This week's featured interview on BAM Radio is with Paul Dennison, the creator of Brain Gym, a concept that so clearly proves the mind and the body are not separate entities! Here's my favorite story related to Brain Gym:
In Carla Hannaford's Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, she tells the story of Todd, who at 16 years old was uable to read -- but not for lack of trying. His parents had spent thousands of dollars on reading programs, but all had failed; Todd was certified learning disabled. Also, although he was six feet, two inches tall and the basketball team was eager to have him participate, he was too clumsy, unable to get from point A to point B while dribbling a ball (a bit of a prerequisite for playing hoops).
Then his mother made a discovery while at a conference in California. That discovery was Brain Gym. Very excited, she returned home and announced, "Todd, we're going to Cross Crawl."
Now, Cross Crawling is simply a matter of standing and slowly touching opposite elbow to knee, alternating from one side to the other. To be sure Todd would actually do it, the whole family Cross Crawled together every morning before Todd went to school and every night before he went to bed. Six weeks later, Todd was reading at grade level. He later became a fully participating member of the basketball team -- and even later received a college degree in biology!
Coincidence? Highly unlikely. Dr. Hannaford tells us that cross-lateral movements (actions involving the left arm and right leg or the right arm and left leg at the same time -- like a baby's crawling or creeping) activate both hemispheres of the brain in a balanced way. Also involved are coordinated movements of both eyes, ears, hands, feet, and balanced core muscles. The result of all this balanced and coordinated movement is that the corpus callosum, the area between the two hemispheres of the brain, as well as the brain's four lobes, become more activated. According to Hannaford, this cross-hemisphere communication heightens cognitive function and increases ease of learning.
Because the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, crossing over the midline of the body (the imaginary line running down the center of the body, from head to toe), as is the case when touching opposite elbow to knee, prompts the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate with each other. In Todd's case, specifically, he was finally able to integrate all the information that had been "up there" all along!
If you know a child who's having difficulty reading, give the Cross Crawl a try. It certainly can't hurt -- and it might do a world of good!