Elizabeth Harms, a neurodevelopmentalist from Canada, produced a 5 ½ hour neurodevelopmental seminar, Releasing True Potential. Introducing Elizabeth, Sylvia Funk, who has since become a certified neurodevelopmentalist herself, told of her own neurodevelopmental journey with her son. Then, a young man walked up to the front of the room and gave an excellent recitation of a funny poem. Elizabeth then began her talk by describing the early years of her son’s life. She had been told of all the things her son would never be able to do and yet, the young man who had given the recitation, obviously had more function than predicted.
Professionals often give parents the news that their child has “autism” or “cerebral palsy” or “learning disabilities.” People inform the parents of what that child will never be able to do and that they need to adjust their expectations. Elizabeth and other neurodevelopmentalists say, “NO!” that function is a direct reflection of stimulation and opportunity. When given the appropriate and specific stimulation, the brain responds by development and function.
Harms explained the ways we receive information (sensory input – the five senses, proprioception, vestibular) and the kinds of things we should do about it when there are missing pieces. What the missing pieces are or what the underlying problem is, determines what kind of stimulation must be provided. This is what the neurodevelopmentalist evaluates to design an individualized plan for each client.
Some areas of the visual system that must be evaluated and difficulties addressed include: acuity, convergence, central detail vision. Auditory system areas to consider include: chronic ear infection / fluid, hyper or hypo sensitive hearing, distractible, audiogram and tympanogram results. While these are the two primary channels of input, the others, tactility, taste, smell, vestibular system and proprioception can greatly impact the ability to learn.
Auditory processing and visual processing comprise an important part of learning. Elizabeth explained how to test and train these important skills and how they affect learning. She explained the skills of conceptualization and visualization and how they fit in the whole picture of learning. Finally, she dealt with the importance of hemispheric dominance. In the dominant hemisphere resides the cognitive skills, thinking and logic and in the subdominant hemisphere rests the creativity, music and emotion. Neurological organization and optimal function depends on having a dominant hemisphere.
Key concepts in the neurodevelopmental approach are intensity (sustained focus), frequency (how often) and duration (how long). Releasing True Potential occurs by stimulating the brain in specific ways. Watching these DVDs provide an excellent introduction to the neurodevelopmental approach and are well worth your time.
Releasing True Potential is available from: http://www.centerforneurodevelopment.com