When the pathways are not stimulated or developed, children can develop a variety of problems. These problems include: attention problems, ADHD/ADD, speech deficits, bowel and bladder problems, difficulty with social interactions, feelings of overwhelm, gross and fine motor problems, poor sleep habits, and sensory processing disorder. There are a variety of therapies to assist our children in the critical developmental process, including craniosacral therapy, brain gym, and rhythmic movement therapy.
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, hands on techniques that works with the membranes and cerebral spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The production of the cerebral spinal fluid creates a rhythm similar to our heart rate, that can be felt throughout the body. The craniosacral therapist can use their skilled hands to assess this rhythm to guide them towards restrictions. The craniosacral therapist operates under the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself. The core intent throughout the session is to listen to the clients own inner wisdom to guide their session. As the restrictions are released, the body systems are then allowed to perform with increased ease and fluidity. Craniosacral has been found to help with symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, colic, reflux, torticollis, tongue and lip tie, autism, ADHD/ADD, breast feeding problems, and sleeping disturbances to name a few.
Brain Gym is a movement based therapy. The 26 movements are based on movements that are developed during the first year of life to help coordinate the hands, eyes, ears and whole body into a smoothly functioning unit. Typically, these movements are taught in a classroom setting and have been shown to help children with concentration, improve their academic performance, improved memory, improve coordination and self-confidence.
Rhythmic Movement Therapy is similar to brain gym in that it is a movement based therapy. However, the core intent of rhythmic movement therapy is to integrate the primitive reflexes. Primitive reflexes are developed in utero to the first few months of life, with the core intent to allow the infant to develop their senses, improve their movement patterns, and allow them to reach their developmental milestones. After the child has performed a movement repeatedly and has perfected this movement pattern, they can then quickly utilize this pattern and the reflex should become integrated. An example of this, is when your child first learns to roll. As they lie on their back, they move their arms and legs around in seemingly uncoordinated patterns. However, as they explore this movement, they start to learn that certain movements can allow their body to start to turn and eventually allow them to roll themselves over. Occasionally there are times when these reflexes do not become integrated and the reflexes can actually cause distress to the child in increasing their sensitivity to clothes, increased distractibility, poor visual acuity, clumsiness, and poor body awareness. Rhythmic movement therapy was developed to help integrate the primitive reflexes.
These three therapies are just a few that are available to help your little one attain their maximum potential. There are many more therapies such as chiropractic, homeopathy, music therapy and nutrition. However, I believe that the most important therapy is that which is already programmed into every parent. To listen to your child, to ensure their safety, to play and interact with your child, to talk/sing to your child, to read to your child, and to watch in amazement as they progress in life and explore the world through their eyes. Each child offers us a chance to learn about the world and ourselves, as long as we are willing to listen.
Keri Dahlstrom PT, CST