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Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia and the Plastic Brain

I have been working with a child who has all the dys- specific learning difficulties: dyslexia, dyscalculia (the maths equivalent of dyslexia), dysgraphia (extreme handwriting challenges) and dyspraxia (a lack of spatial/temporal awareness/personal organisation).

Through movement and work with his Fear Paralysis and Moro reflexes, I’ve seen him shift from having extreme sensory challenges and very poor social skills to being better connected with reduced sensory meltdowns – they are still there, but dramatically reduced. Through working with his Asymmetrical Tonic Neck reflexes, I saw him suddenly start to ride a bike by himself. However, although reading has become easier – and something he wants to do voluntarily now, his maths has been completely stuck – approximately two and a half years behind his year group.

Recently we decided to do the Safe and Sound Protocol – a five-day listening programme, which reduces anxiety by bringing a person out of their fight/flight/freeze/fawn cycle and into their social engagement system by stimulating the cranial nerves.

It sounds like a very strange approach – after all, how can a listening programme help learning? Well, essentially, if we are living in survival mode, down in our brainstem, connections to our emotional and rational/thinking brain do not work as efficiently. This will affect learning before we even get into how strongly retained reflexes are.

So, we recently did SSP together. I facilitated a session together with the mother, in person. I then allowed them to do the protocol at home with daily calls from me.

In this child’s case, fortunately the only obvious side effect while on the protocol was extreme fatigue and a couple of sulks with friends, both easily resolved through early nights and lots of cuddles and understanding from mum.

However, a week later, I received a call to say that this little guy had suddenly been put up a reading level, his handwriting has improved, and he is now able to do the “floss” rapidly. She sent me a video of him saying “hey, look at me”, wiggling in a coordinated fashion at a rate of knots! This was a child who’d had NO rhythm at all when I started working with him.

The significance of being able to perform rhythmic movements AND being able to cross the “midline” (an imaginary line from your nose to your navel, which those with specific learning difficulties often have challenges crossing with their hands/arms/legs) is enormous – it is a sign that both sides of the brain are working in together.

Backpack Boy, inventor of the “Floss”

I’m writing this piece because I’m astounded at the shift – I was expecting a shift in anxiety and social awareness – but not in “dys”s. I’m waiting for further updates, but was so excited that I wanted to get this down in writing.

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