HOW WE HELP
Those who come to us.
Families bring children and adults with learning, attention, or special needs challenges. They have problems with their memory or cognition, a short attention span, lose focus easily, have difficulty following directions, have visual or auditory distractibility, hyperactivity or hypoactivity. When they attempt to learn to read they may struggle with phonics, forget sight words easily, reverse letters, or have difficulty moving from word to word without losing their place. If they can read they may have difficulty understanding what they have read. Spelling is often challenging. In math they may easily forget the “facts”, forget how to do computation, and struggle with word problems, math logic and concepts. Their speech may be difficult to understand. They may have sloppy handwriting or difficulty learning to print or to write, possibly forgetting how to make their letters. In addition they may appear to be uncoordinated.
Older children and adults may struggle to keep a job or find a place in the workforce. Others may perceive them as odd or socially inept so having friends can be difficult.
Some children come to us with additional struggles. Many are pre schoolers or children in special classes or therapy programs. They have tactile or sensory dysfunction which may appear as bedwetting, inability to feel pressure or pain appropriately, extreme ticklishness, irritation from clothing, inability to distinguish temperatures, inability to tolerate hats, hair combing or hair washing. They may be extremely picky eaters, eating only a narrow variety of foods. They may have flat tonality in the voice, hypersensitivity to sound, undeveloped depth perception, difficulty making or maintaining eye contact. Their eyes may not track well and their eyes may turn in or wander. Behaviorally they may have good and bad days, cyclic behavior, extreme hyperactivity, rigid attitudes, and aggressive or destructive behavior. For some speech and language may be absent, limited, or very difficult. Some of these children find holding a pencil to be very unpleasant and difficult to manage, pencils may break from too much pressure, in other cases writing may be too light. Some of the children have difficulty moving their bodies, learning to crawl, creep, walk, run, jump, hop, or skip.
Depending on their symptoms, these children may have a professional diagnosis such as learning disabled, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexic, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or simply slow learner. Some are said to have an auditory or visual processing disorder or a problem with short or long term memory. Children with more severe difficulties may be diagnosed as brain injured, PDD, ASD, autistic, developmentally delayed, MMR, CAPD. Some are “labeled” with a language disorder or sensory dysfunction. Some are diagnosed with Down Syndrome, or other chromosome disorders.
Neurodevelopmentalists often call these diagnoses “labels” because they “label” the child with limited expectations as to what a person with that particular diagnosis can accomplish. These expectations may be based on old information or on worst-case situations. Professionals often make predictions based on outcomes that typically occur when effective therapy has not been applied. Sadly, these symptomatic “labels” can mislead parents and educators into limited expectations for their child or student.
It is important to remember that most diagnoses are symptomatic, based on the symptoms the professional person observes in the child. Symptoms are not static. With proper neurodevelopmental treatment even stubborn seemingly impossible symptoms can improve or be eliminated.
Organizing the Brain
Neurodevelopmentalists look at the symptoms an individual is exhibiting and relate them to how the brain and the rest of the nervous system are organized. If a child is having a problem with walking, talking, attention, or learning there is a reason for that problem. Neurodevelopmentalists believe the underlying problem is a disorganized nervous system.
Neurodevelopmentalists believe that the brain and nervous system can become more organized, eliminating the original symptoms and helping the individual move on to a greater possibilities. This belief is based on the built in redundancy and plasticity of the brain. The brain is able to use several areas for each function, not only the areas commonly used. This is due to redundancy. When an area of the brain has been injured it is possible that other areas of the brain can take over the function of the injured area.
We also can stimulate changes and connect pathways in the brain through neural plasticity. Through environmental stimulation that is specific, and with enough frequency, intensity, and duration, the brain can change and its function can improve.
Neurodevelopmentalists believe that correct functioning determines correct structure. For example, as stimulation is applied with optimum intensity, frequency, and duration, changes occur in the brain of the person receiving that stimulation. Physical connections and pathways for information processing actually develop which enable the brain to become better organized. As the brain becomes more organized its structure and chemistry also change. Children who have had symptoms such as hyperactivity, due to dysfunctional brain chemistry, may experience a reduction of those symptoms as brain chemistry changes.
The Neurodevelopmental Approach
Since the 1930s, neurodevelopmentalists have studied the brain and nervous system along with correlations between areas of development and the levels of the brain. This work has been summarized on a visual tool called the neurodevelopmental profile. Using this profile, we can observe and target the developmental root causes of a client's challenges, plan the necessary progression of developmental steps an individual needs to move to higher levels of development, and to greater brain organization.
It would be rare and miraculous for someone to "grow out of" neurodevelopmental difficulties without direct intervention. Our neurodevelopmental plans, individually developed for each client, provide specific recommendations (based on our training and experience) that allow families to provide this direct intervention to their child or adult at home.
The neurodevelopmental approach gathers information from the family and the client's evaluation to determine specific areas of inefficiency, the underlying causes of the symptoms the client exhibits. These observations are recorded on the profile, and a complete neurodevelopmental plan is determined for them. The plan consists of recommended activities designed to address the inefficiencies specifically.
Neurodevelopmentalists have gathered activities eclectically from many other disciplines including, but not limited to, speech therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy, physical therapy, Rhythmic Movement Training, reflex integration modalities, biochemistry, intellectual training methods, massage modalities, sound therapy, psychology and education. Through many years of observation, research and refinement of the activities, optimally effective neurodevelopmental activities have been developed.
Neurodevelopmental practice has established the optimum frequency, intensity and duration for these activities. These refined activities are able to give the brain the effective stimulation it needs to make the changes that are necessary to move the child to the next higher level of the neurodevelopmental profile.
When a home program of neurodevelopmental activities is carried out with sufficient consistency, intensity, frequency and duration much progress can be made. In fact, many of the symptoms the client originally displayed may be totally eliminated.
Some of the results we have observed include: Memory and cognitive improvement, non readers learning to read, distractibility changing to focus, sensory dysfunction becoming more typical, social behavior improving, painfully hypersensitive hearing changing to normal hearing, formerly picky eaters eating a variety of foods, phobias overcome, emotional overreacting and over sensitivity becoming typical, bed wetting eliminated, children able to retain math facts and do computation, improved reading comprehension, improved coordination, non writers learning to write, letter and number recognition becoming possible, children learning to walk and run, and those without language learning to speak.
Copyright © 2001 by Marilee Nicoll Coots. All rights reserved.