The DPA (Developmental Practitioners’ Association) was held via zoom on 16th October 2021 with over 30 members participating. What a great conference! There was a wide range of presenters, all focused upon child development, primitive reflexes and their effects.

It started with a bang as Professor Gerry Leisman (Haifa University) took us on a whistle stop tour of the brain via a dynamic presentation. He shared the latest research on neuroplasticity, brain maps, illustrating the interrelationship between visual, auditory and motor development. Professor Leisman, specialising in Neurodevelopment education focused on how, understanding the brain’s interaction in learning, we can fully support children’s learning through accessing all sensory interconnections through the mind/body connections. The one hour talk ended on a high note as Leisman gave information on the International Association for Neurodevelopmental Education, an international membership organisation which will offer training and promote research. Worth buying the conference presentation just to view up to date research.

Cathy Shilling gave an indepth presentation on the impact that Auditory Sequential Deficit can have on a person’s (adult and children) auditory processing linking this to access to literacy, communication, memory and resulting in attention challenges. Using the Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation programme, she illustrated how not being within the ‘normal’ hearing range, the brain can misconstrue words so that interpretation of what is being said is meaningless. She shared the profound lifelong change participants on this programme experience.

Sara O’Donnell shared her experience exploring every alternative neurodevelopmental programme in her search to support her son Fin, who she was told would never talk, walk or participate in life. Her sharing of her participation in programmes, the hundreds of miles she crawled, supporting Fin in developing cross lateral movements, the neurodevelopmental programmes she trained in and the outcomes she and Fin achieved were an inspiration to all those who followed her remarkable journey in transforming her son’s life of having no future to the one he has now of fully participating in secondary school.  

Mark Menezes, the first UK Optometrist to gain a qualification in behavioural optometry, has spent his professional life optimising visual integration in the treatment of dyslexia and patients with brain injury.

Maia Vassileva  gave further information on the International Association for Neurodevelopmental Education (IANDE), speaking about the collaboration between Professor Leisman and Robert Melillo, and the benefits of their book Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective. Maia spoke of the need for a multi-modal approach to support children, and the role that technology can play in this. Both professional members and parents who join IANDE can benefit from technology for training and individual therapy sessions, giving parents access to a wide range of support.

Brenda Lloyd a DPA founder member, shared with us her experience in taking movement programmes into schools, especially her Exercise and Sound in Education Progamme (EASIE) Brenda shared the history of the DPA and how it had grown over the years, bringing all the neurodevelopmental practitioners together to share their knowledge and experience.

Pete Griffin spoke about the lifelong impact of unintegrated reflexes on daily living, explaining how this had impacted on him personally. He explained that proprioception can be affected, and this can lead to lack of spatial awareness and general clumsiness. Pete then gave us a writing challenge, followed by a warmup set of physical activities to increase our proprioception. The writing challenge was then repeated and the majority of participants noticed an improvement in both their writing and the amount they wrote!