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Unlocking the potential of children with learning, behavioral or emotional problems with The Key Clinic
Having studied and practiced neurofeedback, I have learned that the brain can be trained like a muscle, to perform better and to think differently. Many people suffering from traumatic experiences or who have learning difficulties can now be ‘rewired’ to succeed with the right training.
With the dramatic rise in children (including my own daughter) being diagnosed with special educational needs, mental health issues like anxiety and depression, it’s amazing to discover new treatment methods and clinics offering cutting-edge approaches, such as Neuromovement and Auditory Therapy.
Once such clinic offering ground-breaking therapies for children (and adults) is The Key Clinic, and to find out more, I interviewed Sarah Warley, the founding partner. Having trained in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and as a Neurophysiological Psychologist at the Institute of Neurophysiological Psychology (INPP) in Chester, Sarah’s interest and expertise is in the latest methods for helping the brain to heal through the body, and the body to heal through the brain.
She and her team of expert practitioners are changing the way we approach difficulties such as Dyslexia, ADD, poor concentration, childhood depression and anxiety.
How did The Key Clinic begin?
The Key Clinic opened its first practice in September 2015, and now has two clinics – one in central London and one in Berkshire. “As a mother of four children, I was struck by the increasing numbers of children being given ‘labels’ and by how little is actually done to help improve the outcome for them,” Sarah tells me. Most of us who have had children in the past couple of decades will no doubt be familiar with these ‘labels’ that include Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, and Slow Processing.
“Most therapies are only aimed at finding ways to compensate for difficulties, rather than trying to assess why those difficulties are there in the first place and then get rid of underlying causes.”
Sarah wanted to find alternative ways to approach these difficulties, rather than just papering over the cracks. “There have been some very exciting developments over the last decade in our understanding of how our brains work. We now know that the brain constantly rewires itself every minute of every day and if it is stimulated in the right way, it can be encouraged to ‘rewire’ to overcome former difficulties.
I refuse to accept that any learning, behavioural or emotional difficulty a child may be experiencing has to be set in stone. The goalposts can be shifted!”
It’s this pioneering approach that lies at the heart – and success – of The Key Clinic.
What are the main issues that you treat at The Key Clinic?
“The majority of children that we treat have been diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, poor concentration, slow processing, Dyscalculia, ADHD, anxiety, depression or may be on the Autistic Spectrum. But we also treat many children who haven’t been given any formal diagnosis, but who appear not to be ‘firing on all cylinders’. In other words, they may be perfectly smart, but just cannot manage to translate that into good results at school.”
Why is there such an increase in the need for an alternative to what’s available through schools or the NHS?
While treatment for issues such as depression, slow processing, Dyslexia, and Autism are available via school counsellors, educational psychologists, GPs and health visitors, they are not always easy to access, and the waiting lists often stretch to months and in some cases, years. “I think that many children fall into a gap between all these different disciplines. GPs are overstretched and can only offer medications or make referrals for talking therapies to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) where waiting lists are long.
Educational psychologists are very good at assessing a child’s difficulties, but parents always complain to me that very little is offered in terms of what to do to actually improve things. School Counsellors focus on talking therapy, which is valuable, but certain behavioural issues, such as aggression, anxiety, and depression can be caused by underlying biochemical imbalances or underlying retained reflexes.
In which case, no amount of talking therapy will improve things. The work we do is very unique, using cutting edge approaches to which bridge the gap between medicine, education, and psychology.”
Part of The Key Clinic’s success in treating children with learning and behavioural difficulties is the fact that they have selected four key therapies that have been carefully chosen for their success in treating the most common issues.
“ We’ve selected therapies that are the real ‘game-changers’ in the treatment of the majority of children that we see,” says Sarah. These ‘fab’ four are Neuromovement, Auditory Therapy, Nutritional Medicine and Cranial Osteopathy.
The Neuromovement Programme
When it comes to addressing Dyslexia or ADD, the clinic’s Neuromovement Programme has proven to be extremely successful. “The symptoms of both Dyslexia and ADD are often the result of retained reflexes. These are baby reflexes which should have been inhibited by the time a child is 1, but the majority of children who struggle at school still have them in place.
While serving a useful survival purpose in the first year of life, they now become a sort of ‘gremlin in the works’, messing up eye-tracking, concentration, balance, coordination and undermining confidence.”
In these cases, Neuromovement Therapy has been found to be the most effective treatment. The therapy involves a series of simple, precise exercises that inhibit a child’s primitive reflexes, helping to overcome blockages and to create new neural pathways in the brain by maturing the nervous system. “With treatment, these reflexes are gone for life and, very often the label is lost.”
The Auditory Programme
You might be surprised to learn that difficulties with reading, spelling, speech and language, attention spans and processing information can all be caused by the way in which a child hears.
To treat these issues, The Key Clinic’s therapists use Auditory Therapy, a ground-breaking form of auditory integration training (AIT) which helps to resolve the hearing distortions behind many speech, language and learning problems.
“Conventional hearing tests are only designed to assess hearing loss. They don’t actually tell us how a child hears. Our in-depth assessments at The Key Clinic can tell us so much more. A child may have hypersensitive hearing which can make them very distractible, as background noises are amplified and exaggerated for them.
There are also hearing profiles that scramble up the order of sounds in words and which can make listening a bit like being on a mobile phone in an area of poor reception. This makes it exhausting for children to listen in these circumstances. Our auditory programme is fully customised to a child’s hearing profile and has been shown to successfully overcome these difficulties, making hearing faster and more accurate.”
Based on the latest research findings into the link between behavioral and emotional difficulties, and nutrition, one of the four therapies that The Key Clinic offer is Nutritional Medicine.
“ Many behavioral and emotional difficulties stem from biochemical imbalances and inefficiencies in gut functioning,” explains Sarah. “ When you consider that 60% of the chemicals in our brains are made in our gut, if the gut is not functioning correctly, it will affect the brain.”
The Key Clinic’s breakthrough nutritional therapy which has been pioneered by The Walsh Institute in the US, is aimed at normalising chemical levels in the brain by using highly targeted vitamin and supplement doses. “Treating the brain from the body upwards, without using drugs is the future of psychiatry!
This work has helped many people come off Ritalin-type medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs, under their doctor’s supervision.”
From poor sleep and growing pains to headaches and stress, therapists at The Key Clinic often recommend Cranial Osteopathy, which can be used in conjunction with other therapies to help speed up the process.
The aim of Cranial Osteopathy is to address blockages or imbalances in the various body fluids and in what osteopaths call the cranial rhythm. This is a subtle rhythmic shape change that occurs throughout the body and can be felt by gentle touch.
The osteopath uses their hands to sense tensions and imbalances in the body, then helps to release them. “We’ve found that Cranial Osteopathy encourages the body to be fully relaxed. And when the body is relaxed, it responds even better to our other therapies. In other words, it prepares the body for change and speeds up results.”
Finding the right therapy for each child
To determine which therapy or combination of therapies will be most effective, treatment starts with a one hour Screening Consultation with parents. “We can do this on the phone or in person,” says Sarah. “This allows us to predict, with high accuracy, where the child’s difficulties are likely to be coming from.
Based on these answers, we then invite the child and parents into the clinic so we can carry out the relevant assessments directly with them.
This might be a neurodevelopmental assessment, a hearing test or some suggested biomedical/nutritional tests. The beauty of this work is that the results are black or white. Either there’s a problem, such as a retained reflex, or there’s not.”
Once a problem is identified, the team can create an effective treatment programme using one or more therapies. “For some, only one intervention is necessary; for others, all four may be needed. We only recommend a therapy or therapies if we know, with pinpoint accuracy, that they will be a game-changer.
This is why we have grown so fast as a clinic without any marketing. We want parents to be thrilled with the results we achieve and tell all their friends about us.”
How long does treatment take?
“Most of our therapies require multiple trips to the clinic once or twice daily, often over a 2 to 4 week period. This requires quite a bit of organisation and effort on the part of the parents, but once completed, the results of our therapies last for life and do not need to be repeated.”
Are your therapies also available in schools?
As awareness of the positive results achieved at the clinic grows, groups of children can benefit from treatment by The Clinic’s experts in their own school. “We now offer a school partnership programme, and schools can contact us to arrange this.
Ideally, all children should be screened for retained reflexes and/or any hearing distortions by about age 6 to 7 years old. If there are 8 or more children requiring our treatments at a school, our therapists can stay nearby and carry out our programmes over a 2 week period.
We also pay 10% of any revenue earned back to the school’s SEN department to help provide further support for children. Unfortunately, not many GPs in the UK are aware of the work we do. Interestingly, we recently treated a GP who was so thrilled by the results we achieved, she is joining our clinic!”
Often the only solution on offer for the issues that we’ve discussed, whether for adults, children or teens, is medication, or the option to wait months and months for counselling and talking therapies through the NHS.
If you have a child or a teenager who is experiencing any of these difficulties, or you’re looking for an alternative treatment for depression or anxiety yourself, it’s worth checking out The Key Clinic’s therapies.
There are stacks of testimonials on their website too, including TV and radio presenter, Chris Evans who says; “I mean, it’s like a miracle. It’s a blooming miracle. It’s unbelievable.”
If you would like to get in touch with the Key Clinic, you can find the contact details here.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|