I know from personal experience
how frustrating it is when your child performs or reacts differently than his or her peers
My search for better solutions to brain problems started more than thirty years ago because my mother was dealing with the effects of severe concussions. This had an unexpected follow-up because I later had a daughter who spoke little or not at all before she was 5 years old. She was diagnosed with Autism after she was 10. Although I already knew quite a lot about this subject out of interest and my work with children with developmental problems, I did not have ready-made solutions for my own daughter.
Although she is doing much better now, I would have liked to have had the knowledge that I am now going to share with you when I was looking for better solutions for my daughter.*
Please realise that what I am about to share with you is the result and summary of more than 20 years of work for better solutions for children with developmental problems.
What if your child does not fall in the standard framework and has to deal with unexplained or diagnosed learning and/ or behavioral problems such as dyslexia, ADHD or autism spectrum problems?
While a diagnosis is welcomed in many cases because it can provide tools to do more for your child; it is only one facet of the real underlying problems.
As psychologists and psychiatrists themselves point out, the diagnostic criteria for learning and behavioral problems do not provide any insight into the real underlying causes why your child performs or reacts differently than his/her peers.
It often remains a mystery what really lies behind the problems. Even when problems run in families, it is still a mystery since research shows that genetic predisposition determines less than half of the cases. In other words, there are factors in the environment such as of overstimulation of the brain, unilateral stimulation, nutrition, toxins or too little exercise that mainly determine whether a predisposition will actually become a problem.
Scientists agree on one thing: The vast majority of learning and behavioral problems are caused by problems in the functioning of the brain and to a lesser extent of the body. Depending on where functions in the brain are disrupted, this determines which diagnosis conditions you are dealing with.
A good illustration of this fact is to take a closer look at the physical and brain functioning of a child with any diagnosis. You will see that there is more to it than just the behavioral or learning characteristics that are labeled with certain diagnoses. For example, children with dyslexia are more likely than average to deal with hearing problems, balance problems and/ or chronic recurrent infections. Children with a problem in the autistic spectrum are more likely than average to deal with autoimmune problems, spatial orientation and coordination problems, abdominal problems and/ or chronic allergies. In other words, a diagnosis that only looks at learning and/ or behavior simply does not cover the spectrum of problems.
So what's going on?
Researchers also show that there is often an imbalance in the functioning of the brain, a developmental delay in the brain or underlying systemic problems such as immune dysregulation.
And this is the bottleneck is for many children. These underlying development-limiting problems are not or only insufficient taken into account.
In order to be able to permanently positive influence learning and behavior, you will in all cases have to ensure that there is a good basis for learning and positively influencing behavior. This is not something we only see in daily practice, but is also frequently found in the literature. In practice, unfortunately, too little is done with this and we see to a large extent that an appeal is made to a child's ability to compensate with other parts of the brain which are already functioning well. The underlying problem is not or hardly addressed. And it is soon said "your child has to learn to live with that" or “this will always remain a problem”.
The Brain Development Pyramid
In fact, it should be that the underlying factors should be addressed first and then or simultaneously the difficulty with learning and emotional regulation should be addressed.
Usually it is very enlightening to watch how a child's brain develops. The ability to follow instructions and to learn increasingly complex matter is the tip of the pyramid. It takes very different building blocks to reach that point.
The foundation for your child's ability to achieve learning and good behavior begins with the primitive movements and reflex patterns your child is born with. As you move, your child will increasingly develop core stability and strength in the posture device.
Increasingly complex movements make the basic primitive movements disappear and give way to increasingly complex movements and postural reflexes that allow standing up, rolling over and later sitting and standing up. Many children who have to deal with learning and/ or behavioral problems often appear to be insufficiently developed in these areas. On examination we see weak posture stability and the presence of primitive movement patterns. This has major consequences for the development of your child's brain. The constant stimuli from the deep back muscles are the main drive for the basic activity of the brain.
Balance is the next building block that should be in place. This is the cornerstone for further development. Balance and the connected nervous system networks ensure good communication between the head and body, body orientation and how you position yourself in relation to others and your environment. It also determines the orientation of your limbs and how emotional stimuli are processed in your brain. Central equilibrium integration literally has connections at all levels of the brain. We see in practice and know from research that a significant proportion of children with a diagnosis (but also without) have a weaker development in the central equilibrium integration.
The next big building block is the way in which sensory stimuli, such as hearing, visual stimuli, and movement stimuli are processed in the brain. The timing and coordination of these incentives depend on the proper development of the previous building blocks. For example, we know that children in the autistic spectrum experience more than average hindrance in processing visual information and children with dyslexia experience the same, but more in processing stimuli in the auditory system.
The presence of the aforementioned building blocks ensures that the brain can develop more and more complex and that first the connections between the body, the outside world and the cerebral hemispheres need to be well established. Only then the connections within the individual hemispheres will develop well. After this the optimal development of the various brain areas with their own unique functionality can take place in each hemisphere. At that time we also see that the connections and cooperation between the two hemispheres of the brain can develop well. Furthermore, we see that the brain is able to process increasingly complex information from the outside and inside world, and researchers observe that optimal control of movements, learning and behavior becomes possible.
A very important, and in some children most decisive, point is to look at the imbalance in brain function. In many children with a learning and/ or behavioral problem, we see that the right or left hemisphere of the brain and/ or cerebellum or parts thereof develop less well. Because the hemispheres of the brain have strong task specialisation, this fact can cause a large part of the problems in your child. In the autistic spectrum, for example, we see that in a large proportion of children one or more areas in the right hemisphere are weakened relative to the areas in the left hemisphere. Because the right hemisphere is specialised in non-verbal communication, spatial orientation, immune system control, visual stimulus processing, gross motor skills, attention formation, we see more of these problems in children with autism, Asperger's and ADHD. In children with dyslexia, we see more often than average that the right cerebellum and left hemisphere function relatively weak. Because the left hemisphere and the associated right cerebellum are specialised in detail, language formation, basic arithmetic, stimulus processing in hearing, fine motor skills and the immune system we see more problems associated with it.
Imbalance in brain function is probably one of the most overlooked problems facing children with learning, behavior or general development issues. Addressing this imbalance is essential if you want to optimise learning and behavior. Recent research from Harvard University shows that focusing therapy on improving this imbalance has a very positive effects.
What do most common interventions focus on?
Remedial teaching, applied behavioral change, offering new or different teaching methods focus only on the tip of the pyramid. Ideally, you should first ensure that the right building blocks are in place before attempting to optimise learning and behavior.
Not to mention factors that influence brain development, as such factors that have a lot of influence on all building blocks. These factors include optimal nutrition, sleep, light, exercise, affection, the absence of counteracting psychological factors in early childhood, toxins in the environment, the presence of other illnesses and many more.
How do you tackle the underlying problems in a more scientific and holistic way?
As you understand, not only does it make a lot of sense, but it is probably essential to look at all the aforementioned facets if you want to find better solutions for your child. You have probably already figured out a lot yourself through trial and error. For example, do you pay extra attention on what your child eats, have you already visited a physiotherapist for sensorimotor integration and have you already had your child's musculoskeletal system examined by an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor?
After reading the above you may come to the conclusion that it is genuinely complicated
(and from my own experience I can say that it is indeed difficult if not sometimes impossible) to find out where the shoe pinches. Most therapists, remedial teachers, remedial educationalists, psychologists and psychiatrists focus on a certain area and do not see or know that much more can be going on.
So what can you as a parent do to find better solutions?
If you want to know about things such as the presence of primitive movement reflexes as a reflection of delayed brain development, imbalance in brain function, poor stimulus processing in, for example, the hearing or visual field or factors such as immune problems or other environmental factors such as toxins, we may be able to help you. We can help you by making an inventory of whether these matters play a role in your child.
Over the past 20 years, our clinic has become increasingly specialised in brain development and training in children and adults (see Arjan Kuiper’s book “Help My Child has ADHD/Autism”).
You can do this by scheduling a free appointment for a screening with Arjan Kuipers, and filling out the development forms that you can find below (this is essential as this already provides a lot of information so that Arjan can do more during the screening ).
Kids training program
Arjan Kuipers has developed several children's programs over the past two decades. These include the TOBE program and the “My Neuro Fitness” training program. The TOBE training program has evolved over the years into the advanced Brain Rehab Kids Protocol diagnostic and training program, which we are currently deploying worldwide to provide a better foundation for learning and emotional control in children. The My Neuro Fitness program has been developed to provide supportive training in a home environment. This is a 36-week (or longer) online program where new training is released weekly to support training and treatment in the field.
The Brain Rehab Kids Protocol uses a number of unique test methods to properly map brain activity and the ability to respond to the environment. Furthermore, these test methods have the possibility to generate so-called biometric data with which we conduct research into new training and rehabilitation methods. See also Arjan's extensive explanation in the video below.
Biometric Data Testing
See Arjan's detailed explanation in the video below.
Harvard University's McLean Hospital
The research study is focused on the impact of aspects ofx the Brain Balance program on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Preliminary research shows that, to date, 36% of children with ADHD who completed the Brain Balance program had a 40% or greater improvement in quotient measures of Hyperactivity or Inattention1 or Spatial Working Memory.
About Arjan Kuipers
Arjan is certified in the training and treatment of children with ADHD, autism and dyslexia according to the Melillo method and Functional neurology and neurochemistry by the Carrick Institute for functional neurology and rehabilitation, has certifications in the use of Interactive Metronome -IM-, Johansen Individual auditory stimulation -JIAS- therapy, Functional Neuro orthopedic training -FNOR-, neurological posture training -CPN and CPE, furthermore Arjan has diplomatic status with the American Chiropractic Neurology board-ACNB since 1997 and he is a full member of the International Association for Functional Neurology -IAFNR-.