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Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Neurodevelopment Interrupted: Signs and Symptoms Print
By Emily Beard Johnson, Northwest Neurodevelopmental Training Center

Note: Early trauma (including separation from birth mother and foster families, moves and transitions) can cause neurodevelopmental interruption.

Functional neurology results from the completion of the developmental sequence. If there is any interruption, injury, or disruption to the developmental sequence, a functional deficit will result. For some individuals, it creates a small impact on their lives. However, the majority of serious emotional, behavioral, and academic concerns have a neurological basis due to disrupted development. Below is a list of signs and symptoms of functional deficits:

Pons Dysfunction:
  • Skips words or parts of words while reading
  • Uses finger to track text across the page
  • Gets seriously hurt and makes little to no fuss, such as the baby who teeths without getting fussy
  • Constantly hungry, even if he has just eaten an adequate amount of food
  • Little or no appetite
  • Lack of empathy
  • Self-abuse, such as picking at scabs, biting fingernails until they bleed, and other forms of extreme self-stimulation
  • Picks on others, including animals
  • Bed wetting (beyond what is age appropriate)
  • Fight or flight response to inappropriate situations, such as acting as if her life is threatened when a small issue has occurred. (Example: child trips on a toy, gets angry, and blames it on the closest available person)
  • Fool-hardy risk-taking, such as leaping off of high structures or diving off of furniture
  • Overly affectionate with strangers
  • Inappropriate perception of danger
  • Night terrors
  • Violent rages
  • Anxiety
  • Clingy
  • Controlling
  • Manipulative
  • Superficially charming
  • Creates chaos in her environment
  • Difficulty bonding with parents, siblings, and other caregivers
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • A profound sense of displacement, isolation, and mistrust, with statements such as, “You don’t love me,” “I shouldn’t be alive,” etc.
  • Pigeon-toed
  • Hunched shoulders
  • Anterior head carriage (head juts forward)
  • Midbrain-level and cortical dysfunction, as neurology is cumulative

Midbrain-level Dysfunction:
  • Difficulty tracking text down a page while reading or doing math
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension; unable to remember or recall a story
  • Depth perception issues, including seeing blurry or double
  • Distractibility; every little thing catches her attention
  • Hyperactivity; she can’t sit still even for a moment
  • Short attention span
  • Trouble remembering and following through on tasks. If told to do three tasks in a row, cannot complete all three of them with prompts or reminders.
  • Difficulty responding to prompts when engrossed in a task. If doing something he is interested in, one has to be right in his face to get his attention.
  • Difficulty reading non-verbal social cues. For example, asks people if they are feeling happy or sad, rather than reading their emotion.
  • Out-of-sync in social settings. Can’t seem to follow what is discussed or shared.
  • Clumsiness
  • Feet point outward
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Muscles that are too loose or too tight, such as the person who is extremely double-jointed and limber.
  • Inappropriate spatial boundaries; is in your face or hangs way back
  • Says “yes” to every obligation, even when already over-extended
  • Impulse control issues. Will do something that she has been repeatedly instructed not to do and, when asked, says, “I didn’t know” or “I forgot.”
  • Immense frustration, generally resulting in outbursts
  • Reversal of letters and/or numbers
  • Rages that are seemingly out-of-nowhere
  • Inarticulate, atonal, or slurred speech
  • Difficulty accessing words
  • Auditory processing issues
  • Disrupted or inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Heartburn or stomachaches
  • Bladder and/or bowel issues, such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivity to textures of food or difficulty chewing
  • Poor temperature regulation, as in the person who never wants to wear a coat even when in a cold environment
  • Sensitivity to textures of clothes or clothing tags
  • Verbal and/or physical tics, such as a rapid eye blinking or repitition of the same word or phrase
  • Drama queen
  • Neurochemical imbalance
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders

Cortical Dysfunction:
  • Difficulty recognizing symbols, such as letters and numbers
  • Immature language skills, such as the use of incomplete sentences, incorrect pronouns, or difficulty expressing needs
  • Difficulty walking and running
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Difficulty sequencing information, especially in abstract situations
  • Memory problems

Note: No individual is going to demonstrate all of these symptoms of neurological dysfunction. And just a few symptoms in a given category may indicate a problem. Early trauma (including separation from birth mother and foster families, moves and transitions) can cause neurodevelopmental disruption. If you have concerns about your child, contact a neurodevelopmentalist.
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