Identifying Neuro-Developmental Units.
Neuro-developmental units are the basic level skills that respond to repeated exercise and are part of more complicated or complex skill such as Reading Ability, Math Ability, Attention Skills, Reading Comprehension, Memory, etc. For example, Reading Ability may be comprised of more than a dozen nuero-developmental units. A weakness in anyone one of these neuro-developmental units will adversely affect an individual's ability to read. A person lacking in reading achievement may have one or more neuro-developmental units that need strengthening. If too many neruo-developmental units are weak (underdeveloped) then learning from teaching becomes impaired. In some severe cases, reading is impossible without the development of weak neuro-developmental units. In some cases in reading impairment, it may be that only one neuro-developmental is weak.
The neuro-developmental process is the procedure of strengthening weak neuro-developmental units. One of the first steps in this process is identifying which neuro-developmental units are strong and which ones are weak.
Several different models that specialize in Neuro-development have identified their own neuro-developmental units. One example is the Structure of Intellect (SOI) that is based on Dr. Peter Guilford's factorial model of Intelligence. Theoretically, each one of the 120 factors in Guilford's model is a neuro-developmental unit. Mr. Robert and Mrs. Mary Meeker researched Guilford's model to see if these factors existed in the real world. They identified over 90 of them that did. Then they answered the question: Which of these factors (or neuro-developmental units) were necessary to do well in school. They were able to identify 27 neuro-developmental units or factors that were necessary for success in school. Their model is presented at SOI Systems Model. It is called the Structure of Intellect Model or SOI.
In SOI, factors are labeled with three letters. Each three letter factor (e.g., NFU, CFU) is a neuro-developmental unit that can be assessed and measured in terms of being strong or weak. Neuro-developmental units are identified and measured by a test that can be group administered (i.e., given to several children at the same time). SOI also provides pen and paper neuro-developmental exercises that will strengthen weak factors (neuro-developmental units). The exercises help children overcome learning disorders through strengthening weak neuro-developmental units. The SOI website offers a list of practitioners throughout the world that implement the SOI model.
One Mind at a Time is another model to identify neuro-developmental units and was proposed by the late Dr. Mel Levine. He defined neuro-developmental units that comprised eight larger developmental constructs. The eight larger constructs with their subcomponents are: Attention (mental energy controls, processing controls, production controls), Temporal-Sequential Ordering (sequential awareness, sequential perception, sequential memory, sequential output, time management, higher sequential thinking), Spatial Ordering (spatial awareness, spatial perception, spatial memory, spatial output, material management, higher order spatial thinking), Memory (short term memory, working memory, long term memory), Language (receptive language, expressive language), Neuromotor Functions (gross motor functions, fine motor functions, graphomotor functions), Social Cognition (verbal pragmatics, social behaviors, political acumen), and Higher Order Cognition (concept formation, critical thinking, creativity and brainstorming, problem solving, rule use, reasoning and logical thinking, mental representation). Improvement involves identifying constructs or units that are weak, and strengthening them through exercises, repeated over time until skill are within the average range. Another approach to teaching is to be aware of the child's strengths and present subject matter in a way that the child can learn through their strengths. A couple of books using Mel Levine's theories include A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine, ISBN: 0743202236 and The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists by Jenifer Fox and Whitney Hoffman, ISBN: 0470952393. The publishers of this book offers a bonus chapter through the web that explains the model in more detail. There are also many other books describing differentiated instruction that are practical for parents and educators. A web resource for this approach can be found at Center For School Success.
Another way to approach the identification of weak neuro-developmental units is found in the results of intelligence testing and mental performance tests. Dr. Reitan developed a model for neuro-development based on the results of the Halstead-Reitan Test battery used by Neuro-Psychologists. The battery of tests would identify specific weaknesses in neuro-functioning and then basic exercises were given to strengthen these weaknesses. He called his program, Rehabit. Even a standard IQ test can give much insight on what neuro-developmental units are weak and what it would take to get the deficits within an average level of skill.
These are just a few of the ways neuro-developmental units can be identified and assessed in terms of being strong or weak. Additional models of Nuero-development can be found at this website on Models of Learning Disorders. Contacting a practitioner in one or more of these models and being evaluated is probably the best method of getting help and it is the one that we recommend. Each model has its own strengths and weaknesses. No model is perfect. We suggest you investigate at least 3 of them and then choose the model that you feel will best help your child. Contact the main website of the model you choose and have the website identify a practitioner in your area. If you picked the right one, you will not be sorry. Within a month or two you should start seeing improvements. Stay with the program until it is over and/or your child is functioning normally.
The rest of this website is an attempt to present additional information that will help you in your endeavors with neuro-development. Some sections may even help you identify and assess the strength of particular neuro-developmental units lacking in your child or yourself. This website even attempts to give you guidance on neuro-developmental exercises that will help strengthen the functioning of your child. The reader may wish to augment exercises already identified by a models practitioner. There may be areas of need that are not covered in a particular model. In some cases, this website shows how to test for specific neuro-developmental units and demonstrates how to strengthen them. It is hoped that this website will be a resource to develop higher functioning in everyone willing to give neuro-development a try.
In summary, neuro-developmental units are subpart skills (e.g., sequential memory, auditory verbal memory, visual convergence) necessary to be able to complete a complex skill (e.g., reading, math, maintaining focus, comprehension, good social skills) efficiently. The strength of a neuro-developmental unit can be measured through testing. Strengthening neuro-developmental units is the key to success in using neuro-development to overcome or permanently cure deficits in complex skills. Even if the deficit was not permanently cured, but just improved, the improvement represents a higher quality of life through higher functioning for the individual.
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