As a private educator for children who struggle with learning and behavior, I not only want to utilize great instructional methods, I also want to help my students' increase their ability to focus, process information and remember what they have learned. Over the past few years I have spent a great deal of time exploring brain development as related to learning and behavior.
I have learned how our earliest movements, controlled by primitive reflexes, provide the stimulus for the development of both motor and cognitive skills. Primitive reflexes are involuntary movements found in babies and toddlers that follow the "prewired" developmental program of the brain. The reflexes cause certain movement patterns to be repeated until the brain is "finished" with that pattern and is ready to move on.
I regularly check for the presence of these reflexes in my students and repeatedly see them to one degree or another in school-aged children who are struggling, indicating that areas of brain development expected to be completed by the age of 2 have not finished. Seeing this has lead me to the believe that many of the attention and learning difficulties we see in children are a matter of brain immaturity. Often the behavior that is called ADHD in a 7 year old would be viewed as completely normal behavior in a 2 year old.
Parents often ask me why their child has not fully integrated these reflexes. The following is a list of possible causal factors Sonia Story shared in our workshop:
Lack of Movement—Plastic Carriers, play pens, walkers, jumpers, swings, car seats, "Boppy" pillow and other propping devices. Time spent in front of TV or computers
Stress/Trauma Lack of Safe, Nurturing care in Childhood—
Injury, Illness, Trauma, Chronic Stress—
Environmental Toxins—Including complications with vaccines, GMO foods, plastics, pesticides and other neurotoxins
Dietary Imbalances or sensitivities—Can cause un-integrated reflexes AND Dietary sensitivities can be caused by un-integrated reflexes, especially an un-integrated Moro reflex.
For many reasons, children in modern society are not receiving their full measure of neurodevelopmental movements in their first year or two of life. When this happens, our children are left with an incomplete foundation for learning. In other words, their brains may lack proper maturity and connectivity for easy learning, even though there is no lack of intelligence. - Sonia Story
While it is troubling that so many are struggling with immature brain development, the good news is that a regular program of neurodevelopmental movement can help.
The brain recognizes and responds to these reflex and rhythmic movements - they are the same brain-building movements we are designed with in infancy to develop the brain. Best of all, we can use these movements at any age to mature and connect brain and sensory systems, thereby taking the stress out of learning and helping children with their social-emotional and language learning as well. Children also become physically stronger, with better posture and balance after doing their neurodevelopmental movements. Children begin to feel calm and comfortable in their own skin for the first time. - Sonia Story
I am thankful to Sonia for the new tools and increased understanding I received in her training course last week and very much look forward to using this information to help all the wonderful children who have been placed in my life.