*Please note- this blog post was written during my time at Brain Fit Academy Inc. I have since continued this amazing work under my own company- Brain FUNdamentals LLC. I hope you enjoy!
When families come to Brain Fit Academy, they tend to come with expectations about what changes they are hoping to see in their child. It’s natural, of course. The reason why they came to Brain Fit in the first place is to help their child with their struggles. Those struggles might be anxiety or ADHD, dyslexia, learning challenges, sensory processing or a host of other things.
As a coach, I also enter into the client/coach relationship with expectations that match the family. However, I have also come to learn that the changes we see during our time together may end up being different than is initially expected. And when I say different, it can quite possibly be better, more wide-reaching than was the original intent.
Why is that? Why would changes we see be so much more widespread than what a client came for? The answer is because it’s all connected.
When we work on primitive reflexes, we work on the brain from “the bottom up”. We work on integrating the earliest motor patterns that started as tiny babies. But here’s the thing. What you may see as being a “symptom” in your child can very well be rooted in the brain stem.
We often use the analogy of the brain as a bucket. Take a look:
Think of the brain stem as the bottom part of the bucket- right at the base. Do you see the primitive reflexes down there? And as we move up toward the top of the bucket we have such pieces as the vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems, then motor planning and attention. Even higher up the bucket is language and organization. And finally, right at the top- you see academics, executive functioning and social skills.
So- what if you (or your child’s teacher or therapist) observe is attention issues. Or maybe it’s visual perception, or social skills. All of those are the in the levels of the brain above the brain stem. Above the bottom of the bucket. No wonder why all that work you’re doing isn’t really helping all that much- you’re not getting to the right place! Everyone is bypassing all the levels below and not making sure the base of the brain- the brain stem- has a strong foundation.
Now, imagine that we unplug one of those primitive reflex corks in the image above. And we unplug attention, and visual perception. And then, we pour in water (which represents learning and knowledge). What’s going to happen? Yup, the water is going to pour out those bottom holes, right? It’s not going to get to the upper levels of the bucket. The upper levels of the brain.
Ok, now back to the original point of this post. My purpose is to tell you about how the results that we see may be different than we think.
I said how everything is connected, right? In that bucket- let’s plug up those primitive reflexes again. We work on integrating the reflexes and those holes in the bucket get filled. What happens? We can move onto the next level, and the next and the next.
We don’t have to “make” this happen. It just does. It happens because the body remembers and the development continues.
And then, well THEN! We see changes that we didn’t look for going in. We often see development in the sensory systems. And we see focus and attention improve. We see emotional regulation improve. We see posture, and motor planning and executive functioning skills improve.
Families come to Brain Fit with those expectations of what they would like to see change, but when the outcome is a little different, a little better?
Well, all we can do is celebrate.