August 27, 2013



Today Jesse reached another milestone and we are so excited, but telling you about it is going to require a little back story.


As you all know, we have spent the past year in the long and tedious endeavor of weaning Jesse off of the drug protocol prescribed by his doctors after his accident.  But in addition to regular visits to his pediatrician and neurologist we as a family are utilizing several non-traditional therapies to stimulate new cell growth in Jesse's brain.  Some of these therapies we are able to practice in our home and have dedicated a room down the hall from his bedroom as a therapy room. It's filled with floor pads, an eight foot inclined and padded crawling track and various other apparatus.


A few months back we discovered The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Wyndmoor, PA and the incredible work they have been doing over the past sixty years. Through our communications with them and in the study of their theories and practices, among other things we began implementing the use of flash cards.  You might think that odd considering Jesse's injury was a brain injury but flash cards are a big part of what we do on an hourly basis whenever we are at home.


Our flash cards are large, not the little 4" x 6" cards you get at the toy store.  Ours are 10" x 10", and 8" x 15". When we hold them up in front of Jesse, believe me...he can't miss them and they command his full attention.  Some of them are full color cards with the name of the color spelled in big letters across the card. Holding them a foot from his face we flip through them quickly yelling the names out as we go...ORANGE...GREEN...BLUE...RED, etc.  Other cards are Activity cards which have a black and white silhouetted image on them that symbolize the next activity that we will do with him. As an example before we take him for a walk we show him the image of his stroller and brightly call out WALK...WALK...WALK, with ten repetitions, then into the stroller he goes and off to his walk. We have cards for BATH, TOYS, MUSIC, SONGS, etc. There are actually a few others that would probably finally convince you that we've completely lost it!  However we are seeing some amazing results which believe it or not, I am getting to.


What are they? Well, we have three big plastic laundry tubs. One is half full of dried red kidney beans, one is half full of white rice and the other one is full of colored plastic balls, the kind you see in a kid's ball room. Well we show Jesse the card with the image of a bunch of beans on it and call out BEANS, BEANS several times and then dump him in clad in just his diaper. He gets them poured all over him. He runs his hands through them. They feel cold to him. They feel shiny. They're red. Five minutes in the beans, then out of the beans and into the rice. I know it sounds as though we're getting ready to make some delicious Jesse soup, but not quite.  I'm almost there so be patient.


Then we have what are most likely his favorite cards, the FAMILY cards. These are the life size faces of his family. One by one here we go...MOMMY...GRAMMY...PAPA BOB...UNCLE BRANDON...AUNTIE BRE, etc. Jesse loves them and lights up when we call out the names.




We are teaching Jesse to associate a color with the name of the color, and to associate an activity with the specific word relating to that activity, and to associate a person with the name of that person. This is all auditory, visual and tactile stimulation that keeps Jesse thinking.  The key is to keep his brain working all the time for we have learned that "the brain grows by use". As Jesse's is weaning off of his drugs the haze is beginning to lift more and more.  All the stimulus is beginning to add up.  Neurons are connecting by the thousands and he is beginning to put things together one thought at a time.

With the goal of teaching him to talk again we have been working on these one word sentences and waiting for the day when he would begin to make a choice to do his favorite activity and to actually let us know what that choice is. Those of you who have children probably remember the days when you held your arms down to your baby and asked the question, UP? UP? UP?, and waited for him to raise his arms in the air towards you, and then you taught him the meaning of "UP" by lifting him "UP" into your arms.




From the moment Jesse wakes in the morning until he falls asleep at night he is never alone, and boy has he gotten used to it. However today one of our two regular nurses (he has fallen in love with both of them by the way) left him in his bed while she cleaned her hands in the washroom across from Jesse's bedroom.  Bonnie and I were both downstairs and at the other end of the house when we heard Jesse call out in a voice as absolutely clear as any four year old...HUG! and then again HUG!  We heard it from where we were and immediately ran up the stairs, "KULDIP, DID YOU HEAR THAT?  Jesse yelled for you, HUG! HUG!


Yes, Kristin started it a few weeks ago and over the weeks we all began doing it many times a day.  We say HUG and then snuggle our faces and chest up to Jesse's. When we pull away he is always smiling.  We realized today that his brain is associating HUG as meaning 'when someone I love comes close to me'.


Jesse, the boy with the injured brain, the boy they said would do nothing but drool the rest of his life, the boy they said wouldn't even have a life, this boy's brain told him that #1 - he was alone, #2 - he wanted someone to come to him, and #3 HE KNEW THE WORD TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN!


I'm SORRY, but this boy's a GENIUS!!! 


We are so proud of him, but you might have guessed that.  You see we are not over anxious to get him standing or crawling or walking again because we know those things will come.  When Jesse drowned he did not hurt his arms, his legs did not suffer any injury.  All his internal organs were kept perfectly in tact. The injury suffered by Jesse was to his brain.  But the human brain is an amazing animal. It has the incredible and miraculous ability to grow, to heal, to learn, to recreate, to adapt and to imagine. Every neurologist knows this ability.  It's called neuroplasticity. The plastic nature of the brain has the innate ability to form new patterns to accomplish it's goals.  Jesse isn't moving his arms and legs right now like he used to because his brain is not telling them to do so.  But his brain is finding new pathways around his injury to reach the rest of him to fully engage again.  We believe that as Jesse's brain gradually comes back on line it will tell his arms and legs and back and eyes and mouth what to do. So the question is asked once again...




As far around the world as Jesse's voice could be heard today, his message was simple, direct and profound..."HUG!" That's it, just HUG.

Jesus said, "I praise you Father, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children, Yes Father this was your good pleasure."

Even if Jesse's call today is just for us few who follow his story, what a blessed reminder it is.




Bob Arrigo


P.S. Here's another reminder for you, the second annual "Baby Jesse's Evening For Miracles" is coming up in February. This event it is shaping up to be quite the special evening. I will let you know all the details as the exciting features of this wonderful evening are being secured .  However don't wait to purchase your ticket to join us. We promise you will not be disappointed. We hope to see all who joined us last year and we are expecting many, many new friends as well.

Click the link below for ticket information...
via @eventbrite

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