When children have been diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay (GDD), there is a high probability that they will also have special needs.
GDD is a condition connected with the idea that every child has developmental milestones. These are the periods where parents commonly expect their child to develop certain skills and abilities. Well-known examples include:
Now, when a child is unable to perform a great majority of skills and functions at their expected milestones, it can be assumed that they may have GDD. And when a child is diagnosed as such, they are considered to have certain brain conditions such as autism, language delay, motor and coordination development problems, cerebral palsy etc.
At this point, most people ask: Is GDD the cause of those difficulties or are those difficulties causing GDD?
The answer is the latter. GDD has multiple causes and many of them related to many well-known disorders. These disorders in turn can be the result of genetics, birth complications, environmentmental factors and many more.
In reality, there is no one true cause behind a child being unable to develop necessary motor and communication skills at the desired period. A lot of these different conditions have their own way of hampering the proper acquisition of a milestone’s skills.
Among Tomatis® certified professionals, the closest thing to a common cause for GDD is an issue with the vestibular system (which helps the body’s sense of balance, muscle tone, movement, coordination pattern recognition and other cognitive skills in relation to time and space). For older children with speech delays, it might also be an issue with the cochlea (which is responsible for detecting subtle differences between sounds).
Yet despite these common factors, each treatment program comes with a unique set of parameters set by the professional based on diagnosis.
That is why it is important for parents to consult a professional immediately in order to determine the specific case of their child. Even a single one of these developmental difficulties can require a number of different treatment programs.
A lack of proper diagnosis may prove harmful and even exacerbate a child’s GDD. It can also create confusion over how the child came to develop a particular difficulty. The cause of Developmental Coordination Delay, for instance, has yet to be determined. Other GDD-causing difficulties can be the result of trauma that occurred from difficult births, accidents inducing brain injury, genetic disorder or just plain, unhealthy environments.
The silver lining here is that understanding the specific difficulty will also enable parents to identify a child’s strengths as well as weaknesses. For example, a child with ASD may not communicate well but they can have excellent skills when it comes to visual solving, sharp observation and even photographic memory.
It also dispels the misconception that children with special needs all follow a single, formulaic routine in their future education. The GDD of one child may just end up limiting their speech but they might still possess perfectly normal motor skills. Likewise, another child with GDD may have difficulties in movement but can communicate sufficiently (or even more eloquently beyond their years).
That said, it makes sense that one way to help a child cope with their developmental delays is to first identify the areas that these delays are most evident. These are:
Fine and gross motor skills – These are the skills governing movement, including the ability to walk properly as well as the ability to manipulate objects with precision and care (mastering pencil grip for instance).
Social and emotional skills – This is the area that governs a child’s ability for two-way communication as well as their sensitivity to emotions.
Cognitive skills – This area deals with a child’s ability for study, including their ability to sequence, read, deduct, memorize and pay attention.
Speech and language – These are the skills that enable the child to process and communicate with language in a meaningful way.
Daily routines – This area governs the child’s ability to develop habits, including those for hygiene, dress and housework.
Identifying the main areas affected by GDD can create a better picture on how a particular difficulty has led a child to their current state. The result may seem similar among special needs children but the chain of events that led them to that point will require different methods to trace back and undo.
The following are several examples:
- GDD and APD
- GDD and ASD
- GDD and Developmental Coordination Delay
- GDD and Cerebral Palsy
- GDD and Learning Difficulties
Rewinding the Snowball Effects that Create GDD Symptoms
One common pattern that can be noticed about GDD is that some of the delays have a direct cause (e.g. autism, APD). But at the same time, these delays create many more as an indirect consequence (such as emotional dysregulation, frustration, stress, anxiety etc).
Hence, there is the popular misconception that children with special needs all fall under just one or two stereotypes. Not many people are actually aware of how each of their different conditions create developmental delays in a variety of ways that require unique treatment programs. Acknowledging the fact that GDD is a common challenge among children with special needs is a valid conclusion but not the basis for a one-size-fits-all solution.
The only true way parents can avoid this trap is to seek out professionals immediately to have their child diagnosed. And as always, diagnosis for these conditions is best detected as early as possible. Children are prone to these conditions in many ways. ASD, for example, can be inherited if there is a history of these conditions from either parent’s family. On the other hand, traumatic accidents can also affect certain parts of the brain that can lead to a child having special needs.
In the end, it is all about ensuring that your child gets the right treatment as early as possible in order to prevent the signs of GDD from advancing further.
How the Tomatis® Method Can Help
Among the number of treatments available for children with special needs, the Tomatis® Method is perhaps one of the few that still try to tackle issues in the brain that are common in all their different conditions.
Whether it is ASD, DCD or APD, all GDD-causing conditions have an effect on the mirror neurons in the brain. These neurons are responsible for activating the areas of the brain that facilitate movement, communication and emotional control by integrative learning.
In some children with special needs, their mirror neurons are not quite active, making it more difficult for them to develop the skills at their expected milestones. Paired with issues with the vestibular system, the result is a mind that interacts and understands the world with very different thought processes.
The Tomatis® Method uses a distinct form of auditory-brain simulation in order to remedy these issues by strengthening the connection between the brain’s key areas.
The method is divided into two phases: passive listening and active listening. In the passive phase, the listener will be hearing music with special contrasts provide by a process called Gating®. This process then sharpens the brain’s attention. In the active phase, the listener will be performing several exercises that will help them better recognize sounds using their own voice.
Another advantage of the Tomatis® Method is that it can be applied very early on and there are various practitioners who know how to configure it for specific brain disorders. That way, the child will have higher chances of undergoing a program that accurately addresses the challenges of their unique brain.
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To know more about the Tomatis® Method, you can contact Francoise Nicoloff, French-Australian Psychologist and International Tomatis® Consultant and Trainer who has more than 40 years of extensive experience in the field. Francoise is based in Sydney (Australia) and travels interstates and overseas to run Tomatis® Listening Assessments and design programs to suit the needs of the child or the adult experiencing difficulties. She is available at email@example.com or you can visit her website: www.tomatis.com.au.