What are Learning Disorders and How Common Are They?
In 2003 the most prevalent disabilities reported among children were intellectual/learning, which accounted for an estimated 166,700 children (4.3% of all children), followed by intellectual/learning (2.2%) and sensory/speech (1.6%). (www.dss.gov.au)
A learning disorder is defined as a childhood disorder that is characterised by difficulty with certain skills such as reading or writing in an individual with normal intelligence (www.medicinenet.com). Learning disorders affect the individuals ability to interpret the information that they see, hear, feel or smell and link it with information from different parts of the brain. They have challenges with the way they perceive the world around them. The limitations or challenges they have can be displayed in a number of ways, from specific verbal and written language skills, to coordination, self-control or attention.
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This description tells us that Learning Disorders are most likely a neurological issue. They are caused by biochemical imbalances creating neurological/neurotransmitter interference resulting in psychological symptoms (Matthews, 2008).
Many children are not identified as having learning problems until they reach the second grade (Cheatum & Hammond, 2002) and they often stem from motor problems that go undetected. It is very important to assess children early and note any changes in their development or lack of development, this is best done by 7-8 years of age.
What are Some of the Signs of Learning Disorders?
Firstly, remember that each child is different and while progression should be sequenced and ordered, there are allowances for individuality. These signs are not definitive on their own, and need to be compared with many other things.
- Skipping a milestone or a developmental stage
- No progression to the cross-crawling stage of development
- Clumsy with ball activities
- Motion sickness in cars
- Poor penmanship
- Speech difficulties
- Balance issues
- Issues with tags on clothes – or wearing clothes
- Poor posture
- Does not have hand preference (by about 3-4 years old)
- Inattentive or unable to concentrate for very long
- Needs to move around a lot
- May like to spin fast
- Anxious and “over” emotional
- Prefers to do homework and reading laying on the floor on their stomach
Learning Disorders and Chiropractic
About the nervous system!
Research in the area of how the nervous system works has shown us that the “wiring” of the central nervous system is open to change. This is known as neural plasticity (Goddard, 2002). The stages of the most rapid growth and maturation are those that can have the greatest effect on neural plasticity. This of course is when our children are young, particularly up to 7-8 years old. Change can still occurs a result of neural plasticity after this age, although not at the same rate.
Neural connections that receive the most adequate stimulation will strengthen and those that don’t will weaken and eventually die (Beck, 2009). Growth of the nervous system must occur before a child can perform new motor skills or movement patterns (Chethum & Hammond, 2000) and a rich environment that is full of stimulation also encourages brain development.
Daily physical activity is critical to a child reaching important motor development milestones, as it helps them to develop and enhance neurological connections. These neural connections are also critical for successful learning and appropriate behaviour (Chethum & Hammond, 2000).
How Can Chiropractic Help?
A thorough history is taken to understand the stages of development – from preconception, pregnancy, birth and then post-natally. This history helps us to possibly recognise a point in their growth where they experienced some developmental difficulties/delays that could now be limiting their academic, behavioural or motor abilities.
Chiropractic examinations evaluate the integrity of the nervous system, and specific tests determine how well the body has adapted to growth and development. Chiropractic adjustments help to stimulate the nervous system in order to strengthen it and help organise it. Specifically designed exercises are performed and given as homework to help reinforce the neurological patterns of growth and development.
Are Chiropractic Adjustments Gentle?
Yes, chiropractic adjustments are gentle and safe. They are a non-invasive form of health care that works with, and promotes the bodies own healing abilities. A gentle hold or force is used to restore motion to the spine and enhance the nervous system. Subsequent visits may be needed to ensure the body has responded to care, and to promote further development.
Who do I see?
Our Melbourne Wellness family Chiropractors spent five years studying Chiropractic. as well as additional post graduate studies. Using gentle techniques with all patients and adapting approaches according to patient preference your child will be very comfortable and in great hands. Works alongside the other practitioners at Vitalchi we ensure all aspects of your child’s health are addressed. As nutrition can have a significant role in nervous system development and function, she will work alongside one of Vitalchi’s resident Naturopaths to ensure optimal progress of your child’s health and development.
At Vitalchi we have access to a team of experts to help get your child as happy and healthy as possible.