Monday, 26 November 2012

The Principles of the Snowdrop Programme

(1) Brain injury is in the brain and if we are to help our children overcome their problems we must direct our efforts towards influencing brain plasticity.

(2). The brain responds to 3 major influences, -genetic instruction, - its internal operating environment, - the demands placed on it by the environment. These three factors drive the development of the child forward. We cannot influence genetic instruction, but we can influence the other two factors.

(3). How do we influence the demands of the environment and therefore also influence brain plasticity? - We do so through repetition of stimulus. A brain injury acts as a 'roadblock' preventing stimuli from the environment from being processed properly in the brain and therefore the child fails to develop. The Snowdrop programme assesses where that developmental roadblock lies in each area of development and provides an appropriate developmental activity which is repeated over weeks and months and which acts as an increased environmental stimulus, helping to overcome the roadblock and allowing the correct stimulation to reach the brain.

(4). The brain prefers to take in information in short, sharp bursts, which is why most activities within the programme are carried out for between 1 and 3 minutes,

(5). The brain needs plenty of 'downtime' in order to process and organise information, for this reason the programme is not as 'intensive' as might be imagined.

(6). Children learn and develop in social situations with the help of family and friends. All new abilities begin as abilities which are just beyond the reach of the child and he / she can only perform those abilities with help from family / friends. The programme activities are therefore carried out with the child by family and friends.

(7). Those friends and family who are helping the child learn and develop in social situations are providing assistance which Bruner termed as 'scaffolding' to enable the child to complete developmental tasks which are just outside of his ability to complete them alone. As the child becomes increasingly competent at the ability through repetition of stimulus, the scaffolding is gradually withdrawn until the ability is 'internalised' and the child has attained that developmental ability. This is what Vygotsky termed 'passage through the zone of proximal development.' In this way we marry academically sound Vygotskian psychology with current evidence on stimulating neuroplasticity.

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