How do you know which behaviors are due to a disorganized brain and which are simply learned behaviors?
Once you reorganize the brain, can’t you expect all dysfunctional behaviors to just disappear?
Many people ask us these questions when joining our program, so let’s start by taking a look at which behaviors and challenges are truly due to a dysregulated central nervous system, which often is caused by a disorganized brain. And before that, let’s review the signs of a disorganized brain.
What Is a Disorganized Brain?
In the first year of life, babies are meant to do specific movements, like creeping on their belly or crawling on their hands and knees, that help develop the primitive part of the brain. The primitive brain is highly involved in many of our automatic functions, like breathing, digesting, and regulating important hormones and chemicals in the brain. If they miss some of these movements for whatever reason, the primitive brain can’t finish developing and doesn’t know how to do its many important jobs. That means that the cortex, the part of the brain associated with logic, language, sense of humor, and other higher functions, has to compensate for all the jobs the primitive brain can’t do.
But, here’s the thing: we can live life without a sense of humor, but we can’t live without breathing. The cortex has to figure out how to juggle everything at the same time, and it only has so much bandwidth…so it starts to drop the ball here and there.
Here is a list of challenges and behaviors that are associated with a disorganized brain:
- Constant and persistent anxiety ( often over seemingly trivial daily matters)
- Fight or flight response (dramatic meltdowns or complete avoidance)
- Distorted fears (afraid to enter a room alone, afraid of elevators, etc.)
- Diminished sense of hunger (can go the whole day without eating)
- Diminished sense of pain (intentionally slams self into floor/walls or is perceived as “fearless”)
- Difficulty reading and writing (tires easily or cannot get ideas on paper)
- Distorted perception of temperatures, pain, and hunger (wears clothing that is weather/temperature inappropriate, seeks out forms of physical stimulation that usually causes pain to others like aggressive tackling, doesn’t notice hunger until “hangry”)
- Deficient automatic horizontal eye movements (tires easily with eye tracking tasks like reading or writing)
- Inability to regulate heart rate and respiration
- Difficulty forming strong relationships (struggles to get along well with others)
- Tactile sensitivity (think clothing tags and seams)
- Sensory seeking – needs to touch everything (if in sight, it needs to be touched)
- Difficulty sitting still (wiggly, fidgety)
- Easily distracted, difficulty staying on task
- Difficulty prioritizing tasks
- Dislikes light physical touch (not the cuddling type)
- Seems always hungry (often thinking about food and when the next meal will be)
- Difficulty making transitions (from sleep to wake or from task to task)
- Tends to fixate on certain thoughts and is prone to repetition.
- Poor verbal articulation (difficulty with the formation and pronunciation of words)
- Poor balance and coordination (frequent bumping into things, stumbles, trips, and falls)
- Poor reading comprehension
- Difficulty writing (either holding the pencil or getting thoughts on paper)
- Poor bladder and bowel control (had a challenging time potty training, frequent nighttime accidents)
- Poor regulation of certain autonomic body functions such as sleep, blood pressure, appetite, body temperature
- Unable to process and understand sounds or distinguish between two similar sounds
- Poor filtering and prioritization of incoming stimuli
What Does That Mean?
If someone has a disorganized brain, these behaviors are not intentional and these challenges are much harder than they might seem. Usually, people with disorganized brains are working way harder than others just to do what is expected of them daily. The behaviors and challenges listed above are a manifestation of how hard their brain is trying every single day.
How Can We Tell?
Remember how the primitive brain develops when babies are creeping and crawling? Well, if a baby didn’t do enough of the movement, the movement itself will not develop either! So, we can look at people creeping and crawling at any age and determine what their development percentage is. This is how we can tell whether behaviors and challenges are related to an underdeveloped primitive brain.
For example, let’s say someone who has a lot of trouble with tantrums and explosive reactions (this can be at any age, by the way! You’ve seen the videos!) comes to us for an assessment. They send us their videos and we see that their pons (which plays a huge part in emotional regulation) is 15% developed. That means that the emotional regulation challenges this person is having come from a dysregulated nervous system stemming from a disorganized brain. While this does not excuse them, it does explain why they have such a hard time keeping calm when faced with certain situations. This part of the brain does not have access to logic, so most of the time this is not controllable.
If, on the other hand, the person has an 80% developed pons…then that behavior is either coming from certain limiting subconscious beliefs or it’s a learned behavior. But, guess what? Many learned behaviors are compensations! Most of the time, these types of challenges are stemming from a disorganized brain. No one walks around the world wanting to be angry all the time! But, unfortunately, society assumes that these are all learned behaviors, always, and that we should be able to control them. That’s where we come in.
What Can We Do?
This is the cool part.
Neuroplasticity tells us that the brain can change at any age! So the neurological foundation that’s missing when we have a disorganized brain is not something we’re stuck with for life. Our challenges do not define us because we can take charge of our brains at any point – and don’t worry, our program has strategies to help with these challenges in the meantime.
By re-creating the movements that you missed as a baby, you can finish the development your primitive brain is missing, regulate your central nervous system, get out of survival mode, and just get on with your life! Once your brain has the connections it needs to operate efficiently, it’s like increasing the bandwidth of your cortex – your brain can handle everyday life more easily and operate in a logic-first way.
Our program guides you through all of the movements you need to organize your brain – sign up today!