We are all used to them. The kiddo seems to have grown like Jack’s bean stalk overnight. Pants are too short. Shoes too tight. And we rush off to replace their whole wardrobe. But what we are just beginning to understand is that our children’s brains continue to grow over their lifetime. And that they too can experience sudden bursts of development that change everything overnight. PanKwake has just been through one of those…and I am loving it.
Not that many years ago, scientists believed there was a ‘golden’ period of development between birth and five during which children’s brains grew and developed. They even believed that if children missed key milestones during this period, they were destined to remain behind their whole lives. As the parent of a child, whose autism/Asperger’s was not even diagnosed until she was seven, this was a depressing concept. All those missed opportunities for ‘early intervention’ angered me.
But as part of my continued search for the right options for my Aspie girl, I take online courses in psychology, child development and education. One course that I took last year called Good Brain, Bad Brain helped me to come to terms with all of that. One of the things that reassured me and completely transformed my paradigm was that the brain NEVER stops growing. Yes, we are born with a certain number of neurons. But more important than that are the connections they make. And you keep making those throughout your lifetime.
An analogy to this is FaceBook. If you think of yourself as a single neuron, you can make many connections…friends. And you can keep making those. Yes, occasionally, you lose a friend here or there. But up to something like 5,000 you can keep right on making new friends…no matter whether it is your first day on FaceBook or if your account is years old. What’s more, all of those friends are constantly making new friends. And together you form an interconnected network of friends…neurons.
And after a rough few weeks/months, it seems that PanKwake has made huge strides forward. Of course, the hardest part of all this is realizing when something is simply an issue of not having the right neural pathways. When the best and only answer is to simply…wait for the brain to grow. That is not easy, especially when your child is sometimes years behind their peers in terms of those pathways/connections.
But trust me…it is worth it. Next time, I will talk about one way of measuring that brain development…