ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Aggression etc.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Your child is unable to sit still, he does not follow instructions, she is so manipulative, punishment does not seem to work, her teacher thinks she might be depressed, very low concentration span, struggling with sequencing etc. Terms like ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia seem to be brandied about quite easily and it seems like, if the child has a label or a diagnosis it might be easier to send him/her off to be treated or medicated.

What if I were to tell you that there are so many otherfactors that could be influencing their behaviour and that it is not necessarily always a diagnosis that might be helpful but rather adjusting the way your child moves. The brain and the body connect through movement. The way children move is the way they think and visa versa. Incorporating certain movements and exercises into their life might make a big difference to their social interactions, the way they think and the way they behave.

The Family Counselling Centre invites you to our monthly Conversation, “Let’s Get Talking” starting at 7 pm.   Join Lee-Ann on 27th March in a discussion around early development movement, signs of Developmental Co-ordination Delay and the significance of how your child moves.

‘We thought our son had ADHD – what we were told blew our minds’ by Amanda Cassidy

“We brought our son to be tested for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) this summer. He was fidgety, found it hard to sit still in school, had low concentration and was very impulsive. In other words, all completely normal symptoms of a five-year-old boy. But I wanted to be sure so that I could give the best and most appropriate response to help him be his best self. Also, I am a complete overreacter. To my surprise, the therapist explained that not only did he not have ADHD, he had retained some of his primitive reflexes and this was a really common issue that is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. And these retained reflexes could be responsible for a lot of the things that were getting him in trouble at school and at home.  Wait, what? “

Are you living with a special needs/disabled child?

Then this is for you!

One of our passions at The Family Counselling Centre is disability awareness. I, Andrea Nettel, have a special heart for families living with disabilities because my son was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy at age 2 . He is severely disabled and needs an electric wheelchair and a service dog to function semi-independently. He is now 16, goes to Wynberg Boys High School and aside from his disability he is a normal teenager. My journey with him has made me acutely aware of the unique situations families with disabilities find themselves in.

Disability, special needs, differently-abled… what does that actually mean? Well if you find yourself struggling because the system around you does not fit your family, chances are that your family has special needs. There are different sensitivities about labels and names. Ultimately though if you are continuously running between various therapists like OT, Speech, Physio,  finding the “Right” school and clinic/red cross hospital appointments your family’s needs are special.

I will be facilitating this group and aim to support and empower parents. I am looking to give parents the space for honest and open communications around their needs and the needs of the other family members.  There is so much more involved and relationships seem much harder when there is the additional responsibility of caring for special needs.

The group will address topics like self-care, honesty, frustration, fears and how to deal with them. It will be an interactive group where your needs will be of highest priority. I believe in the connection between physical well-being and emotional/mental well-being therefore I incorporate movement into the sessions, so wear comfortable clothes.

We are starting this weekly SNP-Group (Special Needs Parents) on 25 January 2018 at 5 o’clock pm at The Family Counselling Centre in Fish Hoek. To book your slot or find out more about it please call or Whats-App us (Andrea  or Carol) on 0723756089. You can also check out the details on facebook.

DREAM – Developing a Relationship between Emotions And Movement

Building Resiliance through Movement

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

What is it that makes someone recover quickly? Or what is it that encourages toughness? Research has done little to effectively pinpoint what it is that makes someone more tough or able to cope with life’s challenges better than others. But what we do know is that when the brain believes that the body is safe it has more “elasticity” to form new concepts and is more accepting of change. I find this interesting because this means that we need to make sure that we feel safe first before we even attempt to do anything new. The irony here is that anything new will initially make us feel unsafe. So how can we overcome this conundrum?

Our body is the link! When the brain believes that the body is safe… then higher functioning like mastering change or challenges will be less stressful and we can anticipate higher resilience or quicker bounce back!!

The most efficient way to convey to the brain that the body is safe is through movement! Not mental training or academic understanding but movement.

Movement engages all our senses including the internal senses namely proprioception and the vestibular system which many of us are unaware of. Without going into too much detail movement is a way for the brain to assess how things are going with us! AND movement is also the way we adjust to sensations – positive or negative.

The first interaction a newborn has with its environment is through reflexes which are movements. There is no logical understanding or thought patters at that stage. The brain simply assesses the information it receives through ALL the senses (internal and external) and responds with a movement. As we develop we start building on those reflexes and we learn how to regulate and modify them. It seems that therefore the root of feeling safe lies in our body – through movement.

Movement is not to be confused with exercise! Physical exercise is generally associated with some sort of movement but exercise as such does not necessarily translate into building resilience. (Although many might argue that trained athletes are generally more resilient, but I am not going to delve into this right now.) The movement that the brain requires is not at all related to a cardio workout, strength training, a long run or any other formal sport. It really “only” requires child’s play. Moving on all planes front/back, top/bottom, left/right, up/down and crossing the mid-line. In other words rolling, crawling, walking, marching, etc. Literally: Child’s play!

“Early developmental movement patterns” is the more scientific name for child’s play. It is universally accepted to be the foundation of healthy development. Interesting fact is that highly trained athletes might struggle with many of the most basic movements that children need to master in order to be considered school-ready! How much more likely is it then that we, the general populous, might struggle with the most basic ways to move.

As we struggle to move we become inhibited, because the brain no longer senses safety. As we are inhibited to move – our resilience drops. As our resilience drops so our self esteem drops and symptoms of anxiety, depression, aggression etc. start developing.

In short we can assist the brain to sense safety by starting to move like a baby!! As we feel safe we start moving more which builds resilience. And as we build resilience we start to feel more in control.

Reigniting the early developmental movement patters and combining them with facilitated group work assists with managing anger and aggression; coping with stress; dealing with anxiety and depression; assists with the recovery process from injury, illness or addiction – it is a tool that can be used when going through any life’s challenges to encourage a sense of safety which in turn allows resilience to grow.

For more information on our programme please call Andrea on 0723756089 or email me on