If your child has special needs, chances are you've heard about "neuroplasticity". Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute head of research Dr Iona Novak discusses neuroplasticity.
What is neuroplasticity?
Put simply, neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change; to rewire, relearn and strengthen important connections.
When the brain is injured or grows abnormally, neurons are damaged, altered or lost causing disability. The good news is the brain will attempt to create new pathways around an injury.
By harnessing neuroplasticity through practise and repetition, the brain will create and reinforce new neural pathways to learn new skills, habits and ways of thinking.
Why neuroplasticity is the secret ingredient
The first five years of life are critical for neurological development. During this time, the brain is developing at rapid speed, making it the ideal time to harness neuroplasticity.
To maximise the brain's ability to adapt or rewire itself, research shows that getting access to intervention as early as possible will give a child the best chance of learning, regardless of the condition or diagnosis.
Staff at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance know how to point each child's neurons in the right direction through scientifically designed activities, and engaging learning experiences that help children become their best self. Early childhood intervention programs can offer real hope.
Parents can maximise their child's neuroplasticity
Speak to your therapist about implementing the principles of neuroplasticity into your child's therapy.
Increase how often your child practises skills by:
- Continuing learning through everyday activities.
- Undertaking an intensive therapy program that focuses on short, intense bursts of therapy to work on a specific set of goals.
Focus on your child's strengths and motivations. Research shows motivation is critical to practising and learning a task. Become involved with your therapy team so you can participate in your child's intervention.
For more information download the alliance's free Early Childhood Intervention eGuide at cerebralpalsy.org.au/eci.