At Lakehouse academy students participate in neuro programming twice each week where they engage in interventions like neurofeedback, sensory vestibular proprioception, primitive reflex testing and vagal nerve activation. If you are like just about anyone in the world these words probably just sound really fancy and don’t actually communicate the deeper meaning behind the why, what and how this helps exponentially change the course of treatment. Our students will describe these interventions as “watching tv” or “wobble board” or “VR”. Ultimately the fancy words, and the students descriptions are one in the same. Through the use of curiosity, play, assessment of functioning and movement these students are engaging the core developmental puzzle pieces that might have not yet fallen into place to support an integrated brain. They are supporting their equilibrium both in balance and in communication within the brains “communication highway” system. They are learning to sit through distress and working the muscles of regulation to improve distress tolerance and they are practicing using the muscles of focus and attention. All of these interventions contribute to individual growth on a neurological level. In a broader sense than the individual, our neuro programming intimately supports the family system. Compounded into one single brain mapping review session is the ability to depersonalize symptoms, identify narratives that come up in everyday life that contribute to social-emotional regulation, and identify areas of strength through the brains incredible ability to protect and keep each of us safe at any given moment. As a clinician, this gives me the chance to point to a picture and explore with a student how their behavioral or relational pattern pops up, and identify a new narrative and goal from that to support the neurological work that coincides.
The most important question I help any of my students’ answer is this: “why does any of this matter for me?”
If you are a teenager: the world does not have to feel the way that your brain and body tell you that it MUST. The fears and worries that you might have in relationships, the spacing out you might have when you are stressed, the feeling of being misunderstood no matter what words you put to how you feel… it doesn’t have to stay this way. Neuro-focused treatment is like going to the gym for the specific “muscle group” in your brain and nervous system that needs a little more attention to help everything function at full capacity. This can help you understand that NOTHING is wrong with your brain or body, and your brain has done the best it can to keep you safe for every minute that you’ve been alive so far. At some point our defenses and reflexes are not needed anymore because the world and our emotions are stabilizing. This is where neuro can help shift from old patterns, to one’s that help you form and hold onto the best friends, to help you feel safe within your own mind, and to even help you sleep better at night. Its worth it, and you’re worth it!
For the parents: neuro-focused treatment will not only target the exact biological, developmental and systematic barriers your child may current feel impacted by, but it will also soften the understanding you have for your kid. I have seen countless parents shift from feeling agitated, frustrated and even pessimistic about their child and their behaviors to feeling empathy, compassion and realizing your kid is doing the best they can with the resources they have. It is important to additionally note that similar to a fitness journey, you have a stage of internal change where change is happening without too much to show for it yet, a stage of personal acknowledgment where you may start to notice your change and a stage of others noticing the change without you telling them. This is a similar pattern to what happens with neuro-based treatment. We can usually see shifts in the brain mapping within just a few months. Sometimes behaviors have barely started to shift yet at this point even though the brain is ready for trying something new. Following this internal change, signs and symptoms of the change slowly show themselves. It is incredible to see and, just like physical fitness, neurological growth takes dedication, patience and nurture.
To add in a few final thoughts for anyone, providers, families, and students: Neuro-based treatment adds to the comprehensive, collaborative and integrated approach that supports the best level of care. Specifically addressing the core root of the nervous system and pathways within the brain, while offering moments of grounding in daily life, along with the research based clinical therapy methods can provide a model of care that addresses all areas and gets our students and families to a place where they can thrive for all the years to come. It is worth every second our students can commit to, even if they only see it as “watching TV”!