NEUROPLASTICITY

You have a child with a learning difficulty. Something went wrong somewhere. It may be genetic, or something happened in the womb or during the birthing process. You have done your grieving – it was a tragedy after all – and, by now, life has gone on. But it still causes you pain every now and then – when your child’s teacher lists off the problems your child is having with their learning and/or behaviour, or a friend lists off the accomplishments of their child of the same age. This is your precious beloved child, and you would do anything to make everything right, but none of us can go back in time. What’s done is done. You are stoic but, just every now and then, a tiny knife pierces your heart.

I am not medically trained. However, my cousin and her husband are. They are both doctors. Some years ago my mother had a moderate stroke. (Moderate does not mean mild.) I remember my cousin’s husband explaining (during a very traumatic time I can tell you) about strokes – that it is rather like accidentally hammering a nail into your hand. The spot where the nail went in is, of course, destroyed – just like the spot in the brain where the clot is. However, if ‘the medicine’ (which hospitals give to stroke victims) is given within four hours, the clot can be dissolved. The sooner it is dissolved, the sooner further damage is prevented. Just like with the nail in the hand where a circle of red angry inflammation quickly develops and enlarges, the clot can cause a circle of damage in the brain that can grow and grow if treatment is not given.

“So what does this have to do with my child?” I hear you ask. I am of course getting to that. My cousin’s husband explained further that, even though damage has occurred in the brain, a person can still learn to develop the abilities they have lost by developing new brain paths in other areas of the brain. Of course this is simply said but is fiendishly difficult to carry out. Let’s say the person has lost the ability to play the trumpet. If they are highly motivated and willing to push through horrible feelings of frustration, they can start all over again from the beginning (like when they started learning as a child) and once again learn to play the trumpet. Sadly, many ‘give up’ after a stroke and remain very disabled throughout the rest of their lives.

You have probably heard the buzzword ‘neuroplasticity’ being bandied about in schools these days. This is because schools have caught onto scientific discoveries about the brain which show that, whilst in the past everyone thought that brain damage or abnormalities were just the end of the story, now they have realised that the brain is a dynamic thing, that is, it is malleable, changeable.

Everyone can, and should – if they wish to live their lives to the full – keep developing their brains. Whether we are eight or eighty, we should never stop learning and trying to improve ourselves.

By engaging a tutor for your child, you are giving them the best chance to improve. What a tragedy it was in the past that learning disabled children were just disregarded and left to it. Nowadays, so much can be done to keep improving and expanding the capabilities of their brains. Maybe your child will never provide competition to the Albert Einsteins of this world, but you can and should do your best to provide for them a life full of stimulation and opportunities to learn so that the wonderfulness locked inside them can be discovered.

If you’d like a specific training program to help retrain your brain from the inside out, check our Stuart’s Psychotherapy Sydney website or visit the Top of the Class Home Tuition Sydney website for more free resources!

About Gemma Griffiths

Gemma is one of the most thoroughly experienced tutors in Melbourne. She has been a qualified School Teacher for several decades, and has taught all subjects including maths, science and specialising in English literacy. She has been promoted to Head of Department and Library Coordinator, helping many students of all ages and abilities in all areas of their numeracy / maths, problem solving, English literacy (analytical reading / comprehension and expressive writing skills) as well as general study skills such as time management, preparing for assessments and fine tuning their exam taking strategies.

Leave a Comment