Neurodevelopment

Whilst research continues to broaden our understanding, neurodevelopment is a term that generally refers to the development of the neurological pathways within the brain, and it's connection to the body’s nervous system.

The development of these pathways and connections influence a great many aspects of how we perform and function: our thinking, ability to read and write, social skills with other people, quality of attention and memory, and any focus skill such as playing a musical instrument, speaking a second language or participating in a sport.

As we learn about and subsequently improve anything in our lives, the structure of our brains change, and we keep what learnings we have made, especially the longer that we stay at the task. This is the typical natural progress of neurodevelopment improvement that every person goes through in their lives.

Neurodevelopment begins in the early prenatal stages of life through a complex combination of cells and neurons as the physical body begins to take form. This initial phase of neurodevelopment continues into the postnatal years, a process that is not fully complete until a child is beyond 3 years of age. The continued presence of reflexes beyond age 3 is typically an indicator of neuro-motor immaturity.

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A newborn baby, although fully formed, is born with an immature neurological system which does not allow the baby to be anything more than fully dependent. There is poor head control, the limbs are flexed and there is no capability to defend from harm other than by crying.

Development typically occurs very quickly as the neurological system matures in the first few months and year of life. By four months of age, a baby is able to hold his or her head against gravity, is fixing on and following objects with their eyes, responds to sounds and even is beginning to grab at toys. In the sitting position, a four-month-old baby brightens to sounds, coos and interacts socially.

By nine months of age a baby is sitting unsupported, is able to pick up toys, transfers them from hand-to-hand and is able to pick up very small objects between the thumb and first finger. At this time, they are babbling consonants and vowels and modulating pitch and volume. They are able to make their fundamental needs understood (eating, drinking, nappy change).

By 18 months of age a child is walking and running, can throw and kick a ball, can stack toys, walk up stairs, helps with dressing and undressing and is able to say 10 to 20 words and understand more complex phrases.

By 3 years of age a child has the ability to ride a tricycle, speak sentences using a subject, verb and object which is understandable by strangers, asks ‘what-where-who’ questions and understands more complex instructions. And by 4 years of age, the neurological system is becoming quite complex in that the child can hop on one foot, can climb a ladder, asks more complex ‘when-why-how’ questions, understands opposites and is able to follow full instructions in a sequence.

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Challenges in a child's natural neurodevelopment are generally perceived as 'delays' - either something that a child is not yet doing by a particular age when expected to be doing so, or infantile mannerisms that continue on past an age by which they are expected to have been naturally outgrown. They will usually show up early in a child's development, often doing so before a child enters primary school, and can then persist into the teenage years and adulthood.

These challenges can affect a child's emotions, behaviours, memory, attention, ability to learn, ability to socalise and (importantly) the ability to self-regulate. They can be limited challenges - for instance to only a single focus issue - or they can be global and affect intelligence, learning and/or social functioning. It's not uncommon for both types to co-exist.

Professional institutions that study the physical and mental aspects of human development, damage, trauma, and other environmental impacts, provide a means of classifying what they refer to as "neurodevelopmental disorders" of the brain. This is where terms such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and several other communication, intellectual, motor and learning conditions come from.

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At Connect Movement Therapy, our mission is to provide through neurodevelopmental therapy the opportunity for each person to achieve the highest level of functioning that is possible for them. We use the Institute of Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP) Method to address neuro-motor immaturity. The INPP Method is based on over 45-years of pioneering research, expertise and practice investigating and helping children to resolve physical factors underlying learning and behavioral problems. It is a completely drug-free and non-invasive program using tailored daily physical exercises to help a child succeed. INPP's evidence-based research and results demonstrate how the method can help children to overcome many types of difficulties.

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Assessment

Standardised neurological testing that is used to identify underlying problems of neuro-motor and sensory immaturity. Conducted over a 2-3 hour time, typically completed in a single session. For special considerations, may be completed across two appointments.

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Report

Following the diagnostic assessment, a detailed Educational Report based on the neuro-motor analysis is written and shared with clients.

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Therapy

Based on the reflex profile, an individual program is developed. Detailed exercises are given to be carried out at home. The exercises take no more than 10-15 minutes of time per day. Follow-up assessments are scheduled for every 4-8 weeks after the first session.

To determine suitability for the INPP Method, a screening questionnaire is required. The responses given on the questionnaire, along with other information discussed in consultations, will help determine suitability.

In some circumstances, it may be preferable to have a client complete the Integrated Listening auditory program prior to commencing the reflex stimulation/inhibition program.

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"The brain does not recognise individual muscles; rather it recognises patterns of movement."

- Vern Gambetta