Coherence Chiropractic

Chiropractic for Neurodevelopment in Viridian

Arlington, TX chiropractic careSo why is a chiropractor so interested in and passionate about child development? Well, the development of the brain is controlled by none other than our central nervous systems, aka the brain and spinal cord. At every stage of development, the infant or child will use the most sophisticated tools available to them to process and engage with their environment.

When a child has a problem with behavior, learning, or socialization, I ask myself two basic questions… 1. Which tools is the child using to explore and engage and process their world? 2. Is there anything interfering with that child’s ability to send, receive, or process information in the brain (sensory processing, which largely occurs within the spine)

So more about these tools children use to engage in their world. Babies' brains are not developed at birth. If a baby came out and winked, told a joke, grabbed a sandwich and then walked away it would be creepy, right? 

A baby’s brain develops like a flower.  From the bottom up, from back to front, left to right, from the inside out - like a flower.

Brains are built on sensory information. We know that if the environment is too cold, or if she never gets held or touched, or if he never sees light then the little one’s brain will not develop normally.  What if that child has sensory information of a head that can only turn one way, or who is arched back constantly? Will that alter the information going to the brain? Of course it will. 

So back to our first question… which systems and tools do children use to process their world. They will always use the most efficient, sophisticated tools that they have in their toolbox. Babies are born with primitive reflexes to help them bond to their parents (like the palmar reflex that makes them hold on to you!), to find their mother’s breast (the rooting reflex that makes a baby turn their head when its cheek is stroked!), and to keep them safe from basic danger (such as the startle reflex). NOT SOPHISTICATED, but extremely useful for the first few months of life.

The next stage of development for infants begins as their movement and touch system takes over. As babies receive proper input (milk, holding, touching, cooing, eye contact, etc.), their primitive reflexes integrate, and movement and touch system starts to build with rolling, pushing up, sitting up, and eventually creeping and crawling, and later walking. These movements, the order in which they develop, if any skips are stepped, etc. give us a very important window into the brain. Babies process the room around them by TOUCHING EVERYTHING. They crawl around to feel the floorboards and carpet, and they notoriously  put everything into their mouth. Once again, NOT SOPHISTICATED. However, this is normal and appropriate behavior for an immature nervous system primarily led by the movement and touch system. So if an older child (or even adult) often leads with strategies from the movement and touch system, this tells us there may have been a gap in their brain development at this time.  

Around a year of age, usually once a child has mastered walking, the next system of brain development to really take off is the auditory/verbal system. Kids learn to listen and respond to verbal cues (passive), point to the light or dog or food (gesture), and then eventually start to speak in increasingly more complex words and sentence structures. Now things are getting more sophisticated!  A child can explore their surroundings or world via a song, a story, or by asking questions about something that fascinates them. As this system develops, kids may be very aware of and set off by loud sounds such as the vacuum, loud dryers, a blender, etc. Kids (or adults!) with gaps or imbalances in their auditory system may try to control the sound in their world via headphones, humming, repeating sounds or making loud noises, or turning their music up loudly!

The summit of this hierarchy is the VISUAL system, where children begin to make meaning by using symbols (letters and numbers). Children can see images in their minds based on these symbols, and even learn to tell their own stories via these symbols. They can also predict the future (complete instructions or follow a routine). While this is obviously the goal for all of our children, there is often a very good reason when kids aren’t there YET. 

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD CHILD. Instead, the good news is we can interpret their behavior through the lens of development. That’s right… The behavior of a child is a window into their brain. The other, even better news is that the brain can change. This is true at any age! When we find a challenge with the way that the brain is receiving, processing and sending information and gently repair it (again, this is often at the level of the upper spine), it is similar to tilling the soil so that growth can occur. 

Our exam is very gentle, fun, and detailed to locate the places where the brain and body have a disconnect. We find which systems of brain development are favored, and which areas might benefit from more stimulation once the sensory pathways are free and clear. We also help families by developing a plan and work with other professionals that are an integral part of the team, such as OTs, speech therapists, ABT therapists, etc.