Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What to do about brain damaged children

Janine went to a seminar Saturday on how to help brain damaged children. The focus was on child with brains which haven't developed normally, as a opposed to damage from a physical injury. The lady giving the seminar had been trained by The Family Hope Center. I wanted to share some information about it. Janine will blog later about some of what she learned.

The Family Hope Center has a model of how children's brains normally develop. Our brains literally take two decades to develop. The pre-fontal lobe is one of the last parts of our brains to come to full functionality. This is the part of the brain that says "Hey this might be a bad idea." It becomes fully developed around age 18 to 20. This is one of the reasons why teenagers often do stupid things. Their "Jimmy Cricket" isn't warning them to re-think their choices.

The Family Hope Center has a chart with items each stage of brain development. For example in the category of Seeing and Reading they have:

Birth to 2 weeks: This is when the Medulla Oblongata part of our brain is developing. At this stage babies should display a fast pupil contraction reflex in both eyes

2 weeks to 2 months: This is when the Pons part of the brain is developing. At this stage babies should find light in a darkened room, see and recognize shapes, and consistently track people and objects.

2 to 8 months: This is when the midbrain is developing. Here babies should be able to see and distinguish details from three meters, see changes in facial expression, and bring eyes together and converge vision on an object.

There are many more stages.

Part of the center's program is that by recognizing where a child is on the normal progression, you can work to help a child catch up. For example at age 2 to 8 months, a child should be able to quickly locate the source of sounds in the environment. The speaker talked about how a young girl was struggling in class. They realized the girl had trouble with sounds that came from above. The prescription was to stimulate the girl's brain by blindfolding her, create sounds at various places in the room, and have her point. I think they did this ten times a day. Once she got good at this, they did it with talk radio in the background. All of this practice stimulated part of the girl's brain, and she was then able to do much better in class.

Now that I've teased you with part of this, I'm sure Janine will have to clarify, correct, and expand on this post.


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Technorati tags: brain, development, damage

2 comments:

christinemm said...

You're killing me now. I'm dying to hear more about older kids.

I've noticed my 11 YO son seems to be 'getting dumber'. Hate to use that term but I swear past logical thinking and things he could do are now seemingly not able to be done. Simple stuff. Moms of other boys this age (and a bit older) that I know through Boy Scouts swear all boys are like that in the tween and teen years and that I haven't seen anything yet.

On Dr. Phil's show he keep saying that the brain is not fully developed until age 24 in men. This same thing was said at a book tour with author Peg Tyre for her book "The Trouble with Boys" about boys and learning and schools.

I wonder if this also can be used to explain why some boys can't seem to resist temptation to 'do the right thing'. This is an area that many Christian parents struggle with and blame on sin that needs character teaching lessons but how much could be due to the brain's biology instead?

Do you have thoughts on that?

Can't wait for the second post.

Henry Cate said...

Janine can give a more complete answer, but part of what is happening is teenagers, boys and girls, tend to feel more than think.

They did MRI scans on teenagers and adults. The part of the brain that does the feeling is dominate with teenagers, while the part of the brain that does the thinking is more active for adults.

I think the answer is to continue parenting with love and provide correction as needed. Understanding that this will pass may help.

Good luck.