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Early Roots is a specialized therapy practice for children with developmental delays. We work with families all over the world to find lowest point of breakdown in development and work up from there. 

Does my Child Need NDD Therapy?
Does my Child Need NDD Therapy?

Does my Child Need NDD Therapy?

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NDD Therapy

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Early Roots Therapy

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ABOUT
EARLY ROOTS

Early Roots is a specialized therapy practice for children and adults with learning, behavioral, social, and/or emotional problems. We assess each child (or adult) for signs of immaturity in the central nervous system, also known as Neuro-developmental delay (NDD).  We look to find the lowest point of breakdown in their development and then we create a program that works up from there. Our program always follows the natural progression of development. 

The first part of the central nervous system to develop and mature is the spinal cord, followed by the brain stem, the cerebellum, and lastly the cerebral cortex. At birth, the lower sections of the brain are more mature than the higher sections. Each section is responsible for more and more advanced functions. The brain stem is responsible for automatic processes like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and infant reflexes. The cerebellum is responsible for both controlled and automatic motor movements, and the cortex is responsible for advanced learning and processing. During that last part of pregnancy and the first 12 months after birth, brain development occurs rapidly. As the upper regions of the brain mature, the lower sections of the brain relinquish some control and enable the child to do subsequently more and more. 

The brain stem is the first part of the brain to mature and it provides the foundation for higher-level brain function. Our program starts here because immaturity at this level can have a huge impact on the development and functioning of the upper levels of the brain. If it is not functioning properly, then it can interfere with balance, coordination, attention, emotional regulation, reading, writing and much more.

Most other therapy programs focus on one or more of the higher levels of the brain (cerebellum and cortex). For children who have immaturity at their brain stem, this will not fix the issue but rather teach compensation techniques. These techniques will vary in effectiveness, but will never allow the child to function at their full potential. At Early Roots we evaluate each child to determine their earliest point of dysfunction and then we create a specialized program based on their individual needs.

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Neuro-Developmental Delay (NDD) refers to immaturity in the central nervous system. One of the main things we look for is the presence of retained infant (primitive) reflexes and underdeveloped adult (postural) reflexes.

In utero, babies develop a set of infant reflexes that help to facilitate the birth process and that help them to survive outside of the womb. These reflexes are also critical in helping them achieve developmental milestones. During the first year, these reflexes should systematically disappear and are eventually replaced with mature, adult reflexes. There are many things that can happen during pregnancy, birth, and the first year that interrupt this process and prevent proper development. The presence or absence of these reflexes provides us with reliable landmarks that show how the child's central nervous system is functioning. Often times, there is a mismatch between a child’s physical age and the maturity of their nervous system.

The impact of NDD varies from person to person. Symptoms will depend on which infant reflexes are present, which adult reflexes are absent, what other areas in the body are affected, and how the child has learned to cope.

  • Poor attention

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Emotional instability

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Difficulties in school

  • Anxiety

  • Hypersensitivity

  • Motion Sickness

  • Decreased immune system

  • Inflexibility

NEURO-
DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY 

COMMON 
CAUSES

Pregnancy

  • Medical problems

  • Sickness

  • Injury requiring bed rest

  • Extreme emotional stress

  • Alcohol or drug use

Birth

Infancy

  • Difficulty with the birth process

  • Vacuum or forceps delivery

  • Cesarean birth

  • Birth trauma

  • Prematurity

  • Breech presentation

  • Loss of oxygen / Low heart tones

  • Very long or very fast labor

  • Skipping motor stages such as crawling

  • Ear nose and throat problems

  • Restricted movement

  • Negative reaction to medications or vaccines

PRIMITIVE

REFLEXES

Moro (startle) Reflex

Stimulus

Any sudden change in head position or any of the five senses: light, sound, touch, smell, or taste

Response

The baby’s arms first stretch open and then grasp forward. Their sympathetic nervous system is also activated and it triggers a physiological fight-or-flight response.

Function

  • Helps baby survive during the first few months after birth

  • Alerts caregiver to possible danger

  • Helps stimulate breathing after birth

  • Early fight-or-flight response

   

 

Symptoms if retained

  • Over-reactive

  • Hypersensitive

  • Hyposentitive

  • Hyperactive

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Visual-perception problems

  • Poor impulse control

Children with a retained Moro are consistently put in a state of heightened arousal. This can have a huge impact on their ability to function. Children learn to cope with this in different ways. Some become very anxious, fearful of things that might trigger this reflex, while other become over-excitable, using the reflex like an adrenaline rush.

  • Emotional immaturity

  • Motion sickness

  • Immune issues

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Stimulus bound  

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR)

Stimulus

Flexion or extension of the head

Response

The arms and legs flex when the head flexes and extend when the head extends

Function

  • Helps baby get into a good position for birth

  • Helps baby adapt to a world with gravity

  • Helps develop muscle tone

The TLR is triggered by a specific change head position (detected by the vestibular system). The vestibular system also has connections to the child’s visual, auditory, and motor control systems. Children with a retained TLR have an immature vestibular system and often have immaturity in these other systems as well. Their brain receives mismatched information from each of these sensory systems.

Symptoms if retained

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Visual perception problems

  • Motion sickness

  • Under or over developed muscle tone

  • Poor posture

  • Toe walking

Spinal Galant Reflex

Stimulus

Any tactile stimulation to the skin on either side of the spine in the lumbar region

Response

Rotation of the hip 45° on that side

Function

  • Encourages movement in the womb

  • Helps during the birth process

  • Promotes hip flexibility

Children with a retained Spinal Galant often have trouble staying still, particularly while seated. They may be very uncomfortable sitting in chairs that touch the lumbar region of their back or wearing tight pants or pants with tags.

Symptoms if retained

  • Difficulty sitting still

  • Hypersensitivity in the lumbar region (tags, waist bands, ect..)

  • Some connection to bedwetting  

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)

Stimulus

Rotation of the head to either side

Response

The arm and leg on the “face” side extend and the arm and leg on the “skull” side flex

Function

  • Encourages movement in the womb

  • Helps facilitate the birth process

  • Develops homolateral movement

  • Helps keep airway clear

  • Early hand-eye training

Children with a retained ATNR often have to adjust their posture in order to accomplish everyday tasks. This becomes particularly evident during school when they are using cognitive effort and when they are often required to sit at a desk. Children with a retained ATNR often have “bad” posture and may even be labeled as “lazy” because of it.

Symptoms if retained

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Avoid crossing the midline

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Difficulty writing

  • Difficulty reading

  • Difficulty tracking visual information

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

Stimulus

Extension or flexion of the head 

Response

When the head extends, the arms extend and the lower body flexes. When the head flexes, the arms flex and the legs extend.

Function

  • Helps the infant defy gravity (move from the floor to standing)

  • Helps with spine alignment

  • Helps with visual accommodation

Similar to the ATNR, Children with a retained STNR often have to adjust their posture during everyday activities like school. Their postural and visual systems work against rather than with them. Many children try to accommodate this by adjusting their position e.g. they may tuck their legs under them when they sit in a chair.

Symptoms if retained

  • Prevent proper crawling

  • Poor posture

  • Poor body control

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Difficulty with vertical tracking

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