Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Clapping for development

I stumbled across this very interesting article.  It states that hand clapping songs and singing improve handwriting and spelling.  Why?  I believe this is a testament to whole brain development and balancing the use of both sides of the brain.  When I see children who have sensory processing problems, they tend to have difficulty singing or moving their body to music.  This is because the balance between the more artistic part of the brain (right hemisphere) and the logical, rote side of the brain (left hemisphere) is off.  When I see children in Early Intervention, one of the first tasks I have them do is reach for objects and have them cross midline.  The sense of midline is usually weak or absent when sensory processing difficulties or developmental delays are present.

When a child's brain is developing, they need a lot of movement to develop their visual and vestibular systems.  These systems will come into play when the child has to go to school.  Handwriting is a skill that shows a breakdown between the vestibular and visual system.  How many kids out there have handwriting problems?  A LOT!!!  How many of our children watch television before the age of two - A LOT!!!  Watching tv or working on a computer at such an early stage of brain development has been proven to be detrimental to development.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children under two get NO television.

We do not know why this happens (there are many theories out there), but for some reason some children do not process sensory information in a typical way.  When this happens, the right side of the brain which should be in charge of sensory processing, emotions, and the present moment shuts down.  Then the child starts to process information from primarily the left hemisphere.  This is where slower, logical, facts, and the past and future reside.  I see two and three year olds who know their alphabet and can count to 10.  This is a red flag for me.  This shows me that they have flipped into processing information in an atypical way.  These children also tend to have other sensory issues, poor eye contact, and emotional outbursts.

Whole brain development is so important.  Take a cue from your grandmother's generation, and think about how they were raised:  playing outside, card and board games, helping with housework, gardening, walking the dog.  We have a very fast paced society, and we need to slow down.  Our brains can't handle it.  Take a breath, and smell the roses.

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