Jeremy’s Incredible Dolphin Adventure
Jeremy’s Incredible Dolphin Adventure begins in Denver his anticipation about swimming with dolphins so high, his body wouldn’t be still. But then, Jeremy is never still. His body and his mind always racing, always in motion. Jeremy is bi-polar, and has multiple learning disabilities, but ultimately, the names of his challenges don’t matter. The effects of his disabilities matter constantly.
Jeremy’s first glimpse of the world was before his head fully emerged from the birth canal. Only part of his face exposed, he opened his eyes and began to look around the room something the nurse midwives exclaimed they had never witnessed before. Jeremy definitely entered the world in his own unique way and his presence would change many lives forever.
Rebecca and Brian knew something was different about their son by the time he was one and a half years old. The constant nonsense noises and incoherent speech, mood swings, and constant motion made them aware something was not quite right. So their lives began an unexpected path of doctors appointments, therapy sessions, multiple drugs in different combinations, trying new treatments all with hopes and prayers to find answers and help to cope with the daily activities of life.
From that point until age 11, Jeremy, Rebecca, and Brian lived day to day, sometimes hour to hour, in as normal a way as they could imagine. Rebecca knew of my trips to Mexico taking groups of people to swim with dolphins. And she had heard that autistic children often experience changes after swimming with dolphins. The universe was listening as in one conversation with Macy Jozsef, founder of Living From the Heart, the decision was made to sponsor a trip for Jeremy in June, 2003.
New experiences and transitions are very difficult for kids like Jeremy, and two new things needed to happen for Jeremy to swim with dolphins in Mexico. He needed to get on an airplane, and he needed to learn how to swim. With multiple sensory hypersensitivities, Jeremy had never liked the water. The feel of it on his face overloaded his sensory system, and simple activities like taking a bath were usually a major ordeal. Rebecca signed Jeremy up for swim lessons at the Mapleton Rehabilitation Center. Voluntarily getting into a swimming pool was not an easy challenge for Jeremy, but one that he accepted as he understood the reward of being with a dolphin. Multiple times in those months, he did not want to get into the water, but he did it anyway, and he learned to swim.
June 10, 2003 finally came, and Jeremy was filled with many emotions, not the least of which was fear. He got onto an airplane with a large group of people, knowing he would get off that airplane in a different country. But he always enjoyed learning about different cultures and language, and he thought about experiencing those things in real life instead of just looking at pictures in books.
There were seven others in the group two chiropractors, two retired schoolteachers, a reflexologist and her daughter, and Macy Jozsef. June 12 was the day of our first dolphin swim. The group was up early with anticipation of the day. After breakfast, we did a healing circle in the pool a practice session for Jeremy before going to Dolphin Adventure. We took turns being in the middle of the circle, then Jeremy took his place. In the hands of mom and dad, and both chiropractors, we all supported him and loved him. He generally did not like to be touched or be the center of attention, but he was able to allow a small amount of craniosacral work. We finished with a prayer circle. The feeling of love and connection was powerful among the ten of us.
Before entering the dolphin pool, Jeremy asked the trainer, Ricky, how deep the water was. Ricky answered “about 18 feet.” With complete trust, Jeremy said “OK,” and slowly entered the cold, deep water. We were with 3 dolphins: Amiscle, Tinda, and Aclina. Amiscle is a 600 pound male dolphin, and Jeremy had an instant sense of trust with him. This instant connection seemed to calm Jeremy, and help him ease into the entire experience. Dolphins respond to each person in a different way. With some, they are playful and powerful moving quickly through the water. With those people they sense are afraid or anxious, they move very slowly and purposefully. Especially children. Dolphins know how enormous they are, and are extra gentle and slow with kids. They roll over onto their backs, flap their pectoral fins lightly as if to say “come play with me.” Around kids with challenges (physical and mental), there is an entirely different kind of connection between them. And there was no exception with Jeremy. It didn’t take long for Jeremy to have a huge smile on his face, and the magic began. He played with the dolphins, stroked them, fed Amiscle large handfuls of squid, laughed out loud, and when it was time, he held on to their pec fins and went for a ride. The Mapleton Rehab pool already seemed to be in the distant past.
Immediately following that first swim, Jeremy was much calmer, spoke more softly, didn’t chew his fingers, and had relatively normal conversations with the other people in the group. His physiology even shifted. Normally, he would go into a “blood sugar crash” every two hours if he did not eat. When lunch was delayed unexpectedly, Jeremy continued to sit calmly, talk with people, and play games. Rebecca and Brian expressed their amazement at the difference in his behavior.
That night, and each night thereafter, Jeremy began to journal with the help of one of the schoolteachers. Normal writing for Jeremy up to that point was a “scrawl” that neither of his parents could decipher, and the content challenging to understand. He began to write complete sentences. His penmanship improved dramatically. By the end of the week, he had composed an entire page, complete with pictures, that was legible and understandable! Rebecca has a word for this transformation, and that word is miracle. We all witnessed something Jeremy had never achieved in his life up to that point.
We had a total of three days of dolphin swims and special encounters which involved therapists working on Jeremy in the water with one dolphin. It didn’t take long for Jeremy to feel totally comfortable in the dolphins’ world swimming, playing, and riding on them. In the encounter pool, Jeremy would lie back in the arms of the chiropractors and therapists, and allow the dolphin to touch him and swim around him. It has been documented that being in the water with dolphins changes brain wave levels from a Beta state to an Alpha state, which promotes a deep state of relaxation. Jeremy’s original neurofeedback studies showed that he functioned in a “high Beta” state, keeping him constantly in motion and thought. It was apparent from his first encounter that his brain wave levels had changed. He was able to feel his mind literally relax. All watched in amazement as his behavior shifted throughout each day.
Jeremy’s Incredible Dolphin Adventure encompassed so much more a boat journey out into the ocean, meeting many new friends, boisterous singing and laughing, swimming in the ocean and getting smacked in the face by waves (and loving it!). And most of all, there was love, connection, and respect from each person in the group, bonded by a caring to help and support this amazing, courageous young man as he continues on his journey in life.
And to begin the next chapter in Jeremy’s life, mom Rebecca writes:
“I am amazed, grateful, and speechless. This is the best Jeremy has ever been in his short life. A calmness, more clear focus, better insight. The magic of the dolphins is still with him, thus with us. I feel like a miracle has happened for us….and boy did we need one. I was truly at my wits end. So partially due to your help and love, our family is healing and getting better and better. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I trust the right thing will happen for us. So again, deepfelt thanks to all the many loving people who made this trip possible, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping with all our different levels of healing. Your generosity and compassion and love are truly appreciated.”
Today (March, 2004), Jeremy has continued to improve in many functional aspects of his life.
He is able to get himself up and organized in the morning, bathe without fight and distress, have a pleasant breakfast, and leave for school. His family has gained at least an hour back each day, and time together that is peaceful and loving. His teachers are amazed at his progress. For the first time ever, he has started to work at his grade level, improving from a second grade reading level to sixth! He has appropriate organizational skills, and there are seldom outbursts or self-destructive behaviors. His neurofeedback studies show that he is functioning more consistantly in an alpha brainwave state, which enables him to stay more relaxed, calm, and focused. Jeremy continues to have a unique way of seeing and understanding the world, and his being more functional has allowed his special qualities to shine through. All who knew Jeremy before and know him now, agree that truly a miracle occurred.
Submitted by Mary G. Elsea, D.C.
For more information about dolphin-assisted therapy, contact Macy Jozsef at Living From the Heart www.livingfromthe heart.org
Living From the Heart is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Tax deductible donations are always welcome and make the dreams of kids like Jeremy a reality!