Who We Serve - Organizing Our Children's Brains - By Marilee Nicoll Coots, B.A., Certified Neurodevelopmentalist - Copyright 2001
The Children Who Come to Us
Many children come to us with problems related to learning, attention, or hyperactivity. These children usually have several of the following symptoms: short attention span, difficulty following directions, visual or auditory distractibility, hyperactivity or hypoactivity. They may appear to be uncoordinated. Their speech may be difficult to understand. They often have difficulty learning to print or to write and their handwriting may be sloppy. Spelling is often challenging for these kids. They forget sight words easily, reverse letters, or forget how to form their letters. When they attempt to learn to read they may struggle with phonics, find it hard to move from word to word without losing their place, and have difficulty understanding what they have read. Math may also be very challenging as they may easily forget math facts and struggle with word problems, math logic, and concepts.
Some children come to us with additional struggles. Many are pre-schoolers or children in special classes or therapy programs. These children may have tactile or sensory dysfunction which may appear as bedwetting, inability to feel pressure or pain appropriately, inability to tolerate hats, hair combing, or hair washing, extreme ticklishness, irritation from clothing, inability to distinguish temperatures. They may be extremely picky eaters, eating only a narrow variety of foods. They may have flat tonality in their voice, hypersensitivity to sound, undeveloped depth perception, difficulty making or maintaining eye contact. Their eyes may not track well and their eyes may turn in or wander. Behaviorally, they may display cyclic behavior (learning one day and not being able to learn the next), extreme hyperactivity, rigid attitudes, and aggressive or destructive behavior. For some, speech and language may be absent, limited, or very difficult. Some of these children find holding a pencil to be very unpleasant and difficult to manage: pencils may break from too much pressure; in other cases writing may be too light. These children may have difficulty moving their bodies, crawling, creeping, walking, running, jumping, hopping, or skipping.
Depending on their symptoms, these children may have a professional diagnosis such as learning disabled, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexic, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or simply slow learner. Some are said to have an auditory or visual processing disorder, or a problem with short or long term memory. Children with more severe difficulties may be diagnosed as brain injured, PDD, ASD, autistic, developmentally delayed, MMR, CAPD. Some are identified as having a language disorder, or sensory dysfunction. Some are diagnosed with Down Syndrome, or other chromosome disorders.
Neurodevelopmentalists often call these diagnoses "labels" because they "label" the child with limited expectations as to what a person with that particular diagnosis can accomplish. These expectations may be based on old information or on worst-case situations. Professionals often make predictions based on outcomes that typically occur when effective therapy has not been applied. Sadly, these symptomatic "labels" can mislead parents and educators into limited expectations for their child or student. It is important to remember that most diagnoses are symptomatic, based on the symptoms the professional person observes in the child. Symptoms are not static. With proper Neurodevelopmental treatment, even stubborn seemingly impossible symptoms can improve or be eliminated.
August 14th, 2018