Is Ritalin the True Answer?
We are faced today with children - and grown-ups - who appear unmanageable or unresponsive. They fail in school, can't sit still, can't spell and won't listen. Many parents would prefer that their children not take medications, but are at a loss as to available and effective alternatives.
Today we will discuss some of the Ten Unique Discoveries that are the foundation of our "All Possibilities!" program. This program is used effectively by several clinics around the country. We hope that these articles will increase your appreciation as to the cause of the dramatic increase in these conditions, and their therapeutic solution.
The "All Possibilities!" program aims at eliminating or reducing your child's need for medication by normalizing brain function.
Ten Unique Discoveries
#1. All these conditions are not truly separate but rather on a spectrum of severity ranging from ADD to autism.
The areas of the brain involved are all similar.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) is the source of questions that lead to the "diagnosis" of ADD, ADHD, etc.
#2. The areas of the brain involved in these conditions are the frontal lobe, the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. Modern research shows that these areas control both motor function and non-motor function (cognitive activities or some aspects of emotional behavior). All symptoms can be related to the breakdown of this system.
#3. Cognitive and motor functions are not separate, they're one and the same. The best scientists in the world today have demonstrated that cognitive function - our ability to think - came from the evolution of more complex movement. This is intimately tied to the development of the brain through time. We see early on in evolution that a brain is really only necessary for moving creatures. If you don't move you don't need a brain. We do not see a plant with a brain or a nervous system.
#4. Bipedalism caused the development of the large human brain. The oldest human remnants discovered recently in Chad in central Africa are believed to be almost seven million years old. Only two or three years ago the oldest known human ancestor was thought to be 3.5 million years old. This is quite a difference in time!
What makes humans really unique is the fact that we stand upright and the fact that we have a large brain. So our ancestors seven million years ago had this large human brain! But they didn't speak, they didn't use tools, they didn't have complex social groups or families at the time.
Why did they grow a large brain when they really didn't "need" it?
The brain is receptor driven. This means the brain operates and develops in response to stimuli, such as sound, light, pressure and temperature. The majority of these receptors are found in the muscle spindles of the postural muscles, especially the intrinsic muscles of the spine. They are stretch receptors that are stimulated by the effects of gravity, especially by upright movement under gravity. Gravity is the only stimulus that is constant over time. It does not change.
Walking on two feet is very difficult. It takes a lot of balance, coordination, synchronization and timing of muscles. It takes a tremendous amount of motor control to be able to do that. It takes constant output from the brain and constant feedback to the brain.
When we are in an upright position these receptors constantly fire back to the brain. They stimulate the brain. It appears that as we stood in an upright position or as we became more and more upright, our brain grew larger and larger in response to this constant stimulus of gravity. Our brain grew larger than was necessary then, and may be now. Have we not heard it heard say: We use only a small percentage of our brain's capacity!
#5. Decreased stimulation from postural muscles to cerebellum and brain, anything that takes us away from standing and being upright, will affect our brain in an adverse way. It will slow down the temporal processing speed of the brain, or parts of the brain, with resulting "clumsiness" and cognitive developmental delays.
increase in sedentary life style (TV viewing hours, time
spent in front of computers) and obesity levels in our children
and the adult population over the past 15 to 20 years parallels the
unprecedented increase in brain function disorders such ADD, ADHD,
learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.
This gives us new ways to think about these conditions and how to diagnose/interpret them. It gives us new understanding as to what is causing the brain problems in the first place. It also gives us crucial insights into what type of therapeutic interventions might be most successful. Take for example dyslexia.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is not reversal of letters. Dyslexia means you can't read.
There are many different theories as to what causes it. The best work was probably done by neuroscientists Paula Tallal and Steve Miller at Rutgers University in New Jersey. They clearly demonstrated that dyslexia has to do with temporal processing speed - how fast the brain will process information.
As is the
case with computers, the brain can have different processing speeds. If
your brain is too slow to process the incoming auditory information you
won't be able to hear all the sounds, especially staccato sounds like
"b," "p," "d" and "g," which burst
from the lips and vanish in just a few thousandths of a second. Since
learning to read involves matching written words to the heard language,
it makes sense that a failure to hear certain sounds impairs reading ability.
After a few months of training, all children tested at normal or above in their ability to distinguish sounds. Their language and reading ability rose by two years, something no other dyslexia program had achieved. Although the research did not include brain scans, it seemed Fast ForWord was doing something more dramatic than your typical educational CD: It was rewiring and changing brains.
"You create your brain from the input you get." - Paula Tallal.
So, at Rutgers the auditory input was artificially slowed down to match the slower brain processing speed. One could also increase the processing speed of the brain if one knew the way to do that. Our "All Possibilities!" program aims at doing just that.
We saw earlier that the development of brain function and processing speed is intimately tied to walking upright in the earth's gravitational field and the development of posture muscles. The posture muscles dictate the baseline activity and the baseline processing speed of the brain.
#6. The main problem relates to an imbalance in stimulation between the brain hemispheres with resulting difference in processing speed. All human functions are distributed either in the right or the left hemisphere. For a human brain to operate properly we need both hemispheres to come together.
Ultimately, the brain will ignore the under-stimulated and "slower" hemisphere. You end up with a loss of function of the "depressed" hemisphere, and sometimes with increased function of "good" hemisphere. This can lead to what is called "Functional Disconnection Syndrome". Savant Syndrome and Asperger's Syndrome (hyperlexia) are examples. .
Let us look at the normal functional distribution between left and right brain hemispheres. This will help us understand what happens if one hemisphere is under-stimulated, or, as we like to say, if there is left or right brain hemisphericity.
The Brain Hemispheres
It should be apparent that in order to lead a "normal" and rewarding life we need both brain hemispheres to do their respective jobs at the appropriate times. We clearly require the capacity to understand the literal meaning of words and language. However, without understanding non-verbal cues, facial expression and body language we would be stuck in a world of just literal meaning and robot-like language without intonation and coloring.
Autistic kids show typically right brain hemisphericity. They often have little or no eye contact, they crave the familiar, routine and "sameness". If they speak at all, they tend to do so without intonation. They tend to focus on minute details. At the same time, some show extraordinary capacities in math calculation, sequential memory for numbers or dates. This indicates highly increased faculties in the "good" brain hemisphere. Einstein may fall into this category. He did not speak until he was seven years old. He reportedly did not have very good people skills. As we all know he possessed these remarkable and extraordinary intellectual, maybe primarily left brain hemisphere, capacities.
child can start, but has little or no capacity to stop. Endless
motion, constant fidgeting results. This is due to right brain hemisphericity.
In our next article we will continue the discussion of the 10 Unique Discoveries. We will focus on neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to make new internal connections and pathways, and its recently discovered ability to create new nerve cells (neurons) in response to specific stimuli. We will present our "All Possibilities!" program in detail, which aims at correcting brain hemisphericity without medication.
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