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Research Update: Early Deprivation and Brain Development

A new article has been published which adds more to that we know about deprivation on development of the mind, body and brain.

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Millions of children worldwide live in nonfamilial institutions. We studied impact on adult brain structure of a particularly severe but time-limited form of institutional deprivation in early life experienced by children who were subsequently adopted into nurturing families. Institutional deprivation was associated with lower total brain volume in a dose-dependent way. Regionally specific effects were seen in medial prefrontal, inferior frontal, and inferior temporal areas. Deprivation-related alterations in total brain volume were associated with lower intelligence quotient and more attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms; alterations in temporal volume seemed compensatory, as they were associated with fewer attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. We provide evidence that early childhood deprivation is related to alterations in adult brain structure, despite environmental enrichment in intervening years.

Read more here: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/01/01/1911264116

Download a copy [open access] Early childhood deprivation is associated with alterations in adult brain structure despite subsequent environmental enrichment


More articles here…

Enriched Environments as a Potential Treatment for Developmental Disorders: A Critical Assessment

The beneficial effects of enriched environments have been established through a long history of research. Enrichment of the living conditions of captive animals in the form of larger cages, sensory stimulating objects, and opportunities for social interaction and physical exercise, has been shown to reduce emotional reactivity, ameliorate abnormal behaviors, and enhance cognitive functioning. Recently, environmental enrichment research has been extended to humans, in part due to growing interest in its potential therapeutic benefits for children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). This paper reviews the history of enriched environment research and the use of enriched environments as a developmental intervention in studies of both NDD animal models and children. We argue that while environmental enrichment may sometimes benefit children with NDDs, several methodological factors need to be more closely considered before the efficacy of this approach can be adequately evaluated, including: (i) operationally defining and standardizing enriched environment treatments across studies; (ii) use of control groups and better control over potentially confounding variables; and (iii) a comprehensive theoretical framework capable of predicting when and how environmental enrichment will alter the trajectory of NDDs.

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Read more here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00466/full


Early Adverse Experiences and the Developing Brain

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Read more here: https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2015252

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ASI and Supporting Parents of Children With Autism: The Role of Occupational Therapy

“…When creating an intervention plan, occupational therapy practitioners evaluate children with autism using observation and parent and teacher reports and also interview parents about their child’s relationships and eating, self-care, and daily living skills…”

Ayres Sensory Integration intervention is one of the most frequently requested and highly utilized interventions in autism. This intervention has specific requirements for therapist qualifications and the process of therapy. This systematic review of studies providing Ayres Sensory Integration therapy to children with autism indicates that it is an evidence‐based practice according to the criteria of the Council for Exceptional Children.” Schoen et al 2018 read more here

National Autistic Society in the UK explains Why is occupational therapy important for autistic children?

Occupational therapy using an Ayres’ Sensory Integrative approach – research supports the use of Ayres’ Sensory Integration, not just for Autism but also for other neurodevelopmental difficulties. See ASI 2020 Vision Goal 1 – Scholarship recent research and FB Group Evidence ASI

You can also read more about The Role of Occupational Therapy in Supporting Parents of Children With Autism on  AOTA’s website

 

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The Importance of the Sensory Environment for Premature Babies

Read more about one family’s journey through neonatal intensive care and what they have learned about the impact of the sensory environment on the developing nervous system of premature babies in this blog post By Anna Lee Beyer

 

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Health and Safety Fears Getting in the Way of Child Development

Ofsted has warned that some early years education providers have “undue concerns” about letting children play outside, climb and run around. These health and safety fears are hindering children’s ability to build up muscular strength and dexterity.

Without taking risks, children’s “natural inquisitiveness” is stifled, Ofsted’s annual report said, “In the early years, a crucial part of preparing children for school is developing their muscular strength and dexterity…

Read more in this article in the Telegraph

Ofsted is the Uk government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted inspects and regulates schools, services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. The full report is available here 

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