Neuro Developmental Therapy

Neuro Developmental Therapy is a non-invasive treatment suitable for children experiencing developmental, learning, behavioural and social/emotional difficulties. A Neural Stimulation Programme is uniquely created for each individual to target and treat developmental delay caused by retained primitive reflexes.

This specialist, drug-free treatment aims to stimulate the maturation of the Central Nervous System (CNS) to encourage appropriate development and learning skills, therefore enabling each child to reach their full potential.

About Our Therapy

What is Neuro Developmental Therapy?

Neuro Developmental Therapy is a non-invasive treatment suitable for children experiencing developmental, learning, behavioural and social/emotional difficulties. A Neural Stimulation Programme is uniquely created for each individual to target and treat developmental delay caused by retained primitive reflexes. This specialist, drug-free treatment aims to stimulate the maturation of the Central Nervous System (CNS) to encourage appropriate development and learning skills, therefore enabling each child to reach full potential.

What are Primitive Reflexes?

A reflex is an automatic, unconscious reaction to stimuli

In the womb and early stages of life, we are equipped with a number of reflexes that not only aid the birthing process but also serve to ensure the survival and safety of the new-born into early infancy; e.g. grasping (to hold objects), rooting (to find nipple) and sucking (to feed) etc. At birth, all babies are tested to ensure these reflexes are present, in particular the primitive reflexes i.e. Suck, Root, Moro, Palmar etc. These primitive reflexes are instinctive, involuntary reflex movements that require no thought involvement and are directed from the brain stem. They are vitally important to a baby’s birth, survival, and learning. Without the appropriate rooting and sucking reflexes, for example, a baby will not have the ability to suck properly therefore making effective feeding very difficult. 

Every primitive reflex triggers, or is triggered by, a physical reaction. For example, if you blow in a baby’s face it will blink, a sudden loud movement will make it startle and cry, or placing a finger in a baby’s open palm will cause the baby to grasp the finger. Normally these primitive reflexes should inhabit within the first 12 months after birth.

We can compare the development of a child to a line of standing dominoes, and call each domino a reflex. The first domino is toppled over by the act of conception, which should begin a chain reaction, starting with early foetal responses and moving, all the way through to full adult reflexes by 3 years. If for any reason the early domino’s (reflexes) remain present, they will affect the natural inhibition and maturation of later reflexes.

When the Primitive Reflexes are Retained

As the baby’s learning and development occur, more mature, complex, higher centres of the brain begin to take control of the system. Early primitive reflexes are no longer needed and must inhibit to allow more sophisticated neurological organisation of the brain to develop. If these reflexes fail to inhibit they are said to be ‘retained’. This can affect the appropriate function of the CNS and therefore a child might display immature patterns of behaviour – lacking emotional, social and behavioural responses, learning difficulties in class and physical balance and/or co-ordination issues. 

Although some reflexes are tested for at birth, they are unfortunately not tested again 12 months later to ensure they have developed or inhibited appropriately. Any retained primitive reflexes can lead to a variety of consequences or difficulties in later life, many of which are diagnosed incorrectly as being psychological, emotional or behavioural, whereas in fact they may be physiological and directly related to retention of the primitive reflexes.

What is Developmental Delay?

As a result of reflexes being retained, we refer to the collective effect on the system as a developmental delay – simply, that the child is less developed than is typical for a child of its age.

As the brain develops in stages, beginning with lower levels of function, each developmental stage serves as a foundation for the later more advanced stages. If there is any interruption in these crucial early, foundational stages then this can result in some areas of the brain maturing late. This can have a significant impact on appropriate function of the CNS and affect all aspects of physical, cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social development – and particularly learning.

Possible causes and signs of Developmental Delay

Very little is known about the causes of developmental delay, but there is much speculation in the field. Some scientific research suggests that environmental toxins such as pesticides and lead may play a part. Other contributing factors may be linked to forms of stress or trauma experienced during pregnancy such as hypertension, anxiety, a loss or bereavement or premature birth. Birthing difficulties or birth traumas may also play a part in developmental delay. There is an overwhelmingly strong case for a hereditary link in terms of behavioural patterns, general co-ordination and learning difficulties.

Some of the effects of developmental delay are easy to observe. These include babies who have difficulty breathing or feeding, poor eye contact, subsequent delay in learning to crawl, walk and talk, family history of learning difficulties etc. 

As the baby begins to develop through childhood, any delay in achieving the expected land marks can indicate an interruption in the developmental process, such as teething, becoming ‘dry’ and poor interaction skills. Nursery and school can often be challenging as new skills are difficult to grasp, pencil grip is ineffective and handwriting remains a scribble; impulsive and inappropriate behaviour and an inability to stay on task may accompany difficulties with peer relationships. 

As the child’s workload and academic expectations increase, an inability to keep up will become more apparent and he/she may become stressed and anxious with a loss of confidence and self-esteem. Behavioural changes may follow as this vicious cycle begins to take hold. Simply, the effort involved in compensating for these reflexes are exhausting and become overwhelming.

The process

The programme is essentially the same for children & adults alike.

Establishing whether the reflexes have been retained determines whether NDT is appropriate for you or your child. These reflexes are designed to programme the brain in areas such as balance, co-ordination, eye movement/tracking and appropriate production of adrenaline – therefore it is possible to assess these areas of function for evidence that the Central Nervous (CNS) is immature.

Initial consultation
This is for 60 minutes. You will be asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire (see below) and discuss symptoms and areas of concern. We perform a series of tests to identify the presence of any relevant reflexes. These involve balance and co-ordination tests that most children enjoy very much – there are no academic or medical tests – simply, we are assessing the individual’s functioning CNS.

Treatment programme
If, during the assessment, we establish evidence of the primitive reflexes being retained, we can begin a programme of neural stimulation. We provide detailed and clear instructions – whether this be skin stimulation, movement exercises or sound therapy, all of which are carried out at home.

Review
Generally a treatment programme runs for 6/8 weeks. We then review and adjust the programme. Subsequent reviews are also for 60 minutes when additional assessments and further discussion of progress takes place.

The aim of the treatment programmes are to reproduce the movement and self-stroking stimulation that the baby should have been making at the point of the developmental interruption, either in utero or during the first few months after birth. Essentially we take the CNS back to a point where the domino run of reflexes originally halted and restart the process by mimicking the processes that should have happened at these key developmental stages.

We supply a small, specific soft brush to carry out the stimulation of specific areas of the face, hands, back and torso; this takes no more than 5 minutes twice a day. We may also teach specific movements designed to recreate certain post–birth movements that the baby should have been making to carry out and complete its own development. We also use the Johansen IAS programme which is an auditory stimulation technique that makes it possible to further target the specific speech and language areas of the cortex.

A programme will last on average 9-12 months – then we take a break which enables us to assess the lasting and continued development of the CNS. It is sometimes necessary to ‘tidy up’ any remaining areas of function with specific, targeted programmes following the period after the break from treatment.

Fundamentally, the programmes act to inhibit the retained primitive reflexes and to allow the more appropriate, adult reflexes to develop as the CNS matures.

N.B. Prior to our initial consultation you will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire which will allow us to gain a better understanding of you/your child’s requirements. Please click the button below to view this questionnaire.

N.B. Prior to our initial consultation you will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire which will allow us to gain a better understanding of you/your child’s requirements. Please click the button below to view this questionnaire.

Who can Neuro Developmental Therapy help?

In Children

  • Specific learning difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Movement, co-ordination and balance difficulties (Dyspraxia)
  • Behavioural and social difficulties (ADD/ADHD/ASD’s/Asperger’s)
  • Classroom difficulties: Reading, Writing, Numeracy
  • Poor Organisational skills
  • Poor concentration, focus, distractibility, memory recall & retention
  • Sequencing, Sensory, Visual/Auditory Processing difficulties (SPD, VPD, APD)
  • Delayed Speech and Language disorders/ ‘baby’ talk
  • Hypersensitivity: both physical and emotional
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inappropriate or Immature behaviour & emotional regulation
  • Shy, withdrawn, loss of self-esteem/confidence, lacking social interaction skills
  • Anxiety, fears & phobias
  • Disturbed or difficulty sleeping or settling
  • Motion sickness
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Poor digestive habits or appetite
  • Enuresis (bed wetting)
  • Oral fixations (sucking thumb/clothes, nail biting)
  • Generally under achieving and failing to thrive

In Adults

  • Stress
  • Inability to wind down
  • Anxiety & panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Emotional maturity & regulation
  • Motivation
  • Clarity
  • Self awareness & development
  • Underachieving
  • Motion sickness
  • Difficulty driving at night and/or following direction
  • Risk taking
  • Agoraphobia
  • Non-specific back & neck tension, blood sugar & digestive issues