Mixed Dominance and ADHD, Part 2

Not every scientist agrees that cross dominance causes cognitive problems. There has been a fair amount of skepticism surrounding both vision therapy for cross dominance and other therapies that propose to address the problems associated with cross dominance.

Some people describe cross dominance treatment as a pseudo-science.  The reason that this treatment has come into question is because there have been attempts from profiteers to define this phenomena and treat it using interventions, such as neurolinguistic programming training, which are quite costly and have been found to offer no benefit whatsoever.

Visual therapist and Occupational Therapist work with people who are cross dominant or who have difficulties crossing the midline using exercises such as slapping your right knee with your left hand or using square dance like activities where you swing the right side of your body left and your left side of your body right.  Windmill exercises where your right hand touches your left foot and then your left hand touches your right foot are also used.  Some therapist use hula-hoops exercises for treatment.  My son had an exercise where he had to make large figure 8s on a white board.  I, and my son, believe that the vision therapy and occupational therapy exercises that he did, helped him on a number of fronts.  His letter reversals were better, he had fewer headaches when he had to do math workbook pages, and his focus improved.

There have been no studies that show that these exercises help strengthen the brain hemisphere connection problems of cross dominant individuals but these crossing the midline, brain strengthening type exercises have been used successfully by  educators and therapist to help learning. There are several centers across the United States that use exercises such as these as well as balancing exercises to strengthen cerebellum brain functioning.  Programs such as the Dore Method program have been found by experts such as Dr. Edward Hallowell, who wrote Delivered from Distraction to help with reading and attention.  The science regarding how or why these exercises help, however, has lagged behind the use of these interventions.  

Scientist are learning only now of the role that the cerebellum plays in cognition.  Recent research has revealed that prefrontal cortex connections to the cerebellum are involved in eye movements and motor coordination.  The may also be involved in memory, focus, and learning. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain in charge of memory, learning, and other brain executive functions.  Symptoms of ADHD are thought to be related to problems in the prefrontal cortex.  Recently, researchers have begun to look into the anatomical connections between the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex and speculate that these connections might be faulty and contribute to the symptoms of ADHD.  

Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD are often identical to the symptoms seen in mixed dominance and vision problems.   Children with these difficulties can have short attentions spans, daydream in class, often have coordination problems, and often have poor handwriting.  These problems can be caused by cross dominance issues, sensory integration issues, convergence difficulties, or a combination of all of these issues.  They can also be caused by ADHD.  

It is critical that individuals with Inattentive ADHD be evaluated for problems which could be corrected with vision or occupational therapy. These vision and cross dominance problems could have a causal relationship to ADHD but even if they don't, they can clearly worsen the symptoms of ADHD.

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