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Developmental Trauma and Neuroplasticity

I’m re-reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

I want to relate the way reflex integration works and why it is effective for those with emotional, sensory or learning challenges to this book.

The author explains that there are 3 approaches to helping a person with trauma (retained reflexes are a form of developmental trauma):

1: top down: talking therapies – learning to connect better with people. In autism terms, this might include DIR floortime or ABA therapy, which help to condition a person to not stand out (controversial, but I don’t know enough about either to comment).

2: medication – stimulants for those with attention difficulties or melatonin – a powerful hormone to help promote sleep, which sadly has unfortunate side effects on puberty (which nobody tells you about when they prescribe it).

3: bottom up: Neuroplasticity – calm a stressed nervous system, make new connections from brainstem to higher brain levels, giving a person access to an ability to connect better, regulate emotions and learn.

No 3 is how the Safe and Sound Protocol and reflex integration (specifically Rhythmic Movement Training) work.

They are not a “cure”, because there is no illness, and we are not trying to change a person, but helping them to not struggle as much.

Sound that stimulates the vagus nerve and targeted movement patterns are a way of helping a brain re-wire – or rather wire itself correctly.

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