Neuroplasticity

What is neuroplastic training?

Neuroplastic training, at the CDN, is a set of experiences that have been designed, or organised, to bring about positive neurological change, or enhancement in the way that an individual goes about learning or interaction. The training requires the participant to:

  • use controlled attention
  • undertake tasks that are intensive in nature
  • undertake the training for a pre-determined amount of time
  • be well supervised throughout the training

At the CDN this training comes in the form of a research–supported online training packages and the systematic and explicit learning that can take place in a learning intervention or set of focus sessions. Our most frequently used online training packages are:

Who can benefit from neuroplastic training?

Neuroplastic training can be used to develop an array of skills, such as organisational skills for life and learning, in rehabilitation after a physical or neurological setback, and to develop specific sporting skills, such as one’s tennis serve.

At the CDN we use neuroplastic training programs to develop a child’s executive function or tools for life and learning. Sharpening these tools can strengthen the skills of capable students and develop a greater capacity to learn for students who struggle in areas of the curriculum. The executive function tools are listed below:

  1. Response Inhibition
    the capacity to pause and think before you get started.
  2. Working Memory
    the ability to promptly give your attention to what is being said or presented before you, take in the information, and manipulate it in order to complete a task.
  3. Emotional Control
    the ability to manage your emotions in order to complete a task.
  4. Flexibility
    the ability to adapt to changing situations in life and learning
  5. Sustained attention
    the ability to pay attention despite fatigue, boredom or what is going on around you.
  6. Prioritising
    the ability to decide the order in which things need to be done.
  7. Planning
    the ability to create a map of how you are going to compete the task.
  8. Organisation
    the ability to set up and maintain a system to keep track of information and materials.
  9. Time management
    the ability to estimate how much time one has, how to allocate it and how to meet deadlines.
  10. Goal directed persistence
    the ability to follow through on a task despite what is going on around you or how you feel.

At the completion of a program of neuroplastic training we frequently find that a child is more available to engage in remediation in their area of need. That is, they are more experienced in doing parent-supported training in out of school time, they should have a greater working memory capacity, and they are more experienced in setting and working towards achievable goals. At CDN many students will go on to do a literacy intervention that will be undertaken with a similar frequency and intensity of engagement as the neuroplastic training. CDN also offers less intensive forms of remediation after neuroplastic training, such as writing programs and the development of time management and organisational skills.

Is neuroplastic training for everyone?

Sometimes the answer is ‘not yet.’ This is why we have an initial session. We need to get to know the child and family in order to determine their suitability fro the training. The sorts of things that we look at are:

  • The age and needs of the child.
  • The way in which a child goes about the act of learning.
  • Is the child in a suitably stable emotional state to engage in challenging training?
  • Does the child have access to a reliable Internet service and device – PC, laptop, Mac or iPad?
  • Does the child have the required computer skills to engage in the training, such as the ability to use a mouse?
  • If the child lives in a shared custody situation, or when both parents work, will the child be consistently supervised to do the training?
  • How busy is the child in out-of school time? Can the child fit the training in with all of their other extra-curricula activities?
  • Is the school willing to be mindful of the child doing the training and make adjustments to homework and assignment tasks?
  • Is the student better off doing a learning intervention or doing tutor-supported work straight away?

The initial meeting

Students and families seek these services on the referral of a CDN specialist, a referral from their school, a referral from an outside specialist, or a self-referral that has been made by the family. Whatever the pathway, it is important the child arrives with the sufficient information in order to create the picture of their strengths, difficulties and progress in learning.

The information that should be completed and handed to reception on arriving at the CDN rooms Include:

  • The Parent Questionnaire - if this is your first visit to CDN
  • The Teacher Questionnaire - if this is you first visit to CDN
  • The Impact Scale
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)
  • Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF)
  • Copies of other relevant reports

Matching the student to the training

Most students present with a good amount of background information and so after closely reading through this, and meeting with the child and family, screeners may also be used to better understand the child. Commonly the child’s short term and working memory levels will be assessed, as a poor working memory capacity is a common characteristic of students who struggle in learning. The child’s engagement in this initial session gives insight into their suitability for neuroplastic training at that time.

It is at the initial meeting that the family can be given access to suggested neuroplastic training programs to trial. The family can then trial the training at home and make the decision as to whether they will support their child to do the training. If they decide to go ahead they must book an appointment for a Start-up Session at the CDN.

Neuroplasticity at CDN

Each of our neuroplastic training programs follows a similar process:

  • An initial meeting 
  • A start-up session 
  • Communication with referring specialist
  • Weekly coaching sessions for the duration of the program
  • A final meeting 
  • A final report is made available to the family and referring specialist
  • A six month follow up session

At CDN we understand that a when a child experiences ongoing difficulties in learning, it will have an impact on more than what they are learning about at school at that time. We are here to establish an ongoing team approach to supporting your child, to anticipate difficulties, and to be a support when an unexpected challenge arises.

Our Neuroplasticity specialist

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