Here is part two of my Q&A with neurodevelopmental movement expert Sonia Story.
1. Why and how is neurodevelopmental movement so effective?
One of the first things we hear from parents after starting neurodevelopmental movement, is that their child starts to sleep better. Then we hear things like their child is more emotionally regulated and has more energy. The child is happier and more willing to do school work and children often eat much better too. What happens is the brain recognizes these movements and it calms and matures the brain and sensory systems in the body.
If the child wasn’t placed on his belly as much as possible as a baby, or if the child was kept in a car seat for hours a day, and the child didn’t move, then these innate neurodevelopmental movement patterns that kids are supposed to be doing, will not be fully matured. Instead, there are gaps in the movement and gaps in brain growth. Plus, movements that are supposed to be dormant are still active in the child’s brainstem now. When this happens, the brain can be agitated nearly all the time and in fight-or-flight mode. It’s like the nervous system is raw because it never was fully formed. The children haven’t fully developed their neuro-sensory-motor system when they miss these important movements.
The great part is when you give the brain the chance to explore these movements, it will respond. It recognizes the movements and it picks up where it left off in infancy. And the brain keeps maturing and responding to these movements our entire lives.
2. Can neurodevelopmental movement be a solution for parents who don't want to use medication to treat their kids’ ADHD and autism?
According to one of my mentors, Harald Blomberg, MD, who is a psychiatrist, doing neurodevelopmental movement is a very good way to mature the brain allowing for ADHD symptoms to gradually fade away. Children with autism also greatly benefit. They typically become much more calm, more focused, and better able to learn and to speak.
There are just so many problems with medication for ADHD. It can be effective for about 6 months and then the results go away and the child is worse than before. There is peer-reviewed published research that shows this. The brain is so complex, and the drugs have serious side effects. I encourage parents to read more about this and do research. Read the package insert on any medication and be informed. I recommend reading the Anatomy of an Epidemic, which has been meticulously researched. The author shows how drugs can affect the brain and often times create worse outcomes than the condition they were supposed to help.
3. Earlier, you mentioned car seats. Do you have any other main concerns that you see in modern or "trending" parenting styles?
C-section rates are very high right now – it does put a stress on the baby, and interferes with reflexes. So opting out of C-Section birth is very important if at all possible.
It is important to avoid the toys and carriers that take the baby away from movement or that put the baby in positions that they cannot do on their own yet. For example, in a jumper, babies are vertical before they can hold themselves up vertically on their own. Exersaucers and other kinds of play “jumpers” – any kind of seating or reclining device or the toys that roll as the baby pushes, all give artificial support to the baby, when the baby should be developing the strength through movement on the floor. Kids should be on the floor, moving on their bellies. This leads to greater core strength and greater brain development. It allows them to build strength and pleasure of movement. By letting a child move on his own, he will build a strong body and integrated brain and sensory systems. We rob our children of these important movement opportunities unknowingly when they are in these kinds of toys.
Avoid anything that takes the baby out of the natural realm, such as cellphones and screen toys. These toys can be physically addicting because they stimulate opiate pathways in the brain, and is very bad for brain development and eye development. The light from the screens also interferes with our ability to sleep. Babies should be looking at things in 3D, and not 2D on screens.
Another area of concern is food. The food we are feeding our children should not processed and ideally is organically grown and Non-GMO. Non-organically grown food makes our children prone to allergies and that can lead to illness which can then take the child away from important movement opportunities.
4. Do you have any advice for parents who are doing research for their children -- where can they find accurate information?
I would like parents to know is that these neurodevelopmental movements are the foundation for proper sensory processing and learning and they are exceptionally transformative for anyone who does them regularly. I teach both professionals and parents. Many OTs have told me these neurodevelopmental movements are the most effective tools they have to help with sensory processing challenges, anxiety, and behavior challenges. Parents can also read the book called, Movements That Heal, by Blomberg and Dempsey.
I have a lot of information on my website and I teach both online and live courses. The value of the courses is so great it cannot be calculated, yet they are very affordable and accessible. I love it when parents learn these tools, because it is very economical. Parents can do this at home. If you learn the tools yourself, you have them for life.
The neurodevelopmental movements are one of the biggest gifts you can give to your child. It’s so worth taking the time to learn. Doing these enjoyable movements together is a great way for parents and children to bond, have fun together, and help the children be successful and comfortable in their bodies. Most children love receiving these movements and many ask their parents for more.
You can learn more about Sonia Story and her online classes at www.moveplaythrive.com.