Updated: May 11
Please read the Quick Note below before we start our discussion...
The link below leads to a post on level 1(blue)of the pyramid,labelled 1 & 2. It explains how important it's for your child to pass level 1.This post focuses on Level 2 (green),number 3. Parents as Therapist! https://www.louis-center.com/post/how-to-make-your-child-with-autism-better
Lets begin now......
Question: Why is my child not able to read, write or learn?
Answer : He may not have achieved good Bilateral Integration (BI). This is especially the case in children with autism who have sensory Issues.
Question: Bilateral Integration?? What is it?
Answer : Bilateral Integration or BI, is a stage in your child's developmental process.
He should have achieve BI by age 3 . Let's look at the Pyramid of Learning below.
We are referring to number 3 in the Chart.
Adapted Version of The Pyramid of Learning, by Williams & Shellenberger (1996)
Question: What does No 3 point to?
Answer : The 1st level of the Pyramid starts right at the bottom : BLUE. Your child should have achieved this by age 2.
Let's look at Level 2: GREEN, "The Sensory Motor Stage". No 3 states that there are 5 stages to achieve BI.
Question: The 5 stages? How would I know at which stage he is in? Why is this SO IMPORTANT?
Answer : The changes your child makes as he progresses will be noticeable. We'll go through each stage next.
It is SO IMPORTANT as in order to read, write and to comprehend what is read, your child must have a well developed BI
Question: What are the 5 stages of Bilateral Integration? Can you give examples please?S
Answer : Sure, let's look at some practical examples of each stage.
Stage 1: Symmetrical Bilateral Integration
At this Stage, your child is moving both sides of his body in an identical way
Question: What are some examples of this movement?
Answer : Clapping hands, closing both ears. touching both cheek, skipping, holding a bottle with 2 hands, doing the jumping jacks..etc
Stage 2: Reciprocal Bilateral Integration
At this stage, your child is moving the 2 sides (left and right) of his body is the opposite direction.
Answer: Examples include: Walking: Swinging his arms and legs in the opposite direction
(front and back), Cycling, climbing stairs or ladders.
Stage 3: Asymmetrical Bilateral Integration
Here your child is making different movements with each side of his body.
The 2 sides are working as a team to complete a particular task or activity. Each side taking on a particular role, each side doing a different movement. At this stage, you would have noticed your child's dominant hand; Is he left-handed or right-handed? Your child’s dominant hand hand will do the main work, and his other hand will play a supportive role.
Examples of Asymmetrical BI include:
-Cutting a dotted line with a pair of scissors. The dominant holds and controls the movement of the scissors. The supportive hand helps by moving the paper around.
- Beading. The supportive hand holds the string while the dominant hand aims to put the bead into the string.
- Applying butter on a slice of bread, supportive hand holds the bread and the dominant one applies jam with the knife.
- Making a cup of Milo. The dominant stirs with the spoon, while the other holds the handle of the cup.
Stage 4: Crossing the Midline
Your child is able to cross over to the opposite side of his body (the midline), to perform an action.
Question: Where is the midline? How do we cross it?
Answer : It is where the red vertical line is, as can be seen in the picture on the left. It divides our body in two, the left side & the right side
The Crossing the Midline Stage is developed when your child is able do an action such as using his right hand (crossing the midline) to pick up a ball which is nearer to his left foot.
Example of Crossing the Midline include
If he's right-handed, he crosses over to the left side of his body to pick a pencil, despite the fact that it is closer to his left hand.
When he draws a horizontal line across the paper, he doesn't have to change hands once he reaches the center(because he can cross over from one side to the other)
Stacking blocks, sliding cars from one side to the other while standing in the same spot, reading & writing, playing games like badminton, squash, boxing, martial arts, ..etc
Question: How role does crossing the midline play in writing and reading?
Answer : When we read or write, our eyes need to track the words in a sentence/ paragraph. Reading and writing starts from the left and moves horizontally to the right.
Therefore our eyes need to be able to cross our midline in order to track the first word of the sentence right to the last word.
If it's a paragraph, our eyes need to track form the left to the right--- then return to the left again, in order to start reading the next line.
( As can be seen in the pic on the left).
We make these eye movements whenever we read from a book, read from the whiteboard in school and write sentences.
As a student we frequently have to combine both reading & writing. The "COPY FROM BOARD TASK" in school.
If our midline crossing is well developed, we read and write without even thinking about our eyes!! We don't realize the movements as it happens naturally. Our focus is only on reading (decoding words) and understanding what we have read.
Stage 5: Bilateral Development
This final stages involves using all the skills from the first 4 stages at the same time to do an activity. This is when the bilateral integration is complete
Now lets see how good bilateral integration provides your child with skills to achieve academic performance
Question: It affects his learning ability?
Answer : Yes. The ability to study, to fit in well in the classroom setting and perform well academically depends on a well integrated BI & a fully developed midline crossing ability.
Writing is not a straight forward skill. It is not merely the ability to pick the pen with your dominant hand and start writing. The ability to study and perform well academically depends on a well integrated BI & a fully developed midline crossing ability.
Question: What does it involve?
Answer : Well, if your child has not completed all the above 4 stages, writing, reading and comprehension will be a struggle all the way. He has to think of so many things which come naturally to others because the natural development did not occur.
This might be the situation in school. He is told to copy a short paragraph from the whiteboard onto his book and answer the corresponding comprehension questions.
Thoughts that may go through his head:
How do I stop my book from moving all over the place?
Oh no! My left hand can't keep the book in place?
How am I going to write in a straight line when I can't even see the line as it moves?
Stage 3: Asymmetrical Bilateral Integration was not reached.
How do I move the book to the right side as I write! I cant cross the midline!
I cant copy from the board accurately and understand what is written too!
I cant read the full sentence! I cant move my eyes from left to the right.
I am so slow...my teacher is going to erase the board and think that I am lazy.
My teacher will be angry because of my poor handwriting and unfinished work!
Stage 4: Crossing the Midline was not reached.
This is why he is struggling!
Without good midline crossing, his eyes may only be able to track from the left to the center. Allowing him to read only the first few words in the line. He then has to reposition his body to an angle where he can complete the eye tracking from the middle to the right.
Jacob has a new baseball bought for him by his dad.
Your son may first read the words in PINK. Then struggle with writing it down. He then has to move his body so that her can read the words in BLUE.
This will make him seem slow to others. His reading will be slow as he also has to think about his body movement. Reading a few words at a time, adjusting his body, and continuing to read the rest of the words in the sentence, will not only make him a slow reader, he will also struggle with comprehending what he reads ( since he was not able to complete reading without the interference of thinking about his movement)
When these developmental stage is not good, your son might also loose interest in writing, reading an studying. Additionally he will also have a very poor self image....
The next post will show you the right activities for your child to overcome his problem..Please stand by
Do also read this other post that I have written. There are some basic information regarding the sensory pyramid, the stages and more