A PIONEERING charity is quietly revolutionising the way children with learning, communication and behavioural problems are treated.
About a fifth of children in the UK are said to have special educational needs, ranging from problems with thinking and understanding, speech and language or emotional and behavioural issues.
However experts at the charity BIRD – Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Development – have shown that many of these difficulties can be improved using its gentle, movement therapy which has been successfully treating children and adults nationwide for 30 years.
BIRD was started by Dr David McGlown from Chester in 1982 and for many years was based in Broughton. The charity relocated some time ago to a centre in nearby Eccleston, Chester, where the unique therapy continues to provide a lifeline to families from across the UK.
“Often when children experience these difficulties important reflexes in the brain have not been released which inhibits their ability to read, write, communicate or process information,” said BIRD clinical therapist Sarah Palin.
“Our programme of movement and exercise directly stimulates those areas of the brain, helping to mature their adult reflexes and develop the range of abilities.”
Many parents discover BIRD when all else has failed, often having been told by other health care professionals that nothing more can be done for their child.
BIRD’s clinicians work with conditions such as ADHD, autism, Asperger's Syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and those who are falling behind at school for no apparent reason.
“Sometimes parents struggle to get an explanation as to why their child behaves in a certain way or is failing at school," said Sarah. "We are able to assess their neurological development and see marked improvements in 90 per cent of the children and adults we treat.”
Over an eight year period advice from educational psychologists, therapists and medical specialists failed to calm 13-year-old Tom Stretch's behaviour and he was eventually prescribed the drug Ritalin. It was only when an acquaintance
recommended BIRD that the lives of Tom and his family were transformed.
“The BIRD treatment felt right from the start,” said Tom's mother Joanne, of Maxwell Avenue, Mancot, Flintshire.
“Tests showed that Tom’s reflexes weren't fully developed so we were given a programme of movement to do with him for 30 minutes every day at home and we saw remarkable results within months.
“He’s like a different boy altogether now. He's so much calmer, he recognises his own anger rather than lashing out, his speech has improved enormously and he’s visibly happier.
“His school has noticed huge improvements in his behaviour and he can concentrate for longer periods."
Sarah Palin added: “We are now working in partnership with schools in Oldham to see how we can help children with relatively mild learning difficulties in the classroom. It has the potential to be ground-breaking.
“We believe there are many more children and families in the North Wales area that we could be helping and we would encourage them to get in touch, it could
make all the difference to their progress.”
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