I am always amazed how most of us make it out of primary school with minimal injuries. After all, early childhood is when we learn how to roll, crawl, walk, climb, communicate and test our boundaries of capabilities. I can’t count the number of times I have had a racing heart as I watch my daughter climb a bit higher in the tree than I would, or ride her skateboard down a hill or even jump off a moving swing at peak altitude. But these are all normal parts of growing up and if we ask our parents, most of them would say we did the same thing. It is these activities and more that develop our brains. There is an intricate symphony being rehearsed and played during brain development. The brain isn’t built in a day. It requires nutrition, oxygen, environmental stimulation and movement. Each of the experiences your brain encounters in a day, helps develop and stimulate growth so that as an adult, your child can have a balanced, connected and synchronised brain. These experiences include touch, language, rocking, smells, sights, sounds and tastes. Each hemisphere of the brain takes turns developing so that skills built on one side can be supported with the functions of the other side. It is a magnificent game of give and take that produces balanced function and abilities. The right hemisphere is the one to develop in utero and during the first 2 years of life. Then the left side gets a chance to develop and start to add in details of life. Things such as catching a ball, running, climbing, reading, dancing and understanding our emotions are results of years of brain development. (You can read more about the activities you can do at home in my other article titled “Get off Your Butt and Move: You Will be Smarter if You Do”)
I like to compare how the two hemispheres of our brains communicate with how professional ice skaters perform together. The skaters have spent so much time together, they know not only their own next move, but the move of their partner. The connection between them is so strong and the timing so precise, the dance seems effortless and smooth. But if one partner mis-times a turn, places their skate a bit too far back or too far forward or if the grip isn’t quite right, the results are obvious. One of them falls down, they become cautious and it can affect the rest of their performance. Our brain works in a similar way. Each partner, the right and left hemisphere, works with the other to perform “dances” such as reading, body awareness, concentration, emotional regulation and coordinated movement. When a mis-step or missed growth opportunity occurs, the brain becomes disconnected and the timing for smooth communication doesn’t happen.
This imbalance is called a Functional Disconnection Syndrome. Many of the learning difficulties children experience today are a symptom of a Functional Disconnection. The right brain is the big picture, sustained focus and social brain while the left brain is excited by detail, movement and short term attention. Some behaviours that indicate your child might be out of balance include impulsiveness, anger outbursts, tics, unaware of personal space, poor organisational skills, need to be told things multiple times, poor reading comprehension or maths reasoning or hard to get motivated. The symptoms your child presents with are determined by which hemisphere is the stronger one. Some labels associated with Functional Disconnection Syndrome include ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, anxiety and Sensory Processing disorders. The good news is, the brain can change and become more balanced at any point in life. And as with healing from an injury, recovering from sport or learning a new skill, the younger we are, the easier it is to achieve.
Re-balancing the brain can be as simple as using specific sensory and movement activities which will stimulate and expand the weaker hemisphere. These can include spinning, deep pressure massage at the joints of arms and legs, cross body movements, monkey bars, swinging, vibration, sound and light. The benefit of these activities comes from doing more input on one side of the body to help support and strengthen the weaker hemisphere. That is what we do at Giuntini Chiropractic. By combining the information from the hemisphere checklist, our exam findings and your child’s history we are able to create a brain specific plan using the FUNctional Connections protocol. Change is possible.
If you would like to do more research at home, I have attached the hemisphere checklist for you to print off and answer to provide some insight into what your child’s imbalance might be. You can also reference the book, “Disconnected Kids” by Robert Melillo which explains Functional Disconnection Syndrome and provides exercises to help you help your child. As always, if you have any questions or want to book an appointment, please call us on 0405-234-235 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.