There is a theory that in life we get promoted until we eventually reach our own personal level of incompetence. When I studied neurology at postgraduate level, I found the learning and behavioural disorders of childhood tricky to say the least, and when later teaching clinical neurology to postgraduate students I certainly felt that I had become academically incompetent when it came to trying to describe what exactly dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorders, etc., were, let alone what was the underlying cause of these disorders. It was at this point that it dawned on me that I was not alone – it appeared that nobody really knew exactly what was going on from a neurodevelopmental perspective.
It was around this time that two things occurred that would change both my direction in life and the focus of my research. Firstly, I came across a paper by Esther Nimchinsky in which she described a brain cell, which, although discovered years before in previous papers, had been left on the shelf, so to speak, gathering dust. It was this paper and a second by Nimchinsky that I believe was the catalyst for a host of papers concerning this particular brain cell and others discovered along the way. What is so remarkable about this particular brain cell is that 85% of the population of cells are produced after birth, there are more in the right side of the brain, they are only found in three locations and to date they have only been found in the brains of half a dozen highly social species.
The second thing that occurred was a single thought that popped into my mind. Supposing, just supposing, that all the learning and behavioural disorders are not conditions but symptoms that always appear together in patterns of comorbidity. Human nature being what it is, it is all too easy to label the child who is struggling to read as dyslexic, but in only describing the obvious we do not look at the bigger picture and notice aspects of, say, inattention or dyspraxia.
The fact that we now know far more about how the brain grows after birth and continues to produce new brain cells in a window of development (four months to four years) provides us with a greater understanding of possible brain function and new areas of research, but it has now been suggested that this postnatal development also makes it potentially vulnerable to stressors.
These stressors can occur during pregnancy due to a maternal infection, by premature birth, by foetal distress or an assisted delivery, by the ingestion of food additives or insufficient essential nutrients in the diet. Some 60% of the brain is fat and of this fat 20% must be the essential fatty acids. As it is most likely that the diet provided to the child or selected by an adult will be lacking in these essential fats – notably in omega 3 – it is vital that the child in particular is provided with an adequate daily dose of a quality and correctly balanced omega supplement.
What may seem like splitting hairs in calling the learning and behavioural disorders ‘no more than symptoms’ may well be fundamental to the understanding and thereby treatment of these supposed “conditions”. If we can relate each symptom to a specific area of the brain, we can then direct appropriate treatment to that area and thereby stimulate the area to bring up its level of function. Also, by gaining a greater understanding of the functioning of the developing brain, it is possible to identify such conditions as convergence insufficiency (the inability to bring both eyes in towards the nose in close work) – a condition so often wrongly diagnosed as dyslexia and yet one that can be diagnosed in minutes and treated effectively in a matter of weeks. Similarly, a retained visual defensive reflex that forces a child to look at everything that moves in their peripheral vision may be wrongly considered to be attention deficit disorder.
It is my belief that we are now well into a new and particularly exciting era of neurology, where our understanding of how the brain grows and develops postnatally is increasing on a daily basis. This, together with the shift towards functional neurology (how the brain can produce symptoms in the absence of gross pathology), will see us not only able to detect ‘glitches’ in brain development but be able to put effective treatments in place, thereby freeing up resources in schools and putting an end to so much unnecessary suffering by children with learning and behavioural disorders. Dyslexia and dyspraxia are patently obvious to both the child and the parent, but so often the lowering of self-esteem is only endured by a sad and lonely child.
At the Tinsley House Clinic we believe that all of the learning and behavioural disorders are no more than symptoms that always occur in patterns of presentation which are as unique as the individual child. Only by appreciating this and by looking at the big picture can the true extent of the problem be seen and thereby treated. However, the treatment must be holistic and consider diet, supplementation, specific exercises and computer-generated treatment programmes designed to stimulate specific neuron fields. Once this has been achieved, the educational specialists can address the delay in education consequent to the developmental delay.
Dr Robin Pauc is an expert in child neurology, and approaches learning difficulties, including Dyslexia, ADD, OCD, ADHD, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s syndrome of childhood, from a truly ground-breaking perspective. He is a researcher and the author of a number of books on learning and behavioral issues of childhood.
He is a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board and a Past Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology. Having been in clinical practice for over 30 years, Robin has a special interest in developmental disorders in children. A particular focus is treating children who’ve been diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, OCD and Tourette’s syndrome.
Books by Robin include:
- Is That My Child? [Available to purchase here]
- The Brain Food Plan
- Could It Be You?
- Mindful Parenting (a parent-thesis)
- Dyslexia Really?
For more information, contact Tinsley House Clinic:
Tel: +44 (0)1590 612432