Short audios, lots of info . . .
Our Lower Brain Assessment for Kids has two parts.
In the first part of this online screening, you’ll go through the Disorganized Brain Checklist, and mark, as directed, those behaviors (if any) that apply to your child.
Note that we view these behaviors as signs of a disorganized brain for a reason. These are what commonly appear when the higher centers of the brain try to compensate for incomplete lower brain development or when the brain is unsuccessful in finding ways to do so. In either case, the brain is not organized or functioning as intended. To understand this premise more fully, you can read the transcript or listen to the audio, “How do we end up with a disorganized brain?”
Also, note that signs of a disorganized brain vary among kids with incomplete lower brain development. That’s because the degree of underdevelopment and how well a child has figured out how to compensate are variables that greatly influence how a child actually presents himself.
In the second section of the assessment, you’ll read a statement, and then mark whether you think it describes your child. Below each of these statements, there’s a brief explanation or a suggested site resource (i.e. a link to a blog, audio, or video) that explains how that behavior may be related to incomplete lower brain development.
View the entire Lower Brain Assessment for Kids online (see below).
As you do so, follow any links or read whichever explanations are of interest to you. Note that you do not mark this online preview.
Next, print a PDF version of this assessment. Now, you’ll actually mark the assessment (per the directions) on this sheet.
Complete a lower brain assessment for your child.
Part 1: Go through the Disorganized Brain Checklist, and mark which (if any) behaviors describe your child. Follow these directions.
Leave the circle blank if the behavior does not describe your child.
Put a X in the circle if your child does the behavior sometimes.
Put a slash (/) in the circle if your child does the behavior regularly (it would be considered characteristic of your child).
The Disorganized Brain Checklist
Part 2: Put an X next to any statement that describes your child.
If you’d like to understand how that behavior relates to incomplete lower brain development, read the explanation below each sentence, or use the link to review the suggested site resource.
My child has trouble staying focused.
Read “Why Saying Pay Attention Makes No Sense.”
My child is shy.
Flight and freeze behavior are associated with pons development. For example, when the pons is underdeveloped, a child may be inclined to “withdraw” (flight behavior), especially in new situations. In cases where the pons is significantly underdeveloped, a child may even be temporarily tongue-tied (freeze behavior) when asked to speak in front of a group or to someone new. However, since most people are not familiar with pons development, such behavior is usually attributed to just being shy.
My child wants to control everything.
When a child controls how he does something (rather than follows someone else’s direction), he may believe that he has now avoided failure—especially if he has already experienced not being able to do what others ask. In other words, “his” way can’t be wrong.
My child is defiant and combative.
Since kids with incomplete lower brain development often feel like they can’t control anything (again, they can’t seem to do what everyone else does naturally), some kids are comforted—in a distorted way—by knowing they can upset others when they refuse to cooperate. In other words, now no one is in control. Additionally, kids with an underdeveloped pons may release adrenaline as part of a physiological stress response. In such case, a good fight is just what the body wants since arguing, yelling, and more helps clear that adrenaline.
My child has no or few friends.
Listen to “How does incomplete lower brain development affect making friends?”
My child sits on the floor in a W-formation.
Read “Why Kids Sit in a W.”
My child avoids eye contact.
Read “Why Kids Avoid Eye Contact.”
My child’s pupils are often dilated.
If the lower brain is underdeveloped, the body is often in chronic stress mode. As part of the body’s physiological response to such stress, the eyes may dilate (as well as cause other changes in the body). These kinds of changes happen because the brain is now responding to a perceived threat. The problem is . . . the brain cannot distinguish between what’s true danger and what’s a distorted fear. So, when the body is continually responding to such stress, the eyes may stay dilated.
My child walks on his tiptoes.
Once again, when the pons is underdeveloped, kids are often in chronic stress mode. Here, that same physiological stress response can also trigger the Tendon Guard reflex. When that happens, this reflex shortens the calf muscles and locks the back of the knees. In this position, the body is prepared to stand and fight or run from danger. But when the backs of the knees lock, now the body moves forward onto the toes. Note that triggering this tendon guard reflex is supposed to last just for the short time we’re preparing to fight or run. Yet, if a child is continually stressed, the calf muscles may stay shortened, and so the child walks on his toes regularly.
My child still wets the bed.
When a child has good proprioception, she naturally senses when she needs to urinate—and she receives plenty of notice before her bladder is actually full. She will also awaken in the middle of the night to get up and go to the bathroom if she needs to do so. However, if she has poor vestibular processing, she may have difficulty waking up. She may also have no clue that she needs to go to the bathroom until her bladder is very full. While during the day she may use her cortex to help her compensate (so she does not have accidents), she can’t do that when she is asleep. Of course, there are other reasons a child may wet the bed, but if traditional approaches to remedy this situation have failed, there may be a lower brain connection.
My child is past the age where most would be potty-trained (or it took longer than expected when my child was young).
This may also be related to poor proprioception.
My child is a messy eater.
We aren’t surprised when a toddler makes a mess while eating since we understand that it actually takes quite a bit of coordination to use utensils. But if kids still have incomplete lower brain development, they may fare no better than toddlers when it comes to table manners.
My child slouches when sitting in a chair.
Read “Why Kids Slouch.”
My child frequently interrupts.
Read “Why Interrupting Isn’t Rude.”
My child frequently says, “Huh? or “What?” after someone has said something to her.
When the lower brain is not fully developed, we may process speech a few nano seconds slower than everyone else. But since most people do not allow for that extra time, some kids figure out that if they say, “Huh?” or “What?” that gives them a few extra seconds to process whatever was initially said.
My child cannot be still.
If we have poor vestibular processing, then we’re also likely to have poor balance. However, we often forget that sitting and standing still requires the highest level of balance. For example, if we were asked to stand on a high rope—and were told to be perfectly still—we probably wouldn’t be able to do so. Instead, we’d be moving, back and forth, because it’s easier to balance when we move. So, a child who moves all the time may be compensating for poor balance.
My child often does not respond if I’m standing behind him—even in close proximity—when I talk to him (e.g. I ask him to come to the counter).
When the pons is significantly underdeveloped, a child’s world ipretty much only consists of what’s directly in front of her. So, a person trying to talk to that child from behind . . . doesn’t exist.
My child plays too roughly with other kids and animals.
If we don’t get good proprioceptive feedback, we don’t automatically “sense” how much pressure we’re exerting when playing. Sure, such kids hear people say, “Don’t play so roughly.” But that statement, alone, is not enough to improve anyone’s proprioception.
My child perseverates.
When the midbrain is not fully developed, a child may get “stuck” on a thought or activity. In contrast, we can easily shift gears and transition to a new activity when such highways are in place.
My child’s written work often starts out reflecting quality, but then deteriorates as it continues.
Listen to “What does inconsistency have to do with incomplete lower brain development?”
My child does well in school, but falls apart as soon as she comes home.
This may happen if a child is relying heavily on compensations while at school. In such case, by the time she comes home, she is now “out of gas.”
My child is nonverbal.
Watch the Speech and Language video (under Videos for Kids and Adults) on our home page.
My child has limited speech or does not initiate conversation.
Watch the Speech and Language video (under Videos for Kids and Adults) on our home page.
My child is uncoordinated.
Retained primitive reflexes can interfere with coordination.
My child is clumsy (e.g. breaks objects, trips, etc.)
Kids often break objects when they have poor proprioception. Here, since the child doesn’t have an automatic sense of how much pressure to exert when holding something, he may use too much force (and break it) or not enough force (and drop it). We also need good, fast proprioceptive feedback when we’re about to trip—so that we can make an adjustment and prevent falling. However, if that feedback is slow, we don’t get the message in time to prevent the fall.
My child is a space invader.
If a child doesn’t have good proprioception, she won’t naturally sense where her body parts are and what they’re doing. If she is not sure where her own body is, she is not going to naturally sense what distance to keep from someone else’s body.
My child has participated in many traditional approaches, but he still seems to struggle.
Listen to “What does a crooked roof have to do with brain organization?”
Part 3: Score your child's results.
Record one point for every X you recorded and two points for every slash (/). Add up your child’s score, and then read what that “number” may indicate in terms of lower brain development.
A child with a well-organized brain scores 0. Truly.
This child most likely has a good number of highways in place, yet he may not have completed the full development (as indicated by the few observable signs).
However, even with a low score, it’s possible that the child’s lower centers of the brain are significantly underdeveloped. How is that possible? Well, the child may be presently doing a good job compensating, especially if he is young and there are not yet many demands on the cortex. In such case, we would expect to observe more and more signs of a disorganized brain as the child ages. That’s because the gap between the chronological and neurological age will continue to widen.
This child may already showing signs that there’s some underdevelopment of the lower centers of the brain. Again, as with the point range above, it’s also possible there is more underdevelopment than what is presently showing for the same stated reasons.
In this category, some kids may additionally seem to start out doing a task well, only to have the quality of work or their focus deteriorate quickly. When this happens, the child’s behavior is often misinterpreted as goofing around or not trying hard enough.
Over 10 Points
This child may be showing signs that the lower centers of the brain are significantly underdeveloped. In this category, the child does not have enough highways to rely on effective compensations that (consistently) work (well, and so he is often perceived as bothering others and struggling in many arenas.
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