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A “revolutionary” method for resolving educational under-achievement?

It is heartening to hear individual stories of a child’s progress following an intervention programme, and generous of radio presenter Chris Evans to share his family’s story.

However, research into the role of immature reflexes in educational under-achievement is not new.  Literature is available from the 1970’s showing a link between immature reflexes and specific learning difficulties, and it was in the 1970’s that INPP started to develop replicable methods of assessing immature reflexes and effective physical intervention programmes.

Firstly, it should be stressed that immature reflexes are not the primary cause of difficulties with reading, writing, copying or attention.  Rather they provide markers or “signposts” of immaturity in the functioning of the nervous system that can undermine visual perception (needed for reading and spelling), hand-eye coordination (needed for writing) and freedom from distractibility (needed to maintain attention).  Secondly, that there can be many other reasons why a child may be under-achieving in the classroom.

Since the 1970’s, INPP has trained many other professionals in the methods of assessment and intervention that it has developed.  Some have moved on to set up in practice using variations of the original method under other names; others have chosen to stay close to the source of training and practise as Licentiates of INPP in more than 14 countries throughout the world.

In addition to providing individual assessment and intervention within the context of private practice, INPP has also developed a screening test for health professionals and a developmental screening test and school intervention programme to be used with whole classes of children in schools.

The latter has been the subject of extensive research over the last 15 years and has revealed that a significant percentage of children enter the school system with immature motor skills; that there is a relationship between immature motor skills and lower educational achievement (irrespective of intelligence); children who participate in the daily movement programme show greater improvement in motor skills than children who do not; and that the trend amongst children who are under-achieving and who have immature motor skills, is improved progress on educational measures as motor skills mature.  Recent findings (2017) also suggest that the incidence of children with immature motor skills in primary schools is on the increase.

Despite these methods having been available for many years, the tragedy is, that they still do not fall under the umbrella of mainstream assessment or intervention.  This means that parents may waste a number of years in searching to find an explanation for, and solution to, their child’s problem.  It also means that methods that have been available for many years can be difficult to find, and when discovered, they may be perceived as being new and “revolutionary”.

As the author of the school-based programme and the Director of INPP since 2001, it has always been my aim to make screening for signs of immaturity and effective intervention programmes more generally available within and without services provided by the state, so that fewer children “fall through the net” of provisions currently available within the system (education and medicine).

For further information on accessing:

  1. Individual assessment intervention programme (parents)

  2. One day course for teachers

  3. One day course for health practitioners

  4. One year practitioner course

Thank you to Chris Evans for sharing his story and bringing this deficit in the system to the surface.

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