What is Brain Lateralization?
Brain Lateralization is a complex and ongoing process by which differing regions of the brain “take over” the functioning of specific behaviors and cognitive skills. Lateralization literally means that certain functions are located (in part or total) on one side of the brain.
Functions related to the right hemisphere include judging the position of objects in space, understanding of body position, comprehending and remembering things you do and see, putting pieces of information together to make an entire picture, and motor control of the left side of the body.
Functions related to the left side of the brain include understanding and use of language (listening, reading, speaking and writing), memory for spoken and written language, analysis of information in detail, and motor control of the right side of the body. These skills develop naturally over time in children and deficits in several related areas of functioning could suggest problems with this process.
How do I know if my child has issues with Brain Lateralization?
Delays in lateralization can affect many cognitive and behavioral skills. Brain lateralization is critical to the development of appropriate language and social skills. Difficulties with left hemisphere development can include language deficits (including grammar, vocabulary, and literal meaning of language) or may present itself as difficulty with receptive, expressive language or articulation/fluency deficits.
Deficits in right hemisphere language development can lead to difficulties processing nonliteral language, sarcasm, metaphors and reading. Nonverbal social abilities also tend to be affected by brain lateralization. Specifically, the right hemisphere subsumes the processing of pragmatic language, prosody, and intonation as well as the ability to read facial cues, body language and to adapt behavior based on these cues. This could mean that children with difficulties secondary to lateralization of these inputs may present with difficulties reading social meaning in other children.
How can I help treat my child’s Brain Lateralization?
Treatment for brain lateralization issues is dependent upon the areas in which a child is experiencing difficulty. For example, a physical therapist would work with a child with gross motor issues related to balance, strength and motor integration; an occupational therapist would work with a child experiencing difficulty fine motor skills and/or deficits in sensory processing; and a speech-language pathologist would work with a child displaying issues with speech, language, oral motor skills, and/or feeding difficulties. Other professionals who may be involved in treating a child with brain lateralization issues include neuropsychologists and/or licensed professional counselor for those children with learning disorders and social deficits.
Our approach to Brain Lateralization at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our therapists work with children with brain lateralization difficulties using a multisensory approach to provide the child with experiences which help improve his fine and gross motor skills, speech and language skills, oral motor skills, social skills, behavior, sensory processing skills, feeding skills, attention, and any other difficulties that are hindering his ability to fully succeed socially, academically and personally.