About Us – Special Needs Children

special needs childrenThe Institutes is a group of nonprofit institutes founded by Glenn Doman in 1955. The Institutes is internationally known for its pioneering work in child brain development and for its programs to help special needs children achieve wellness and well children achieve excellence.

The Institutes Work With Brain-Injured Children

Historically, children diagnosed with developmental delay, cerebral palsy, autism, Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, learning problems, dyslexia and a host of other symptomatic diagnoses have been considered hopeless.

The objective of The Institutes is to take special needs children, however severely hurt, and help them to achieve normality physically, intellectually, physiologically and socially.

The majority of children achieve one of these goals, and many children achieve two of these goals. Some children achieve all of these goals, and some children achieve none of these goals.

Thousands of parents have come to The Institutes to learn how to help their children at home. Those parents have proven beyond any doubt that brain-injured children are not hopeless, but instead have tremendous potential. The Institutes exists to insure that all brain-injured children have a fighting chance to be well.

About Our Special Needs Children

Profoundly brain-injured children may be blind, deaf, insensate, paralyzed or speechless. They may have significant problems with food absorption, respiration and even survival. They may have all these problems. Severely brain-injured children may have serious visual, auditory, tactile, mobility, speech or manual problems. They may have all these problems.

Moderately brain-injured children may have significant problems in one or all of the sensory and motor pathways. Mildly brain-injured children may have reading, learning, behavior, balance, coordination, speech or writing problems. They may have all these problems.

Most of these special needs children will have significant health issues ranging from failure to thrive, to chronic upper respiratory illness, reflux, asthma, nutritional problems, food intolerance and allergies. The brain-injured children admitted to The Institutes program range in age from newborn to adults. No child or adult is ever refused admission to the program because of the severity of his or her brain injury.

About the Families of The Institutes

While the primary focus has been on children, The Institutes began their work a half-century ago with adults. These early patients were primarily seniors who had had strokes or younger adults with traumatic brain injuries. The Institutes continues to offer help to any adult who has lost abilities because of an injury to the brain.

For over a half-century, families have found their way to The Institutes from more than 120 nations. The families of The Institutes represent virtually every race, religion and creed on earth.


While there is a great diversity of background, language and culture among the families, they have in common an extraordinary devotion to their children. Their children are their first priority in life. They are committed to doing everything in their power to help their children realize their full potential or to restore their adult loved one’s abilities after an injury to the brain.

Our Evaluation Procedure

about-our evaluation-procedure-the-institutes-for-the-achievement-of-human-potential-wyndmoor-paWhen The Institutes began there was no reliable evaluation procedure for hurt or brain injured children. Glenn Doman and the staff developed the first reliable set of procedures to evaluate children with neurological problems.

The Institutes Developmental Profile™ measures the growth and development of the brain. This Profile allows us to evaluate a child and make an exact comparison between the hurt child and his well peers. This provides an accurate rate of growth for the child and establishes a baseline against which each child can be evaluated to determine his progress.

Each time a child returns to The Institutes, a new Developmental Profile is done and a new program is created based upon that Profile.

Our Treatment

about-our-treatment-procedure-the-institutes-for-the-achievement-of-human-potential-wyndmoor-paWhen The Institutes began more than a half-century ago there was no effective treatment for children with neurological problems. Instead hurt or brain-injured children were often medicated, warehoused and forgotten. Glenn Doman and his early team wanted to give every child a chance to be well, no matter how severely injured a child might be.

After each child was carefully evaluated and a functional diagnosis was made, the staff designed an individual program that would provide the appropriate sensory stimulation and give the maximum motor opportunity to use the new information so gained.

Fifty years ago each child lived at The Institutes and did the program there, but the staff quickly realized that parents could be taught how to do each part of the program.

This permitted the child to remain at home. Children at home with mother and father made even more significant gains. Today all our children do their program at home and return to The Institutes periodically to be re-evaluated and to receive a new program. The program is designed to treat the brain injury, not the symptoms of the injury. Treating the brain is effective—treating the symptoms simply does not work.

Our Results Speak For Themselves

There is nothing more important in the life of the brain-injured child than seeing that child get better every day. It is often said that there are no “cures” for brain injury and, of course, this is true. The word “cure” is not appropriate in the context of brain injury. For the vast majority of children, brain injury is not a progressive disease, but instead the incident that caused the injury is over and what is left is a good brain that has gotten hurt and needs help.

Our job is to take each child no matter how injured the brain may be and to move that child to the highest level of function that our present knowledge of brain growth and development will permit. A summary of these results since 1998 can be viewed here.