A Closer Look at Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is when the brain is continually changing, creating new connections and constantly reorganizing in response to lifestyle and environment. The brain is amazing and can rewire itself, by the ability to adapt to new experiences. Changes occur in the neural pathways because of the change in behavior which is why Real Connections is using the concept of neuroplasticity in our work. The brain controls movement, feeling and pain within the body. For example, for a child who can’t move their feet in order to walk in coordination the problem is not in the feet but it is in the area of the brain that controls the feet. 

 

Children on the autism spectrum are often flooded and overwhelmed by social cues therefore they cannot respond appropriately. Another example of neuroplasticity is when someone walks into a room with a friend or family member they can immediately recognize or pick up on the social cues of how the person may be feeling. Once they recognize if the person is happy, sad or upset their behavior is adapted to the situation in order to provide an appropriate. Individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulty picking up social cues to properly respond to the current emotions, feeling or behavior of their friend or family member. There is a slower response time or they may even miss the social cues to recognize the behavior of others. Real connections works on developing communication and engagement by maintaining and establishing an alert phase. Along with problem solving, higher levels of complexity are built by developing skills to practice in a meaningful and connective way with the client.  The brain uses all five senses to adapt to the environment and send signals to the body. Individuals on the autism spectrum often experience differences of connecting neural pathways between and within neural networks as well as from their brain to the movements of their body.

 

The brain has immense control over the body but the plasticity of the brain is also controlled by the foods you eat, exercise, sleep, emotional state, and stress levels. The lifestyle choices that are made daily strongly affect the brain and how it functions. Without neuroplasticity it would be difficult to adapt to new situations, environments and correct behavior to fit accordingly. Children and adults on the autism spectrum are faced with these challenges and this is why Real Connections uses neuroplasticity intervention in our work, to give an understanding and safe environment by providing emotional and behavioral support.

By: Priscilla Jouvin