Brain Gym and Sensory Integration

Brain Gym and Sensory Integration

Brain Gym and Sensory Integration

by Mary Rentschler, M. Ed., Brain Gym consultant and instructor Editing articles about occupational therapy (OT) and sensory integration (SI), I have often thought to myself , “OT, SI and Brain Gym are totally compatible and complimentary.” I signed up immediately last spring when the Educational Kinesiology Foundation offered a new workshop, “In Sync: Integrating the Senses through Movement”. Taught by Rita Edwards, Dip. OT, D.T.S.E., Brain Gym Consultant, and Edu-K International Faculty member, the course demonstrates how to combine OT, Brain Gym and sensory integration. Rita acknowledges Paul and Gail Dennison, Carla Hannaford, Jean Ayres, and Carol Kranowitz as providing conceptual and practical support for her work. She has developed balances (a process for putting interventions into the context of a specific goal) for integration of the cranial-sacral, vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory systems. A Balance for Vestibular Integration Lisa, a seven-year-old with low muscle tone, wants to ride her bike around corners and stop easily….

Nonverbal Learning Disability

by Patricia S. Lemer, M. Ed., Chairman of the Board What Is a Nonverbal Learning Disability? First appearing in the literature in the late sixties, when I was finishing graduate school, non-verbal learning disabilities (NLD or NVLD) are now diagnosed frequently. A nonverbal learning disability describes a cluster of deficits in motor, visual-spatial, social and sensory arenas combined with strengths in vocabulary, rote memory, and attention to detail. This syndrome causes sensory overload and profound difficulty with cognition, academics, and relationships. NLD is easily confused with Asperger syndrome and sometimes used synonymously with the dual diagnosis of gifted/learning disabled. While most psychologists agree on the etiology and treatment of language-based learning disability (LD), vision-based LD or NLD is poorly understood. Compensate or Remediate? Traditional approaches to NLD focus on diagnosis and compensatory techniques, without addressing the motor, sensory and visual deficits. While teaching strategies can be beneficial, ameliorating deficits makes more sense. In How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence, Getman…

Bal-A-Vis-X

Adapted from Bal-A-Vis-X by Bill Hubert Imagine a room full of eager 7th graders in pairs all performing the same bounce-catch pass exercises to a steady unhurried “thub, dub, dub” rhythm as the balls hit the floor and then the palms of their hands. The students are processing vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, auditory and tactile experience simultaneously. Their confidence grows as they master Bal-A-Vis-X sequences of ever increasing difficulty. With enhanced ability to focus attention, success builds on success. The activities are so engaging that students want to learn them, like to practice during lunch and recess, and enjoy becoming the envy of high achievers whose disabilities don’t entitle them to such a “fun” intervention. What Is Bal-A-Vis-X? Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises, of varied complexity, most of them deeply rooted in rhythm. Appropriate for grades K -12, the program utilizes beanbags, racquetballs, balance boards, and multiple principles and activities from Educational Kinesiology. This highly motivating program develops full-body…

Developmental Delays Interventions and Balance

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, M.S. Bus., Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers All living things strive for balance. Healthy organisms manifest balance by being flexible, never static. As day follows night, calm follows a storm and death comes after birth, nature maintains balance with constant change. For humans, being in balance is more difficult. For those living and working with children who have developmental delays, making balance can be a huge challenge. How do parents balance their personal needs with those of their children? How can therapists and teachers balance work and relaxation? How do we balance lesson plans and unstructured exploration? Listening with talking? Being and doing? Thinking and feeling? Giving and receiving? An endless array of balance questions confronts us every day. Bringing these choices into consciousness may help us deal with them more effectively. Here are some ideas for balancing developmental delays interventions. Balancing Food Our bodies seek a balance of flavors, textures and tastes….

Yoga for Children

Why yoga for children? Ten years ago we were asking that question about martial arts. Now there are classes for children at martial arts studios on every corner. Although yoga has enjoyed popularity with adults for many years, we have only recently come to understand how helpful it can be for young children. Yoga postures and angles create pressures that stimulate the body and brain, enhancing fitness, confidence, self-discipline and focus. Yoga helps children become aware of themselves from the inside out. From this awareness, changes and growth in new and positive directions can blossom. Benefits for All Children As a Montessori teacher I learned that typical children and those with special needs are all capable of much more than we think they are. Given the right environment, they excel beyond our belief. Many professionals who work with autism, sensory integration, learning disabilities, and ADD/ADHD are using children’s yoga with great results. There is a natural affinity between these children…

Visual Motor Skills and Math

Based on a talk Dr. Harry Wachs gave at the 1999 Third International Congress on Behavioral Optometry in McLean, VA Visual motor skills and math:  Children who have internalized visual cognitive skills through early childhood experiences in sandboxes, in bathtubs, and with toys, usually demonstrate high math achievement. Others learn required arithmetic computations by rote performance or memory. Although teachers often ascribe mathematical competence to children who can count up to ten or twenty, many of these children lack the inner conceptual foundation needed for higher-level math. This foundation cannot be taught or learned by rote. It requires active participation by the child through sensory experience with concrete objects. Through active engagement with sensory stimuli, the child creates in his mind concepts such as same/different, greater/smaller, first/last. Only then can he manipulate incoming information in a meaningful way. My clinical research shows three basic foundational needs essential for successful math understanding. Visual Thinking Visual yhinking is the ability to make…

Ear Infections and Autism

Many years ago, a group of parents and professionals discussed concerns about the emergence of a regressive autistic-like syndrome, later named Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which is on the autism spectrum. All knew children whose development regressed following frequent otitis media (inner ear infections.) Could ear infections and autism and/or PDD be linked? The autism epidemic now claims an estimated one in 36 children. Some experts suspect the mercury-based preservative thimerosal as a major culprit, but one factor is not responsible for PDD or autism. Ear infections remain shadowy contributors. Perhaps a subgroup of children on the autistic spectrum, including those with attention deficits and learning disabilities, have a condition named Post-Traumatic Ear Infection Syndrome (PTEIS). These kids are apparently normal at birth, develop continuous ear infections and subsequent auditory processing issues and developmental delays as a result of complications from sustained damage to the inner ear from both the disease and its treatment. Why Are Ear Infections Such a…

Neurological Symptoms

The following symptoms indicate that a child may be impacted neurologically. Gut dysbiosis and immune dysregulation commonly result in neurological symptoms. Many of these neurological symptoms are common to children on the autism spectrum; however, they can also be displayed by children who do not have autism, but who are affected by the same environmental and biological factors as children with ASD. Children who display the following symptoms should be evaluated for underlying gut dysbiosis and immune dysregulation by an integrative pediatrician or holistic practitioner. Persistent toe-walking (always walking on tip-toes) Delays in crawling, walking, talking Large motor delays–difficulties completing age-appropriate physical tasks Sideways glancing Sensory defensiveness or sensory-seeking behavior Pressure-seeking behavior Obsessive or compulsive type behaviors Persistent aggressive behavior Persistent non-compliant or oppositional behavior Tics (verbal or physical) Frequent temper tantrums (multiple times a day) Frequent crying, sadness, anger (multiple times a day) Learn more about “soft signs” and symptoms.

A Unique Approach to Healing

The Documenting Hope Project:  Grassroots Initiative Tackles New Childhood Epidemics by Beth Lambert One of the greatest paradoxes of our times is that the most affluent, resourced and medically advanced societies in the world also have the highest rates of chronic childhood illness. Obesity and diabetes, autism and neurodevelopmental delays, and digestive and allergic diseases were rare just a generation ago. Today those illnesses are impacting our children in epidemic numbers, and the social, economic and human costs are staggering. Our children are the “canaries in the coal mine” of national health. For their sakes, we must take action now. “The Fierce Urgency of Now” Some startling statistics: Rates of autism have risen over the last few decades from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 50 children. Autism costs the United States $126 billion per year. Asthma affects 1 in 8 children, and as many as 1 in 6 African American children. Asthma costs the United States $56 billion per…

Where Do I Begin?

Where do I begin? Should I start with my being pregnant and working at a stressful job in New York City? Maybe I should first write about my family history of celiac and not knowing that having undiagnosed celiac/gluten intolerance can have major consequences to your unborn child. Maybe I should begin with my son’s delivery. I describe the aftermath as being a crime scene, (sorry for the visual). Let’s just say it was the perfect storm of two injections of an epidural, lots of pitocin and a forceps delivery. The Crying Began As soon as our bundle of joy came home…the crying began. The doctor diagnosed him with having an awful case of colic, the worst she had ever seen. He was prescribed a cocktail of Maalox and Zantac for the first year and a half of his life. No other suggestion was made other than medicine and changing his formula. Throughout all of this I was trying to…