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Learning Delay


The Jacob’s Ladder perspective for children who have been diagnoses with a learning delay looks beyond the diagnosis to the whole child. As a learning delay diagnosis may encompass a wide array of challenges, Jacob’s Ladder looks at their current level of functioning through academic testing, observation, and their individual hemispheric dominance. Hemispheric dominance refers to which eye, ear, hand, and foot is the more preferred during everyday activities and allows us to determine how a child is neurologically wired. By providing incoming stimuli to a child in the way that they process best maximizes their ability to learn and retain information.

In addition to a dominance profile, children with a learning delay are also evaluated to determine how they are processing and integrating visual and auditory information. Sequential processing relates to our ability to receive, process, store, and then utilize information from our environment. Sequential processing directly relates to how we receive information and is a precursor to higher cortical functioning. The neurological pathway involved in taking in information and giving correct output is complex, and is involved in language, learning, memory and executive function. By working to increase sequential processing amounts in children with learning delays, we can strengthen these pathways and address the brain’s cognitive processing and academic performance.

Research has shown that early primitive reflexes play an integral role in learning delays. Primitive reflexes develop before birth, directly following birth, or during the first month of life in direct relation to experiences, movements, and stimulation that is received. Primitive reflexes encompass 72 automatic movements that are directed from the brain stem and require no cortical involvements. If these reflexes are not wired, function attributed to the midbrain and forebrain will not follow. As learning delays are typically associated with the frontal lobe and its connections, the integration of early reflexes directly relates to higher cortical functioning.