Friday, October 21, 2016

Dandy Walker Syndrome

Dandy Walker Syndrome is a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum and the fluid filled spaces around it. This syndrome involves an enlarged fourth ventricle (a channel that allows fluid to flow freely between upper and lower areas of the brain and spinal cord), a partial or complete absence of the cerebellar vermis (the area between the two cerebellar hemispheres), and cyst formation near the internal base of the skull. There can also be an increase in the fluid space sizes surrounding the brain, known as hydrocephalus. (information found at 
Photo retrieved from here

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Costello Syndrome

What is Costello syndrome? 
Picture retrieved from here

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pencil Grasp Development in Children

A review of pencil grasp development in children is critical as an Occupational Therapist to understand where the child is in pencil grip development and how to best help them to be successful in writing and eventually holding the pencil in the best way they can.
Image retrieved from here

Friday, October 7, 2016

Infantile Reflexes

In order to better understand children with severe cognitive impairments, I need to understand infancy development. A huge part of development are reflexive movements which are involuntary movements that an individual makes in response to specific stimuli. However, an infant does not have to think about making reflexive movements because they happen automatically and they are important!

October: Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

I had never heard of Rett Syndrome (also known as RTT) before until coming across students with this diagnosis. I received really great advice from a professor during OT school to look at a person's function/what they can do and not at their diagnosis. I still stand by this advice and put it into practice however being a curious student, I wanted to dig further into what Rett Syndrome was so I can better understand some of my students and their families. 

According to the NIH, Rett syndrome is "a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. Based on, it is rare in males but does occur at a low prevalence. It begins with normal early development and growth but then turns into a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability." 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Weight Bearing

Weight Bearing: Sensory input to the muscles/joints to help us know where our body is in space 

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "physical activities work bones and muscles against gravity. This occurs with any weight bearing exercise. These activities cause bones to build more cells and become strong." 

Importance of Weight Bearing:
-Promotes increased body awareness
-Increases strength 
-Promotes calm and organized behaviors which can increase attention 
-Increases coordination and balance
-Improves joint/muscle integrity 
(UAB Pediatric Neuromotor Clinic PDF)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Dianne Craft & Biology of Brain and Behavior

Background info about Dianne Craft
  • Received Bachelor's degree in Elementary and Special Education from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota in 1966 
  • Received her Master's degree in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado in 1990
  • Created and began teaching the workshop "Brain Integration Therapy" in 1988 
  • Also, created two more popular workshops called:  "Teaching Strategies for the Right Brain Child" & "The Biology of Learning (Behavior)"
  • Retired from teaching in 1997 after 25 years but wanted to continue working with children, so she created her own consulting firm called Child Diagnostics, Inc. in 1997
  • In 1999 she became a Certified Nutritional Health Professional 
Learning Gates
Dianne has a long time passion for discovering the reason as to why children struggle with learning and behavior. According to Dianne there are four main learning gates that need to be functioning in order for a child to have an easier time learning.  
These four "learning gates" include,
  • Visual processing 
  • Visual motor (writing) processing 
  • Auditory processing
  • Focus/attention processing
According to Dianne, there is typically a debate amongst educational experts about which approaches are best to use with a child, compensation or correction.  Dianne argues that it is possible to pursue both simultaneously.  She believes that compensation makes the learning task easier while the correction reduces the stress in the child's learning system so that learning can flow.  She calls this "opening up the child's learning gate."  

For more about the learning gates watch this video,

Dianne explains how the right brain is responsible for long-term memory storage.  She writes about how this process of storing material in the short-term memory and then transferring it to long-term memory is automatic.  However, when the left brain methods of repetition (either orally or in writing) are not transferring to the right brain long-term memory storage unit, then this is when right brain teaching strategies come into play.  Dianne explains how when we use right brain teaching strategies with children, they are required to use much less energy to store learned material.

For specific right brain strategies that can be implemented, go to the link below

Check out this video for strategies for right brain child and reading,

Check out this video for sight word

Research related to Biology of the Brain & Behavior

Dianne posted an interesting article about the relationship between learning, behavior and attention disorders to an essential fatty acid deficiency in children.  Essential fatty acids are specific fats and oils that cannot be produced in the body, rather they must be obtained in a person's diet or a deficiency will exist.  In a study in 1981, it was reported that a large number of hyperactive children showed deficiencies in essential fatty acids.  Recent studies have proven that specific brain functions such as, memory, attention, speech and specific motor skills are effected by deficiency in essential fatty acids, specifically the DHA content in fish oil.  Children with poor motor skills and poor coordination often lack essential fatty acids.  Specific effects of DHA relate to the elimination of the gaze aversion in children with autism.  Dianne states that when she speaks at Autism Conferences, she shows before and after pictures of children with Autism showing the lack of gaze aversion after receiving this vital nutrient.  Besides affecting gaze aversion, parents report increased socialization, speech, bladder control and sensory processing after even a short exposure to this supplementation.  To obtain Omega 3's and the important DHA into a child's diet, use a liquid orange-flavored cod liver oil and add vitamin E liquid drops.  To obtain Omega 6 oils, rub an open capsule of evening primrose onto a child's wrists.  For more information go to this link,

Another article by Dianne speaks about the ability of brain training with music and the effect music has on brain growth and development.  It has been found that auditory brain training can help children organize their thoughts, focus attention, help with balance, and understanding of phonics, reading, spelling, and oral instructions, particularly in the presence of background noise.  For more information go to this link,