Strengthening Neuro-developmental Units.
Theoretically, complex skills are made up of various neuro-developmental untis. Neuro-developmental units make up complex tasks such as reading, math, social skills, and attention skills. The strength of neuro-developmental units can be measured through testing and they can be improve though a process call neuro-development. By strengthening enough neuro-developmental units that are related to the desired complex skill (e.g., reading, math, social skills, attention skills), the individual's ability will improve. When all are strenghtened to being within the normal range, then individuals can benefit from tutoring or instruction. They will be able to learn where before, they were impaired in their ability to learn. This article explains how nuero-developmental units are strengthened.
A relatively easy neuro-developmental unit to measure, which is measured by some IQ tests, is auditory verbal memory. Auditory memory is believed to be part of auditory verbal comprehension, attention skills and listening. An example of auditory verbal memory is the Reynolds IQ subtest called verbal memory. The participant has to retell sentences or stories that are read to her using the exact words that were given. The results are compared with normed tables of same age peers to determine if the participant's score it's strength. For our example, let's assume that the score obtained was weak or low.
An appropriate neuro-developmental exercise to strengthen that weakness would be to have the participant repeat back words that she hears. Let's say the child was so weak that she could only repeat back 3 out of 25 words given. Training starts within the child's capabilities. Only sentences 4 or 5 words long would be given for the participant to repeat. Over time the child will become 95% proficient at being able to repeat sentences of 4 or 5 words long. That is still way below the norm, so we want to make it more challenging. The child is now asked to repeat sentences that are 6 to 8 words long. When 95% mastery is reached, additional words are added. These steps are repeated until the child is performing at average or above average level for children of similar age. This neuro-developmental unit of auditory verbal memory has been strengthen and to verify it, the verbal memory subtest of the Reynolds can be re-administered. It should now be within the average to above average range. We should also see improvements in listening skills, verbal comprehension and even attention skills. If we do not see gains in our complex deficit, it means that other Neuro-developmental units need to be identified, measured and then strengthen. When all the units are developed within the average range, then the complex skill will be improved as well or "cured".
This proceedure can be applied to any complex skill or task (e.g., reading, writing, social skills, attention skills). It is this procedure that helps individuals with brain damage to overcome the deficits resulting from the brain damage. it helps indviduals overcome learning disorders. It allows individuals with poor social skills to develop the skills they need to be successful in life. The process involves identifying the developmental units that underlie the complext task, measuring them, developing a method for strengthening the weak neuro-developmental units, strengthening them to the point of mastery within the normal range based on the age of the participant and providing tutoring or learning so the individual can perform within the normal to above normal range. The process does take time and effort, but the rewards of improved functioing are usually worth the costs.
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