What Every Parent Needs to Know About Neurodevelopment

What Every Parent Needs to Know About Neurodevelopment – Print version of the article

This article by Jan Bedell, M.Ed.,M.ND (Certified Neurodevelopmentalist) and Michelle Thompson of Little Giant Steps is a must-read for parents.

Nothing in all creation can compare to the amazing capacity for adaptability of the human brain.  Research into neural plasticity of the brain (the brain’s ability to change and adapt) has proven that every child (and even adults) can learn and function more efficiently when the brain is given proper stimulation and neural efficiency exists.

The branching of individual brain cells (called dendrites) grow through specific stimulation, which involves proper frequency, intensity, and duration.

  • Frequency means having enough opportunity and repetition in order for the stimulation to produce a change in the brain and become learned information.
  • Intensity refers to the strength of the input of the stimulation.  Is the stimulation at a level where the individual is actively engaged with it, or has the individual tuned out because of lack of intensity?  You can drag a child through a spelling assignment, but without a high level of involvement and interaction, learning will not occur.
  • Duration has a dual meaning.
    • It refers to the time the stimulation is being given; typically, the shorter the duration the higher the intensity.  Five or ten minutes of mathematics will have a far greater impact than dragging a child through an hour of math drills.
    • It also refers to providing stimulation for the length of time it takes to produce change.

The Neurodevelopmental (ND) Approach uses a Developmental Profile to look at two primary areas; Sensory Input and Motor Output.  In the area of sensory input, auditory, visual, and tactile function is identified.   In the area of motor output, gross motor, fine motor, and language function is identified.  In order to have good output (function), you must first have good input (stimulation).

Let’s take a look at the importance of each of the Sensory Input areas:

Auditory: A child who struggles with auditory processing (retaining what they hear) will have many problems; i.e. following directions, staying on task, and keeping up with normal conversational language.
Visual: If a child does not use his central detail vision properly, he will struggle with coloring within lines and reading.
Tactile: If tactility is not developed, a child will have problems in many functional areas.  For example, if a child cannot keenly feel sensations from his hands, he will have difficulty writing and playing sports and if a child has tactility issues with his mouth, a delay in language development can occur.

The ND Approach was created to equip parents with the knowledge and skills to work with their children in their own homes and address these “gaps” in development.  Once equipped, parents have the ability to change their child’s future for the better.

This is the first in a series of Neurodevelopmental (ND) tips that will appear in future issues of this newsletter.