Monday, January 27, 2014

Could Thumb Sucking Past the Age of 3 be an Indication of Future Learning Struggles?

Thumb sucking should be considered normal under the age of 4. It becomes a concern once the child is 6-7 years old because secondary teeth are starting to erupt and thumb sucking can change the shape of your child’s mouth, resulting in crooked teeth or an overbite.

Nursing provides many ways in which the mouth and brain can mature and gain skill for eating, swallowing, speaking, and emotional bonding. However, sucking on a pacifier or thumb is a different action than sucking on a nipple, using different muscles and having a different effect on the development of the palate. Non-nutritive sucking (i.e. sucking but not feeding) tends to lead to a high, narrow palate. This in turn can lead to several problems such as crooked teeth, mouth breathing, speech development, and recurrent ear infections.

The anterior, posterior, sphenoidal and mastoid fontanelles are membrane type gaps formed at the corners of the parietal bones of the skull. Described as small springs, or fountains, the fontanelles fluctuate or move with changes in intracranial pressure (pressure to the skull) and allow for cranial molding during the birth process.

The temporal and sphenoid each consist of three membrane segments, which will continue to develop and unite during the first year of life. Excessive force applied to these structures during pregnancy, labor or assisted delivery (i.e., forceps, vacuum extraction and/or the Ritgen maneuver) may distort the membranous segments and alter the function of the associated soft tissue. Thumb sucking action acts like a pump on the cranial bones and allows them to shift into a more comfortable relationship.

Symptoms may go unnoticed until the infant exhibits any number of affects, one of which may be chronic otitis media or chronic ear infection. This may result in persistent retraction and Eustachian tube patency which is the opposite of blockage, where the Eustachian tube remains excessively open for a prolonged period.

If the (tensor vali palatine) muscle becomes hypotonic, as in the case of glue ear, there will be no counter balance for the other side (levator veli palatine) and the patient will eventually demonstrate a high dental arch (an excessive elevation of the palate) just below the sphenoid. The patient will have difficulty getting the tongue flat against the hard palate, which will result in abnormal breathing, swallowing and speech patterns. The patient will habitually suck his thumb to enhance his ability to swallow and nose breath.

A balancing of the occiput will result in a reciprocal change in the position of the cranial plates that articulate with the occiput, especially the parietals, sphenoid and temporal plates. Seeking care from a chiropractor or craniosacral therapist could result in the subtle movement which is usually enough to restore normal motion to the plates. When this occurs, the muscles that attach to those cranial plates will be affected and a change will occur in their state of tonicity.

Continuous thumb sucking may result in movement of all related musculature and cranial structures. Restoring movement to these structures by thumb sucking enhances the flow of cerebral spinal fluid and nutrient exchange to the central nervous system. Therefore reported mouth breathing and thumb sucking could indicate that the tensor vali palatine muscle is in a hypotonic state and the levator veli palatine muscle is in a hypertonic state.

Many parents of children with learning struggles have found success with craniosacral therapy.

A note about head banging

From a structural perspective, head banging, head rolling, thumb sucking, and other repetitive behaviors may be indica­tive of cranial subluxations either causing or resulting from meningeal stress. These subluxations/meningeal stresses are often the result of neurological damage caused by pre-natal or birth trauma, accidents, chemical stress, or emotional stress. Anger and other extreme emotions tighten the meningeal system and increase brain pressure; consequently, head banging is sometimes associated with tantrums. Repeti­tive rocking appears to be an attempt to release pressure on the brain and nervous system


Source: ICA Cranias I by Dr. Carol J. Phillips

Friday, January 24, 2014

Food Intolerance - Is There Water in Your Gas Tank?

The consequence of having water in the gas tank of your car can range from poor engine performance to engine failure. Poor engine performance is the usual complaint when water is suspected. Your engine will not run efficiently, which will cause it to use more fuel, and potentially even lose power. If you live in a very cold climate, and the temperature drops low enough, your gas lines may freeze, causing your engine to die and stop running. Others things that can go wrong with water in the gas tank include ruining an electric fuel pump, clogging up the lines, and rusting the interior of the tank over time. Water can also corrode other parts of a car's engine, particularly the pistons and combustion chamber. Even if the owner doesn’t believe water in the gas tank will affect it, the car will still stop running. Consequently, it is important to remove water from a car's tank as quickly as possible.
The fix?
It is important to remove the water if possible and then prevent additional water from getting into the gas tank. After you have removed the water and a few tanks of gas have gone through the system, you should be good to go.
This is the same concept as when someone eats a food their body is unable to process correctly. We’ve all heard about food allergies in which the reaction can be mild, such as a rash, to life threatening. However, there is also something called food intolerance. Food intolerance to certain foods can show up anywhere in the body. This means that food intolerance can manifest in the most superficial layers, such as in the skin, and it can even show up in the deepest layers of the body, like within the joints.

Did you know symptoms of food intolerance can include:
      acne                         eczema                    skin rashes                   nasal congestion

sneezing                   cough                       asthma                          bloating

cramping                  diarrhea                    constipation                  mouth ulcers

poor memory            brain fog                   headache                      anxiety

depression               insomnia                   arthritis                          reoccurring ear infections

The effect that food has in the body is not confined to the physical body. Food can also affect the mental and emotional aspects of our body. When we remove the offending food, suddenly our skin clears up, our outlook and energy improve, and we no longer have nagging aches and pains.
Intolerance can develop after the body has an immune response to a food, arises from a deficiency in digestive enzymes, or if we don’t have the right digestive enzymes.
Food intolerance can cause complications in our bodies similar to the problems caused by putting water in your gas tank.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is there an advantage in an intense approach when re-training the brain?

Is there an advantage in an intense approach when re-training the brain? I’ve seen research that shows a drastic improvement when a student completes a program that is 20 hours a week for 4-6 weeks. Is that a better approach versus a 3 hour a week program?

That is a great question! Improving the brain's processing and learning does require intensity, consistency, and frequency. We believe how much depends on the individual. Some children do not do well working for multiple hours a day. They just fatigue too quickly and then do not do as well for the rest of the time. The brain cannot learn if it is stressed. In addition, when working with a child for multiple hours a day, the individual may require more breaks and game time which takes up part of those hours you are paying for. We have serviced some clients with a lot of hours over a few months especially when they are not local and are here from out of town temporarily. At the same time, for some individuals, having an intense schedule can be beneficial and build the skills up very quickly.

A nice visual is to think about each of us having a bucket in our brain. That bucket can be filled with new learning and the size of the bucket will be different for each individual and sometimes for different learning skills. Once the bucket is full, it cannot hold any more and will begin to spill over. That is when you see a child who is frustrated, tired, or anxious. If you keep trying to put more into the bucket because the school district says you have to or because your time isn't up in your session, you are wasting your effort. The brain needs to integrate the new learning and empty the bucket so it will be ready again to receive new information.

We see this especially with children who have moderate to severe Dyslexia. We've had a few students that become sleepy and begin to lose consciousness after working in an Orton-Gillingham reading program after 10, 20, or 30 minutes. I know of some parents who have gotten functional MRI scans done that have actually shown the slow down or stoppage of activity in the brain when that 'bucket' is full. At that point there is nothing we can do, they are done for that day. Over time we can get the brain to last longer and learn more at a sitting, but it takes time to get there. That's why we customize everything we do from the programs we choose to the length of the sessions and what we do during the session.

Research does confirm that in order to make a difference, increase weak processing skills, and close the gap when a student is behind that the right program with intensity, consistency, and frequency is the key. The intensity and frequency depends on the individual and the program. We’ve seen huge changes in students’ abilities with three hours, six hours or twenty-two hours a week. With cognitive skills sometimes an individual also needs time for maturation and integration. If we were to provide cognitive enhancement for an individual over nine days at four hours a day we would not see as significant an improvement as doing it six hours over twelve weeks.


Welcome to the Missing Piece

If you are the parent of a child with special needs or a learning disability then you know how difficult it can be to get answers to your questions. For many of us we have been disappointed when we were unable to find others who could help identify causes and solutions that help. This can be a lonely journey and that is why we are here. Our desire is that this would be a source of information, hope and humor for those of you who are struggling on the same path.
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