Improving Cognitive Function Through Supplementation

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND Convincing evidence shows that certain substances can improve specific aspects of thinking. Here are three promising supplements to consider for anyone interested in improving cognitive function. DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol):  DMAE is a relative of the nutrient choline.  But, unlike choline, DMAE readily crosses the brain-blood barrier.  It thus directly increases the generation of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Choline (and DMAE?) is (are?) found in eggs, fish and soybeans. Acetylcholine is abundant in both the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum, and is thus involved in cognitive processes controlled by these parts of the brain, such as memory, problem solving, organization, rational thinking, balance and movement.  Children with motor issues and low arousal may benefit from an increase in acetylcholine availability. Indications: Best for children whose prevailing problems are spaciness and poor organizational skills. Precautions: Avoid in children who have high muscle tension, sleep disturbances or agitation rather than distractibility. DMAE can increase muscle tension levels.  As with…

Fitting in Better by Getting Fit

Laura has Down syndrome.  She used to be overweight.  Since joining a fitness program at her school, she’s more confident and focused, and yes, she’s also lost 20 lbs. Michael has autism.  He completed OT in preschool and has recently finished 40 sessions of vision therapy.  Now he’s sharpening his visual-spatial awareness and motor planning by playing virtual soccer. Ryan asks all week if it’s Sunday yet.  He can’t wait to go to KEEN for basketball.  His devoted volunteer George wouldn’t miss a session either. Fitness Training Builds More Than Muscles Laura, Michael and Ryan are three of many kids with autism, mental retardation, cerebral palsy and genetic disorders who are growing stronger, happier, and more confident through fitness training. “Nobody’s ever pushed these kids,” says Laura’s coach Tom Yarnell, who developed the “Power Inside” program at the Pathfinder School in Pittsburgh.  “Getting them physically fit and understanding how their bodies work helps them function better in the world.” He…

Hippotherapy: Therapeutic Horseback Riding

By Donna M Warfield, Co-Executive DirectorCircle of Hope Therapeutic Riding, www.chtr.org Equine assisted therapeutic (hippotherapy) riding provides therapy to children and adults with disabilities including, but not limited to attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome and head trauma. Therapeutic riding is a special training program in which individuals with disabilities learn horse-riding skills. Medical doctors, physical therapists, educators, psychotherapists. and other professionals have come to recognize the numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits of riding therapy. Physical benefits can include improved balance, strength, coordination, and endurance.  Especially for the physically handicapped, the warmth and movement of the horse stimulates unused muscles. Individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities benefit in language development (there are stories of children who spoke their first words ever on horseback) and concentration.  In many children and adults, riding therapy can boost confidence and self-esteem and foster greater independence. Because learning riding skills provides multi-task learning, there can…

The Mozart Effect and Autism, ADHD and Other Developmental Delays

An interview with Don Campbell, author of “The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit” and Founder of the Institute of Music, Health and Education Mr. Campbell, your book explains how exposure to sound and music can have a lifelong effect on health, learning, and behavior. Why is music so important? Music is essential for childhood development because it helps integrate many sensorial qualities. The ear is not just an organ of hearing. It is also the organ of balance and time/space perception. It teaches us to communicate, speak, and sing and dance. So, when we work with music, we’re working on multiple levels simultaneously. Can you tell us about the Mozart Effect and autism, ADHD and other developmental delays? These children often have trouble listening. Alfred Tomatis, a French physician, has spent his life studying vocal, auditory, and learning disorders, and he believes that faulty listening is…