Did you know that developing the lower brain and midbrain is related to the movements of early childhood? And, that because of neuroplasticity, these movements can be done at any stage of life?
So WHY you would want to develop these parts of your brain? Because if your lower brain (pons) and midbrain aren’t fully developed, your prefrontal cortex gets overloaded and guess what — life is CHALLENGING. These challenges might be anxiety, fears, sensory issues, reading issues, ADHD, or food pickiness, just to name a few.
How Anxiety, Sensory Processing, & Food Pickiness ALL Changed for My Kids
We heard about Brain Highways from a friend who said that after only six weeks, her daughter tolerated jeans with a zipper and a snap. Which, at age 11, was HUGE! Because some kids with sensory issues just cannot tolerate the fabrics of those clothes nor the uncomfortable feeling of a snap or button.
This information made me curious. AJ, my oldest, was the same way — intolerant of many clothing textures because of her sensory processing disorder.
After I learned more about the Brain Highways work, and how it could help both my kids (and me) with anxiety and food pickiness, we signed up.
It’s been life changing.
Developing Our Lower Brain
We attended the pons class, doing the floor work of creeping every day for 30 minutes, or belly crawling, as you might know it. Prior to creeping, each night we did movements that were very similar to primitive reflexes that babies do. (See photo above.) Retained primitive reflexes are connected with learning disabilities, ADHD, poor reading skills, and sensory processing disorders.
EVERYONE, my husband and me included, did it.
But I have to be honest. I hated it. Mostly because my own pons was only 5% developed and I wasn’t even using my legs to creep!! My feet, elbows, and knees bled. My 44 year old body felt every year. And, because it took a lot of time and energy.
But we persisted — facilitating the kids floor time and doing our own. Every. Single. Night.
And it was worth it.
Weekly we got handouts — a LOT of handouts of information!! That’s so we would know more about the brain and have activities to do in addition to the floor time that would develop eye teaming, stop negative behaviors, improve vestibular senses, and so much more.
You’re probably most interested in the results, right?
We saw that with the floor time and the strategies learned in handouts and class, the kids seemed less overwhelmed, less fearful, less anxious, and were more flexible with trying new things.
And, our parenting skills improved because of what we learned in Brain Highways. For example, we learned strategies for when our kids had “never ever” behaviors such as arguing. Instead of getting triggered, we learned that we could retrain their brains (and ours) that this wasn’t a great strategy to “take care of business”. With our new improved parenting, we immediately give a chore for arguing. We explained to AJ that we were sorry, that we inadvertently taught her brain that arguing was an effective strategy and it’s really not. So if she argues, she gets to vacuum. Or clean the toilets.
Retraining the brain.
Since we learned that developing the pons was only part of helping remove the load off the cortex so we continued to creep and added crawling with the midbrain class.
Developing Our Midbrain
Crawling develops the midbrain. We pushed our floor time to 45 minutes a day. (I know! It’s A LOT!)
After crawling for the entire summer, JJ’s now eating a huge range of foods. This is a big part of the midbrain development — food textures aren’t an issue for her anymore. Which is SO good since she’s got so many food allergies. She needed more foods that she could eat!
Not only that, JJ’s excited to try new things. She told me, “I’ve really changed because I used to fear everything. I’m excited about trying new things now. I want to try something new every day!”
Because of AJ’s health issues including painful “loose joints” (hypermobility), she’s been unable to crawl. Which is such a bummer because crawling would really help her be her best self. We’re hoping that soon she’ll be feeling better and more able to participate.
In our midbrain class, other Brain Highways families shared how much better their children were doing in school, especially with reading and writing. That’s because developing the midbrain improves eye tracking, visualizing, auditory processing, and a lot more. I will admit to not remembering all the information that we’ve learned. It’s a lot. 🙂
*A HUGE RESULT FOR ME: This class helped ME! Because I weaned off my anxiety medication! I’ve never even considered it before and was always just grateful that it worked. But, after this class, I wondered how much my brain had changed. Apparently A LOT! I was able to slowly titrate down and then off my medication with the supervision of my doctor.
If you’re considering doing Brain Highways, and you can do it online as well as in Denver or San Diego, I highly recommend having your partner buy in to it. I don’t think I could have managed without my husband’s support and participation.
There’s more research emerging every year on brain development and how it affects learning and anxiety and so forth. Unfortunately, Brain Highways doesn’t annotate their information but I’ve found other links for further reading if you’re interested:
Primitive Reflexes, Whole Child Learning Solutions