In 2000, an article in Us News and World Report stated that 1 in every 6 children in America suffered from conditions such as autism, aggression, dyslexia, and ADHD. Unfortunately, the epidemic of sensory processing disorders and neurodevelopmental conditions appears to only be growing. Why is this? It can’t be strictly genetic – after all, genetic diseases shouldn’t rapidly permeate a population. Is the increase due to improved diagnosis? Perhaps this accounts for a certain percentage. However, it can’t possibly explain the explosion of these diseases throughout the American youth. What could the reason be then?
What causes sensory disorders?
More than likely, it is because modern lifestyles inhibit the development of a child’s brain. When a baby is born, he/she has a blue print for how the brain should develop. However, this will not occur unless the brain receives nutrients and stimulation. Stimulation is important to develop important electric circuits between the primitive brain and more complex areas. So, what stimulates the brain? Your senses. These include: taste, smell, hearing, vision, touch and many more overlooked senses that report certain things subconsciously to your brain like the position of your body in space. This is why you can close your eyes and still know the location of your right thumb.
How does a modern lifestyle slow brain development?
How does a modern lifestyle slow brain development then? For one, many of the foods we eat and chemicals we interact with daily are neurotoxic. This means they affect the nerves, spinal cord, and brain – the electric system in your body. Together, they control everything from heart rate to the perception of pain when you stub your big toe. Neurotoxic substances can alter normal brain development by inhibiting necessary stimulation. Also, children are not as active as they once were. The majority of brain stimulation comes from the muscles and joints of your body resisting gravity, which are particularly active during exercise.
The good news is that the brain appears to be moldable and can re-wire itself – a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Children that suffer from sensory processing disorders and neurodevelopmental conditions like autism may benefit from diet changes, removing toxins from their environment, and neurological exercises geared to stimulate immature parts of the brain. Together, comprehensive strategies that address these factors can help the brain develop appropriately.