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Is My Toddler Wired For Struggle?

Signs and Symptoms of Central Nervous System Immaturity

"Every child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning, but also capable of succeeding."

-Robert John Meehan-

What is the Central Nervous System?

The central nervous system (CNS) is the neurological system in our bodies that is responsible for basic life functions of motor control, thoughts, emotions, hormone release, breathing, heart rate, body temperature etc. It is the foundation for all learning / development. Its maturity is the single most important factor in the ability for us as humans to learn. If there is any hiccup in the wiring of the nervous system; motor delays, behavior difficulties, and cognitive delays are common.

What Causes CNS Immaturity?

•Traumatic / Prolonged Birthing Process

•Premature Birth


•Illnesses (RSV, Croup, Frequent Ear infections, Severe Constipation)


•Skipped Motor Milestones

•Containment at inappropriate times and for inappropriate durations (Car seats, Jumpers, Exersaucers, Bumbo Seats, Infant Walkers/Activity Centers)

•In utero exposure to drugs / alcohol

•Maternal illness / stress during pregnancy

What are the signs and symptoms of CNS Immaturity?

  • Difficulty with transitions (tantrumming, excessive warnings, needed for transition objects like toys/stuffed animals)
  • Unexplained outbursts of significant emotion 
  • Excessive shyness around familiar/unfamiliar persons
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Excessive tantrumming (longer than 30 minutes)
  • Fear of climbing playground equipment
  • Fear of swings/slides 
  • Dislike for hair washing, nail trims, teeth brushing
  • Sensitivity to loud noises (vacuum, blender, fireworks)
  • Wipes off touch-resists hand holding / washing hands 
  • Craves or avoids messy play (excessive seeking/avoiding in comparison to peers)
  • Craves excessive touch from others (Difficulty keeping hands to self)
  • Difficulty sitting through structured learning time
  • Language delays 
  • Poor eye contact 
  • Mouth movements while using hands (sticking tongue out, excessive lip licking that causes red ring around mouth)
  • Difficulty interacting with other children (isolates self OR is overly aggressive with peers ie: pushing, biting, pinching)
  • W sitting during seated times 
  • Delayed gross motor / fine motor skills 

My child is demonstrating some of these symptoms, what can I do?

If your child is demonstrating any of the signs / symptoms above OR if you feel your child’s development may be off track, please contact Whitney Tostenson, MOT, OTR/L to discuss a FREE consult for neurodevelopmental services.

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