. I think it's probably about 200 questions or more.


Dr. Stafford: That's great though.


Wendy Foster: Yeah, everything from child sort of development. When did they sit, when did they walk, when did they talk to things like what are their food preferences, what are their sleep patterns now? What do they, sort of like, what do they tend towards? Do they tend... What are sort of some of their preferences in terms of, again, whether it's food or a certain clothing or just things like that.


Wendy Foster: And then finding out from the parents what are their hot points? What are their goals for their child and for their family.


Dr. Stafford: That's great.


Wendy Foster: Yeah, it's really, we take a lot of time meeting with the families. We take a lot of time assessing the child. So during that meeting, again, the child's in an assessment with our assessor and it's a two hour comprehensive assessment. So we'll we're checking all kinds of things for where there might be some gaps in development. And then once we put all that information together, meet with the family, meet with the child, go through the assessment, then we can figure out an individualized program for that child.


Dr. Stafford: It's great.


Wendy Foster: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah. And what's the age range that you see kids and maybe what's the most ideal age?


Wendy Foster: Yeah, so we work with kids anywhere from three until 18.


Dr. Stafford: Okay.


Wendy Foster: We actually have in our Portland Brain Balance center now we have a 25 year old woman going through our programs. So, and we always get asked for our adult program, when are you going to work with adults? But yes, it's three to 18 sometimes those were little ones at three and four. It's, it's great to get a jumpstart on their development and get them in for an assessment. Sometimes we might start them with the home program or they may be coming into the center. The ideal age is really, any age that the child is ready to commit to the program and that the family is ready to commit to the program. And so we are currently having a lot of kids now that are hitting those middle school years.


Dr. Stafford: Right. Those can be so challenging.


Wendy Foster: So challenging. And I think a lot of families hope, well my son's having some challenges and my daughter's having some struggles, but they'll outgrow them. Maybe they think, oh well it's only elementary school. He'll catch up later or something like that. And what we know is that doesn't happen. They don't just outgrow it. It doesn't, all of a sudden they don't just wake up one morning and something falls from the sky and everything's connecting, perfectly and properly. So yeah, it's really any age. I mean, I don't know if that answers the question. We actually have a lot of high schoolers that are coming in now too. A lot of parents see that their child maybe has had these struggles year after year after year.


Dr. Stafford: Can you describe a couple of those struggles more specifically?


Wendy Foster: Oh yeah, absolutely.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah.


Wendy Foster: So some of the struggles we see even with little kids are things like, they might be really great at memorizing all the facts about, dinosaurs or trains, right? They can remember all these amazing facts, layers upon layers of facts, but you ask them to go get their shoes and their backpack and they either can't find their shoes or they forget to grab their backpack and they come out and they're ready to go. And mom says, "Okay, where's your backpack?" And they say, "Well, I didn't hear you say that." So that doesn't seem like a big struggle. But when there are struggles like that, that are just happening over and over again, and when it's happening at home or at school. Things like they might be really adept at math, but for some reason just cannot make any friends, have a really hard time. Maybe they get in the personal space of a lot of their friends, right? Or maybe they are being very distracting or very impulsive, especially during potentially transitions.


Wendy Foster: So the teacher's asking everyone, "Okay, we're going to get up and get in line. We're going to go to library." And your child's the child that's always bumping into the other kids in front and in back. Which again, it's not that big of a deal, but it's them not being able to just attend to the task at hand.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Wendy Foster: Does that make sense?


Dr. Stafford: Yeah it does. And what about for middle school when you're seeing those middle schoolers? I would imagine their struggles might be a little different.


Wendy Foster: Yeah, that is also a really good question because that's when the struggles become a little bit more, there's a little more weight to those struggles, right? The consequences are a little bit greater. And what we see with some of those little kids is you ask them, "Why didn't you get your shoes and your backpack?" And they say, "I don't know." Well, I told you, I told you four times. Well, I didn't... I don't know. I don't know. And why didn't you get that grade on your math test?


Wendy Foster: You studied, you knew all the answers last night and yet you went in to take the test today and you got a bad grade. I don't know why I got that grade. What happens oftentimes with middle schoolers is that's happened to them so much and that's become again, such a pattern for them that they start to turn into... Their answer becomes more, I just, I don't care. I don't care why I didn't do that. I don't care why I didn't get a great grade on the test. I don't care that no one's inviting me over for birthday parties or to hang out. And they just become a little more isolated and then have challenges again socially, behaviorally. And those academic challenges can start to really add up in middle school as they're trying to get into the high school and on that path to higher education. Yeah. So.


Dr. Stafford: And then how... So a parent is struggling, let's say for instance, a middle school or early middle school are struggling with some of the things that you've described. They'd bring their child into you, they do the assessment. Are you able to kind of describe how Brain Balance provides a program to parents and to the children to kind of provide that support?


Wendy Foster: Yeah, so one of the things we do when they do come in for an assessment is we check a lot of their processing. So we'll look and see are there any processing delays? You know, we specialize in development, so we have tools and certain exercises and activities where we can see how are their eyes tracking, what is their visual process, what is their auditory processing? Is there a delay and how can that affect their ability again, to take an information, retain information, and then sort of regurgitate that information. If that makes sense. So a lot of the program involves a lot of sensory motor activities, things like that that we do in center a lot, some balance work, everything, again, just to help that child so that they can have more typical processing, if that makes sense. And then also the idea would be to help them regulate, self-regulate a little bit more easily too,


Dr. Stafford: Right. That's great.


Wendy Foster: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: What a wonderful program. And Wendy, how did you get involved in this program?


Wendy Foster: Oh gosh.


Dr. Stafford: Brain Balance, and how long, I guess, how long have you been involved with Brain Balance?


Wendy Foster: Yeah, so Brain Balance. I'm the owner of our center, our Brain Balance center in Portland. She owns 12 other franchises. And she started the program because her son was non verbal, low functioning and she had tried all different types of therapy. She had tried tutoring, she had tried ABA therapy, a lot of different types of therapy and just was not getting any results, spent a ton of money, lots of time. She found a Brain Balance that was about four states away and enrolled her son in that program. She moved her whole family while her husband stayed behind to work to Georgia for six months to enroll her son in the brain balance program and saw such amazing results with him that she said, "This is my calling, I have to do this and help as many families."


Dr. Stafford: I just got chills.


Wendy Foster: I know it's a...


Dr. Stafford: Such a nice story.


Wendy Foster: It's a beautiful story. And they're-


Dr. Stafford: Life takes you.


Wendy Foster: Yeah, they're a great family. And so they were opening up a new center in Tualatin, and they wanted someone to come in and help support families and enroll families and educate families in the community about the program. And so I have always been a advocate for boys. An advocate for learning through movement and this just seemed like a natural fit for me.


Dr. Stafford: That's great.


Wendy Foster: So yeah. So I've only been doing it for about six or seven months now, but I'm really looking forward to staying with them for a long time. A lot of the struggles that these children are having, that they are real struggles, that they all children want to do well if they can do well. So I guess I would say that if parents are struggling or they're looking for some support, to just keep digging, to keep looking in their community and see if there's something that can really help their child and again, recognize that sometimes when those preferences really start to become patterns, they can make your child even more rigid.


Wendy Foster: And so it's nice to just stop and try and figure out, okay, how can we get them to be a little bit more open to different preferences.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Wendy Foster: That makes sense.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's great.


Wendy Foster: We had one family, I don't know if it's okay, but there's a one family that I talked with whose son came through our program and she was sharing a story with me. Whoops.


Dr. Stafford: Oh yes, please. Share with our audience how Brain Balance has made a difference.


Wendy Foster: Yeah. Well it's just interesting because she came in and she was telling us that her son was struggling in reading and math.


Dr. Stafford: Do you mind if we pause and tell me how old is her son?


Wendy Foster: Oh yeah. Her son... That is a good question.


Dr. Stafford: Or approximately.


Wendy Foster: Yeah. He's, I think he's nine.


Dr. Stafford: Okay. So nine year old son.


Wendy Foster: Yeah, he's nine year old son.


Dr. Stafford: And his struggles...


Wendy Foster: And his struggles were reading and with math. They put him in an academic tutoring program thinking that they put them in this intense summer program in three months. Hopefully he'd be more on track with his reading, didn't find any results. They brought him into Brain Balance. And one thing we do in the assessment, like I mentioned, as we look at the eyes and see where they're tracking, is one eye working stronger than the other, is one eye looking in the opposite direction. Your eyes really should track together. And she found that her son's eyes were just not tracking at all. So no matter how much tutoring they did or no matter how much they disciplined him or said, "Why aren't you reading?"


Dr. Stafford: Right. He physically couldn't do it because of his eyes and no one had checked that. Wow.


Wendy Foster: Yeah. Yeah. And it's not just a vision test. He could have had 2020 vision. It's more of the processing and the tracking. So he came into the program. One of her other concerns when she met with our team was that her son had never been invited over to a play date before. He just was having some social challenges. And I think other kids just didn't feel comfortable or safe around him. And so long story short, he went through the program. He received an honor award in math, in front of his whole school.


Dr. Stafford: Oh wow. That's great.


Wendy Foster: So he's completely thriving in math and reading. And then he was invited to two play dates just actually in the last month.


Dr. Stafford: Aw, that's great.


Wendy Foster: So as a mom, that's what you're looking for.


Dr. Stafford: Right.


Wendy Foster: You don't want your child to be lonely or not invited places or you know, feeling like there's just, I don't know, no hope to be part of the group.


Dr. Stafford: Right. That socialization is definitely key.


Wendy Foster: Yeah.


Dr. Stafford: Oh, how wonderful. Wow. It's always nice to hear about success stories and making a difference in family lives. I know that's why we work with kids, right. So that we can help families and be a part of their journey and the success of their children. So that's great.


Wendy Foster: Absolutely.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah. Well thank you. Wendy. I really appreciate you coming on the show today and for our listeners and viewers out there, how can we learn more about Brain Balance? What's your website?


Wendy Foster: Oh yeah, thank you for asking. So we do have all kinds of monthly activities and events, so if they're interested, check out our websites, ourbrainbalance.com and that'll send you to all the centers that these owners have. We have centers in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, but specifically the Oregon ones. We'd love to have some Oregon families come in and check us out.


Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's great. Well, thank you everyone who's tuned in to the the podcast today, and thank you, Wendy, for being on the show and remember, fill the world with smiles.




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