As we saw in the previous blog, simple assessments can provide as much information, if not more, than expensive neurological and psychological testing. Following are two more tests that I perform as part of the initial assessment for Books Neural Therapy™.
I ask the child to put her thumbs back into the roof of her mouth, just as she did for the first test, but this time to push them out towards the molar teeth. I ask whether she ever trips over her own words or feels like her brain works faster than her mouth.
In this test, the child spreads her upper palate, much as an orthodontic appliance would. Every client with a learning problem has a problem with the TMJ (temporal mandible joint or jaw joint). Now, you can have a TMJ problem without a learning problem, but if there is a learning issue, there will always be a TMJ problem!
Children with TMJ problems and learning challenges often mean to say one thing, but something else comes out of their mouths, or their words are twisted up in the sentence so that what they say isn’t what they meant to say. Others may stutter.
No wonder I see so many clients with braces. Their body is revealing there’s a problem, but unless you understand the relationship between the jaw joint and learning issues, you’d never know that. (Most orthodontists aren’t familiar with this relationship either.)
In the next test, I ask the child to put her index fingers in her ears, as if she were trying to block out all sounds. Once I have done my test, I motion for her to remove her fingers so I can continue with the questions. I ask her whether she is ever distracted when there is noise around her, whether she loses concentration when that happens and has to start over, and whether there are times she hears something another person says, but she’s not sure what she heard.
Most children will answer yes to at least one of those questions, and they often ask the other person to repeat himself or herself, but by the time they do, they’ve figured out what the person said the first time.
This test clues me in to two different problems: first, whether there is an auditory processing problem, which means she hears the word, but it comes through muffled or garbled. This isn’t a hearing problem; it’s a delay between when she hears the word and when she figures out what was said.
The coping mechanism of asking others to repeat themselves is a polite way of taking the necessary time to figure out what was said. To the teacher or parent, however, it seems manipulative.
Second, there may be an auditory concentration problem, in which the person involved loses her train of thought and has to start over with what she was doing. On timed tests and office deadlines, this problem can eventually turn into text and performance anxiety.
I perform several other tests as well during the initial consultation, but these four tests are typically where I begin evaluating each patient. If you’d like to schedule an assessment for your child, please let me know.