The Sunflower Therapy is a new and effective approach to helping children with learning and behaviour difficulties. In a comprehensive step by step process, the child's muscular-skeletal system, neurological responses, diet, nutrition and psychological state are assessed and treated naturally. Research shows that this method can bring children greater health, happiness and confidence, and ability to achieve more of their own potential.
The unique aspect of the Sunflower Therapy is that it is not a single therapy - we individually match a range of therapies to the needs of the individual child. Essentially, we take the view that it is the nervous system that controls everything - the way we move around, the way we think and feel and the way our glands and organs work. In our view, learning difficulties are the result of imbalances in the nervous system that mean the child is not able to perform as well as they might.
Recent research has gone a long way to uncover the neurological causes of dyslexia. Multi cultural research done jointly in France, Italy and the UK proposes the reason that the reported rates of dyslexia is up to 15% in English speaking countries and half that in countries like Italy may have something to do with the complexity of the written language. Italian dyslexics read far better than their French and English counterparts. English has 1,120 different ways of spelling its 40 phonemes, the sounds required to pronounce all its words. By contrast, Italian needs only 33 combinations of letters to spell out its 25 phonemes and so requires a lot less effort.
Be that as it may, the Sunflower Method focuses less on such intellectually interesting facts, but rather is practically based, using an array of complementary medical approaches, skillfully and seamlessly combined, to help children get into greater touch with their nervous system.
Earlier pilot research showed that the vast majority of parents were happy with the outcome and felt their child had improved, while the children showed significant, measurable educational psychological changes. This has been published by Mark Mathews, the developer of the method and Educational Psychologist Elizabeth Thomas. Mathews, M. Thomas, E. A Pilot Study on the Value of Applied Kinesiology in helping children with learning disabilities British Osteopathic Journal 1993; vol. 12:26-27.
While there is a wide range of literature and encouraging research, ( E.g. the Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation with Fatty Acids in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder Richardson, A Montgomery, P. Paediatrics, Volume 115, Issue 5, p.1360-1366 (2005) a well-controlled study showing that supplementation with essential fatty acids (EFAs) improves the reading, spelling, and behaviour of children with dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder or DCD) available on some of the component parts of the treatment, we are now evaluating the results of the therapy in a more scientific multi centre international study over several years. Results are not in yet, but anecdotal findings are encouraging, in both the UK and in Germany. While of course in no way scientific, you can also find encouraging accounts of individual children’s and their parents experience of the Sunflower Therapy both on this site, see below and on the official Sunflower Therapy web site at www.sunflowertrust.com
An earlier research study  run jointly by the Sunflower Trust and The Universities of Surrey and Brunel on 70 children (6-13 years) who had undertaken some parts of the Sunflower therapy, while unfortunately the study was never properly finished and seriously flawed in a number of ways it found that there were statistically significant improvements in academic self-esteem and the majority of parents felt that the treatments were effective in treating the learning difficulties.
 Bull, L (2006-12-15). "Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): a randomised, controlled trial.". PubMed.gov. Retrieved on 2007-04-26.
The process begins with the practitioner's full assessment of the child and report of findings. There follows treatment in stages of structural, chemical, neurological and psychological elements.
Mark Mathews a Guilford based Osteopath, the originator, has been using the Sunflower Therapy over the last twenty years with encouraging results.
The Sunflower Trust was registered in 1995. This is a charity with the aim of raising awareness of the method, helping as many children as possible gain access to the treatment, training professionals to offer the treatment and support research to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach.
Since the charity started over 2000 families have been helped in the UK, Germany, the Benelux countries and elsewhere and the Sunflower Trust has trained over 70 Sunflower Practitioners in the UK and Germany over recent years and is always looking for suitably qualified health professionals (osteopaths, medical doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists and some suitably trained psychologists) who would be interested in undergoing the 21 day post-graduate training to become fully qualified Sunflower practitioners.
After you have completed and returned a comprehensive questionnaire about your child, which will help your practitioner make their assessment, you will be asked to attend for an initial extended appointment. All funds from this initial extended assessment are donated by each practitioner to aid the Trust in its work and particularly in its ongoing efforts to provide bursaries for families who cannot afford the fees.
After further explaining to you and your child, in easily understood language, an outline of what the method involves, your child will then go through the Sunflower Screen. This is a series of simple clinical observations and tests looking at various aspects of your child's functional neurology as it relates to the muscular skeletal system, the fine neurological control systems and some biochemical pathways. The practitioner will then summarise the main findings and make a recommendation as to whether your child could be helped by the Sunflower therapy and if your child has been accepted as a sunflower patient.
We are more than happy to talk to any professionals who are helping your child. We do not consult the GP automatically, but will do so if you would like us to. It is very helpful to us if you bring any reports or tests on your child so that we can get a full picture of the problems being faced. We view the Sunflower Method as complementary and would not recommend that anyone stop receiving the help that they are currently getting. The idea of the treatment is to help the child get the best from themselves, including helping them benefit from any additional educational help they are receiving.
In theory, the therapy is suitable for anyone as we are aiming to make a difference to people in a safe and respectful way. For the most part, it is the child telling the practitioner, through their body, how they can be helped. The limitations centre around whether the child can follow a simple instruction of being asked to push and move in a particular way. If the child is unable to follow the instructions the therapy becomes more difficult and one of the more experienced practitioners would need to be seen who would treat the child through the parent.
There is always the possibility that people have reactions to the treatment. For example, when we look at nutritional aspects, the child may need to change aspects of their diet. There are few things as deeply rooted in our familiar world than what we habitually eat. For many of us this is more about being a source of comfort, pleasure and security than physical nourishment. For some children taking the step to health through eating can be a challenge, however the leadership, encouragement and support of parents can be crucial here.
The children we see can also be very stressed and we do look at things they are having difficulty with, e.g. looking, listening, concentrating, reading, writing, etc. This again can be difficult, but the practitioner will help the child with strategies to overcome stressful situations.
The Sunflower Method training is open to Registered Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Medical Doctors who have ideally achieved Clinical Competence Status through successfully completing the year-long training with the International College of Applied Kinesiology. The training course, run by Senior Sunflower Practitioners, is run over six three day weekends, during which children volunteers are treated under careful supervision by the training professional. Some previous experience in Neuro Linguistic Programming would be useful.
For information about training to become a Sunflower Practitioner contact the Sunflower trust or look on the website at; www.sunflowertrust.com/Become_a_Practitioner-i-56.html
Assisted Funding Programme
The Sunflower Trust was established in 1996 to offer the Sunflower Therapy to children with learning and behavioural difficulties and is a registered charity no: 1055712.
The sunflower Trust recognises that funding a year long, individually tailored treatment with an experience practitioner is beyond the reach of many families. It is for this reason that, through the generosity of many well wishers, the practitioners and Trustees of the Sunflower Trust, an assisted funding programme has been in existence for some time. While funds are never easy to come by and there are often more families hoping for help than we can help immediately, you may well be eligible for a bursary under the Trusts Assisted Funding Programme.
To apply for a place on Sunflower Trust Assisted Funding Programme please go to; www.sunflowertrust.com/Assisted_Funding_Programme-i-87.html and download the form, complete and post back to Sunflower Trust.