Does brain plasticity end at 7?

May 16, 2012 | children, General

Last week I met a woman whose doctor told her that brain plasticity ends at age 7. Can you believe it? Not only that, he said this by way of informing her not to seek treatment for her 9 year old son, as it was too late!!!!

She described her 9 year old as having some auditory processing issues. Poor short term memory, only able to remember the first part of an instruction, always asking “what?” to give himself time to process what was being said, an inability to remember his spelling words.

Children like this are stressed by learning, which for them is ten times harder than for others. They struggle to concentrate at home and in class, are teased by peers, suffer low self esteem and have limited prospects of success in school and life. Understandably, their mothers wish to help them and go seeking advice first from their doctor.

Sadly, many doctors are not well informed about auditory processing disorders and seem to just want the mothers to go away and stop asking. I often hear of mothers being told not to worry, that the child is ‘within normal range’ and will catch up.

This is WRONG! Children like this need extra help, and so much help is available, through behavioural optometry, speech therapy, sound therapy, special educational assistance, dietary support etc. Every doctor should have a referral network and help to put concerned mothers on the path as quickly as possible to help their children.

Such doctors seem to think that their job is to stop the mother worrying, that mothers are irrational, emotional fretters who are unable to perceive if their child is struggling compared to other children.

However, I have never before heard of a doctor saying that brain plasticity ends at 7! This is particularly surprising today, since in the last 20 years hard science has proven and accepted that brain plasticity continues throughout life, even into the 80s.

Now it <em>is</em> true that brain plasticity is highest in the womb, just after birth, and decreases throughout life. The younger we are, the faster we learn. All the more reason why it is so important for such a doctor to advise the mother to take action straight away to help her child with every possible form of input and stimulus she can find.

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