When a child has trouble with reading, typically the first treatment is reading intervention. Struggling with reading is a symptom. When we start treatment for a symptom, we are using a top-down approach. An approach that works for management of symptoms and post-injury or surgery, but does not work when the origianl symptom is coming from a developmental or neurological issue.
Dyslexia and other reading troubles are developmental in nature. Having trouble reading is a symptom that we can use as a clue to understanding what is going on in the brain. When we take a bottom-up approach to treatment we start by figuring out where in the brain there is dysfunction. We know from many research studies that children who have trouble reading also demonstrate inaccurate saccades — the ability of the eyes to fixate back and forth between objects. We use saccades when we are reading across a paper. The research states saccades are either over-shooting or under-shooting in children with dyslexia, making it more difficult to understand what you have read. Let’s decipher this using a neurological perspective. Saccades need the frontal eye fields and pre-frontal cortex to be functioning properly. In order for the pre-frontal cortex and eye fields to function they need gaze stability to be working properly. Gaze stability is built upon vestibular function of the semicircular canals which enable the eyes to be stable within the head.
The semicircular canals develop after the otoliths, linear vestibular function, are developed. Otoliths enable our head to be stable on our body. To have body stability we need good core & postural stability. All of which is built upon a properly functioning motor system. How does our motor system develop? Via primitive reflexes, proper tone, and symmetry. So as you can see, when we work backwards from the SYMPTOM (trouble reading), we are able to trace back the ROOT CAUSE. Unintegrated primitive reflexes are the foundation of our nervous system…everything that the cortical is built upon must be functioning properly. Primitive reflexes develop our sensory-motor system enabling us to stand upright and develop areas of the brain needed for reading, learning, math, memory, attention, and behavior.
Any treatment that does not work bottom-up for a developmental or neurological issue will only be a temporary solution. Neuroplasticity tells us that the brain can change at any age, good or bad, depending on the type of stimulation it is exposed to. Developmental issues should always be treated from the bottom-up to give our children the best advantage for their future.
Does this sound like your child? Take our free 5-minute assessment: Does Your Child Struggle with Reading or Learning?
Then, check out our Online Primitive Reflex & Brain Integrations Program that coaches you how to work from a bottom-up approach with guidance via an Occupational Therapist.