Modalities for School-Age Children:
Around the age of seven, intellectual, abstract thinking, logical left brain development begins its intense period. Around the same time the ciliary muscles of the eye develop for near point focus work. This is the best time to begin to read and do near work. It's the age when children begin to codify and file information away and ask the question, "What is it?" The right brain, developed during early childhood, steps up connections to the left hemisphere via a massive series of connections called the corpus collosum. It is the right hemisphere that feeds new information to the left for analysis and codification. The left hemisphere is our intellect and in charge of all stable patterns of knowledge.
The school years are a time of great knowledge expansion and social exploration. This is dependent upon the smooth interactive functioning of the eyes, ears, hands, heart and body. It is fraught with social and academic challenges, and success relies on many factors. An extensive, well established neural network system that allows the child to access all the parts of his brain is essential to realize full developmental potential.
When Things Go Wrong
This is the time when most developmental delays or problems become painfully evident. The increasingly intense demands of near work at ever earlier ages is challenging the natural developmental timeline of our children's central nervous systems. “But she was fine until she went to school!” or “I didn't know he couldn't see!” are frequent refrains. Some problems are easily solved. The child just needed reading glasses, or a more relaxed home schedule. But usually by this time the difficulty requires more intervention and creative problem solving. Conventional special education plans are sufficient for many children to “get by” or even do much better. But to fully reach developmental potential it usually requires a closer look at neurology, injury, and the emotional intelligence of the right brain and brainstem.
Modalities for School-Age Children:
Grade school is a time when children begin to take charge of their lives in a new way. They can keep secrets, and have hiding places and clubs with rules and regulations. This is the time when the brain is at its greatest capacity for rote memory, because it is the time when children are compiling facts that they will need about the world for the rest of their lives. When children are positive about their abilities to learn and grow and negotiate their physical, social and academic territories, they feel empowered. But traumas, large and small, can affect a child's self-perception.
Brain Gym® provides a wonderful system for empowering children to set goals and achieve them. It's called “the balance.” In a Brain Gym® session, children set goals in many ways. For younger children, the goal-setting process is not explicit. They may “draw a picture of themselves looking happy,” or “build their house out of blocks.” I hold the intention for them that the session will result in them leaving the room happy, with their house in order. Older children often set verbal goals. “My friends call me for play dates.” “Reading is easy.” “I can ride a two-wheeler.”
We activate the process through movement. Sometimes, to achieve the goal, structural work is needed, and we'll do some cranial work. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the realm of movement development, and we work with infant reflexes. Sometimes, we do Brain Gym® movements, or play music. Sometimes we talk. Usually, we do a combination of several of these modalities. Each session is tailored to the child's own expressed goal. My goal is for the child to leave the session feeling empowered. They almost always do.
Children can come in for a variety of reasons. Academic Issues generally respond well to Brain Gym®, although sometimes craniosacral work is also helpful, particularly when an old injury is impeding cognitive processes. Gross and Fine Motor Coordination issues are often infant reflex-related, and again, craniosacral work can come into play. Injuries usually respond well to craniosacral work, contained within the Brain Gym® balance process which eases the emotional aspects of the injury. Social, behavioral, and emotional issues are a grab bag of possibilities, and I never know which modality I'll be pulling out of my pocket for this particular child. Many are actually related to infant reflex integration, such as being unable to stay in a chair, or to hold a pencil without squeezing it to death.
Musical Improvisation often comes into play as a way to coordinate auditory, visual, and gross and fine motor with a sense of play and self-expression. Whether children are playing black keys on the piano, beating rhythms on the drums, or creating blues lyrics to express their own frustrations, music is an empowering tool.
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When is chiropractic helpful for school age children?
The Lydian Center method of chiropractic, Axial Stability Method, is appropriate for all ages. Our unusual, entirely low-force approach can transform a child if the underlying problem is physical injury. During the grade school years the physical world opens up. New sports, snow boarding, sledding, learning to ride a bike, climb a tree, and more daring exploits(!) can out-strip abilities. The lifestyle of a school age child is one of minor trauma. Usually these injuries resolve on their own, but sometimes they don't. The minor trauma itself or an accumulation of minor injuries can cause a disruption in the structural system.
Many children already struggling with hidden biomechanical injuries from the past are even more prone to getting injured further. They tend to be less coordinated, have poorer balance, less efficiently developed motor patterns and less developed proprioceptive skills. They may be shy and less able to participate socially, unable to focus and prone to hyper activity, unable to process new learning, or unpleasant and uncooperative. These children have more gaps in their sensory-motor, and emotional neural networks.
If biomechanical injury is the root cause of these gaps, chiropractic can be a miracle cure. Behavioral problems, emotional irritability and frustration, sensory integration problems, insomnia, poor balance, poor immunity and digestion, neurological delays, unequal use of the limbs, learning disabilities, language delays and visual problems are signs that there might be underlying biomechanical injury. Stabilizing the structural system through chiropractic treatment can allow the body to fill in these neurological network gaps.
A sure sign of injury is the development of scoliosis. With the Axial Stability Method we routinely correct scoliotic young spines. A curve in the spine is not normal and is usually correctable by conservative, non-invasive means if treated early enough. Stabilizing the cranium, pelvis, and spine allows the body to straighten the curve.
Occasionally a child complains of recurring headaches or chronic musculoskeletal pain. No child should be in chronic pain. It is a sign of injury and should not be ignored. Early intervention can save a lifetime of complaints
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When is Homeopathy helpful for school age children?
Children of this age are most often treated homeopathically for problems in school –emotional problems like low self-esteem, test anxiety, or the effects of bullying; cognitive problems such as lack of memory or concentration; or behavioral problems like not sitting still, or defying the teacher and disrupting the class.
Homeopathy also excels at preventing patterns of illness, such as chronic colds or ear infections. Antibiotics may seem to work well for a particular ear infection, but they can weaken the immune system and increase the chance of recurrence. A constitutional homeopathic remedy can strengthen the child's (or adult's) ability to withstand the microbes that are a natural part of our internal and external environment.
Begabati has children in her practice who have been raised entirely with homeopathy – children from India, Germany, France, and other parts of the world where homeopathy is part of the national health care system – and their mothers report, “My child is the only one in her class who never gets sick and has never been on antibiotics.”
Homeopathy can also help resolve emotional trauma – for example, in a child who was separated from her birth mother through adoption or hospitalization or C-section. Homeopathy can help heal the emotional trauma and allow a child to grow into age-appropriate independence.
Homeopathy does not suppress symptoms, but gives the body's healing energy the information it needs to organize itself better around a problem. Homeopathic remedies are both powerful and gentle. Children like to take them, as they taste like little sugar pills. They do not need to be swallowed to be effective. Instead, they work as soon as they touch the mucus membranes in and around the mouth.
Begabati has children in her practice who actively ask for a remedy when they feel sick; they even learn the names and which one helps them with which symptoms. There are no side effects, no possibility of dependency, and no toxicity even if a child swallows a whole bottle by mistake.
In addition to treating the chronic conditions just mentioned, Begabati or Cindy can evaluate children for their typical pattern of acute illness, provide an appropriate series of homeopathic remedies for their typical symptoms, and teach parents how to use the remedies to treat their kids at home the next time.
For more information: Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman's excellent series of books Ritalin-Free Kids, Rage-Free Kids and Homeopathy for Autism and Aspberger's.
[more about homeopathy]
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Proper nutrition is essential for the development of young children. Teaching children healthy food choices at an early age can pay many dividends down the road. Of primary importance is limiting sugar and processed foods which contain little nutritional value. Excess sugar causes blood sugar disturbances, hyperactivity, weakened immune response, and tooth decay to name a few. Making sure children take in quality fats in the form of fish or flax is extremely important. These fats are crucial for proper brain development and have been shown to help children with focus and concentration issues.
The role of food allergies in children can cause many health problems including poor cognitive function, digestive, respiratory, and skin disorders. If unable to pinpoint offending foods, proper testing is advised which should include delayed reactions through IgG antibodies. For more information on food allergies, pick up the brochure titled Are the foods you eat making you sick?
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