Childhood Developmental & Learning Disorders 
- A Functional Neurological Approach -


Darren Barnes-Heath, DC, BSc(Hons), CCEP, MCC (Neurology)
Nicole Oliver, DC, MChiro, BSc(Hons), DACNB


The number of children diagnosed with developmental and learning disorders, such as attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD/ADHD), dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and autistic spectrum disorder has risen dramatically. The academic achievement (or lack of it) is usually the main concern, but invariably there are motor and limbic/emotional components as well as the cognitive. Despite an often multi-faceted approach to treatment and support, the neurological imbalances and functional disconnects associated with these disorders usually go undiagnosed and untreated.

This course will acquaint you with the neurological mechanisms underlying childhood developmental and learning disorders. We will teach you how to identify which regions of the brain are involved and show you various 'in clinic' and 'at home' functional neurorehabilitative strategies. The focus will be on clinical applications and providing you with the tools
to use the material presented in clinical practice; this will include videos of rehabilitation programmes. The material will be most relevant for the treatment of children who are attending regular infant and junior school (aged 5-11).

Numerous practical sessions throughout the day will help develop your newly learnt clinical skills.
Delegate numbers are limited to ensure that each individual receives sufficient attention during the practicals.

Course Content: 

    • Predisposing factors for neurological developmental delay.

    • Neurological imbalances and functional disconnects as they relate to specific conditions, including ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, OCD and mild to moderate autistic spectrum disorders.

    • The functional neurological assessment of children with developmental and learning disorders.

    • Primitive or retained reflexes, and what they tell us.

    • Consideration of metabolic and immune factors.

    • Developing a treatment programme, which includes:
      • Manual therapies
      • Dietary interventions
      • Home-based exercise programmes including videos to aid parents
      • Computer programmes and APPs
      • Co-management with other health care professionals

    • And (rather importantly) how to manage and help their parents.

    This course is taught over two weekends as part 1 and part 2.

    Part 1 begins by looking at what is different in children with developmental delay; beyond spinal fixations, a short leg or cranial restrictions, which are prevalent in all children.
    We explore the clinically relevant aspects of how the brain develops and how this correlates with the emergence and integration of each of the primitive reflexes. We further discuss what it means for cognitive development and motor control when primitive reflexes are retained, and what other neurological signs and symptoms you are likely find in such a situation.

    You will have time during practicals to become familiar with the testing of each reflex and learn its significance. This will help you to develop a treatment plan which combines:

    • Physical exercises to promote brain development and motor control, resolving the primitive reflex not with one specific "magic movement" but a range of options. Rather than providing you with a "cookbook approach" to primitive reflexes, we will help you understand the underlying concept of primitive reflex integration training, which will allow you to logically adapt your approach in cases where the usual integration exercise is not producing the desired result.

    • Addition of occular, vestibular, brainstem, cerebellar or cortical activation during or alongside the physical exercises to increase their effectiveness.

    • A hemispheric approach, when this is indicated.

    • Specific manual therapy, which targets the same regions of the brain as the exercises.

    Video examples will be shown during the seminar, which demonstrate the exercises to aid your learning and help parents and children to whom you prescribe the exercises.

    During the Part 1 weekend, we will also discuss important practical aspects of the patient encounter, including how to take a history pertinent to childhood developmental delay and how to gain good/ better cooperation with the parents. General nutritional considerations will also be covered. A more comprehensive approach to nutrition will be presented during the Part 2 weekend. Part 1 will conclude with a number of cases to consolidate and put into clinical context what has been learned.

    During Part 2 the different conditions associated with childhood developmental delay will be explored in detail, i.e. ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, OCD and mild to moderate autistic spectrum disorders. We will discuss the specific brain regions and functional disconnects involved in each of these conditions and how to go about rehabilitating them. This seminar will build upon and expand the knowledge gained in Part 1, covering additional ways to assess and treat. Part 2 will also conclude with a number of cases and practicals to help you "put it all together" clinically.



    Pre-reading suggestions:


    Darren Barnes-Heath, DC, BSc(Hons), CCEP, MCC (Neurology)

    Darren has 21 years of clinical experience during which he has studied extensively, including over 800 hours of functional neurology through the Carrick Institute. Darren peer reviews research articles on developmental neurology and lectures on functional neurology and nutrition to chiropractors, various health professionals, teachers and parents. Both Darren and Nicole practice at Newland Chiropractic Clinic in Lincoln.

    Nicole Oliver, DC, MChiro, BSc(Hons), DACNB
    graduated from AECC in 2005 and began studying functional neurology with the Carrick Institute in 2006. She gained the Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (DACNB) qualification four years later. Alongside clinical practice she lectures for Neuroseminars, teaching functional neurology in the UK and Europe. Nicole's other lecturing engagements have included the 2015 McTimoney Chiropractic Association Autumn Conference, 2015 BACS Conference at the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic, the 2014 ECU Convention in Dublin and the Scottish Chiropractic Association's 2013 Autumn Meeting/Seminar. In 2016 she is scheduled to present at the ECU Convention in Oslo, the German Chiropractic Association's Spring Seminar, and (together with Darren) at the Swiss Chiropractic Association's Annual Congress.