the autism centre

Friday, June 01, 2007

Neurological dysfunction to neurological function

Neurological dysfunction to neurological function
Physical therapies to restore movement
In her presentation Restoring Neurological Function Professor Janet Eyre, discussing the use of physical therapies to restore movement, rightly acknowledges the fact that "systematic reviews of the evidence have so far failed to demonstrate that any one physical therapy approach is more effective than any other. Or have they yielded any insights as to which of the many interventions available are suitable for which patients, and at what stage in the recovery process and in what dose." Professor Eyre goes on to say " Part of the problem is that many of those therapies are based on uncontrolled clinical observations of their effects. That does not mean they should be discarded."
The paper published in Annals of Neurology, 42,283-291 in March 2004 for the Academy of Medical Sciences, overviews the rationale of neurological reorganisation on the basis that "Targeted physical therapies have been shown to promote recovery following brain injury by stimulating reorganisation and beneficial plastic changes". Professor Eyre whose specialty is paediatric neuroscience has previously discussed the plasticity of the brain goes on to say in her presentation "that there is plenty of evidence that conventional physical therapies work for the rehabilitation of stroke patients. For instance, repetitive shoulder movements performed soon after the stroke improves the function of the arms".
The presentation in its entirety can be viewed via www.acmedsci.ac.uk/images/publication/pneurofu/pdf. in which on page 56 in paragraph L4 she contemplates that "As scientific knowledge about the mechanisms of recovery grows, it reveals broad principals on which new therapies should be based. For instance, somatosensory or touch feedback from normal activity or repetitive exercises is now known to be an important driver to recovery". The final paragraph concludes" Musculoskeletal consequences of neurological injury are reversible and amenable to rehabilitation. Nutrition and metabolism should also be considered in any package of holistic rehabilitation."
Professor Eyre, in this conclusion, echoes the sentiments of Patricia Kane Ph.D. in her work "Review of the Neurochemistry and Neurophysics of Autistic Spectrum Disorder", by saying "Children within the realm of autistic spectrum disorder exhibit presentation that has forced us to look deeper, to embrace the whole person, the brain, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system, the immune system, the endocrine system the hepatic system, the muscuskeletal system, the renal system."
Now more than ever there is a greater need for specialists in all disciplines of neuroscience, medical science, to come together under one umbrella to address and find an answer to an intractable problem.

Robin Burn,
The Autism Centre.
May 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

In Memory of Dr Carl H. Delacato Ed. D 1923 - 2007
The Treatment of Neurologically Impaired Children Using Patterning
Movement Therapy
In view of the news of the untimely death of Dr Carl Delacato, who along with the Doman’s proposed the basis for Neurological Reorganisation based on the concepts of Human Movement proposed by Fay, is it now the opportunity for the AAP to reconsider its position on the work of the Doman-Delacato team ultimately re-engineered in later years by Delacato alone to arrive at a programme to assist neurological dysfunctional individuals currently practised worldwide by so many different organisations. These organisations proclaiming and recognising the part played by Delacato in developing the basis of the techniques they currently employ.
Should the AAP stand alone in the World continuing alone to criticise proceedures existing since more than 50 years to the benefit of thousands of individuals having and had help from those proceedures?
Arguably two questions dominate this issue; why 15 years of silence between 1953, the first pronouncement of the group of its intentions and 1968, the first criticism of the group’s work and why only publish in its in- house Journal "Pediatrics".
Could it have been as Neman et al suggested in Experimental Evaluation of Sensorimotor Patterning used with Mentally Retarded Children; American Journal of Mental Deficiency 1974, Vol.79, No.4 372-384 that "The rapid rise to prominence of the Doman-Delacato regimes, the zeal of their followers, and stories appearing in the popular press telling of remarkable "cures" all served to bring the wrath of the "establishment" to bear upon the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and its methods". A case in point being the paper by Freeman, R.D. in Journal of the American Medical Association, 1967, 202, 365-388.
The Neman article along with the results of a two-year Sensori-motor Training project published by the National Association for Retarded Children in Mental Retardation News Vol. 22, No. 3, June 1973 reported "Findings indicate that the programmes involved were of significant benefit" and in the 1974 document "The question raised in the present study- does sensorimotor patterning have a measurable effect in any behavioural domain -has been answered affirmatively".
Both of these articles are ignored by the AAP, in truth, the whole statement by the AAP, first published in 1968 is based principally on the criticism of the original practice of the 50’s and 60’s having in their updated statement of 1982 and 1999 made no reference to Delacato publications and practices after 1970. These early criticisms having been wholeheartedly refuted by the 1973 NARC study.
The number of Movement Therapy organisations currently practising worldwide, many in state educational establishments in Europe, North America, South America, South Africa, Asia, Australasia, as well as many individual professional therapists, in spite of the pronouncements of the AAP, is testament to the Delacato legacy, the AAP should acknowledge Delacato’s place in history.
The submission by the AAP, that, "treatment programmes that offer patterning remain unfounded" needs to be considered thus; the basis of today’s physical therapy movement programmes, is built entirely on the premise, that movement by a therapist, of any part of the human anatomy, on a regular daily basis is in effect "patterning". This movement therapy, practised daily by fully trained, qualified, physiotherapy, and occupational therapists, to rehabilitate stroke victims is accepted worldwide in private, and state medical regimes. The team originally put together by Fay was done so to rehabilitate stroke victims and recipients of traumatic brain injury through accidents.
In effect the AAP critique undermines today’s physio and occupational therapy practitioners those practitioners that the AAP refers to in their web site. www.medicalhomeinfo.org/health/Downloads/EIBrochureF.pdf. to which autistic children should be referred to for therapy as the basis for Early Intervention.
In May 2006 the American Academy of Pediatrics republished its Policy statement originally published in its journal Pediatrics Vol. 104 no.5 November 1999, pp.1149-1151, http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics; 104/5/1149, referring to the use of patterning.
This in turn was a reiteration of the original statement of 1968 and 1982. The May 2006 statement affirms that "Current information does not support the claims of proponents that this treatment is efficacious, and its use continues to be unwarranted". However nowhere in the References appendage is cited any peer reviewed, journal published work after 1999 which refers to the above mentioned subject matter, to which the article refers, either in support of the argument of the subject matter, or against the subject matter.
Another failure of the AAP, which, is considered to be necessary in balanced scientific commentary, is to ensure that the content of the argumentative discourse at the time of publication contains references to the latest published information from authors of the discussion material pertaining to the subject matter.
To this point, the omission of references to published works of Delacato in 1970, and 1974, "A new start for the child with reading problems" and "The ultimate stranger the autistic child" is to be questioned, as patterning, as defined by the AAP is not referred to in either book.
If the uncommitted reader is to draw a judgement from the argument by the presenters then the reader has to have been given the opportunity to consider a balanced view of the critique.
The reader would then have discovered that the so-called Doman –Delacato therapy was first proposed by Dr Temple Fay MD a neurosurgeon working in Philadelphia, who incidentally, was responsible for the introduction of brain cooling protocol prior to neurosurgery, whose original operational cooling equipment was exhibited at the Smithsonian.
Fay’s paper "The origin of Human Movement" was published in Amer.J. Psychiatry 111: 644-652, 1955.
Further more the uninformed reader would have discovered that Delacato and Doman had gone their separate ways by 1972 and Delacato continued his work to develop a new therapy which relied less heavily on the "patterning" concept first laid down by Fay.
The submission by the authors for a need for several persons to perform exercises to the head and extremities for several hours a day, no longer applies to today’s Delacato Therapy, except on individuals with no movement ability, and then only for very short periods.
The omission of these pertinent points by the AAP, is a serious misjudgment by the AAP to construct a valid balanced argument, necessary to have credence in the cause of scientific discourse, which makes their published critique appear to be more of personal issue, rather than a scientific one. This can be argued due to the fact that other individuals such as Orton were working on the same principles as the Doman’s and Delacato, Kephart (1975), Cratty (1972,1973) and only the Doman-Delacato work is primarily referred to in text and References. In 1969, according to Maguire, Brain Gym; Humanising Language Teaching Year 4; Issue 3; May 02, Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D established his first clinic. According to Maguire "Noted authorities such as Orton, Doman, Delacato, Kephart and Barsch have used similar movements successfully in their learning programmes. Dr Dennison drew from his knowledge of such programmes". No direct criticism of Dennison is noted by the AAP.
In 1970, Carl Delacato proposed a new revolutionary concept together with a new curative therapy, outlined in his book, " A New Start for the Child with Reading Problems".
In his book Delacato describes his work as being hard in as much as it presented a new approach to reading problems; reading problems were the result of lack of development of the nervous system, especially in the development of complete one-sidedness.
Delacato notes that the previous book relating reading to brain function was written in 1923 by Dr Samuel Orton, and now he was to resurrect and add fuel to that old fire in educational circles.
Dr Orton, a clinician and prominent dyslexia researcher, hypothesised that normally developing readers suppress the visual images reported by the right hemisphere of the brain because these images could potentially interfere with input from the left.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity in children, researchers led by Dr Guinevere Eden at Georgetown University Medical Center confirmed part of an eighty year old theory on the neurobiological basis of reading disability, and shed new light on brain regions that change as children become accomplished readers. Advanced technology allowed the researchers to discover that children do in fact turn off the right side of their visual parts of the brain, as they become accomplished readers. This confirms an aspect of Ortons’ work - borne out of observations of individuals with reading disability - is correct.
To put this theory into its simplest terms, systems of reading and language difficulty, show up where there is conflict between one side of the brain and the other to gain language dominance.
In the human brain the language area is usually located in either, the left, or right side of the brain. Likewise, man is usually left- handed or right- handed.
Normally, dominance in the brain begins as soon as baby learns to speak, total dominance achieved around 7 to 8 years of age. Theoretically, a missing of any stage of development between crawling, creeping, walking, seeing, talking and writing creates problems in reading.
In November 2003 researchers led by Dr Mark Wallace , report that Dyslexia may stem from how the brain processes sight and sound together rather than simply a problem decoding the written word. They go on to suggest "For the first time, there is evidence that dyslexia is a multi- sensory disorder. It is not solely a problem with visual processing or with language"," our study suggests that it is actually a problem combining visual information with auditory information. "Early reading involves matching what you see with what you hear. The sights and sounds of words are inappropriately matched. So, while the average person very quickly matches the written word "dog" with the sound "dog", a child with dyslexia may have much more difficulty".
Turning again to the text of the body of the critique, there is a precis of the theory of neurological organisation underpinning patterning. "According to this theory" the authors consider that, "the majority of cases of mental retardation, learning problems, and behaviour disorders are caused by brain damage or improper neurologic organisation. Current information does not support these contentions".
On this issue alone has the AAP ignored or completely missed the plethora of peer reviewed, journal published, investigative research papers, suggesting, by brain scanning autistic subjects, with the latest high definition MRI, CAT, and PET scanners, and identifying lesions in various parts of the autism forming brain.
"It must be considered as a basic principal that, when a lesion exists within the confines of the brain, treatment to be successful must be directed at the brain, wherein lies the cause, rather than to that portion of the periphery where the symptoms are reflected. Whether the symptoms exist in an almost undetectable subtlety in human communication or in an overwhelming paralysis, this principal must not be violated by those who seek success with the brain-injured patient", 1953, Delacato, Doman et al, presentation, New York Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Today, we accept without question, the presence of abnormalities affecting the Central Nervous System (CNS) of individuals exhibiting behavioural, learning and mobility problems, after a mild diffuse brain injury.
For an in depth explaination of the effect of lesions that affect the different parts of the cortex and thus have an influence on speech, language, vision, reading and writing ability, a presentation entitled Higher Cortical Function, Language, and Cerebral Lateralisation is published on a web site emanating from the University of San Francisco via its web site http://Keck.ucsf/physio/courses/p122hcf.htm.
In 2001 The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) published in its Journal " Neurology" October 9th issue, a study undertaken by the PET Center at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit on 26 children with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Researchers used MRI and PET examinations to study how brain lesions resulted in common behaviours of autism, including difficulties in social interaction and communication and narrow and repetitive stereotyped behaviour. They found that more than one area of the
brain was responsible for autistic behaviour in children with brain lesions, and that autism results from a complex combination of events in different parts of the brain, rather from one single source.
In Feb 2002 the AAN published a report of a study carried out at the Medical College of Georgia, using computerized imaging in the frontal, and temporal lobes of autistic patients, and observed minicolumnar abnormalities. A minicolumn is a basic organizational unit of brain cells and connective wiring, allowing an individual to take in information process it and respond. Thus any changes in size shape or location of the minicolumn will have an effect on the processing capacity of the brain.
The principals of the relationships between the senses, hearing, seeing, touching, which are referred to as the ‘in" channels which have a direct effect on brain development and the "out" channels of mobility, speech and hand use, which depended on the "in" channels have been established. It has been shown that a lack of opportunity for development for any of those channels, had an effect upon the development of the others, and as such showed the way in which integration of the senses into a therapy, that overcame the brain injury and lack of development opportunity.
Increased interaction produces increased development and decreased interaction results in decreased development. This interaction, which is prerequisite to development, is also a prerequisite to learning.
The brain interacts with its environment through a cybernetic loop, which begins in the environment, follows afferent or sensory pathways to the brain and then efferent or motor pathways from the brain back to the environment. Thus the environment as it reaches the brain through the sensory pathways, is the primary prerequisite for the development of the CNS, and consequently for learning. Any changes that occur which have a direct effect of the CNS to function effectively with the environment, have a profound effect on the ability of the CNS to experience the environment, and effectively learn from that experience.

The basis of a movement therapy programme, Sensory Integration Therapy for Neurological Rehabilitation being used in school environments dedicated to the education of special needs children has been established within the Westminster Governments’ Department for Education and Skills.
In their document "Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties", accessible via www.nc.uk.net/ld/index.html they offer the following guidance;
Physical education; Opportunities at Key Stage 1
Much of the programme of study at Key Stage 1 is relevant to pupils with learning difficulties. With modification, it can provide stimulating and challenging learning opportunities. All pupils can contribute in group work with others at their own level of ability.
The document suggests pupils explore basic body movements and actions using different parts of their bodies. To acquire and develope skills, suggesting, crawling, sliding, rolling, moving backwards and forwards. To select and apply skills, tactics and compositional ideas, be helped to follow and respond to simple instructions for example stop and start.
At Key stage 2, the document suggests listening and responding to action words, for example, walking, marching on the spot. Suggesting, as part of games activities, ball games, catching, throwing, on the floor foot skills of passing, dribbling. Throwing and catching bean bags, all as part of hand eye coordination programme, to develop binocular vision.
The Welsh Assembly Government, in their recently published guidance document "Routes for learning", Crown copyright 2006, reference AC/GM/0612, April 2006, affirms that, "This guidance document, written to support the use of the Routes for Learning materials, offers an overview of the main theories and background information, underpinning the effective teaching and assessment of learners with profound, and Multiple Learning Difficulties". In the Additional Guidance section, the document suggests that therapies, including movement therapy, and occupational therapy to address sensory impairment, could be included in the curriculum design. The rationale for this is explained in the premise that inhibiting factors in the student’s ability to learn is irrefutably connected to sensory impairments exhibited by students with learning delay. The document outlines the reasons for the sensory impairments linked to retained inhibitive reflexes. Addressing these inhibitive reflexes being the key to improved learning ability.
It is essential to recognise that the physical exercise components of the DfES document, and movement therapy in the Welsh Document are the core elements of Delacato Therapy, evolved from the ideas of neurologist Dr Temple Fay and propounded in his paper The Origin of Human Movement, presented to the Fourth Annual Institute in Psychiatry and Neurology April 1954 and published in Amer. J. Psychiatry 111:644-652,1955.
In the published work "Using a developmental movement programme to enhance academic skills in grade 1 learners" Fredericks, Kokot, Krog, Teacher Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, describe the outcomes of a rigorous experimental programme to associate the benefits of physical exercise movement to cognitive learning and academic skills and investigate the efficacy of a movement programme on the academic skills of early learners
In their opinion " The results of the pre-testing and post-testing indicate that the learners of the experimental group showed a significant improvement in spatial development as well as in reading and mathematical skills, compared to the learners in the control group, free-play group and educational toys group".
In support of the rationale behind their experimental programme, the authors cite Summerford, C. (2001). What is the impact of exercise on brain function for academic learning? Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 12(3): 6-8." that physical education is often seen as a frill, and has been discontinued in many South African schools, which might be a misguided kind of thinking "
The authors, drawing on the works of Kephart, (1975). The slow learner in the classroom. Columbus, OH: Merrill, Ayres, (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services. Delacato, (1959). The treatment and prevention of reading problems. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. . (1974). The ultimate stranger, the autistic child. Novato, CA: Academic Therapy, and the recent works, brain research of Pica, (1998). Movement and the brain: moving and learning in early childhood. Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 9(6): 18-19, De Jager, (2001). Breingim. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, and others suggest, "in effect, that the body, as a sensory-motor response system, causes the brain to learn and thus to organise itself ".
The premise that movement (physical education programmes) is the sole mechanism for effective remedial action has to be viewed with caution. Feigley, (1990), Should schools eliminate mandating physical education classes? School Administrator, 47(2): 15, 17, 20.proposes that physical education programmes need to more than mere physical fitness regimes. Likewise according Fredericks et al, Corrie and Barratt-Pugh, (1997). Perceptual-motor programs do not facilitate development: why not play? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 22(1): 30-36, report on studies showing that certain perceptual motor training was not an effective intervention technique for academic cognitive or perceptual-motor variables. The results show little effect in any developmental domain, even on children's gross motor skills. Furthermore, the programmes made little difference to the reading, arithmetic, language or spelling of children with learning difficulties or of normally developing children. However, even though it may initially seem that Corrie and Barratt-Pugh) do not accept the theory that movement leads to learning, they do state that it is not the importance of perceptual-motor development that is disputed, but the way of supporting and facilitating that development that is critical.
According to the authors Fredericks et, al a sensori-motor movement programme should be aimed at the root cause of learning difficulties. On the basis that vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile visual and or auditory systems are dysfunctional, the child will fail in its attempts at academic work. Kokot,S.J. (2003a). Diagnosing and treating learning disabilities in gifted children: a neurodevelopmental perspective. Gifted Education International 17(1): 42-54.
To read full article "The treatment of neurologically impaired children using patterning" from which this extract is taken visit The Autism Centre web site www.theautismcentre.co.uk go to" Related Links" then "Learning Connections".
For further reading go to article "Brain Research supports learning" written by Kay Hamilton published in the same web site in the "Blog " section, also in Research Articles my December 2003 again in The Autism Centre.
Finally, the submission by the AAP, that "treatment programmes that offer patterning remain unfounded" needs to be considered thus; the basis of today’s physical therapy movement programmes, is built entirely on the premise that movement by a therapist, of any part of the human anatomy, on a regular daily basis is in effect "patterning". This movement therapy, practised daily by fully trained, qualified, physiotherapy, and occupational therapists, to rehabilitate stroke victims is accepted worldwide in private, and state medical regimes. The team originally put together by Fay was done so to rehabilitate stroke victims and recipients of traumatic brain injury through accidents.
In effect the AAP critique undermines today’s physio and occupational therapy practitioners.

Robin Burn
The Autism Centre
April 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brain Research Supports Learning Through Movement Programmes

Brain Research Supports Learning Through Movement Programs
Author Kay Hamilton
Brain research is opening doors for understanding how we can address the individual needs of our children. I believe it is time for our education system to take notice of the research being done so that teachers can be supported to deliver more effective programs in our schools, resulting in more effective learning for our young. In this paper I discuss the options of making connections through our relationships with children, plus I look at some movement programs which may support whole brain learning, through creating pathways for brain messages to travel along. This in turn allows for faster processing of information in the brain. I have researched various peoples work in this area and have been impressed by some of the possibilities for these options as they may be able to support those teachers and children who are having challenges within our Education System and daily life in our community.
Is our school system addressing the real needs of all our children? Classrooms are rapidly being inundated with children who are being diagnosed with autism, ADD, learning difficulties and allergies, many of them have other physical, mental or emotional needs. Teachers are being placed under more and more pressure and stress as our classrooms have an increased proportion of children who are not coping within the normal classrooms. Yet teachers are expected to teach and show data supporting the progress of every student. As a long term classroom and relief teacher I have observed those children who would prefer to be involved in more hands on activities and find life in the classroom to be a real challenge. These children then become angry, frustrated and destructive to themselves and others around them as they become disconnected with their environment. Is it possible for our education system address these challenges which would produce children in our community who can function well and be productive people within our society? Surely, if children’s needs were more satisfied and their learning problems were addressed successfully we would have fewer problems in the community and less dissatisfied children who may end up as delinquents in our jail system.
For many years I have been convinced of the beneficial support that Brain Gym has to offer those children who in some way are experiencing challenges with their learning or development. Brain Gym is a series of exercises originally devised by John Dennison, which has been partly influenced by the Sensory Integration Therapy ideology of Carl Delacato. My first experience with Brain Gym began in 1990 when my daughter was in kindergarten. We had a visiting speaker, Brendan O’Hara, who shared with us some of his insights into whole brain learning. I recall Brendan requesting three volunteers, who had challenges when reading aloud, to come forward. He then asked them to read a paragraph from a book aloud to us, which they did. After this he got all three participants to do some lazy 8 eye movements, for a couple of minutes. This involved the participant to follow the tip of a pen with their eyes while Brendan held the pen a little distance in front of their eyes, making the movement of a figure eight laying on its side,
( the infinity symbol ). Following this Brendan then asked the volunteers reread to us aloud. The difference in their reading was very noticeable from the point of view of improvement with fluency and expression. Each reader also expressed their personal delight and surprise in the strength of their obvious improvement.
Brendan’s explanation of how the connections in the brain are made was made simple to follow. Brendan explained that there are lots of possibilities for the pathways that information travels along. I recall that he explained that if one pathway was experiencing a blockage that it is possible to create new ones. This would allow for new inroads where information can be sent. The idea being that the eye exercises which these people had done were making some of these new connections. Brendan’s simple experiment was convincing in that the results were very immediate and obvious to both the participants and those of us who were the observers. Brendan claimed that these exercises were effective and suggested that many more reading challenges could be supported with the use of these exercises. We also learnt about cross crawling, where you simultaneously lift your right leg and touch it with your left hand, alternating to the other side of your body using the same movement. These movements were designed to aid in the development of the whole brain, creating new pathways and strengthening them. The eye exercises were believed to have helped the eyes to cross the midline which is necessary for reading. They are also good for tracking, also another requirement for effective reading. This sounded positive to me and I was intrigued enough to explore these exercises for myself. I had not really done much reading for quite sometime and found that I often fell asleep while reading or I would not get very far along the page and would have to reread words to gain understanding of what I was reading. Consequently, I read less and less, these were two of the things Brendan stated the exercises would help. I went home and decided to trial these exercises for myself. To my delight my reading greatly improved within a week. I must add that I’ve never looked back and would consider myself to be able to read at a much faster pace and my comprehension has improved immensely.
Brendan also introduced us to our "Brain buttons", these are points on the body which can be rubbed to "switch on your brain". I found them to be stimulating and I have noticed a lift in my own awareness and energy levels when using them. Brendan has made these simple exercises fun and enjoyable with the songs and music he created to use with the children. I purchased his tape and a copy of his music to take teaching and further use with my own children. I have used these for many years in my music lessons and have found that children enjoy them.
Two of my own daughters were also having challenges with their reading and I encouraged them to have a go at these exercises and in both cases their reading made drastic improvement within weeks.
The Aide who was working at this Kindergarten at the time was experiencing a lot of back pain, she went home and regularly did the cross crawling and is convinced that these exercises greatly improved her condition. No longer was she experiencing back pain and was able to return to work after many months of sick leave.
The exposure to the possibility that people can improve their learning capacity through simple use of these movements continues to intrigue me.
A large part of my teaching career has been relief teaching, where I have come into contact with hundreds of children. I often began my day with some of the Brain Gym movements. It became apparent to me that there was some pattern with the children who could not automatically cross crawl or do some of these movements with ease. The children who obviously had challenges with their learning in some way or found it a challenge to be in a classroom environment often seemed to have challenges coordinating these movements. I also observed that the more the children did the movements the better coordinated they became and the movement eventually became automatic to them with practise.
I am currently working as a Reading Recovery teacher and I also tutor children doing Intensive Literacy. Reading Recovery is a daily intervention program for grade one children who have not been successful in learning to read at the end of their first school year. Again, I have seen the evidence of children who are struggling with their learning as the ones who are initially struggling with these movements. With practise, these movements become easier, while their awkwardness and clumsiness disappears.
I have found that children on my Reading Recovery program have improved when doing some Lazy eights before their lesson begins. The children seem to be more settled and focused with their learning. The lazy eights can be drawn by tracing around one which is printed on paper, sometimes we draw a lazy eight in the air or on the white board, plus I have made some larger ones with fluffy material as it provides extra sensory stimulus for the children, they love running their fingers along these while following their hands with their eyes. I have written a song which we now sing while doing various movements. This is sung at the beginning of our Literacy lessons.
Our Brain Song
We’re waking up our brain,
We’re waking up our brain,
So we can read and write
And keep happy and bright.
We begin our lessons each day with this little song and the children respond positively to it. If I forget to sing it with them they remind me that we have to sing it.
We also cross pattern with bean bags passing the bead bags under each leg with a lazy eight movement. This is the first thing that all the children love to do at the beginning of the lesson, keenly coming in to the room, grabbing the bean bags and counting their movements, as I usually say let’s count up to 20, raising the number as their counting improves. These exercises are very supportive for kinaesthetic learning. Sometimes we learn to sound out and spell a word using the Cross Crawling movement.
One day the children spontaneously Cross Crawled back to their room while spelling m u m, which was our new word to learn for the day. I am inspired by the children’s initiatives with these exercises, they seem to be really engaged and often come up with their own adaptations of them. I have found Brain Gym is useful to begin a lesson with as we have all had some movement and are then able to sit down and settle in to quieter activities. I am constantly amazed at the children’s’ keenness to participate in them and the pleasure that is gained from them.
At the school where I am currently working I am often pleasantly greeted with the preps and grade one’s who sit on the mat and spontaneously cross their arms and hands into the "lockdown position." This involves crossing your arms, clapping your hands together then folding them into your chest. These children were taught this position in kindergarten where it has been used to get settled when on the mat. I often request that the children sit in the "lock down" position when they need settling, which they respond readily to. This is often used during assembly when children become restlessness. I have observed students to quickly regain focus and become engaged when sitting in this position, giving them a little challenge to put their minds on and they are able to focus. Personally, I have found it to be very calming and nurturing. This seems apparent for children too. As they quite happily will sit like this, an excellent remedy for children who find it a challenge to sit still and be calm. As soon as the children become restless, we go back in to "lock down", in order to settle again. I find this to be a most effective tool for gaining the focus of the whole class. I believe it has reduced the stress when I am faced with a situation where I am the new teacher in a foreign class or when I’ve been working with children who have already used this technique.
I reflect on my own school years where we used to march in to class daily, which is also another form of Cross Patterning. Although, for me this became a mundane task as there was not much joy in the dull repetitive nature of the task. Perhaps it may have been more supportive for our learning and enjoyment if a variety of movements and music had been chosen.
Brendan has made these movements fun and meaningful for children through his music tapes which incorporate singing and movement together. These I have found to be most suitable for the early education students.
My interest in this area has now expanded through reading other peoples understanding and use of movement programs. I have been researching the work of people who have been working hands on in practical situations with people supporting themselves and others with their learning and development. This work which has been done has been used in Special Education classes, one to one, support for children who are struggling readers or with those who have in some way experienced disability with many and varied challenges. The stories of these specialist workers are valuable in the sense that they all have trialled them and can see the advantages of using this method of intervention for a wide range of situations and people.
I admire the work of people who are involved in this ongoing process. I have recently done a one day workshop in Brain gym which has given me a broader understanding of the movements as well as gaining ideas for their use in the classroom.
The notion that the facilitators of these movement programs can also benefit from use the movements or exercises is also positive. I believe we all need to see ourselves as learners, who can also grow and change according to our situations in the present moment. This is important if we are to become resilient in our own life. A criteria which I believe is essential for us to continue our daily existence effectively.
Celia Freeman
I Am The Child is a book written by Celia Freeman (1998). Celia worked in California as a special education teacher with children who were severely handicapped. Celia’s book tells of her journey in her role as a special education teacher. Celia had a passion to follow her hearts desire and wanted to be of service to others. Her own life was troubled from a broken home, an alcoholic father, a large family and poverty. She was encouraged to look beyond her circumstances by one of her teacher’s and has since continued a life long journey. Her dedication to her work must have played an instrumental role in her ability to work in this field. Celia learnt through her own journey of acceptance and understanding of her personal resources. Celia holds the intention of creating a space where children are able to learn in a gentle and open environment. She believes that Brain Gym offers "physical comfort and ease of learning as requisite to mental learning." (1998, p4). Celia supports the use of Brain Gym as the individual child’s unique needs can be addressed. These children are able to explore their own abilities through movement or sensory activities.
I am impressed with Celia’s openness and honesty when she talks about addressing her own fears and learning blocks when using Brain Gym herself. She is engaging herself within the process as a learner. The notion that we are all learners is, I believe a powerful and effective approach to teaching. Celia’s hands on attitude of applying Brain Gym for herself is a good test for its effectiveness and value. I can also say that I have experienced this when using Brain Gym. If I am using these movements with my students, I have also noticed changes in my clarity, energy levels and note my elevated feelings. It seems to me that I can "feel" the benefits of the movements. They are excellent for warming up, switching on and tuning in.
Celia has been motivated to share her story of using Brain Gym with the intention of inspiring others to explore its possibilities of effecting whole brain learning. The ten children in Celia’s classroom were labelled severely handicapped. They were diagnosed with varying things including deafness, autism, cerebral palsy, blindness, brain damage and Angelman’s syndrome. The children’s ages ranged between seven and thirteen. Five were in wheelchairs and three wandered haphazardly around the room. Only one child had speech. This child huddled fearfully by the wall with head bowed, murmuring. Celia’s task with these children clearly was enormous as she juggled nappies, toileting and gastronomic tubes, along with tantrums and reading body language of the children who could not see or hear. It was a steep learning curve relating to a wide variety of individual needs. Individual learning programs had to be developed and written. Communication with parents was vital for effectiveness. Supervision and guidance with paraeducators was needed. Management techniques, lessons to be taught and classroom schedules needed to be addressed. Exhaustion and stress from this situation did not deter Celia from her enthusiasm to connect with these children and make some meaningful differences with each of the students in her class. Celia wanted to "answer their unspoken requests". (1998, p9) She wanted to fulfil her role as a teacher responding to their intense needs and inner turmoil, creating a safe classroom environment. Celia understood their need to feel safe at a primal level: the body level. Emotional, mental and physical needs of the individual child had to be addressed, while developing a sense of cohesiveness within the group.

Celia speaks of the merits of these movements for her own use. Celia created space for herself doing the Hook-ups when she needed respite from the chaotic classroom. Realizing that she needed to remain relaxed in order to be in the present with the children. Celia was aware that it was essential for her to be calm, stable and consistent. Her former turmoil that she had experienced was now supported as she used these movements herself.
I admire Celia’s approach that her students are her teachers she has been open to trialling Brain Gym and has noticed improvement in her children’s learning. Scott was her autistic student with a deafening shrill shriek. Celia would do the Balance Buttons and the Space Buttons which helped to keep her grounded and centred when Scott was shrieking. Coming to understand her own needs has been a constant worthwhile reflection to Celia when working with the students.
Celia asked herself questions to enable her to choose the sensory stimulation that Scott needed. As experience had shown her, development of language and articulation could be facilitated with Brain Gym. She wanted Scott to feel safe, comfortable with his surroundings and wanted him to feel okay with physical touch, which he craved for using inappropriate behaviour. Scott liked some of the movements which would improve his expressive vocabulary. Some Scott did not care for, however Celia honoured the ones which he did enjoy.
Celia believes that Brain Gym facilitates the development of language and articulation. To stimulate Scott’s ears for auditory perception she used the Thinking Cap. To release tension in the neck and relax the tendon- guard reflex, she used the Owl. Various Buttons were used to increase awareness of gravity in movement. Cross Crawling was used to activate right and left cerebral hemispheres. Scott seemed to be able to focus, listen and really play with her when these were used prior to games. As at other times he found it hard to relax, stay calm and follow her lead. I thought it was interesting to note that he liked playing Car- Car, from the Edu- K Visioncircles. This is a drama activity similar to one which I have also used. One person stands behind the other being the "driver" of the front person. Celia covers the eyes of the person in front while "steering" the person in the front. This allowed Scott to be more grounded with the rhythm of muscle and motion, helping Scott to remain relaxed and present with Celia.
Celia observed Scott’s enjoyment and acceptance of these sensory experiences which he had previously avoided with his constant speed and agitation she noticed he was now more available for learning. Clapping games were another useful activity for Scott clapping rhythms gave him auditory stimulation and visual input full of fun and with sensory and kinaesthetic learning. These rhythms provided excellent practise for development of phrasing for speech. Other games were played with sounds, Celia would imitate sounds which Scott made plus they made up some. They would sit and sway back and forward and in figure eight movements as they chanted these sounds. Celia noticed Scott’s rhythm of his body movements slowed down matching his body movement.
Scott would often vocalize repetitive patterns of seemingly senseless sounds, which Celia began to imitate and repeat. Then she added more sounds inviting Scott to explore language through rhythm and music. Celia noticed that his random use of sounds discontinued and he no longer blurted out meaningless disconnected syllables. Celia then invited him to use his own words when he wanted something. This self discovery eventually enabled Scott to use words functionally and he began to express himself more clearly.
After a year in Celia’s classroom Scott learnt to interact playfully and more appropriately with his classmates and everyone in his environment. Scott’s inappropriate behaviour decreased as he became more comfortable in his own body and he gained a better sense of other people’s boundaries. Scott’s eye movements slowed down and met other people’s gaze. The many tantrums he had in a day reduced to only one or two a month. Needless to say his parents were most impressed and deeply grateful for his growth and progress. Scott was placed in another class the following year where emphasis was on fine motor skills and he continued to succeed.
Celia outlines basic tenets which she believes a safe environment includes:
1. To help a child notice when he or she feels physically safe enough to become aware of feelings, sensations or thoughts- the prerequisite to learning.
2. To honour my own boundaries and personal space while supporting the student in learning to find his or her own boundaries and personal space.
3. To "back up" developmentally by varying the Brain Gym and other movement activities based on sensory, emotional, and mental needs, including the fun factor.
4. To invite the child to participate in his or her own learning.
5. To provide structure and routine- for both the individual and the group – within which spontaneity and creativity can occur.
6. To take the time to celebrate progress, rather than moving right into the next thing to be learned. (1998, p10,11)
I believe these tenets are worthwhile and would be excited to see other teachers with the same passion and desire as Celia. All the children in Celia’s class made individual progress. Some of the areas where they made improvements were speech, reading sight words, coordination, reducing fear, writing, emotionally, focus, developmental and interaction with people.
Carla Hannaford
Smart Moves is a book written by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. Carla is a Neurophysiologist and educator. Reading Carla’s book reinforced many of the testimonials similar to those which Celia offered. One of Carla’s messages is that learning is not all in your head. As Carla puts it "learning, thought, creativity and intelligence are not the process of brain alone, but of the whole body. Sensations, movements, emotions and brain integrative functions are grounded in the body." (1995, P11) This reminds me of my increasing ability to type fluently on my new lap top, my desire to improve the speed and quality of my typing manifests as I type, and my body memory takes note of where the keys are. The more I type the less I have to concentrate on where to place my fingers and my mind can focus more on the content of my writing. I am experiencing some sort of automatic response which has been integrated within me, while my brain is in silent communication with my body. However this comes with practise, repetition and interest.
Carla’s fascination of movement began when she could see children labelled with "learning disability" found that learning became easier when learning sessions began with whole body integrative movements. Carla also noted that her own thinking, communicating and learning anything improved as she did the movements. Her own inability to learn, believing that she could be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, had she been at school today, plus the fact that her own daughter had experienced similar challenges gave Carla a "personal stake in understanding why movement assisted learning".(1995, p13)
When Carla was working as an elementary school counsellor she offered to take a ten year old girl who had suffered brain damage at six weeks old and three "emotionally handicapped children", during recess each day to give the teachers a break. Carla used a process called Dennison Laterality Repatterning, a series of simple activities that coordinates both sides of the body in order to teach about crossing the midline, followed by Brain Gym activities. Plus they also drank lots of water. The little girl’s progress surprised her paediatrician as she had a sudden ability to talk in sentences within two months, a big change from her erratic, monosyllabic speech making little sense. This ten year old girl who had a limp and dragged her leg behind her could also now kick a soccer ball straight. Carla also used Hook-ups with these children when they had a fight or were experiencing stress, noting the quiet integration which these children experienced, who were then able to responsibly express their needs or frustrations. This little girl who had been in school for five years and had made little progress with excellent resource teachers was now after five months reading at second grade level and loved writing. By the end of the year this student had progressed to communicating effectively, wrote highly imaginative stories and was reading close to her grade level this leap in progress coincided with the daily movement program. Carla grew more determined to understand how this learning occurs. Hence Carla was led to have a closer look at neurophysiology which she had been teaching at university for years. Carla’s research took Carla to the path of neural learning.
Sally Goddard
Sally Goddard has researched and works with techniques many people. I found her book Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour very useful. Sally explains her understanding of Neuro- Physiological Psychology, from the work that Peter Blythe began in 1969. Catharina Johannesson Alvegard first developed this work in Sweden. Rita Levi-Montalcini won a Nobel Prize in 1986 for her work with Nerve Growth Factors proving that certain chemicals made new connections to be made from the nerve cell, which were usually created at the junction between the nerve and the muscle. Jean –Pierre Changeux noticed certain reflexive movements that chick embryos made during the gestation period. After paralysing their muscles with a very fine needle while they were in the egg, so that these reflexive movements could not take place, upon examining the chicks, their brains showed abnormalities. Sally wrote to him suggesting that his work would be important to children and child development. He agreed that this was the aim of his work however felt this was a long way off. Peter Blythe and David McGlown were looking at children who were in trouble at school at the same time. Peter discovered that these children overwhelmingly had shown signs of retained reflexes which should have disappeared long ago. These children had been labelled "Minimal Brain Damage". Plus postural reflexes were missing which should have been there. A neurological profile which was very different from children who had no problems. The Neuro-Physiological Pschycology Institute showed how to look for reflexes and then coded the evaluations making it possible to an accurate insight into what it was that affected the child’s behaviour. The reflexes that a child failed to develop in the expected order, was then researched from the children’s profiles so that these reflexes could be developed with remedial training. Peter Blythe and Sally Goddard have designed programs of intervention for these children which are easily and inexpensively implemented to children for their specific needs. This work is now being taken into some schools in the United States where children may be given "wiggle cushions" for those children who can’t sit still. It has been realized that these children may have a retained Spinal Galant reflex. The Spinal Galant Reflex promotes wriggling down the birth canal and then promotes the strengthening of spinal muscles. This reflex is triggered by physical contact with the spine By 9 months old it should be fully integrated and consequently inhibited by 3-9 months. Some optometrists in Sweden and Australia are also using also using this information to speed up visual training.
Svea Gold
Svea Gold works with children using the research of many scientists an specialists including Carl H. Delacato who published his findings in a book called The Ultimate Stranger : The Autistic Child. Delacato’s work in the 1960"s, opened door to seeing the problem behaviour of autistic children in a whole new light. Delacato saw the symptoms of autistic children as "brain disease", which Svea suggests we all have a little bit of. She says they are the "hypersensitive" ones, who may have ringing in their ears or may get itchy after wearing a woollen jumper. I know for myself that I have to cut the tags off all my clothes as they annoy me and I am uncomfortable if I don’t do this. These hypersensitivities can also come from fluorescent lights, either from the very fine whine they make, which most of us can’t hear or they may be a visual distraction. Some children are hypersensitive to smells and may be put off by body odours or other scents from washing powders, perfumes or deodorants. I do not enjoy the odours that waft from my own teenage daughters who are very conscious of needing to smell right! I also dislike the scents of many washing powders on the children sitting in classrooms. Unfortunately for those experiencing any of these hypersensitivities it can mean they have a hard time paying attention. This may result in "switching off" and being unable to successfully cope in many situations, having severe implications for success with learning. It is now understood that many of the symptoms of autism are the coping mechanisms which they use. Svea uses Andy as an example to demonstrate this. Andy is comfortable when he makes his own noises or is in quiet surroundings. The hustle and bustle in schools of chairs, chatter, slamming doors etc sends him in to overload. "Andy’s sympathetic nervous system shuts down all the sound sensations in Andy". (1997, p120) This becomes obvious as Andy withdraws from his surroundings. Svea states that "our bodies are controlled by two different nervous systems: the central nervous system, which controls the functions that we do consciously; and the autonomic nervous system, which, unless we are trained in biofeedback, is not under our control." (1997, p120)
Svea goes on to explain "The automatic nervous system consists of two networks of nerves: parasympathetic and the sympathetic. As either set of nerves is stimulated it counterbalances the influence of the other, so that between the two systems our body functions are kept running smoothly. Our blood pressure, heartbeat and perspiration are under control of these two systems. If the parasympathetic nerves are stimulated, there is a generally calming effect. If neither fight nor flight is possible, the body can go into a state of suspended animation." (1997, p120) This can be experienced as withdrawal, protecting our brain from overload.
Children may keep making noises and be considered to be hyperactive. This child may be "hypo" in not hearing as not enough noise are reaching the brain and the child could be
making these noises to stimulate their hearing. Or perhaps the noise could be helping the child to locate himself in space, because the eyes and proprioceptors are unable to locate where they are in space.
Svea speaks of Dr. Larry Burr, a developmental eye doctor, who claims he knew if his young patients were wearing their new glasses, which he had prescribed for them before they entered the room. Often these children were making a lot of noise before they entered the room. It seems these children were using the sound of their voices as an echo locator. The children became very quiet when they put on their glasses and could see. Detective work is needed to find what is wrong so the child may be helped. The techniques used by Carl H. Delacato have made this work easier, according to Svea. Delacato worked with brain injured children for over 15 years. The National Association for Retarded Children, who had been challenging his theories, did a study in 1974. They studied his theories and procedures based on the work which he and Glenn Doman had been pioneering at the Institute for the Achievement and Human Potential, in Philadelphia. It was declared that these methods to be legitimate in the remediation of certain handicapping conditions.
A new challenge was now taken on by Delacato as he wanted to find clues to the puzzle of this strange and unexplainable behaviour. He felt more and more that they were similar to brain-injured children, with whom he had been working. He continued to work with children who had been labelled as autistic by other experts, to make sure that they were not brain injured. In his study of all of these children he continued seeing similarities in the children who were deaf and hearing impaired such as withdrawal, repetitive motions, rocking back and forth, making strange noise and hitting their ears. The blind children also rocked back and forward and they would hit their eyes with the flat of their hands.
As Delacato continued his research with autistic children he noticed that the behaviour fell into specific patterns". The blindisms, or what could have been considered blindisms if the child had been diagnosed as blind – were efforts aimed at getting input into the eyes. If, for instance the children hit their eyes, they were trying to see flashes which the pressure might cause, or if they waved their hands before their eyes, they were trying to see something. The deafisms were efforts to get information into the ears. The behaviour of the autistic children also related to smells (were aimed at the nose), or taste (aimed at the mouth), and in other cases were attempts to get more information into the proprioceptive (touch) system". (1997, p123)
Delacato decided, these symptoms of withdrawal, all those strange, repetitive behaviours, what was loosely called autism as they were labelled, were really specifically, deafisms, blindisms, tactilisms, and smellisms. Plus these behaviours had specific purposes. Children made efforts to escape when too much information entered into the channel and they became overwhelmed. Things might threaten children such as light, smell, sound. However if they did not get enough information into the brain, creating sensory stimulation was needed.
Work with brain injured children had shown Delacato that some of the children who had been blind, learnt to see, some who had been deaf learnt to hear, paralysed children learnt to walk and mute children learnt to talk. Consequently, Delacato was different to others as he believed this condition could be remedied for autistic children to some degree. Delacato supported a girl who could not feel her hands by sending stimuli to her hands by putting her hands in hot and cold water, pinching, poking and rough massaging. Eventually this girl could feel her hand and no longer had to bite it, as she had done previously. Delacato had discovered o whole new way of treating autistic children. "They were brain-injured in ways that affect, not the outgoing channels, but the channels which bring information into the brain, and they were reacting to this distorted input." (1997,p124).
Parents now became more tolerant of their children as they came to understand that their behaviour had a purpose. Delacato encouraged them to make the children more comfortable by shielding them from sensations which made them withdraw. Once children and their families became more comfortable with each other Delacato gave the child treatment that would make the affected channels as close to normal as possible. This awareness has implications for the classroom, as once a teacher understands that some behaviours are coping mechanisms children can be given options to reduce their stress. Such as, encouraging the children who need to wriggle and squirm or touch things, to be able to say "I need to stretch my legs or move". The child could then be allowed to run an errand, or perhaps do some Brain Gym movement to relax and settle. This gives the child opportunity for biofeedback to deal with the situation. I attended a workshop run by Sue Larkey, a teacher who has worked extensively with autistic children. Sue promotes the use of Educational Aides such as Stretch Frogs, Water Balls, and Light Up Pens. These Aides support children to remain calm while proving them with extra sensory stimulus.
Parents and carers are less likely to abuse children once they have awareness and knowledge. Svea is concerned about the occurrences of abuse towards children by parents, teachers or carers stemming from their frustrations and misunderstanding why their children are behaving in unacceptable ways. To give the child the sensory input they need, Svea claims it is wise to explain to parents that methods such as deep massage, rough and tumble, bear hugs and deep touching can make a huge difference. Behaviour modification can also make a difference by giving positive feedback to the child. It occurs to me that this interaction with children is all part of what I believe is healthy and normal. A home and community life full of opportunity to play, jump, run, climb, swing, balance and experience lots of variety in movement, sensory adventures and creative activities, filled with love and joy has to be an essential bonus for children’s development.
I have a relationship with a student who has been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. He has many challenges at school feeling safe enough to be a part of the everyday routine of the class. I observe him out of the school environment and he seems to be able to function a lot easier. I bring him home where he interacts with my teenage daughters who treat him like anyone else with their games and teasing. He seems to thrive with this type of interaction and is such a different person to the one at school who won’t always feel okay to enter his classroom or be a part of the group. Away from school his whole way of interacting is completely different. One day another teacher from our school was visiting my place the same day as this student. She was amazed at the huge difference in his behaviour while he seemed quite normal and fully confident to be himself in this non threatening atmosphere which he was a part of at my house with my family. She was surprised at his eye contact and verbal dialogue that she received from him, when at school he would not take part in her PE lessons, where he feels overwhelmed and unsafe. I often feel that our school system demands too much expectation that our children "fit in" to a rigid setting and routine. I think it is time for more choice to be given with activities and routines. For instance some children who have not been given opportunity to play and interact with others may need to be given makeup time to have the opportunity experience these things.
Marie Clay
Marie Clay is a New Zealand psychologist responsible for the Reading Recovery program in which I work. Her work is based on brain research. Marie has researched children who are the ones "at risk" meaning they are not likely to learn how to read and write within the classroom situation. Many of the children on the reading Recovery Program are experiencing challenges with reading and writing due to learning difficulties. Marie believes that many of these children are not being given experiences of reading and talking with their families. Marie now promotes the importance of "makeup" time for those children who have not been given these opportunities. To counteract this, Marie stresses time and opportunity is needed to be given for communication and lots of books must be read with children in their kindergarten and early years of school. Children need this support so they can do some necessary catching up. Recent research is supporting new programs such as the Early Intervention Programs which are now being implemented.
Marie’s methods in her program encourage the child to access many parts of the brain which is supported through the teachers prompts and activities provided in the half hour session. The child uses movement with magnetic letters and is supported to write, repetition is used to strengthen neural pathways. Gaining meaning from stories is heavily supported and opportunity for linking information between reading and writing is paramount for success, aiding the child to access various parts of the brain. Building on the child’s known information is an important beginning to her program to ensure success is achieved. Marie’s work has been supported with the research of Carol Lyons.
Carol Lyons
Carol Lyons discusses how the Neurological impulses work and emphasises the importance of the emotional underlay and overlay of a child’s learning. Carol is a trained teacher who worked at an army base during the Vietnam War. Carol also had further work teaching poor inner city students. Doctoral work at Ohio State University convinced Carol that teachers need better understanding of the neuropsychology of learning so that they are able to have a better understanding of how children learn and think. Without this teachers will not fully "understand what to do to facilitate learning, why it is so important and how to develop rationales for their decision making to guide their practise". (2003,pxi)
Carol’s 27 years of research in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology has shown Carol that the emotions play a critical role in thinking. Our Reticulation Activity system (RAS) regulates our brains attention as it regulates all incoming sensory information. Messages are sent to the thalamus from our five senses which sort information sending it to three pairs of lobes:
auditory information is processed in the temporal lobes
visual information is processed in the occitipal lobes
sensing information is processed in short term memory in the parietal lobes
Information is then sent to the frontal lobes where it is decided what is stored in long term memory. From here information is sent to the amygdala and the hippocampus which are different structures critical to memory.
Information is processed by the amygdala, which is the site of emotion, it is then sent to the hippocampus, which is the cognitive dimension. These become dependant on each other. Fusion occurs between thought and emotion. Once we know we are failing, we go on a negative spiral and further success is hampered. At the Ohio State University "Brain Electrical Activity Mapping (BEAM) studies of autistic children, individuals who suffered head trauma, and special education and learning disabled youngsters, as they completed various cognitive tasks provided a clear picture of how emotions mat interfere with or support learning, thinking, and remembering." (2003, p3). Carol is convinced that intellectual development is facilitated by certain kinds of nurturing and teaching. Emotions and cognition from birth and beyond integrative and interactive and can not be separated, affecting how information is learned and retrieved.
In October this I attended a seminar in Melbourne with Carol Lyons, where she stated that every child is born with the same capacity to learn. Carol is convinced that "every child can learn to read and write and that you can teach him". She further adds that there are no excuses, stating that only severe neurological disorganization will hamper this, which only occurs in 1% of the population.
Carol spoke of the children who have been in an under privileged situation and have under developed neural pathways. These children who are then placed in a new situation are able to develop neural pathways if their environment is supportive, secure and rich with experiences.
Carol discussed the importance of Educators and Carers of young children becoming attuned to the children’s verbal and non verbal clues and intervention, the teacher must be non- stressed so that a damaged negative spiral does not occur. If we are emotionally stressed we can’t think! A child’s defiance is a sign that they are emotionally insecure. Empathy from the teacher is essential in order to support the child’s signs of frustration and anxiety. Remaining calm is essential to keep a secure attachment with the child to enable effective learning to take place.
The Neurological Connection.
Svea looks further into the neurological connections in the brain. In 1979 there was an article in the Associated Press stating that evidence had been found dyslexia had been traced to anatomy of the brain. The brain of a twenty year old boy, who had been killed on a car accident, had been examined by neurologists. They found in the area considered responsible for language, "striking" abnormalities only in this section. Dr Thomas Kemper and Dr. Anthony Galaburda concluded that dyslexia is really not a psychological problem but a neurological problem. For the first time it was shown that there are actual differences in a dyslexic person’s brain. Information goes to a certain part of the brain when we move a part of our body, but it was not known why.
As time goes on and more research has been done. We have learnt that axons sprout from motor neurons activating muscles to go to their special destination, ignoring other muscles on the way, not really knowing how. Chemical markers which sit on the outside of the brain cells and guide the dendrites to their proper destination, have been identified by Mark Tessier-Lavigne, Jonathon A.Raper and Corey S. Goodman. Other chemical markers have been found which prevent axons from bumping into each other, so that messages that need to go to and from the brain are not sidetracked.
Changeux took his research further and discovered that the nerve cell started sprouting dendrites by adding a chemical, which is made at the junction between the axon and the muscle, whenever a muscle moves. Since then Dr. George Yancopoulas and several other teams investigated two proteins, Agrin and MuSK ( Muscle-specific-receptor kinase).Their role is to develop working connections between nerves and muscles during embryonic development. A neurotransmitter acetylcholine is the chemical code which is sent when the nerve cells talk to each other.
At the University of Tokyo, Masao Ito found he could change the structure of the cerebellum by stimulating the vesto-ocular reflex arc. The vestbulo-ocular-cerebellar reflexes affect speech, hearing, posture and balance. Many loops via interaction of different parts of the brain allow us to function.
Our disabled children would have problems if there was a break in this loop. Reading disabilities are important to the relationship with the cerebellum, as it regulates all of the motor functions which we usually are not conscious. Such as, saccadic eye movements, allowing the eyes to move across a line accurately in order to read several words at one time, wiping out the earlier images so they do not overlap with the later one.
Stephen Lisberger at the University of California discovered that to get a cell to fire in the cerebellum, the head must move at the same time as the target moves. The crawling period is when the cerebellum becomes myelinated. The forward hand becomes the moving target while the head is in constant motion. As these movements occur, advances are made in coordination and development. This fact is probably the answer as to why many children who have not crawled as a baby are often the ones who may also have challenges with reading, coordination and learning.
Delacato and Glenn Doman’s research led them to search out primitive children from all
over the world, to search for children who were not permitted to move around on the floor crawl and creep on the floor. They wanted to prove the theory that the creeping stage, which was lacking in many of the children with reading problems, was also related to lack of crawling. This theory was proven correct. "If as a part of the cultural heritage, the children were not permitted to crawl and creep on the floor, that society did not have a written language of its own." (1997,p162).This research showed that chemicals can be made at the junction of the muscle and the axons when we make children go through the early reflexes which their bodies dictated them to make, ensuring that the messages go to the exact part of the brain it is intended to go to.
This leads me to reflect on our own present society where some children are often placed in play pens for several hours, or may be strapped in their prams for long periods of time. Or some are placed in walkers for extended periods of time. These children are missing out on vital coordination of all the functions in their bodies which puts information in our brain
From her understanding of the work of all these Researchers Svea claims "we can’t control what comes out of the child’s brain, but we can control what goes in, by having the child repeat these movements". (1997, p143) This allows the brain to repair itself. Sally Goddard and Svea Gold both work in the area of testing children to see which reflexes the children are lacking. Special movements are then given to the children, which according to Svea and Sally will correct the reflex and the child will then be able to "fill in" some of the learning gaps which previously were hampered in some way.
After a chid learns to crawl, creep and walk, a favoured is developed. This is what we call his "dominant side". That is the child uses the right or left side for all his activities, Hammering, drawing, kicking the football, throwing etc, using the other side mostly for balance and judging space. "In all but 11% percent of infants, the left side of the brain- the side which controls the input coming from the right side- is the one that is stimulated the most when someone speaks to the infant. The other side "lights up" more when music is played. This is an inherited tendency." (Gold, 1997, p162) Development of each side can be influenced by outside factors. Breast fed babies are shifted from side to side as they are being fed by the mother. Bottle fed babies may not have such a balanced experience if they are held mostly in one position and injury to the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two sides of the brain, may occur. A viral infection, a blow to the head or childbirth may also be the cause this injury. Delacato could tell what stage the injury occurred by what the child could or could not do, how they moved or coordinated they were. This indicated what stage the child needed to make the necessary connections.
Stuttering was often the result of forcing a child to become right-handed even if they preferred their left hand. The link was recognized by Delacato between the verbal stuttering and reading stuttering." The final developmental stage of making one side of the body dominant was important to allow a child to read easier". (1997, p163)
Delacato’s premise was, "that total neurological development, not handedness alone, determines the ability to read." (1997, p163) A person who has not developed dominance may be able to read, but they may also have other problems such being tone deaf, stuttering, or being much more mathematically inclined.
Further brain research has confirmed Delacato’s original premise from which his therapy has been developed. The relationship between left handed people and dyslexia and immune disorders- allergies and asthma, has been investigated by Dr. Norman Geschwind. Positive Emission Tomography (PET) scans show parts of the brain which are functioning when different activities are being done. Delacato’s methods have since been improved and are the basis of many of today’s movement programs which are available. The "Lizard", which Delacato used ten years ago, to establish the head-righting reflex is still being used by Sally and Svea in their programs. Neurologists admit it stabilizes the eyes. Saccadic eye movements are improved with this movement, which children need to be successful readers.
More on the Brain and Development.
In our early years the brain grows the fastest. Between the fifth and the ninth months of prenatal gestation a phenomenal increase of more than two thousand cells per second is demonstrated. There is orderly cell migration and impressive weight gain. The weight gain decreases by half until age four, followed by 30-40% for several years and is only slight beyond age nine. As the increase is greater in the early years, influencing brain changes is best in the early preschool years. The brain is still growing fast in the early school years as it is growing more rapidly at this time than the remainder of the child’s lifetime.
Research now tells us that the "wiring" of our central nervous system is open to change. Electrical activation of the brain can be stimulated with purposeful stimulation. Stimulation occurs as the brain "responds to sensory and cognitive stimuli in the environment (Specializing in Learning and Attention Disorders, Maureen Hawke, 2005). Sally Goddard also stated "Significant links have been found between neurological maturity and performance on cognitive psychological tests". (2002, pXV11)
Receiving sensory stimulation and initiating movements causes our neurons to form extensions, called dendrites which connect to other neurons. Nerve cells communicate with other nerve cells via these dendrites. Pathways are made through neural groups as they form patterns, which, with use form superhighways. We learn as we interact with the world while our neurons communicate. Learning and thought is in reality the process of nerve cells connecting and networking enabling us to easily access and act upon our world. Pathways then become more complex networks as associations are made and information is synthesized. Our brain responds to cognitive and sensory stimuli in our environment, causing electrical activation of the brain cells resulting in growth of the dendrites. These interconnections between cells are directly related to brain power. Dramatic increase of these dendrites occurs by the age of two. More refined and discriminative receptive or expressive functions is supported as the dendrite branching produces the possibility of increasingly complex combinations of the cells.
Electro- chemical impulses are sent by the cell more efficiently as individual brain cells develop a myelin sheath around the transmitting axon. This insulating myelin sheath becomes thicker with continued environmental stimulation. Speed of impulse transmission is then increased.
Stimulation optimizes brain neurochemistry allowing cells and connections to function at high efficiency. Larger electrochemical contact with receiving axons occurs as dendrite knobs enlarge and become mushroom shaped.
If brain cells are not activated they become dormant, pruned out and unused dendrites even disappear. Non use results in massive pruning and reabsorption in our early years of life. Less pruning occurs when there is more diverse stimulation. A wider variety of abilities and skills creates a situation where there is less pruning and more retention of interconnections is created.
Neuro-growth factors (NFG) is effected by stimulation, promoting growth of dendrites and axon myelinisation. NFG exists in the many different cell types, all having their own NFG. These can be produced at any age and have no upper age limit. Variety and challenge change the brain. Our school and home environments are where this purposeful systematic stimulation can occur.
Connections can be supported through the use of Brain Gym activities and other movement programs where variety and challenge can change the brain. Maureen Hawke believes "Purposeful systematic stimulation presents the opportunity to create a higher standard of brain maturity than has been believed before". (The Learning Connections School Program, 2005).
Maureen Hawke.
Maureen Hawke is the director of the Learning Connections Centre where she facilitates training workshops in the earning Connections School Program, claiming to have provided successful therapy for thousands of individual children. Maureen is also the creator of a program called Brightstart, which caters for babies from birth to two years to two and a half years of age, promoting optimal development.
The school programs approach learning difficulties based on brain research. These children may be slow to learn, highly intelligent and may have challenges with attention, or they may have difficulty perceiving and registering information.
"Movement programs such as Perceptual Motor Programs (PMP) and Brain Gym, whilst based on the same neurological premise as the Learning Connections approach work in different ways. PMP and Brain Gym are more focused towards higher levels of brain development. Learning Connections Programs work on brain organization at the lower levels, including the integration of primitive reflexes. Good neurological organization at these lower levels is essential for learning. Perceptual motor skills will not readily develop whilst there is lack of integration at lower levels of brain development." (The Learning Connections School Program 2005)
Learning Connections have done some research on the success of their programs in several schools in Queensland. They acknowledge that these tests have no control and comments further research could be undertaken using control groups and non-specific exercise groups to control for placebo effects. They believe the results from the Queensland schools using the Learning Connections Program shows support for funding of a thorough scientific investigation. However, they have more than ten years of anecdotal evidence compiled from teachers who have positive feedback from the benefits of the Learning Connection School Program.Training for teachers is provided by Learning Connections for teachers, giving them the knowledge base that supports learning as these teachers ability to teach children is enhanced. Reading, comprehension and spelling problems are addressed.

Claire Hocking
Claire is a Teacher and Brain Gym instructor in Victoria who is now being asked to work with autistic children in schools. It is inspiring to me that some schools are now prepared to give these methods a trial. Unfortunately, the first school to use her expertise wanted her to work with six children at one time, which was not an effective concept as these children needed one to one support if a real difference was to be made. For beneficial intervention to occur the needs of the individual child is important and must be taken into account.
New Visions
New Visions is a school in Minneapolis for children with learning disabilities, where they are treated as complete entities. A three year controlled study was so successful that this school became a charter school. The children at this school who were previously expected to fall behind in their reading were now advancing by a year and a half every school year. Previous special education had failed with these children. Sensory- motor development, Brain Gym is given to these children. Emotional support is given to the children. Some are taken in groups, others are given one to one programs where needed. A developmental specialist is on campus who is certified to prescribe glasses and vision training if needed. Special systems of air conditioning to filter out pollution are used. Full spectrum lighting and many windows have been installed. Needs of the auditory, visual and tactile learners are addressed. Positive slogans such as "Nothing is impossible" are placed on the walls. Teachers are dedicated to having the children succeed without exposing their errors. Eg. Multiplication tables are hung on the walls so that children repeat them out loud and refer to them, providing visual and auditory support. EEG biofeedback sessions are given to children having uncontrollable limbic rages, to help them control their anger. The children on Ritalin are also given these sessions. Only two of the 14 children who were on Ritalin are still on it. The TOVA (Test of Variable Attention) is charted to allow the teachers the validity of the children’s progress.
Special training is given to teachers of possible causes of concern for the children, in areas of allergies, poverty, child abuse, visual and auditory problems. This gives the teachers an opportunity to have an active role in therapy for each child. New Visions is now rapidly becoming a training school for other teachers in other cities and states. After some time in this school, children are usually ready to continue on and succeed in regular schools.
The SMART program, created by Dr. Lyelle, utilizing what is known about the development and plasticity of the brain, providing all the chances a brain needs, is used in the pre-school classes. In the several locations that have used this program the feedback from teachers is that they are delighted with the children who have done the readiness programs, the children are able to pay attention, learn easily and quickly and they love school.

Conclusion
The importance of allowing our children to experience life through sensory stimulation is highly essential. Normal everyday opportunities where children can explore movement and balance occurs naturally if children are given the freedom to participate with their environment. Laying babies on the floor where they are able to freely explore their own body movements is an important stage of development. Spontaneously children will balance and jump on fences, beds, rocks and trampolines. Climbing is enjoyed at the park or in a natural setting in the bush. Spinning and rocking are enjoyed with swings, rockers or playing dizzies. "Neural pathways develop through stimulation and experience gained from interaction with the environment".( Smart Moves,1995,p27).
It sees to me that we must not under estimate the importance of how we as parents, carers and educators of our young, handle our babies and little ones appropriately while providing rich stimulating environments. Our natural instinct must be encouraged to breast feed cuddle, rock and cradle children as they play a vital role in the development of active, intelligent and emotionally secure children. The nurturing of our children is, I believe, one of the most important roles that we undertake.
Autism and many other learning disabilities are now seen to be neurological disorders, which can be supported through whole brain learning. Differences in learning preferences can be addressed, while pathways to create more success in new learning options may also be increased. Brain research is constantly experiencing new information and each day more and more is being understood about the brain. Thus, I believe that it is imperative that those who are in the roles of caring for and teaching others must be prepared to keep up with the research as it unfolds. I like to view it as an evolvement of understanding which can be used for the benefit of everyone. I also believe that our schools need to take this research on board as many of the movement activities which may be supportive to our children could make a real positive difference to the tone of the classrooms, which more and more as time goes on, are experiencing those "Hard to Teach" children who may or may not have been given some type of diagnosis, because of learning difficulties, physical disorder, emotional or mental disorder. The implementation of Inclusion for children who have Disability, Difference or Diversity makes it more vital that our teachers and school staff have an understanding of the things which will be supportive for these children’s learning. The implementation of inclusion is very admirable and I can understand the merits of this approach as we teach our children and all learn our lessons of acceptance and respect for individuals. However, I can also concerned that the classroom teacher is facing lack of both support and education in the realistic options for supporting each of these individuals within their classroom setting while addressing their learning needs. I also say that the time is "ripe" for this to occur in our world of Education. In Tasmania the New Essential Learnings opens the door to the possibility of our learning to be meaningful and we must address the needs of children individually. I believe other states in Australia are heading in the same direction. Some of what I present in this paper, I believe would be worthwhile to address with teachers who are in the classroom as well as educating our new up and coming teachers during their years at University. Understanding how we learn surely must be essential to our teachers, who play a vital role in educating our children and success for all children must be the desired outcome. We must all be prepared to change and evolve with the currents needs of our community. . Thankfully, as time goes on, through research we are able to increase our understanding and knowledge of creating a world where we can relate to the specific learning needs of our children, if only we have the ears to listen, eyes to see, minds to think, hearts to feel, along with the desire to be a player who is creating a more meaningful and worthwhile world.
Author Kay Hamilton, Grad. Thesis paper published with her kind consent






Bibliography
Marie Clay.(2005) Literacy Lessons Designed For Individuals. Part Two Heinmann Portsmouth, NH
Celia K. Freeman. M.ED (1998) I Am The Child Edu-Kinetics, Inc. Ventura.CA
Sally Goddard. (2002) Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour. Fern Ridge Press, Eugene, OR
Svea J. Gold. (1997) If Kids Just came with Instruction Sheets. Fern Ridge Press, Eugene,OR
Carla Hannaford. PH.D(1995) Great Smart Moves Ocean Publishers, Inc,Virginia
Maureen Hawke.(2005) The Learning Connections School Program.
Carol Lyons.(2003) Teaching Struggling Readers .Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH
Barbara Pheloung. (1997) Help Your Class To Learn. Barbara Phleoung, Manley, NSW
http://www.braingym.org.au/
http://www.dorecentres.com.au/
http://www.fernridgepress.com/
http://www.iiamthechild.com/
http://www.ilt.co.za/
http://www.learningconnections.com.au/
http://www.suelarkey.com/
http://www.switchedon.info/
http://www.theautismcentre.co.uk/

Monday, February 12, 2007

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Genetics and Remedial Solutions

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Genetics and Remedial Solutions

The recent joint announcement by the Wellcome Trust and Rett Syndrome Research Foundation on the discovery of the remedial effect of Tamoxifen on the symptoms of Rett Syndrome in a genetic mouse model raises a number of interesting points.
The discovery that administering the drug Tamoxifen to mice "switched on" the MECP2 mutated gene, and reverses the brain damage that gives rise to the symptoms of the condition known as Rett Syndrome.
Rett Syndrome is recognised as one condition of many associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, children on this spectrum suffer lack of speech have unusual movement e.g. tip toe walking and lack fine motor control as well as associated learning delay.
The reversal experiments were carried out, using technology known as Cre-lox recombination. This reombination is a method to introduce transgenes into specific, single, defined sites within the mammalian genome to recreate a genetically reproducible environment for the study of expression of introduced transgenes.
In the virus bacteriophage P1, is an enzyme called Cre and particular DNA sequences called lox P sites.
The lox P sites work in pairs and flank a segment of DNA called a target. When the Cre enzyme binds to the lox P sites, it cuts the lox P sites in half and then splices together the two halves after the target DNA has been removed and degraded.
In this study mouse models were created, in which the gene MECP2 was silenced by inserting a Stop cassette into the gene, creating the neurological deficits exhibited by Rett Syndrome. Removing the Stop cassette with the use of Tamoxifen could reverse the silencing, which stimulated the Cre enzyme to enter the cell nucleus where it could splice out the Stop cassette.
In several previously published articles in (this) www.theautismcentre.co.uk web site referring to the Etiology of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, reference has been made to the part played by various exogenous agents on the development of the fetus in utero.
The agents identified as playing a major role in events leading to early miscarriage, premature birth, and subsequent onset of conditions displaying mobility, behaviour, and learning difficulties are listed by various organisations as alcohol, nicotine, viral and bacterial infections e.g. rubella in the case of cerebral palsy.
The organisation associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at their recent conference has called for a notice to be added to the labeling of alcohol containing drinks warning of the consequences of alcohol intake during pregnancy. Smoking is universally accepted as cause of neurological dysfunction, resulting from central nervous system cell damage, and many articles have been published linking bacterial and viral infections to similar outcomes.
In case of infections during pregnancy, it appears that the ease at which pregnant mothers contract the illness, may be due to reduced immunity, as a result of increased age, or possibly, as some research shows, that, one of the outcomes of neurological dysfunction, is reduced immunity. Autistic children are subject in early life to regular bouts of middle ear and upper respiratory tract infections.
It is universally recognised, that, the ingestion of products produced by smoking will lead to the cancer of the respiratory system through cellular and genetic mutations, and, on the basis a link is formulated between Stop cassettes, and the ingestion of exogenous agents described above, then we have found the link to those products and cellular and genetic mutations, which lead to the onset of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by a systemic array of symptoms that has fascinated and frustrated researchers since its description over fifty years ago. The disorder has been responsible for prolific research as through the passage of time and experience the universally current view evolved from the psychological realm to the biochemical. Studies of neurochemical, neuroanatomical, immunological, genetic, neuropathological, metabolic, and pharmacological involvement, have revealed the prevalence of over fifty biochemically, genetically or metabolically associated disorders with autism.
The autistic spectrum disorders are described in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) under "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" (FDD): Autistic Disorder (AD), Rett's Disorder (RD), Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Asperger's Disorder (AS) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
The diagnostic criteria for the autistic spectrum disorders are extensive. The diagnostic criteria leads one to believe that autism is of psychological origin. The autistic spectrum was, in fact, originally incorrectly categorized as psychiatric and subsequently treated with therapies oriented to emotional disorder. Autism is not a constitutive disorder that is solely and statically genetic in nature, but rather may involve acquired deficits due to exposure in perinatal, prenatal or in the first few years of development to pathogens, toxins, and/or electromagnetic radiation creating systemic alterations on a cellular level mimicking a broad scope of disturbed metabolics with immune, central nervous system, gastrointestinal and endocrine involvement. Rather than the struggle of medical research focusing on the classification of a disorder when extensive overlapping of many disease states co-exist within autistic disorder, one is led towards the concept that expression of genetic disease states may be induced as is currently gaining ground in the literature. As judgment often exists that a genetic disorder is unapproachable, treatable only through gene therapy we must move beyond this limited concept.... To approach the depth of complicated disorders the blending of the sciences such as psychoneuroimmunology, neuroendocrinology, immunogenetics arose and therefore more individualized metabolic needs may be addressed. A merging of the sciences is paramount in grasping the complexity of autistic spectrum disorder, and should no longer be categorized or treated as a psychiatric condition.
Robin Burn
The Autism Centre
February 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders
A consequence of non-traumatic brain injury.
A common consequence of the onset of Autistic Spectrum disorders is the development of gastric disorders and other adverse reactions as a result of intake of foodstuffs. The intake of nutrients necessary for the survival of the organ can have such a negative effect on the organ when the nervous system is compromised by an adverse effect.
The manifestation of adverse effects, are usually, selective and restrictive diet (children with ASD often refuse food), constipation, and diarrhea. Individuals on the Autism spectrum are known to be sensitive to foods such as wheat (gluten) and all dairy products (casein).
The sensitivity associated with peptoid response in ASD, is not an allergic reaction with antigen response, but a toxic response.
Adverse effect includes dysregulation of enzymes such as cholecystokinin (CCK) and can lead to conditions such as, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and drug addiction.
It is speculated that these peptoids, opioid- like molecules, cause the symptoms of autism, and that peptoids may be involved through neuroendocrinimmunological processes involved in the pruning of the CNS cells which occurs in utero and in the early years of infancy. The mechanisms similarly described by Bauman (Purkinje cells) and Courchesne (cerebellum and corpus callosum).
To understand the mechanisms involved to cause the symptoms of autism it is necessary to be aware of the presence of the second brain, better known as the Enteric Nervous System, and its effect on the Central Nervous System.
Gershon in his book "The Second Brain", recognises that the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) provides a window into the brain. This "second" brain is found in the tissue of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, collectively known as the gut. Previously thought of as simply relay ganglia, the ENS, is now considered to be a complex brain and provided that the vagus nerve is intact, continuous messaging between the brain and the gut is carried out.
Within the ENS lies a complex collection of microcircuitry driven by more neurotransmitters and neuromodulators than found anywhere in the peripheral nervous system. Inside the ENS is nearly every chemical needed for brain function, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, nitric oxide, neuropeptides, immune components, enkephalines, and enzymes. According to Kane, children with ASD, show complicated Glycemic Index aberration along with their CNS disturbance, and the impact on the second brain has to be taken into account.
Central Nervous System disturbance in Autism Spectrum Disorder has a principal effect on the regulation of all the brain chemicals, in particular one of the enzymes, cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK acts as a neuropeptide in the ENS affecting the intestine, pancreas and gallbladder. CCK acts as hormone, by regulating pancreatic enzyme secretion, gallbladder contraction, gastric emptying, plays an important role in insulin release, both by binding to receptors on B cells and neural regulation of insulin. CCK stimulates the action of secretin on pancreatic bicarbonate secretion, helps in the regulation of gastric emptying and stimulates intestinal activity.
CCK is the most abundant neurotransmitter acting in the brain, CCK-8, the octapeptide form found in the brain plays an important modulatory role in regulating GABAergic neuronal activity stimulating speech. This neuropeptide CCK is implicated in the regulation of food intake, and the sensation of satiety, by the relationship with dopaminergic (DA) neurons from the mesencephalon projecting to the limbic forebrain and the ventromedial hypothalamus. CCK-DA containing pathways are related to human neuropsychopathologies including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s’ disease and drug addiction.
Robin Burn
The Autism Centre
January 2007

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chronology of Neurological dysfunction

Chronology of Neurological Dysfunction

The real rise in increased numbers of neurological dysfunction children with a diagnosis of autism, Asperger Syndrome, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is of concern in the cost of management of these children in terms of health care and education. The cost to Government to support these individuals can be measured in millions of units of currency.
This is an attempt to catalogue the reasons for increase in numbers, however it has to be recognised that this analysis cannot be taken as, that, these neonatal, prenatal, perinatal and postnatal events and abnormalities will inevitably lead to an abnormal outcome. The abnormal events and conditions described can only be a consideration of an increased risk and not an inevitable outcome.
This analysis is an attempt to catalogue events of motherhood to suggest where with careful management, prevention of increased risk could possibly reduce the numbers of unfavourable outcome and reduce pressure on public services.

Pre conception
Age
Motherhood after 30 presents a greater risk of miscarriage, early birth, low birth weight, complications during birth.
Smoking
Increases amounts of carbon dioxide in the mother’s bloodstream and less oxygen to the fetus. Nicotine is a toxic substance for the fetus.
Drinking
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a well- documented cause of fetal distress and loss of fetus.
Substance abuse
All toxic substances pose a risk to the fetus.
Nutrition
The growing fetus requires the best possible nutrition for growth and well being .The addition of vitamins to the mothers diet and supplementation of folic acid in the very early stages of pregnancy can reduce the effect of neural tube defects leading to Spina Bifida. Recent research is showing the need to supplement Iodine where deficient in the mothers system, hypothyrodism, which can manifest in deficiency in the fetus leading to neurological dysfunction. See web-sites www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.051454698 and web address http://php.scripts.psu.edu-jem443-ForWork-Posters-Iodine-Paper.pdf.
Obesity
Increases the risk of heavier birth weight and increase size of the fetus. This reduces the ability for normal birth as the pelvic opening is too small for the passage of the child and increases the need for caesarian section. Caesarian section can lead to hypoxia and brain injury of the newborn.
Reduced immunity.
It is accepted that natural immunity reduces with age, and this leads to greater risk of bacterial and viral infections during pregnancy. Infections in the fetus lead to miscarriage, preterm and low birthweight, giving rise to neurological dysfunction, of the offspring, risking infant death in the first few months of life.
In his book "Children who do not look you in the eye" by Dr Antonio Parisi discussing etiopathogenesis of neurological dysfunction, states "infections which may cause the death of the foetus should be considered, followed by those which may cause brain injury compatible with survival but leading to neurological disturbance", in some cases early death
Pregnancy
Smoking
Drinking
Substance abuse
Nutrition and obesity
Infections
Risk of early termination
During pregnancy all the above discussion is relevant, continuance of any practice which has an influence on the well being of the fetus is to be discouraged.
Infections acquired by the mother are passed to the fetus and in the case of Rubella in the first three months of pregnancy, early termination can be an outcome. In the event of survival of the fetus a high risk of severe disability, cerebral palsy, remains.
Rubella is by no means the only viral or bacterial agency, which can lead to complications, a full list of other agents is noted in other articles on web site www.theautismcentre.co.uk/delacato-research.html.
Birth procedure
Preterm/low birth weight
Extended labour
Caesarian /rapid birth
Normal birth at full term is considered to be one with no complications, usually in a time period of between 2 and 10 hours, without any interventions, either mechanically, using forceps or suction devices, or surgically with caesarian section. Extended labour usually means over 10 hours.
In the case of these interventions being used, Caesarian, as an emergency procedure, or forceps, it must be construed that a neurological problem already exists with the child, that the child’s natural mechanisms which have been developed during pregnancy to initiate and aid childbirth have been compromised as a result of any abnormality developed during pregnancy. The classic example is Tonic Neck Reflux, which is there to aid childbirth, lack of which leads to emergency action being needed.
Forceps were developed to turn the baby’s head during childbirth, as the head must be in the correct position to promote the development process of learning by eliminating the retention of inhibitive reflexes. Readers should acquaint themselves with the writings of Sally Goddard on the subject of reflexes. The use of forceps to pull out the baby can lead to brain injury.
The use of caesarian intervention can lead to hypoxia, a cause of neurological dysfunction, numerous scientific papers have published worldwide and are examined in papers on this web-site.
A preterm baby can be considered to be at risk of developing a learning delay.
Early Life
Infections.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
The developing central nervous system is vulnerable to infections, and published research suggests that, any disturbance to the central nervous system, can have an effect of diminishing the child’s natural immunity system, suggesting the reason for so many learning, and development delayed children acquiring inner ear infections (glue ear), colds and influenza.
Previously the subject of retained inhibitive reflexes was touched as a barrier to learning. Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex is there to assist birth, The Plantar Reflex, if retained stops the child from crawling on hands and knees. The missing of this vital, and normal event in the life of a child with no learning difficulty, delays development. It is incumbent on any person responsible for that child to ensure that this stage of development is completed for the progress of the child. A child developing normally, usually crawls on hands and knees around the age of 6- 8 months, then starts to walk around the age of 1 year.
Every child diagnosed with a development and learning delay inevitably becomes the responsibility of a Special Needs Education System, struggling to meet the needs of today’s children of special educational years.
Any steps taken to reduce the numbers of children being born with a neurological dysfunction will be welcomed by the system.

Robin Burn
The Autism Centre
October 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Treatment of Neurologically Impaired Children Using Patterning

The Treatment of Neurologically Impaired Children Using Patterning
Movement Therapy
Sensory Integration Therapy for Neurological Rehabilitation using Movement Therapy in the school environment.
The basis of a movement therapy programme being used in school environments dedicated to the education of special needs children has been established within the Westminster Governments’ Department for Education and Skills.
In their document "Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties", accessible via www.nc.uk.net/ld/index.html they offer the following guidance;
Physical education; Opportunities at Key Stage 1
Much of the programme of study at Key Stage 1 is relevant to pupils with learning difficulties. With modification, it can provide stimulating and challenging learning opportunities. All pupils can contribute in group work with others at their own level of ability.
The document suggests pupils explore basic body movements and actions using different parts of their bodies. To acquire and develope skills, suggesting, crawling, sliding, rolling, moving backwards and forwards. To select and apply skills, tactics and compositional ideas, be helped to follow and respond to simple instructions for example stop and start.
At Key stage 2, the document suggests listening and responding to action words, for example, walking, marching on the spot. Suggesting, as part of games activities, ball games, catching, throwing, on the floor foot skills of passing, dribbling. Throwing and catching bean bags, all as part of hand eye coordination programme, to develop binocular vision.
The Welsh Assembly Government, in their recently published guidance document "Routes for learning", Crown copyright 2006, reference AC/GM/0612, April 2006, affirms that, "This guidance document, written to support the use of the Routes for Learning materials, offers an overview of the main theories and background information, underpinning the effective teaching and assessment of learners with profound, and Multiple Learning Difficulties". In the Additional Guidance section, the document suggests that therapies, including movement therapy, and occupational therapy to address sensory impairment, could be included in the curriculum design. The rationale for this is explained in the premise that inhibiting factors in the student’s ability to learn is irrefutably connected to sensory impairments exhibited by students with learning delay. The document outlines the reasons for the sensory impairments linked to retained inhibitive reflexes. Addressing these inhibitive reflexes being the key to improved learning ability.
It is essential to recognise that the physical exercise components of the DfES document, and movement therapy in the Welsh Document are the core elements of Delacato Therapy, evolved from the ideas of neurologist Dr Temple Fay and propounded in his paper The Origin of Human Movement, presented to the Fourth Annual Institute in Psychiatry and Neurology April 1954 and published in Amer. J. Psychiatry 111:644-652,1955.
In the published work "Using a developmental movement programme to enhance academic skills in grade 1 learners" Fredericks, Kokot, Krog, Teacher Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, describe the outcomes of a rigorous experimental programme to associate the benefits of physical exercise movement to cognitive learning and academic skills and investigate the efficacy of a movement programme on the academic skills of early learners
In their opinion " The results of the pre-testing and post-testing indicate that the learners of the experimental group showed a significant improvement in spatial development as well as in reading and mathematical skills, compared to the learners in the control group, free-play group and educational toys group".
In support of the rationale behind their experimental programme, the authors cite Summerford, C. (2001). What is the impact of exercise on brain function for academic learning? Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 12(3): 6-8." that physical education is often seen as a frill, and has been discontinued in many South African schools, which might be a misguided kind of thinking "
The authors, drawing on the works of Kephart, (1975). The slow learner in the classroom. Columbus, OH: Merrill, Ayres, (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services. Delacato, (1959). The treatment and prevention of reading problems. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. . (1974). The ultimate stranger, the autistic child. Novato, CA: Academic Therapy, and the recent works, brain research of Pica, (1998). Movement and the brain: moving and learning in early childhood. Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 9(6): 18-19, De Jager, (2001). Breingim. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, and others suggest, "in effect, that the body, as a sensory-motor response system, causes the brain to learn and thus to organise itself ".
The premise that movement (physical education programmes) is the sole mechanism for effective remedial action has to be viewed with caution. Feigley, (1990), Should schools eliminate mandating physical education classes? School Administrator, 47(2): 15, 17, 20.proposes that physical education programmes need to more than mere physical fitness regimes. Likewise according Fredericks et al, Corrie and Barratt-Pugh, (1997). Perceptual-motor programs do not facilitate development: why not play? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 22(1): 30-36, report on studies showing that certain perceptual motor training was not an effective intervention technique for academic cognitive or perceptual-motor variables. The results show little effect in any developmental domain, even on children's gross motor skills. Furthermore, the programmes made little difference to the reading, arithmetic, language or spelling of children with learning difficulties or of normally developing children. However, even though it may initially seem that Corrie and Barratt-Pugh) do not accept the theory that movement leads to learning, they do state that it is not the importance of perceptual-motor development that is disputed, but the way of supporting and facilitating that development that is critical.
According to the authors Fredericks et, al a sensori-motor movement programme should be aimed at the root cause of learning difficulties. On the basis that vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile visual and or auditory systems are dysfunctional, the child will fail in its attempts at academic work. Kokot,S.J. (2003a). Diagnosing and treating learning disabilities in gifted children: a neurodevelopmental perspective. Gifted Education International 17(1): 42-54.
To read the full transcript of the study carried out by the University of South Africa, visit web site www.ilt.co.za/articles3.html.