Does Your Child Have Right Brain Deficiencies?

Dr. Robert Melillo

Right brain deficiencies  usually first show  up as behavioral problems. Mothers often tell me that these kids started giving them a hard time right from the get-go. These are the kids who kicked and moved around in  the womb so much that their moms couldn’t get any sleep. More often than not, giving birth wasn’t easy either. There may have been an unusually long labor or induced labor brought on because the fetus was beyond term. As  infants, these children tried their mothers with breastfeeding trouble and colicky crying. They were fussy babies who were a struggle to get to sleep. But memories of all this trouble are soon countered with parental pride over  the fact that these babies seem to be very smart. They delight their parents with fast and early learning.

As toddlers, they may pick up a book and try to read it—or actually even read a few words. They hear everything their parents say and have the memory of an ele-phant.At this stage, the parents’ biggest complaint is that their child seems to be all over the place. These are the kids who run their moms ragged. They  can barely sit still for a minute. Nevertheless, they continue to fascinate with their unusual curiosity and fast learning. This is often confusing for a parent because, as smart as these kids are, their first words are often overdue. In fact, they may not speak much at all. How-ever, what they lack in expression, they make up in learning, and these children often start school with impressive reading and spelling skills. Unfortunately, it isn’t too long before that world starts caving in.Feedback from teachers usually arrives early. Acting out, meltdowns, and  obstinate, impulsive, disruptive, and oppositional behavior are among the complaints that parents hear from teachers. 

Maybe  their child  will “outgrow”  this behavior, the  parents hope. At least  their child’s grades are good. But  then that begins to change, too, usually around the fourth grade. Suddenly,  these brilliant children start to struggle in school. They read, but it soon  becomes apparent that they don’t get the gist of what they are reading. They struggle with math. They start losing ground academically, because of all they’ve missed when they weren’t paying attention. Their foundational skills become so weak that their early knowledge base starts to look like Swiss cheese—it’s full of holes they can’t fill. Like all kids, they crave friendship, but they struggle to make friends. No  matter how hard they try, they just don’t do it right. They invade other kids’ territory and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Other kids just think that they’re weird.This leads to frustration, especially because they know they are more intelligent than most of their peers. As they get more frustrated and fearful, they become more and more oppositional. They usually take it out on Mom first, then go up and down the ladder of authority figures.

Children that deal with right brain deficiencies  also have  many “sensory  issues”—they are  either over- or undersensitive to the sensory world around them and they tend to be extremely picky eaters.Mothers often tell me later on that they always sensed this child was “kind  of different” from other kids. Mothers who have other children say in retrospect that this was the child who seemed “disconnected” early on from parents and siblings. They confide that their child did not display  much emotion—even the voice was monotone. Some of these children seem to have problems with just about everything. Unfortunately, parents hear scary terms for it: autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, pervasive developmental disorder and they become completely overwhelmed.