So often in my practice I see children who are bright, but they struggle in school, have behavior concerns, are socially awkward or perhaps just seem exhausted. It could be that their upstairs brain is working overtime to compensate for their downstairs brain. Put another way, their cortex, the smart thinking part of their brain, is working tirelessly doing its work and the work of the pre-cortical region, the part of the brain that should do things automatically.
Why is this a problem?
Well, the pre-cortical area of an organized brain has automated functions such as balancing the body. However, in a disorganized brain some of those functions are not automatic and the cortex has to use its energy to make up for and complete those functions, taking away its ability to fully shine. It must compensate. Almost all of us compensate in some areas, since none of us have a 100 percent organized brain, but many children today are doing a great deal of compensating and it is causing them issues in their daily life.
So how do I know if my child is compensating?
Try this quick game looking at balance. Standing or sitting still requires a high level of balance. This should be an automatic action, one that we don’t really think about. But in many of the clients I see their cortex is having to compensate in this area. One way to quickly see if your child is using their cortex to stay balanced is by having them to do the following:
1- Tell them to put their Right Hand on their Left Shoulder and their Left Hand on their Right Shoulder. Be sure to model, too. 😉
2- Have them lift one knee so that the foot is off the floor, creating a 90 degree-type bend.
3- Tell them to try to be still, but if they wiggle or put their foot down it’s ok.
4- Ask them to answer some simple questions such as “What did you eat for breakfast today?” “Who did you sit with at lunch?” Continue to ask questions that elicit more than just one-word answers.
If they struggle here, it is a sign that their cortex is doing more work than it should.
If they are still doing alright, continue by asking them to close their eyes.
5- Ask them an open-ended question, such as “Tell me everything you did at school today.”
Again, if this is a struggle, it is a sign that they are using their cortex to compensate for their balance, which should be automatic. The cortex, or upstairs brain, can only do one thinking task at a time. And, if the cortex is spending its energy doing the work of the pre-cortical brain, you can see how something as simple as balancing in a chair while listening to directions could become quite the challenge.
Try this at home, and if your child is showing you that their upstairs brain is doing the work of their downstairs brain, contact me for a free screening. Let’s get your child organized so they can let their brilliance shine through!