Different disorders, common symptoms, yet no commonality of treatment
ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities are separate, complex, diagnoses, yet have interconnected and overlapping symptoms in areas of academic learning, language and communication, attention, coordinative movements, emotional regulation, social interactions, and other behaviors. Due to this interconnectivity, most children get multiple diagnoses.
So, how do parents, educators, and clinicians prioritize interventions for each child to address these broad learning and development needs?
Unfortunately, in our highly specialized medical and educational systems, there’s no single best practice path determined for each diagnosis or combination of diagnoses. This results in an endless number of narrowly focused therapies, tutoring programs, behavioral skills programs, and cognitive training apps that focus on individual symptoms and confuse parents, educators, and clinicians as to what will actually help each child the most. Progress is often very limited in scope, regresses easily, and/or doesn’t transfer to real-life knowledge and skills.
Struggling children could spend their school-aged years bouncing from intervention to intervention without significant progress, causing them to continue to suffer in school, at home, and in life.
It’s time parents take a more effective course of action for their struggling children.
Getting to the root cause of the problem is the number one priority.
What’s needed most is a clear understanding of the root cause of these developmental challenges effective treatments can be offered. As with any issue, if you don’t get to the root cause, nothing will change. Strong houses are built on strong foundations.
New neuroscience tells us these disorders are all neurological and developmental in nature and have a common root cause: a weak, underdeveloped cerebellum, which is the main structure in the lower brain, as well as a weak connection from the cerebellum to the higher functioning areas of the brain (cerebral cortex).
By strengthening the cerebellum, the entire brain becomes more efficient and multiple symptoms disappear at the same time. The child gains a new, stronger ability to learn naturally and a new starting point in life. At this point, some tutoring and counseling might be needed to help the child catch up to their peers and fill learning gaps missed while the brain wasn’t working well.
New neuroscience discoveries take decades to become mainstream best practices.
Based on the tremendous amount of new neuroscience research conducted over the past 20-30 years, and available today, it’s common knowledge in the neuroscience community that the cerebellum is particularly important to the physical development of a child as well as the formation of the brain. Therefore, an underdeveloped cerebellum impedes movement and restricts connectivity to other subregions of the brain, resulting in symptoms of ADHD, autism, and dyslexia and impedes overall learning and development.
Unfortunately, it takes decades for scientific discoveries to translate into mainstream treatments. Few parents, educators, therapists, and general medical practitioners are aware of the role the cerebellum plays in neurodevelopmental disorders, so, cerebellar-based interventions aren’t yet available on a mass scale. Sadly, our children need help now and can’t wait any longer for this type of solution. It’s time to spread the word.
Learn the science behind cerebellar-based interventions. Download the BrainyAct Neuroscience Guide.
The cerebellum is central to learning, development, and brain efficiency.
The cerebellum is the most powerful and important control center of the brain. In fact, some people call it “the brain’s brain.” It plays three key roles to drive overall brain efficiency.
- Movement Hub: Brains are built-in growth spurts over time, from the bottom up, in alignment with childhood developmental milestones. The cerebellum is the first area of the brain to develop in a baby starting at birth. It’s where sensory and motor systems integrate to enable a baby to develop balanced and controlled, coordinated motor movements. Balance and movement form the foundation for every skill we have.
- Brain Connectivity: As a baby moves and interacts with people and other things in the environment, brain connections are formed from the cerebellum to the upper brain (cerebral cortex) where higher-level perceptual and cognitive thinking, speaking, feeling, and information processing takes place.
- Skill Automaticity: The cerebellum is also the area of the brain that hardwires every brain function and everyday skill, allowing them to be “automatized”. This means, after sufficient instruction, practice, and memorization, we can perform the skill effortlessly without thinking about it or paying attention to what we’re doing or how we’re doing it. Walking, speaking, singing a song, riding a bike, using a knife and fork to eat, knowing math facts, or being able to read words and sentences are all examples of automatized skills.
Everyday skills range from simple to complex, but they all need to be automatized to make life easy. A complex dual-task skill is when we perform a lower brain movement skill and an upper brain cognitive thinking skill at the same time. For example, when we take a walk with a friend, we walk and carry on a conversation at the same time. This requires automatized walking and talking skills as well as a strong connection between the cerebellum and various upper brain areas to be performed effortlessly without paying attention to the details of either task.
A fully-developed cerebellum makes all of this happen.
How the brain operates efficiently.
SPECT and fMRI brain imaging show how much the areas of the brain light up and fire/activate as new skills are being developed and after they’re automatized.
In a healthy brain, the cerebellum is the most active area. It’s firing constantly since it’s continually bombarded with sensory input from the environment and motor input from the body. It has to redirect body movements and send information out to other parts of the brain to react properly to the input. When a dual-task activity is being performed, the cerebellum and the upper brain split the tasks simultaneously. Each doing its required portion.
The cerebellum is also very active when a new skill is being developed through instruction and practice. High activation allows the skill to be automatized rapidly. Once the new skill is automatized and performed effortlessly, the cerebellum is much less active for that skill but the connections between the brain and body increase in strength.
A child is constantly learning new things but the brain can’t continuously increase its activity level. Increasing the functional strength of the connections is a solution to the problem and is an important part of how the brain operates efficiently.
A weak cerebellum causes a limited, inefficient, and overloaded brain.
When one part of the brain is weak, brain connections involving that part of the brain are also weak. The stronger part of the brain involved in the task will take over and compensate for the weak part. This isn’t ideal or efficient since each part of the brain has an area of specialty.
When the cerebellum is weak, it can’t do its jobs effectively or efficiently and the upper brain (cortex) takes over as necessary. There are three problems with this.
- The cortex has a much slower processing speed than the cerebellum, so doesn’t process motor functions very well.
- The cortex doesn’t create automaticity of skills so it doesn’t happen.
- The cortex can’t process both motor and cognitive functions at the same time, so has to choose between one activity or the other. It will always step in for the weak lower brain level function.
So, when the cerebellum is weak, the cortex isn’t free to do its job to think and process information. Instead, it spends 90% of its time and energy taking over for the cerebellum, leaving only 10% for higher-level thinking functions. The entire brain breaks down and becomes overloaded. This is the dynamic being experienced by children with neurodevelopmental disorders on a daily basis – lack of memory, inability to perform academic tasks, emotional outbursts, anxiety, behavioral problems, and social dysfunction.
It’s possible to teach a child to do simple skills through repetitive practice over a long period of time, with a weak cerebellum. This is essentially what is happening using tutoring and behavioral therapy methods. For example, a child can learn to read words and sentences without comprehending the meaning. Or a child can learn to get a glass of water to drink but won’t know why offering a glass of water to a guest is good manners. When it comes to complex dual-task moving and thinking activities such as social skills, reading, and writing, a strong cerebellum is required for automaticity and permanent results.
The brain can change and strengthen at any age.
The good news is the brain has plasticity at any age. Plasticity means the brain can learn or adapt to our environment and further develop functions and connections that can be created, strengthened, and automatized.
The big difference between the brains of children and young adults is the amount of brain plasticity that is naturally available and the amount of time and effort it takes to strengthen and automatize connections. With age, the maximum ability for the brain to change reduces, and the amount of effort required increases. but plasticity never disappears for any ability. This is good news for our school-aged children and young adults with special needs. It’s never too late to optimize the brain.
Introducing BrainyAct – A brain program that enhances learning ability.
BrainyAct is one of the few interventions on the market the optimizes the brain of children ages 6 to adult with special needs by building critical connections from the bottom to the top. This enhances a child’s learning ability and elevates them to a whole new starting point in life.
Key aspects of the BrainyAct program include:
- Interactive gaming technology. BrainyAct moves the body to change the brain. It’s delivered via interactive gaming technology that tracks body movement and recognizes the voice. Children happily play their way to brain optimization at home, in school, or in a clinic environment with adult supervision.
- Optimize cerebellar function. The cerebellum is best activated using the vestibular (balance) and motor systems through coordinative sensory and motor movements.
- Dual-task exercises. Connections between the cerebellum and the cortex are made by combining movement and thinking skills at the same time.
- Continuous practice and automatization. Over time and with continuous practice (3 times a week for a minimum of 4 months, average of 6 months), the brain functions and connections will become automatic.
- Continuously increases complexity and variety. The cerebellum thrives on a variety of movements and a progressive increase in the complexity level of movements as well as speed, accuracy, and timing to perform them.
- Immediate feedback loop. The brain learns more efficiently when it gets immediate visual and auditory feedback of the speed, accuracy, and timing of movements performed and responses given.
- Progress tracking and reporting. The program includes a baseline and periodic assessments and a parent rating scale of life skills to measure progress throughout the program. Training/practice session results track increased scores and leveling. Enhancements are developed through brain optimization. So, progress that is made will not stop or regress after the program ends. In fact, that’s when learning levels elevate.
Contact us at (952) 444-2808 to discuss how to bring BrainyAct to your home, homeschool, school, after-school program, or clinic. Purchase BrainyAct for home or in our center at www.kinuu/purchase. You can also purchase an assessment in our Minnetonka, Minnesota center.
If you’d like to learn more about the science behind it, download our BrainyAct Neuroscience Guide.