The Full Story
There is never just one reason why there may be difficulties - that's why it is so important to approach each person as unique.
Imbalances in neuro-development, sensory processing, auditory processing, gut functioning or our mind/emotions can have many effects - in many cases leaving a feeling of being overwhelmed.
When we think of someone with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties we tend to think about their brain development. But we are missing so much more. The brain is developed by the body, senses, nutrition, environment and movement.
Just like a plant has a set way of growing, so do we. We develop primitive reflexes whilst in the womb, which enable the baby to move around and descend the birth canal, they are also developing connections with the brain. Vaginal delivery also enables the baby to 'prime' the immune system as the baby is exposed to bacteria normally present in the maternal vaginal and anal tracts. This helps to confer natural resistance to exposure in life.
Primitive reflexes are also present when the baby is born and, through movement, they carry on developing more connections so that the foundations are laid for certain things to be automatic and we are then able to do things without consciously having to direct our bodies e.g. pick up a glass of water.
These primitive reflexes train the brain and body to understand itself and make vital connections, they should integrate into the central nervous system by the time the baby is approximately one year old, and then our postural reflexes come into action - which support balance, posture, coordination and movement. Then the 'higher brain' is able to concentrate on learning and developing our potential.
There can be many reasons why the primitive reflexes don’t integrate properly into the central nervous system, eg. a C-section birth doesn’t give the stimulation required to get them working properly. If they are ‘retained’ they can create blockages to the body/brain connection - leading to anxiety, overwhelment, delays in processing skills and difficulty with eye functioning (and many other areas of dysfunction).
Primitive reflexes also have an impact on our senses. The clue is in the word 'primitive' - it is all about our most basic reactions, needing to be on 'high alert' in case of trouble. Our senses provide information about our environment, this information is provided by our vision, hearing, touch, taste, sound, smell, balance (vestibular system) and proprioception (the body's ability to sense its location). There is also a lesser known sense called 'Interoception', this helps us to understand what is going on inside our bodies e.g. whether we are hungry, thirsty, hot, cold etc.
Individuals who have a lack of interoception senses can also have trouble 'feeling' their emotions. They are not tuned into their bodies and unable to interpret their body sensations, making it difficult to clearly identify their emotions.
Hearing is another aspect of development that is very important. Hearing problems are usually considered to be a matter of amplitude, whereas the characteristics of sound and frequency also need to be addressed. The sound spectrum we perceive varies according to the individual but the way a person hears can affect our auditory processing skills, senses, balance and behaviour. Such hearing issues can create symptoms such as speech and language difficulties, ADHD and Autism.
The microbiota of the gut is incredibly important, it all starts with the baby picking up certain bacteria on its journey through the mother's vagina, which kick-starts certain processes with the baby's gut. The use of formula, cow's milk, antibiotics, and the lack of initial bacteria can lead to an imbalance in this internal eco-system. It leads to an environment that encourages yeasts and parasites, damaging the gut wall and allowing the spread of toxins into the body.
The lack of adequate nutrition and release of toxins leads to primal behavioural states of fear, stress, anger and nervous tension.
As mentioned before, we are all unique and ‘one person’s food is another person’s poison’ (Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus). Therefore certain food can be toxic to different people. This toxicity can lead to dysfunction within the mind and body. Toxicity may also be from the environment that we live/work in. People who have autism and ADHD tend to be more affected by the toxicity in their environment.
Then we have the internal dialogue that we start to learn as we grow up - great if it is positive but unfortunately there is a tendency to gather negative thoughts that impact the way we live our lives. These thoughts create emotions that can have a profound effect on our body's processes e.g. anxious thoughts can lead to turmoil in our stomachs - affecting our biochemical processes which lead to disturbed neurotransmitters.
So you can see that we really need to look at the ‘full story’ behind you or your child’s difficulties.