What kinds of issues can you address?

NEURODEVELOPMENT INTERRUPTED: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

By Emily Beard, BA, CD, Asst. Assoc. of ECE, Neurological Reorganization Practitioner

Typically developing infants complete a specific series of movement, reflex, sensory stimulation, and vestibular stimulation called the developmental sequence in approximately the first year of life. Functional neurology results from the completion of the developmental sequence. If there is any interruption, injury, or disruption to the developmental sequence, a functional deficit can occur. For some individuals, it creates a small impact on their lives. However, many emotional, behavioral, and academic concerns have a neurological basis in disrupted development. Disrupted development includes poor prenatal health (including maternal stress), birth trauma, lack of movement opportunity within the first year of life, bonding breaks, neglect, trauma, and abuse. Neurodevelopmental disruption can also occur at anytime throughout life. Chronic stress is one of the most frequent causes of neurodevelopmental disruption after the first year of life. The correlation between disrupted development and subsequent emotional, behavioral, academic, and physical challenges has long been documented by research.

Below is a list of signs and symptoms of some (but not all) of the most commonly seen functional deficits, each of which can be addressed through a program of neurological reorganization (NOTE: when we discuss brain levels, it refers to that developmental timeframe and not necessarily only that portion of the brain):

Pons-level Dysfunction:
• A profound sense of displacement, isolation, and mistrust, with statements such as, “You don’t love me,” “I shouldn’t be alive,” etc.
• Anterior head carriage (head juts forward)
• Anxiety
• Avoidance of eye contact
• Bed wetting (beyond what is age appropriate)
• Clingy
• Constantly hungry, even if he has just eaten an adequate amount of food, or little to no appetite
• Controlling
• Creates chaos in her environment
• Difficulty bonding with parents, siblings, and other caregivers
• Fight or flight response to inappropriate situations, such as acting as if her life is threatened when a small issue has occurred. (Example: child trips on a toy, gets angry, and blames it on the closest available person)
• Fool-hardy risk-taking, such as leaping off of high structures or diving off of furniture
• Gets seriously hurt and makes little to no fuss, such as the baby who teethes without getting fussy
• Hunched shoulders
• Inappropriate perception of danger
• Lack of empathy
• Manipulative
• Midbrain-level and cortical dysfunction, as neurology is cumulative
• Night terrors
• Overly affectionate with strangers
• Picks on others, including animals
• Pigeon-toed
• Uses finger to track text across the page
• Skips words or parts of words while reading
• Self-abuse, such as picking at scabs, biting fingernails until they bleed, and other forms of extreme self-stimulation
• Superficially charming
• Violent rages

Midbrain-level Dysfunction:
• Allergies
• Autism spectrum disorders
• Auditory processing issues
• Autoimmune disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain
• Bipolar disorder
• Bladder and/or bowel issues, such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
• Clumsiness
• Depression
• Depth perception issues, including seeing blurry or double
• Difficulty accessing words
• Difficulty maintaining balance
• Difficulty reading non-verbal social cues. For example, asks people if they are feeling happy or sad, rather than reading their emotion.
• Difficulty responding to prompts when engrossed in a task. If doing something he is interested in, one has to be right in his face to get his attention.
• Difficulty tracking text down a page while reading or doing math
• Difficulty with reading comprehension; unable to remember or recall a story
• Disrupted or inconsistent sleep patterns
• Distractibility; every little thing catches her attention
• Drama queen
• Feet point outward
• Heartburn or stomachaches
• Hyperactivity; she can’t sit still even for a moment
• Immense frustration, generally resulting in outbursts
• Impulse control issues. Will do something that she has been repeatedly instructed not to do and, when asked, says, “I didn’t know” or “I forgot.”
• Inappropriate spatial boundaries; is in your face or hangs way back
• Inarticulate, atonal, or slurred speech
• Muscles which are too loose or too tight, such as the person who is extremely double-jointed and limber.
• Neurochemical imbalance
• Obsessive compulsive disorder
• Out-of-sync in social settings. Can’t seem to follow what is discussed or shared.
• Poor temperature regulation, as in the person who never wants to wear a coat even when in a cold environment
• Rages that are seemingly out-of-nowhere
• Reversal of letters and/or numbers
• Says “yes” to every obligation, even when already over-extended
• Sensitivity to textures of clothes or clothing tags
• Sensitivity to textures of food or difficulty chewing
• Short attention span
• Trouble remembering and following through on tasks. If told to do three tasks in a row, cannot complete all three of them with prompts or reminders.
• Verbal and/or physical tics, such as a rapid eye blinking or repetition of the same word or phrase

Cortical Dysfunction:
• Difficulty recognizing symbols, such as letters and numbers
• Difficulty walking and running
• Difficulty sequencing information, especially in abstract situations
• Immature language skills, such as the use of incomplete sentences, incorrect pronouns, or difficulty expressing needs
• Memory problems
• Poor fine motor skills

Note: No individual is going to demonstrate all of these symptoms of neurological dysfunction and just a few symptoms in a given category may indicate a problem. Early trauma (including separation from birth mother and foster families, moves and transitions, chronic stress, or a head injury) can cause neurodevelopmental disruption.

WHAT’S INVOLVED WITH COMPLETING A PROGRAM OF NEUROLOGICAL REORGANIZATION?


Neurological reorganization is the client’s opportunity to re-do what went awry early in life; it’s like a massive “re-set” button for the brain to allow for healthy emotional, behavioral, academic, and physical functionality.

The first step in beginning a program of neurological reorganization is to be seen for an initial evaluation. An initial evaluation is approximately two and a half hours long and goes into detail about the current concerns and developmental history. Then, we complete the functional neurological exam (which elicits reflexes from the underlying parts of the brain, so is not medical or scary for children; we try to make it fun and tell children we are playing silly games). Next, we provide additional education about normal neurological development, present a detailed verbal report of findings, and then develop a program of neurodevelopmental activities specifically targeted to address the deficits we identified in the client. Every program of neurological reorganization is individualized for that particular person’s needs.  Finally, we teach you how to do the activities at home.

You then go home and do the activities on a daily basis. The consistency and diligence of doing the activities daily can be challenging, but it is the only way to effect developmental change. All of the activities draw from the normal developmental sequence and involve activities such as crawling on the tummy, creeping on hands and knees, sensory stimulation, vestibular stimulation, and whole body reflexes.

During this time of completing the activities at home, the client will experience emotional, behavioral, academic, and physical changes. At NDH, we understand the journey that you are on and provide unparalleled client support to foster your success. Our Practitioner is available to answer questions, address concerns, and celebrate changes along the way. There is never a charge for this unlimited client support.

You return in approximately twelve weeks for a re-evaluation. At the re-revaluation, we review the changes since the initial evaluation, re-do the functional neurological exam, and then change the neurodevelopmental activities to reflect the client’s new needs. Just as a four month old baby does different activities than a six month old baby, the activities change to reflect the client’s changing needs.

The client returns home to complete the new activities and we simply repeat the cycle of doing the activities at home with re-evaluations every twelve weeks until the client no longer reports any concerns and we no longer identify any deficits when performing the functional neurological exam. At that point, the client graduates and, barring any future trauma or head injury, should live the fullest possible life without having to repeat these activities. It’s not a quick, easy fix, but it can be a permanent solution.

HOW IS NEUROLOGICAL REORGANIZATION DIFFERENT THAN OTHER MOVEMENT BASED THERAPIES?


Neurological reorganization is the only movement-based therapy that replicates the entire developmental sequence that infants use to form appropriate brain connections. Many other approaches include elements of the developmental sequence (for instance, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, Brain Gym, and HANDLE).


While these other modalities can be very helpful in identifying and rectifying some of the issues, neurological reorganization is the only modality that incorporates the entire developmental sequence. Hence, it is the most comprehensive possible approach to resolving the root cause of behavioral, emotional, academic, and physical challenges.

I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING. WHY WILL THIS BE ANY DIFFERENT?


Most of the people seen at NDH have been down a very long road of many different modalities, often at great emotional and financial expense. Neurological reorganization is different in that it identifies and addresses the root cause of the person’s challenges.


Rather than individually addressing the behavioral issues, the academic issues, and physical issues and attempting to address the symptoms of just that issue, neurological reorganization harnesses the brain’s own ability to change in response to sensory-motor input. We use the same input that babies use to access and grow brain connections.


By providing the input that is needed to trigger those foundation-level changes, neurological reorganization can comprehensively address the entire spectrum of issues.

 

WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE TO PROMOTE NEURODEVELOPMENTAL HEALTH?

Most of the clients that we see experience an array of issues. Insuring that they are in the best possible physical health through any needed supplements, dietary change, or structural adjustments allow them to reap the benefits of a program of neurological reorganization much more quickly.


Additionally, enlisting the help of a qualified attachment therapist or other mental health professional and implementing effective therapeutic parenting greatly assists the person in accessing their new capabilities. A program of neurological reorganization can be successful without these adjuncts, but we have found that they help the client progress as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE A PROGRAM OF NEUROLOGICAL REORGANIZATION?


One of the benefits of a program of neurological reorganization is that the family is in the driver’s seat in terms of length of completion. As the activities are done at home on a daily basis, it is truly in the family’s control about how long it takes. The more consistent one is and the more of each activity that is completed, the quicker one progresses through the program.


For a child or adult over the age of three diagnosed with RAD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or autism spectrum disorders, it typically takes between eighteen months to two years to address all of the issues and graduate from a program of neurological reorganization. Changes are usually noted within the first ten days of beginning the activities. Of course, every person is unique, but this is the average length of completion.


Once you have completed a program of neurological reorganization, you are done for life, barring any future injury or trauma.

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