The Developing Brain Seminars

A Functional Neurological Approach for Child Development & Learning Disorders


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


In parts 1 and 2 the clinically relevant aspects of brain development and how it correlates with the emergence and integration of each of the primitive reflexes will be explored. The material is relevant to a broad spectrum of paediatric patients; from babies with feeding and gastrointestinal dysfunction, children with postural and coordination problems, to children with learning disorders. Delayed development is common, affecting 10% of children born in the last decade. In addition to teaching you the clinical skills needed to treat these conditions, we will provide you with the understanding and the 'language' that will enable you to effectively communicate with parents and teachers.

The key learning objectives are:

  • What is different about the brains of children with learning and developmental disorders.
  • How to assess this from baby-age onward so that you can identify problems early.
  • Ways to promote brain development with manual therapies, neuro-rehabilitative exercises, hemispheric integration and nutritional advice.

No prior knowledge of functional neurology is necessary; this is not a technique class. Some functional neurology will be introduced to provide more ways to test and localise neurological dysfunction in babies and children. This will give you greater insight into where or how to treat with your favoured techniques, and will offer you additional functional neurological treatment options for each part of the brain.

The focus will be on clinical applications and providing you with the tools to use the material presented in clinical practice. Numerous practical sessions throughout the day will help consolidate these clinical skills. Course notes are extensive and structured, so that everything taught is easy for you to look up and review.

The neuro-developmental material is the main focus of these seminars, but other factors that are important to a successful therapeutic outcome will be interspersed throughout the weekends. This will include practical aspects of the child-parent-doctor encounter, e.g.:

  • History taking pertinent to child development
  • Nutritional and metabolic considerations
  • Ways to gain good/ better cooperation with the parents.

Part 3 explores the cortical dysfunction in Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD (and its subgroups), Dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, OCD and mild to moderate Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The material from parts 1 and 2 is the foundation for this seminar, which progresses to the assessment and treatment of these dysfunctional cortical networks. Part 3 is relevant for children aged 5 and older.

This seminar encompasses some tech elements; computer based assessments and rehabilitative programs that are available to practitioners will be demonstrated. However, these are by no means essential in the treatment of childhood developmental disorders, and we will provide you with a large number of no-tech motor, sensory, visual, auditory, olfactory and cognitive assessment and rehab tools.

Treatments focus on developing neural networks within a cortical hemisphere to address problems with speech, language, auditory processing, reading, visual processing, attention, impulsiveness, obsessions, tics, anxiety and more.


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.
    • The functional neurological assessment for child development and learning disorders to localise regions of brain dysfunction.
    • The effects of manual therapies on the developing brain.
    • Primitive or retained reflexes, and what they tell us.
    • 4 ways to overcome a retained reflex.
    • Consideration of metabolic and immune factors.
    • Hemispheric imbalances or functional disconnects in ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, OCD and ASD.
    • Putting this together with case studies to create a treatment programme, which includes:
      • Manual therapies
      • Dietary interventions
      • Home-based exercise
      • Computer programmes and APPs
      • Co-management with other health care professionals
    • And (rather importantly) how to manage and help their parents.

    Pre-reading suggestions:

    Seminar Instructors

    Darren Barnes-Heath, DC, BSc(Hons), MRCC (Neurology)

    Darren has over 20 years of clinical experience, during which he has been studying and applying functional neurology in his practice. His post-graduate learning has been mainly through the Carrick Institute and the Institute of Functional Medicine. He has focused on developmental neurology through Robert Melillo and Robin Pauc's seminars and books. Additionally, he has learnt from behavioural optometrists, educational psychologists, occupational therapists and audiologists to further understand how children learn and how to assess and improve their motor, visual, auditory and cognitive abilities.

    He applies this to his practice to primarily treat children with neurological developmental delay, which manifests in conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette's Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The changes seen in these children led to Darren working in three local schools, treating the children that teachers had identified as having learning difficulties.

    For the last five years Darren (together with Nicole as Neuroseminars) has taught Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists throughout Europe to integrate functional neurology into their daily practice. The aim of Neuroseminars is to make neurology as simple and relevant to clinical practice as possible. Frequent practical sessions help you to develop the clinical assessment, treatment and rehab tools. They also teach you the mind-set of choosing an appropriate intervention based on your findings, and subsequently post-testing to measure its effectiveness. It will be the same format for the Developing Brains Seminars.