Schedule: Monday, Thursday & Friday 9:00 - 17:00, Tuesday, Wednesday - 9:00 - 20:00, Saturday - Closed, Sunday - 10:00 - 13:30


Balancing the Senses

In this article I am using the term child to refer to children of all ages from

infants to aging folks.

The Neuro Developmental Functional Approach Therapy (NDFAT) is a dynamic

approach to understanding and helping many of the issues regarding learning

disabilities from ADD to CP and PDD in all ages from infancy to the elderly. It was

developed by two developmental psychologists: Rami Kats and Judi Rabinovitz. The

NDFAT is based on the individual work of many people in the field of learning

disabilities like Dr. Karl Delacato, Jane Eires, Tomatis, Erlain, and more, integrating

their understandings into a whole body view, Understanding the senses, their function

and their integration with one another.

The awareness to learning disabilities is a rapidly growing field in the last decade or

two. Many ways of working with LD have developed and some still are. As Therapists

it is important to look not only at the symptoms (like inability to read) but also at the

reasons behind them, not allowing the body to do what it can in optimal conditions. It

is important as well to check if the labels we use (dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD, ADHD,

PDD and more) are describing the problem or are they just labels describing a group

of symptoms that create a certain attitude and behavior towards the child. If we look

back several decades, we will see that the number of the students found with learning

disabilities was much lower than it is today. That comes as a result of a few factors:

a. the awareness to the whole subject of LD is much greater then it was. So many

people who are evaluated as a LD today would not have been observed in the past for

lack of knowledge and a different point of view. b. The stimulation children

experience today is different in type and intensity than the stimulation that was

available about three decades ago. Many children vegge in front of the TV or the

computer for many hours every day. For instance TV is a high intensity visual and

auditory stimuli. After watching TV children go to the classroom and the teacher has

to “compete” with the level of stimuli that they are used to in order to keep them

attentive and interested. c. Children grow today with less stimuli in the proprioceptive

(deep sensation of the body), vestibular (part of the balance function), and

coordinative system than they used to. Many of the outdoor games that were common

in the past are not as common today like jump rope, marbles and more. These games

have an important influence on the motor, sensory and social development of children.

Another part of this equation is the educational system and its need for labels (it is so

in Israel although there is a good chance that at least some of it is true for other places

as well). Teachers can tell who has some difficulty in learning or who is disturbing

the other students, or who cannot sit without moving. In order to know how to label

him, he is sent to be evaluated. In the evaluation we will find the obvious, the child is

hyperactive, has ADAD and so on, something which we already know. In many of the

evaluations the reasons to the problem are not addressed or found. The focus is on the

symptom. For instance; if a child cannot read it is important to see what is preventing

him from reading, is the problem is in his motor skill of the eyes then we need to

strengthen his ability in this function. Corrective reading lessons without exercising

the eyes will be by far less efficient than it would if it is done after practice. The

NDFAT examines the sensory and developmental aspects, which in most cases are the

cause to the symptoms we see.

Hyperactivity symptoms can come from several reasons. One of them can be from the

proprioceptive aspect. Proprioception (the deep sensation of the body, muscles and

joints) is the information sensation that the muscles, the ligaments and the joints send

the brain. This information contains the movement and the power the muscles exerted.

When a child is hypersensitive in this function, he receives much more information

than a child we can call normal. Each sensation is felt much stronger than it is. This

causes great discomfort in the body and will cause the child to move a lot, which will

look as though he is hyperactive. Such a child will sit in the classroom on the tough

chair, the chair will feel very hard and uncomfortable and it will be very hard for him

to listen to the teacher. A child with such over sensitivity will suffer from pain from

light touch and the child doing the touching who is not over sensitive will not

understand the strong reaction from the other party. An over sensitive person sensing

so much in his body will complain to the doctor that he has this or that pain and when

this reoccurs the doctor will tell that person that he is a hypochondriac, and he will

still not understand why the people around him do not get his condition and cannot be

sympathetic to him. Lack of proprioception can also be the reason for hyperactivity.

When a child lacks sensations from the body the brain is seeking to feel. This can

cause a lot of movement but the reason now is a search for sensation. Such a child can

also touch and hug with great force and at the same time not understand what he is

doing or that he is causing discomfort or pain to people around him. Sometimes

children who “like to fight” are children who lack proprioceptive sensation. The deep

sensation they are looking for is experienced when they fight. I encountered such an

example several years ago in a kindergarten, one of the children loved provoking his

friends to hit him and lay over him and when they did he was so happy laying there

and being beaten.

Hyperactivity can be the result of another dysfunction in the vestibular system. The

vestibular system is a part of what we usually call balance, which is not a system but

a function. This system tells us of change in movement, direction and where gravity


Lack of sensation in the vestibular system can be the cause of hyperactivity in some

people. The child who needs stimulation of this system would love roller coasters,

theme parks and the faster and more daring rides. The stronger the stimulation the

better he feels and the happier he gets.

The Search for stimulation where it is missing and the avoidance of it when there is

over sensitivity are both disrupting the child’s attention. The meaning of this is that

the learning process or function cannot work efficiently because some (a little or a lot)

of the attention is going to the system (or systems) that is not in balance and does not

let the child listen to the teacher, focus on reading or do other activities.

It is important to remember that hypo- and hyper-sensitivities can come at different

levels from minor to extremely high. The higher the imbalance the more radical

behavioral and functional patterns we will find. These patterns become through the

years a part of a one’s personality. In many of the cases there is a tendency to focus on

the psychological aspect and miss the developmental aspect from which it is driven.

By applying the appropriate exercise and massages to the child we can change the way

which he experiences the world. That will reflect in behavioral patterns and on the

child’s ability to learn and perform different tasks without creating stress in the body

in the process. A good example of this change is a woman who went though a series

of sessions of NDFAT. After several weeks of sessions she got a call from the bank

to verify the she was the person signing her checks. This shows us how profound was

the change not only in the functional side of her life but her personality as well for

writing was not what she had worked on. Many examples show us that a change in the

sensory aspects of the body enables a profound change that looks like the person has

“stopped” being hyperactive where in reality he might have only appeared as one.

Such a change can only occur when the actual reasons have been removed a there is

no longer a discomfort in the body.

The NDFAT is good for adults as well as for children. LD and functional

difficulties do not disappear at age 18. We can see difficulties in learning to drive, lack

of concentration in college or other postgraduate schooling, dysfunction on the job

and more.

It is important to remember the elderly folks as well for in many instances lack of use

of the body brings to a deterioration of the ability to function as before. The body is

meant for usage, work, and activity. When we don’t use it we can see a decrease in

physical strength, ability to do things that were easy in the past and in the cognitive

abilities. Encouraging the elder to resume physical activities as well as cognitive ones

with proper exercises is part of what we can do to improve the quality of life in this

age group.

The NDFAT is integrated in schools on one side and practiced by private practitioners

on the other. In schools teachers integrate their understandings of the approach under

the guidance of “The Center for Advancement of Functional Capacities” led by the

senior developmental psychologist Rami Katz and his team. Practitioners are working

with individuals or groups in community centers or private clinics. The NDFAT

understandings are the ground on which school program are adapted to, to make the

learning more experiential as it should be. That contributes to the sensory development

of the children and makes them more interested on one hand and leaves them with a

taste of fun so they want to learn more and enjoy it.

To conclude: the NDFAT evaluates and works on imbalance of the sensory and

functional systems of the body. We work with all ages from babies to the elderly. This

work is significantly beneficial to everyone. It is possible to integrate this work with

other modalities like: Bach flower remedies, one brain, TAT, nutrition, EFT,

homeopathy and more. In some cases other professionals are working in conjunction

like: Psychologist, occupational therapy, corrective learning, orthoptist and more.

Dr. Gilad Schafman Msc.D. is an International Evaluator, practitioner and teacher of

the NDFAT. Practicing since 1993 and teaching since 1998, Gilad brings much

experience. He has a doctoral in metaphysics, practice massage therapy, Rolfing,

pregnant and postpartum massage, teaches yoga and movement awareness, infant

massage, Non Violent communication and more. He is currently working in Miami

Beach Pediatrics as an Evaluator and educator for Families, teachers and therapists.

Miami Beach Blog


view all posts