How It Works

The Science

The brain has the incredible ability to adapt, heal, and grow.

Our unique sensory enrichment therapy unlocks these abilities and prompts the process of brain plasticity–utilizing the power of neurogenesis and dendritic arborization.

Neurogenesis:
[neu·ro·gen·e·sis]
• the process of generating new nerve cells.

Dendritic arborization: 
[den-drit-ik ahr-ber-uh-zey-shuhn]
• the process of “growing” an existing nerve cell (increasing its number of dendrites) resulting in an expanded capacity to communicate with other nerve cells.

Brain Plasticity for Autism

With more connections your brain is a lot stronger and able to do a lot more

What we do know…

Through the processes of neurogenesis and dendritic arborization, the brain can change neural pathways and synapses at any stage of life. The brain’s ability to make these changes is called brain plasticity.

With stronger connections and more brand new nerve cells, the brain is able to receive and interpret more signals more accurately. It can do more, more quickly, more easily. Since the brain controls just about every aspect of life, as its capabilities expand, so will your child’s. He will become increasingly confident as his/her life becomes gradually easier and more comfortable and as he feels his skills expand.

It is common for people doing Mendability to see increases in self-awareness, communication and social skills, and a decrease in anxiety, sleep and feeding problems.

Prompting natural healing

Sensory Enrichment
and the Brain

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine believe that brain plasticity can be triggered by sensory enrichment–through olfactory, visual, tactile, motor systems, etc.

Sensory enrichment therapy was influenced by the breakthrough work of Prof. Mark Rosenzweig, University of California, Berkeley, who showed that early sensory stimulation increases the surface of the cortex, the number of dendrites and the volume of neurotransmitters in rats.

Prof. Rosenzweig was one of the first scientists to demonstrate neuroplasticity, the notion that experiences can produce changes in the function and structural wiring of the brain.

Further studies by neurobiologists now show that the social and cognitive abilities of an individual depend heavily on the levels of neurotransmitters.

Moreover, research now shows that sensory stimulation can impact the levels of key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

This work is an example of the kind of impact simple sensory activities can have on brain function.

Other researchers who have influenced sensory enrichment and shown the impact of simple sensory activities include: Professor Michael Meaney at McGill University on the link between gentle touch, serotonin and anxiety; and the work of Professor Jon Horvitz, currently at City College New York, who paired visual experiences, dopamine and mood.

Inspiring quotes from science journals

Researchers have shown that cells destined to become neurons travel from the ventricles to the olfactory bulbs, a pair of structures that receives input from odor-sensing cells in the nose.

– Fred H. Gage, Scientific American Sep 2003 p. 47
The combination of odor and tactile stimulation, which allows an olfactory preference to be formed, induces a prolonged increase in DA [dopamine] which peaks at about 400% of baseline.

– Coopersmith, R.; Weihmuller, F.B. Kirstein, C.L.; Marshall, J.F.; Leon, M. “Extracellular dopamine increases in the neonatal olfactory bulb during odor preference training.” Brain Res. 564(1):149-53; 1991.
…we show that significantly more new neurons exist in the dentate gyrus of mice exposed to an enriched environment compared with littermates housed in standard cages.

– Kempermann G, Kuhn HG, Gage FH. “More Hippocampal Neurons in Adult Mice Living in an Enriched Environment.” Nature 386, no. 6624 (1997): 493-95.


We conclude that an extensively enriched environment prevents old rats from the aging-associated impairment of spatial cognition, synaptic plasticity and nitric oxide production.

– Arnaiz SL, D’Amico G, Paglia N, Arismendi M, Basso N, del Rosario Lores Arnaiz M. “Enriched Environment, Nitric Oxide Production and Synaptic Plasticity Prevent the Aging-Dependent Impairment of Spatial Cognition.” Molecular Aspects of Medicine 25, no. 1-2 (2004): 91-101.

Selected Bibliography

SEE FULL LIST OF RESEARCH ARTICLES
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What makes Sensory Enrichment therapeutic?

A stimulus needs to be interesting, focused and gentle in order for it to have a therapeutic effect on the brain.

Sometimes just the fact that a stimulus is focused can make it interesting. Let’s look at breathing, for example. We breathe while simultaneously completing multiple tasks–it’s something we do without noticing we’re doing it. But, if we decide to focus entirely on our breathing, in spite of it being a completely normal activity, it captures the brain’s attention.

In addition to being focused and attention-grabbing, a stimulus must be gentle in order for it to be therapeutic.

Sensory information that is too harsh or abrupt will exceed the level at which the brain will therapeutically process it. Instead, the abrasive input will trigger defense mechanisms.

Mendability exercises provide the brain with the interesting, focused, and gentle experiences it needs in order to be therapeutic.

The corpus callosum is typically smaller in children with autism

The corpus callosum is the structure deep in the brain that connects the right and left sides of the brain, coordinating the functions of the two halves.

What do the exercises look like?

The Water Game is an example of a game that encourages communication between the two sides of the brain.

Your child dips one hand in a bowl of warm water and the other hand in a bowl of cool water. After a few seconds, the bowls are switched and each hand is dipped into a new temperature of water. This process is repeated four times.

This exercise causes signals to be sent from the left hand to the right side of the brain and from the right hand to the left side of the brain.

Since these signals are sent at the same time, they cross paths in the middle of the brain on what is known as the communication bridge. In doing so, these signals increase the bridge’s capacity to quickly process signals. This is vital in developing strong and reliable complex brain communication.

Many children suffering from the symptoms of autism experience a bottleneck on the bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As the bridge’s capacity to process and circulate signals grows, the greater the capacity the brain will have to function, learn, grow and overcome the symptoms of autism.

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Sign up to watch our latest webinar: - 8 most important things the latest clinical study teaches us about Sensory Enrichment, - 2 Sensory Enrichment techniques you can use at home today to help your child with autism

8 most important things the latest clinical study teaches us about Sensory Enrichment

2 Sensory Enrichment techniques you can use at home today to help your child with autism

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What if the 30 days are up? No problem. There’s an easy to find “cancel membership” button in your account. Cancel any time and we’ll immediately stop the charges.

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40 thoughts on “How It Works

  1. Virginia Crawley

    Hi my son Jeremy is 20 years old and has autism .
    is this too old for this Mendabilty to work ?
    I am very interested..Do you have to live in the United States
    to take part of this course?
    Please let me know the criteria I would have to
    follow for help. Thank you
    Sincerely
    Virginia Crawley

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi Virginia,

      You don’t have to live in the US. to access the program. :-)

      The challenge with older kids is that they are harder to coax. You may run into cooperation issues.

      The clinical studies were done on children aged 3 – 12, so we don’t have clinical data to support our observations, but we have yet to see a difference in progress rate due to age.

      Reply
      1. Rosa Ortiz-Lane

        Thank you so much for working on the Spanish Support. I am wondering if this will be available internationally in Latin Countries. I follow the Down syndrome Associations and the Autism Asociation in my county, Panama. MendAbility will be a great help for Panamanian kids living with these conditions. Please let me know when you have literature available in Spanish that I can share with these organizations. I also can give you my insides in the overall translation as well as the appealing design for Spanish speaking countries. My native language is Spanish and I am a graphic designer.

        Reply
  2. sonja

    Hi,I just found out about MendAbility trough Ted talks :)My son has autism,and I am keen to give it a go,but we live in Australia.Can you please tell me if MendAbility proframs are available in Australia? If not is there a chance to do all the training by Skype?
    Thanks in advance
    Sonja

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Yes MendAbility® is available in Australia. You can do the program wherever you have access to the Internet. Our support coaches are currently located in America but it’s not difficult to work out good times to communicate with your assigned coach. Skype is available. Just mention it to your coach when you speak with him/her.

      Reply
  3. Zeina

    Hi there,

    I specialise in various interventions for Autism and have happily stumbled across mendability which I am very interested in adding it as part of the variety.

    Can I get more information on how long it’s been out there and how much it’s been advertised in the UK?

    Would you be interested in Active Autism helping you push it in the UK etc and do you help with the promotional information and materials. If not is there a template I can use?

    Also, please let me know your Skype name as I would love to speak with someone in more details about collaboration etc.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind regards

    Zeina

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi Zeina, it would be great to start forming partnerships with organizations in the UK as well. We are able to do a lot of good through our current partners in the US and in Australia. For example we are able to extend free memberships to parents in these countries thanks to our partners. Let’s see how we can work together and where our missions align.

      Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      The ideal is about 30 minutes per day (2 x 15-minute sessions), 7 days a week, with some lifestyle changes (incorporate some sensory enrichment protocols into daily life).

      Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi Julie!

      We only have clinical evidence for children aged up to 12 years old, but as far as we can tell, age is not a major success factor in the effectiveness of Sensory Enrichment therapy. It should work well with adults too. In fact, what we have observed is that many of the adults who tried Mendability® reported good progress more quickly than many of the children.

      I would try it and take advantage of the refundable first month if you don’t see enough progress in the first few weeks to justify continuing with Mendability®.

      Reply
  4. Marnie

    My daughter is 16, and suffers with a Mood Disorder in addition to her ASD & ADHD-I, and Sensory factors are key in her struggles to enjoy the world. This program sounds promising for her, but is she “too old” to benefit from it? She is extremely bright, but avoids experiences due to auditory sensitivity; she has the typically picky food preferences (with a fruit phobia), avoids getting her hands wet, and is hypersensitive to smells. She also struggles socially, and stims. Has the program been used with 16 year-olds/teens, and were the results comparable to those of younger children in the program?

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi Marnie,

      As far as we can tell, we have not seen an age limit yet. For example, we had a few older clients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for example and they saw great progress, with an improvement rate in line with that of younger adults or children.

      When you sign up, you will be assigned a case manager who will help you find the best ways to administer the therapy to take advantage of her interests and work around her phobias, etc. Some of the exercises play around a fruit theme for example, we’ll find a different theme for your daughter.

      Reply
  5. Karla Chaparro

    My daughter is 17 and is legally blind in one of her eyes. It is a brain function because the eye doctor told me she never learned to see in that eye. We patched her good eye for about a year, which did not work. She did 16 weeks of therapy that did work for a short time but her eye reverted back to its original vision. Would this therapy help her vision in her eye?

    Reply
  6. Glauda Goosen

    Goodday,

    My 8 year old struggles with sensory integration and therefore is struggling academically. Can you please forward me your newsletter. I would like to get started sometime, just need to look at the money… Regards

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Yes, a difficulty processing sensory inputs is a common barrier to learning. With Mendability, our approach to helping the brain process sensory inputs is mainly to help regulate Serotonin, which is the main neurotransmitter involved in translating sensory inputs. There are a few ways to do that, some involve pairing tactile input with olfactory input, some involve music and art, etc. Some of it depends on what your child is interested in. It works best when you can work these sensory protocols into existing routines, activities. Don’t hesitate to call. We’re on Skype too if you’re overseas.

      Our newsletter signup form is at the bottom of our home page and on this page too, above this comments section. You’ll see a girl holding an envelope. :-)

      Reply
  7. Shalp

    My son just turned 5. He has severe autism with delays and issues in almost every area of functioning. His recent psych test puts him at risk of an intellectual disability. He has issues following directions and sitting in one place for a long time. But he seeks a lot of sensory input like being in motion, jumping, massage and enjoys these activities a lot. Would this program work for him? The challenge is getting him to sit and cooperate and follow directions.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi Shalp,

      Sensory Enrichment is not just a Sensory program. Sensory Enrichment is a way to activate brain plasticity through sensory experiences. Sensory Enrichment is a branch of Environmental Enrichment which looks at how changes in the environment can impact the way the brain works. There is still a lot to learn about about how Sensory Enrichment exactly activates the mechanisms of brain plasticity, but for now, we are happy to have clinical evidence that the particular way Sensory Enrichment therapy combines sensory exercises is effective as a treatment of autism.

      The fact that he seeks sensory stimulation can work in your favor. I can see him enjoying the variety and the combinations of pleasurable and short sensations he would get with this therapy. Sitting still is going to make it a bit more difficult, but we are continually working on new ideas to address that. There is one in particular that we are working on right now. By the time you sign up, it may be in place. :-)

      Reply
  8. Nelcy Lopez

    Hello!
    My 3 year old son is globally developmentally delayed, especially in speech. He is in the what has been described to me as “severe to moderately delayed category”. Would this program work for him since he has difficulty following directions, isn’t speaking yet, and has difficulty paying attention/remaining on task? Also, do you offer discounts to teachers/therapists or low-income families? Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      You are right, lack of cooperation can be an obstacle to doing therapy. Mendability is no different in that respect from all the others. But what it does do well is trigger the reward system in the brain which will make your son WANT to do sensory enrichment therapy after a while. As you do this program you will see a stronger bond grow between you and your son. As we say on our home page, perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences parents are reporting is their child’s increased ability to experience and exhibit spontaneous happiness.

      Reply
  9. Libia

    hi just want to know if Mendability helps with speech too… that is the major concern on my 6 years old son…

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi, Libia!

      Yes, sensory enrichment will also help with communication and social skills. We measure a wide range of aspects of communication from pronunciation to receptive vocabulary, through social anxiety, etc.

      As an example, we have had sweet stories of children saying their first word after only a few weeks of therapy. Of course, it depends on the child and what is preventing proper speech development.

      Reply
  10. ELM

    My daughter is 11. She has been to OT and educational therapy for sensory integration disorder, low tone, dyspraxia and dysgraphia. She has some level ADHD (with no H), has trouble with planning, organizing and study skills. She has some anxiety and very mild OCD traits. What elements of any of the above issues could be addressed by your program? And, how long does it take to begin seeing results?

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      You will see when you fill out the baseline test that we measure aspects of all challenges you listed for your daughter, from the learning difficulties to the anxiety. We feel confident we can help. You should try it for a month. This is about how long it takes to see interesting changes. You will see. :-)

      Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      We should have announcements to make very soon regarding accounts for therapists. Watch this space. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter. We will announce there first. :-)

      Reply
  11. Lina

    My son is only 16 months old and has been diagnosed with ASD. Is this program set up for children this young, or is it geared toward older children?

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Yes, sensory enrichment therapy works for children as young as a few months old.

      The instructions given on the site, however, are generic to suit all ages. What we would do with you during the support calls is help you customize the administration of the excesses to your child.

      For example, the kid in the video instructions is about 9 years old. He demonstrates how the exercise is done for kids his age. What we would do together is discuss how a 1.5 year old would do the same exercise.

      We automated as much as possible to keep the therapy cost effective, but there are things that can only be done when you call us. I hope you will call us often about your son and the sensory enrichment exercises you got.

      Reply
  12. Suzanne Ruckman

    Could this ake the place of occupational therapy for a 10 yo boy with Aspergers? Also, do yo have a kit that provides the equipment needed?

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Yes, Mendability was designed to work as a stand-alone therapy. Of course, there are things that Mendability cannot do as a therapy. We are not nutrition experts for example. Nor can we advise you medication or psychology. Sensory enrichment is our expertise and Sensory enrichment can do a lot to help brains take care of themselves and grow stronger.

      Reply
  13. Dr. Belinda Mobley

    Please add me to your newsletter list, also I am interested in the professional product. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      The four profiles are for cases when you would like to do Mendability with more than one person. With the Advanced plan you can work with 4 unique profiles. You can do the environmental enrichment with other children that way and get unique customized worksheets for each one.

      Reply
  14. Ian Taylor

    Hi

    My young son Harris is on the Spectrum, he is 4 years old and was diagnosed when he was just 2. I live in the UK, can we still join the programme with you here?

    Can you tell me how it works? Do you send us practical information and guides each month via the web?

    My thanks in advance.
    Ian Taylor. +44 (0) 7513 467 672.

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      You can join the program wherever you are. All you need is a connection to the WWW and a phone for the bi-weekly check-ups.

      What you are joining is a full blown autism treatment. Day by day we walk you through what you need to do. You do the therapy with your child. You tell us how he is doing, we tell you what to do next.

      Reply
  15. Holly Lorenz

    We are interested in the program. Our daughter is 6 years old. She does not have autism but sensory integration disorder. She is afraid of some books and most unfamiliar videos. I’d like to have a trail period to see if your program will be helpful to her.

    Thanks for your assistance.

    Holly Lorenz

    Reply
    1. Kim Post author

      Hi, Holly! You’ll see that we offer a complete money-back guarantee. At any time during the first month of your program you can obtain a 100% refund at the click of a button in your member’s account. No questions asked. Both the Lite and the Advanced therapy programs will help your daughter with sensory integration and processing. It’s a big problem with children on the autism spectrum disorder and we address that with our therapy.

      Reply

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