Doman-Delacato method (patterning)

This method, like sensory integrative therapy, is based on beliefs about the importance of primitive parts of the brain and perceptual training in learning. It was devised at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential by Glenn Doman, a physiotherapist, and Carl Delacato, an educator.

The method of treatment is very intensive. An individualized programme is prepared for each child, which may occupy most of the child’s time at home. A variety of manoeuvres are carried out on the assumption that by manipulating the head and limbs to stimulate certain primitive movements (patterning), the brain will undergo ‘neuronal (nerve cell) organization’. Both the theory of neuronal organization and the claims for the treatment are open to question.

The programme is very intensive, and for some children the parents have to gather a circle of helpers. Treatment includes activities such as swinging the child, getting him to crawl, hanging him upside-down, flashing lights in his eyes, stimulating his skin with materials of various textures, subjecting the child to certain noises, getting the child to rebreathe expired air in a mask, and restricting the intake of fluid and certain foods. There is also emphasis on dominance training (see later in this chapter).

Some of the vigorous and continuous movements to which the child’s body is subjected may be exhausting and painful for him, and there is concern in some quarters that this treatment may cause him excessive suffering. A number of professional bodies have expressed serious reservations about this form of therapy.

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