Posted by: amica | January 24, 2010

Neurodevelopmental Reorganization

This is a long one but whoa! so cool!

I recall Denise talking about a baby having tummy time and how important it is for a multitude of reasons. I knew for all the muscle development and other physical advantages but guess what??!! When a baby is on their tummy and they turn their heads from left to right to left to right and so on, this is developing their brain for reading. READING! When a baby moves their head up and down, they are developing their brain for math. MATH! Makes sense since we read left to right and solve equations top to bottom.

Here is an excerpt I found at

Between two and a half and seven months, most babies will begin to organize their upper and lower body movement. They learn to hold the lower half stable so that the upper half can move and vice versa. They also learn to keep the right half stable so the left can move and vice versa. This allows baby to travel toward and away fiom a noise or object by squirming on her behy. This early belly crawling will evolve into more skilled crawling, and as baby learns to get around, she will also improve her ability to track objects with her eyes in a horizontal direction. This will later help her read. Her back and hips also become stronger and more stable, laying the foundation for the next stage of creeping on hands and knees. During this time the vestibular system in the inner ear, which helps to orient baby in space and aid with balance, is also being developed through rolling, rocking, and swaying movements.

Babies need to be on their tummies in order to go through the fundamental patterns that wire the brain and lay the foundation for reading, writing, socialization, and healthy behavior. When a baby is prevented through illness or through social or environmental obstacles from moving through these patterns, she may later encounter problems in school with learning and behavior, no matter how intelligent she may be. Missed or disorganized developmental stages can create barriers that make learning difficult. The good news is that movement activities that take children back through these missed stages and fundamental patterns can often correct flaws in their perceptual processes and enhance learning.

Who knew???

 Many exercises, following the finger and tummy crawling plus many more, are tests of the Pons development. This is the area of the brain that is primal in development. Fight, Flight, or Freeze are found here as well as other survival functions such as sleep, respiration, swallowing, bladder control, hearing, equilibrium, taste, eye movement, facial expressions, facial sensation, and posture. When a traumatized child reacts to a trigger or situation, they do not use their cortex. Actually, none of us do. We instantly go into survival mode no matter what a higher level of thinking would have us do. We react based on the fear and our cortex never gets asked for input. The difference is, our RADishes primarily live in survival mode so this would explain why many of their actions/behaviors don’t make sense or match the situation. They live in Pons and we want them in Cortex. Makes total sense, right? I found a great article explaining a bit more about this. Here is an excerpt:

Early infancy may have been spent in transitional environments instead of a sensory-rich surrounding with a single known caregiver present consistently from the moment of birth. In the case of a child who has undergone trauma (including separation from the birth mother, moves & transitions) or medical issues, it’s feasible that the fight/flight/freeze parts of the brain were activated for months on end…when other parts of the brain that have to do with self-control and regulation should have been developing. The brain may be developmentally immature…or may have wired in unhealthy ways. That doesn’t mean the child isn’t smart or that the child is immature in other ways…it simply means that the brain development was altered because of those early life experiences. Unfortunately, problems associated with lower brain levels may not show up until a child reaches school age and begins to depend on his cortex. The cortex, the higher-level “thinking” part of the brain, relies heavily on the lower, “foundations” of the brain. When blocks in the foundation are missing, the child may not be able to function at his maximum potential.

Research demonstrates that the human brain has certain windows of opportunity in which the brain is more “plastic” and open to change. Although some professionals are learning about later windows, most agree that changes can be made more easily and with more success when a child is still young. Children who retain birth reflexes can be given daily exercises to diminish and eventually eliminate these primitive responses that, while needed at birth, are no longer necessary and can hamper development as a child ages. Lower levels of the brain can be “rewired” or reorganized through movement specifically targeting areas that are not functioning at optimal levels. Specific exercises can diminish the signals to the fight/flight/freeze centers and increase the pathways in the regulation centers.

The neurodevelopmentalist detected what to me seemed like very benign problems, things that I never would have noticed without her professional eye: uneven midline movements, eye tracking difficulties, slight imbalances (virtually imperceptible to me) in creeping and crawling. Yet she assured me that these indicators of my child’s neurological function were directly tied to the emotional/behavioral issues we were seeing. She gave us a list of daily exercises including: creeping, crawling, patterning, sensory stimulation, vestibular movements, and masking. Over time, the exercises were modified based on our child’s progress. It wasn’t easy to complete the number of required repetitions, but we knew it was essential to the program’s success.

This and more can be found at

From that page, there is a link to this:

Pons Dysfunction:

  • Skips words or parts of words while reading
  • Uses finger to track text across the page
  • Gets seriously hurt and makes little to no fuss, such as the baby who teeths without getting fussy
  • Constantly hungry, even if he has just eaten an adequate amount of food
  • Little or no appetite
  • Lack of empathy
  • Self-abuse, such as picking at scabs, biting fingernails until they bleed, and other forms of extreme self-stimulation
  • Picks on others, including animals
  • Bed wetting (beyond what is age appropriate)
  • Fight or flight response to inappropriate situations, such as acting as if her life is threatened when a small issue has occurred. (Example: child trips on a toy, gets angry, and blames it on the closest available person)
  • Fool-hardy risk-taking, such as leaping off of high structures or diving off of furniture
  • Overly affectionate with strangers
  • Inappropriate perception of danger
  • Night terrors
  • Violent rages
  • Anxiety
  • Clingy
  • Controlling
  • Manipulative
  • Superficially charming
  • Creates chaos in her environment
  • Difficulty bonding with parents, siblings, and other caregivers
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • A profound sense of displacement, isolation, and mistrust, with statements such as, “You don’t love me,” “I shouldn’t be alive,” etc.
  • Pigeon-toed
  • Hunched shoulders
  • Anterior head carriage (head juts forward)
  • Midbrain-level and cortical dysfunction, as neurology is cumulative

Midbrain-level Dysfunction:
I also found a great article outlining more about underdeveloped lower centers of the brain:

  • Difficulty tracking text down a page while reading or doing math
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension; unable to remember or recall a story
  • Depth perception issues, including seeing blurry or double
  • Distractibility; every little thing catches her attention
  • Hyperactivity; she can’t sit still even for a moment
  • Short attention span
  • Trouble remembering and following through on tasks. If told to do three tasks in a row, cannot complete all three of them with prompts or reminders.
  • Difficulty responding to prompts when engrossed in a task. If doing something he is interested in, one has to be right in his face to get his attention.
  • Difficulty reading non-verbal social cues. For example, asks people if they are feeling happy or sad, rather than reading their emotion.
  • Out-of-sync in social settings. Can’t seem to follow what is discussed or shared.
  • Clumsiness
  • Feet point outward
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Muscles that are too loose or too tight, such as the person who is extremely double-jointed and limber.
  • Inappropriate spatial boundaries; is in your face or hangs way back
  • Says “yes” to every obligation, even when already over-extended
  • Impulse control issues. Will do something that she has been repeatedly instructed not to do and, when asked, says, “I didn’t know” or “I forgot.”
  • Immense frustration, generally resulting in outbursts
  • Reversal of letters and/or numbers
  • Rages that are seemingly out-of-nowhere
  • Inarticulate, atonal, or slurred speech
  • Difficulty accessing words
  • Auditory processing issues
  • Disrupted or inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Heartburn or stomach aches
  • Bladder and/or bowel issues, such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivity to textures of food or difficulty chewing
  • Poor temperature regulation, as in the person who never wants to wear a coat even when in a cold environment
  • Sensitivity to textures of clothes or clothing tags
  • Verbal and/or physical tics, such as a rapid eye blinking or repetition of the same word or phrase
  • Drama queen
  • Neurochemical imbalance
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders

Cortical Dysfunction:

  • Difficulty recognizing symbols, such as letters and numbers
  • Immature language skills, such as the use of incomplete sentences, incorrect pronouns, or difficulty expressing needs
  • Difficulty walking and running
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Difficulty sequencing information, especially in abstract situations
  • Memory problems

That link also talks about exactly how a child that suffered no known trauma and was adopted from the birthing room, can suffer like a child that indures neglect and abuse. This hadn’t made sense to me until now.

Recall that the pons is the part of our brain that is largely concerned with life preservation functions. While the pons is developing, the baby experiences a world of extremes and absolutes (hungry/not hungry, cold/not cold, hurt/not hurt.) The baby’s relationship with the mother at this stage is also one of absolutes, and primarily for the purpose of life preservation. Mother is present or not present. If she is not present, in fact, the baby will die. Through fulfilling her “life and death contract” with the baby the mother allows the baby to develop the function of trust. If she does not fulfill this “contract” the baby will have no neurological or emotional basis on which to form any other trusting relationship. Fulfillment of this “contract” includes tender nurturing, as well as providing basics of food, clothing, and shelter.

Denise put it this way: All a baby knows about its relationship with its mother is the sound of her heartbeat, the BPM, her voice, etc. When that child is born and layed upon a new mother’s chest, there is a different heart rate, a different voice, a different everything. Mother is not present. Baby will die. This is a natural instinct. So even if this new mom is completely there for this baby, the natural sequence for brain development gets out of sync because more time is needed in Pons for survival. The middle brain and cortex development are put on hold.

Sorry for the long post but I find this stuff AMAZING!

I now plan to do more research on exactly how to accomplish Neurodevelopmental Reorganization. Denise said there are exercises that must be done daily, about an hour and a half each day, for up to a couple of years. For us, that is times 2. We may have to do every other with one and the opposite with the other. I really don’t see how as finding an extra half hour a day for exercise has been impossible. But I have faith.



  1. I’m already piecing together exercises that all five kids can do together. Thinking of making it like “stations” or something. Will start working on it this week! Will send you what we’re doing as I figure it out.

    • Ohhh I can’t wait! That is such a great idea!

  2. I loved reading this. Thank you so much. I was thinking along the same lines as Christine — some sort of “station drills” that my sons can rotate through that are really fun but are really giving them that tummy time and all that they may have missed.

    Did the conference provide any examples of physical exercises to try?

  3. There is an NDR support group in Yahoo Groups that has a lot of parents with kids like ours. They are very nice, and one of them comes to Dallas/Fort Worth area on a regular basis for consults (she’ll also work via video after the initial consultation). I have the group name and contacts if you can’t find it.

    Mary in TX

  4. mbrush at austin dot rr dot com

  5. Thank you for all the great information–my son falls in there some where and it is facinating to learn more about his brain. He is adopted from Foster Care and suffered a brain injury as an infant (11 months).

    Thanks again for sharing,

  6. Thank you Laynie for posting all of this. I know it was a lot of work.

    Wanting to hear Christine’s ideas on stations too as I think that’s a fabulous idea!!!!

  7. Excellent post! I am totally impressed and interested and going to check it all out. I can tell you this… Genea can barely crawl. Her arms and legs flop every which direction when she tries and she sounds like exploding fireworks. It is clunky and awkward and I always thought it was probably from orphanage living, like there is no room to crawl in a crib and thats where they were kept most of the time. I remember reading too, that if a kid doesnt crawl, like they go directly to walking that is a bad thing. THey have to be taught how to crawl and made to do it.
    Keep it all coming- THANKS!!!

  8. i’m hanging on every word, and copying and sending to my mom, my husband, anyone who will listen. 😉 i understand, and can see it in 2 of my kids, and am now wondering where i can find the actual exercises? do you have a link or a book i should invest in?

  9. This is one of the few people I know that does Neuroreorg (assesses for the exercises needed, teaches you/child how to do it, does check-ups every few months or so, and is there to answer questions). I’ve “met” her on the yahoo group,, and everyone there loves her.

    We haven’t done it because I can’t afford it and can’t picture getting my 14 an 16 year olds to do it, although everyone on the yahoo group assures me it’s possible (they give lots of supportive advice too).

    Mary in TX

    • Mary, the affording it part is huge for us too. I know “they” design the program/exercise specifically to the child’s needs but surely doing something is better than nothing when this is all we CAN do. Thanks for the info!

  10. I happened across this web page by chance, looking for something else. For anyone interested in a structured therapy program that focuses on these issues, I encourage you to visit The Handle Institute has developed a complete therapy program that includes integration of retained primitive reflexes and focuses heavily on developmental movement. For those of you in the upper midwest, check out I can attest to the effectiveness of this program. It has done wonderful things for my kids.

  11. Thanks so much for posting this – I have been reading about it on various boards for 2 days. Our son is 9 adopted from Kazakhstan at 10 months and seems to have either FASD and probably RAD as well. I really need to find someone who does this close by – there may be a center in MA (we are in CT) – also trying to find a good RAD therapist… God this is so tough – but you posted great information! Tks again… Denise

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