When we are born our brain is not yet fully developed. As a newborn baby we can cry when wet, cold, hungry or lonely, but we cannot yet help ourselves. At birth we are able to breathe and suck at the breast, but we have no other self help skills.
The reason we have such limited skills is that our brain has very few nerve connections. At birth the whole brain is there, but its’ parts have not yet been connected. While the baby is waiting for its’ brain to grow nerve connections, it is completely reliant on reflexes to survive. Sucking and breathing are examples of such vital survival reflexes.
As we grow physically our brain is also growing and maturing. Soon the baby can learn to suck a dummy or spit it out. For this level of self control the baby’s brain has grown new nerve networks in the parts of its’ brain that control body movements.
When the infant turns 8 months and starts crawling it is a sign that the left and right brain are growing new nerve connections. The left and right brain hemispheres are connected by a nerve bundle called the corpus callosum. Crawling builds this bridge between left and right brain. When enough connections between the left and right brain have been built the infant can progress to walking.
This stage of brain development is an essential building block for many of our sophisticated skills. Emotional skills, such as coping with frustration and pressure, and mental skills, such as logical problem solving are all dependent on this connection. The ability to read and write depend on it. Emotional maturity and emotional independence also depend on it.
Both Joanne and Jeremy have brains that have not fully connected all its’ parts. Joanne is already an adult, but during her childhood her brain did not fully develop and now she is still stuck with the problems of an immature brain. She easily feels overwhelmed in stressful situations. She doesn’t have self confidence and questions her own judgement. She struggles to organize her home and to be consistent as a parent. Although she is 40 years of age, she feels like she is still a child.
As a six year old Jeremy is still needing his mom to do many things for him. She must help him dress, eat and wash. He throws tantrums when he cannot get his way and is fearful when he has to separate from his mom and go to school.
The intense distress Joanne and Jeremy experience as they battle with life and with themselves is causing lasting emotional scars. These traumas inhibit their abilities to be reasonable and to make good choices.
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