Posts tagged ‘academic year’

The “End Game” at School- its importance for children with ADHD

If you have a child in your family who has, or you suspect may have ADHD (ADD), and they are not currently getting the proper help with the disorder, there is obviously a problem that needs to be fixed.  It could be that they are on medication and it is not solving all the problems, or that the side effects of the medication are causing their own set of problems, or they are causing a compliance problem, or a combination of the above. It is also possible that no treatment is engaged and parents are employing strategies to help the child cope with the disorder, instead of correcting it, and this is not doing enough for the child to realize their true potential.

Although it may be clear that a solution is needed, what may not be obvious is the importance of the “end game” of the current school year for your child. How this school year ends is of critical importance to how the next school year will start, to both your child and your child’s teacher (both this years’ and next’s). Improvement at the end of the year shapes your child’s current teacher’s decision for advancement and classroom placement for the next year. It also shapes the comments this year’s teacher will make to the new teacher about your child’s perceived (not actual!) personality, intelligence (most children with this disorder actually have a higher than average I.Q., although the disorder can make it seem the opposite), attitude, and in some cases even the parent’s skill at parenting! These comments and reports are very powerful in shaping your child’s school experience next year.

Furthermore, when a child actually experiences that school is really getting better at the end of this year, they will transfer that confidence over onto the start of next year. This makes a tremendous difference in their self-expectations and level of success for the new year to come. Both this year’s teacher’s ending perception of your child, and its effect on next year, and the confidence “carry-over” from this year to the next, is why the “end game” of this school year is so important.

The way to actually make this very important “end game” successful is to actually correct the ADHD (ADD) now at the end of this school year. The most effective way to do this, and at the same time avoid the side effects, stigma, and life-long rigors of medication is through Neurofeedback Treatment.

By utilizing a treatment called Neurofeedback, a child can re-teach the sensory functions of the brain, including processing, to ameliorate the disorder.  Neurofeedback is a painless and effective process, where there is no side effects and no maintenance or re-training is needed after treatment is completed.  It allows for focus, task completion, organization, and a variety of other symptoms to be controlled and become the way they should be.

Please feel free to contact Alta Neuro-Imaging for additional information in regards to Neurofeedback, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Ferrari at his Placentia, CA office.

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April 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Parental Denial of the Possibility of ADD… A Common Reaction Actually Worsens Outlook

The parents of children suspecting of having ADD symptoms often deny even the possibility of testing, let alone treating, the disorder.  This denial is understandable, and may be seen as protective and well-intentioned.  However, it may make matters worse since it prevents finding out what the truth is; if the problem is there, it allows it to grow and worsen.

A number of reasons for this denial may exist.  One is an extension of a simple childhood fantasy: “If I don’t admit to it, it’s not really there”.  Even as adults, a lot of this “magical” thinking still goes on.

Another cause of denial is the “self-protective” one.  Some parents see any problems in their children as a reflection of themselves, and therefore something that is wrong in them or they did wrong as parents.  In children with ADD, this is not the case.  However, the urge to self-protect, even when misdirected, is a powerful one.

ADD is often hereditary.  This means that the parent could have ADD, too.  Often, parents compare their children to themselves, and so don’t see any problem, even if others do.  This prevents them from getting the best for their children.

The perceived solution to ADD may be seen as so terrible that it is best to exclude the possibility of the problem, therefore excluding the solution as well.  This solution- often seen as unavoidable in treating the problem- is usually Ritalin or another stimulant-based drug.  This concern is valid.  These drugs often have serious physiological and psychological side effects; and to control the ADD, must be taken for life.  However, it is imperative to know this is not the only solution!

Denial of ADD, although understandable, might actually make the problem worse.  What does this mean?  First, each academic year builds on the previous years’ foundation: the longer the testing and possible treatment is delayed, the increasingly harder school becomes.  Secondly, if children’s experience at school and elsewhere teaches them they are “not smart” (even if people with ADD tend to have higher than average intelligence), or are “trouble-makers”, they will gradually see themselves as such and act accordingly.  Finally, practicing denial teaches denial and the consequent hopelessness that are toxic to growth, achievement, and success for the child.

Medication is not the only effective treatment for ADD.  Neurofeedback is a treatment that corrects the problem for life, as well as adding a sense of self-determination and success for the child.  This method of treatment, a sub-type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG analysis to provide information on brain signaling activity, is an alternative to medication.  Neurofeedback mitigates the symptoms of ADHD in a beneficial and side-effect-free manner by re-focusing the thought processes of brain, ulimately alleviating the condition.

March 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Can we still rescue this school year?

This is the time of year when many parents whose children have struggled with school start to either despair or panic.  Most parents will say: “We’ve done everything we can; we’ve talked to him (or her), we’ve encouraged him, we’ve pushed him as hard as we can, we’ve even tried tutoring and counseling, hoping for the best, and nothing seems to have gotten better.  The school is talking about holding him back and/or putting him in a special class”.

 Most of the time, as I inquire further into the child’s problems, I will hear that he (or she) is having significant problems academically and can’t seem to focus or retain what he’s learned at home, or is having lots of behavior problems at school, lacks confidence, is isolated… or all of the above.  

This question actually has two parts to it.  For the first part: No, it is definitely not too late to get help for this school year.  It is at the end of the school year that the evaluations and decisions are made as to what is best for the child in the coming year and we are definitely not at that point yet.  I have worked with many teachers, and I am consistently told that if they see significant improvement in academics and/or behavior before the end of the year, it can definitely effect their decisions.

Parental attitude toward this question is also critically important to their child.  Your decision to accept these problems as unavoidable and/or to give up on this school year, as opposed to not giving up and continuing to find the solution to your child’s difficulties, makes an indelible impression on how your child sees themselves and their approach to solving problems.  If you take the first option, things will probably get worse for them as they will sense you’re giving up, and they will too.  They will also think less is expected of them and they may put forth less effort.  If you choose the second option, and ground that for them firmly in the fact that the problems do not represent their true self or abilities, and that they are worth these extra efforts to solve the problems, then you have the opposite effect and their self esteem and effort climbs. So does your chances of final success for the school year. 

The second part of the question regards whether or the not the proper underlying cause of the problem is being addressed.  While tutoring and counseling definitely have their place, the problems mentioned here are more likely stemming from ADHD.  Furthermore, the effectiveness of tutoring, counseling, and many other interventions will be significantly reduced if the underlying ADHD is not treated first.  This is a disorder that many parents reject testing for and if present, treating, because they understandably fear what they think is the unavoidable use of medication with its undesirable side-effects and rigors.  There is, however, a much preferable alternative to this scenario, and that is neurofeedback.  

Neurofeedback is an effective, drug and side-effect free procedure in which the individual learns to retrain the attention and/or impulse control mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition.  Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary. 

In conclusion: No, if the parents don’t give up on the school year (or their child), and the true underlying cause of the problem is identified and corrected, it is definitely not too late  to save this school year, and the decision to do so is critical for your child.

April 11, 2012 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Having been in the field for over 16 years, helping children and parents with school related problems, and also having worked closely with teachers, I have learned a few things about parent-teacher conferences.  Conference time is just around the corner, and for some it may already be here.  These conferences should be seen as a rich opportunity to build understanding and communication between the home and school.  Due to budget shortfalls and increasing multiculturalism, teachers are under pressure and overworked.  Many parents are also pressed for time, have lingering negative impressions from their own school years, and are apprehensive about what will be discussed during the conference, particularly if their child is struggling.  What follows are some suggestions to help make the conference go better:

After you received the notice,  schedule your conference as soon as possible within the allotted time blocks (you’ll get better choices).  Arrive on time or you’ll forfeit important parts of your allocated time frame and miss key information points.  Thank the teacher for their time.  As it does for you, appreciation goes a long way to help both you and your child.  Do not bring toddlers or babies as they are too big of a distraction.  Leave your personal problems at home, unless they directly affect your child’s school experience.

Bring prioritized questions with you to the conference, and make sure they are not already covered in the informational packets sent home.  Prior to the meeting, discuss it with your child.  Find out what they like or dislike, as well as what they struggle or excel at.  Ask the teacher what they think would make the school day go better.  Some good questions are, ” Has my child completed assignments regularly?” and “How does my child handle taking tests?”.  Other good questions may include, “Have you noticed any changes in my child’s behavior during the year?”, “What areas academically, and in terms of attitude, do they need extra help in at home?”, and “What is my child like during the day?”.

If your child is struggling academically and/or with their behavior, or if they seem isolated, you or their teacher may bring this issue up (which is a good thing to talk about).  As parents, we can often be defensive and in denial to these problems, and their possible causes.  Remember, both you and teacher are there as your child’s advocates.  Be open to this discussion, as it can only help your child.  Often these problems are caused by ADHD (Attention Deficit with/without Hyperactivity Disorder) or other learning disabilities.  Many parents, believing that medication is the only treatment for this disorder, avoid the appropriate testing and/or treatment because they understandably fear the side effects and rigors associated with the medication.  There is, however, an effective alternative to this scenario.

One alternative method to medication is Neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life.  This  form of treatment mitigates the symptoms of ADHD in a beneficial and side-effect-free manner by re-focusing the thought processes of brain. 

For additional information pertaining to Neurofeedback therapy for ADHD or various other disorders, please contact the director of the Alta Neuro-Imaging: Orange County, CA location.

October 14, 2011 at 1:49 am 1 comment

Students Who Can Really Benefit From Help at the Start of the School Year

As a psychologist specializing in helping students improve their academic and behavioral experience in school for over 16 years, I have come to identify certain types of students who benefit the most from specialized types of help.  These are students that can make big time improvements at the start of the academic year.

The first type is the student who struggles significantly with homework (which icnreases in amount and  difficulty each year).  This is usually a problem with attention span, task completion, and/or organization.  Problems such as homework taking too long, not being completed, not being turned in, or not being brought home, all fall into this category.

A second type is the child who has to work too hard to get what success they can.  Poor grades and difficulty with testing are typical for this child.  These are children who often can do OK when the work  is done “one-on-one”, but are too distracted in group settings such as the classroom or group activity.

The third type is the student who has significant difficulties with his or her behavior.  They may be getting into trouble frequently, and as a result may even be getting blamed for things that they don’t do.  This behavior may make it hard to make friends (or the right kind of friends) and lead to feelings of isolation.  They can often be held in or punished at recess (further isolation), and may begin to believe that they are troublemakers, or “bad” kids.  The resulting damage to self esteem from this, and the other above patterns, can shape self-fulfilling self-images that are very sad to see develop.

Unfortunately, it may be difficult for parents to see these problems.  They may feel that these problems for their child are “not that bad” or “I had the same problems when I was a child” (do we really want them to carry the same burdens?), or “they will probably grow out of it.”  As parents, we need to be proactive regarding our children’s challenges and protect them for these obstacles, they will learn how to treat themselves from how we treat them with their difficulties.

As we mentioned earlier, many of these difficulties are caused by aptitude deficiencies whihc are quite correctable.  Many of the students with these difficulties suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), either diagnosed or undiagnosed.  Proper testing and/or treatment of this disorder are critical for these children’s well being.  Many parents also resist testing and treatment because they fear the side effects and rigor of what they believe is the only treatment: medication. This is, unfortunately, still a popular misconception.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to this scenario.  Neurofeedback is a proven, effective, drug and side effect free procedure in which the individual retrains the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition.  Once treatment is complete, no further training is necessary.

If you would like more information about Neurofeedback, please contact Dr. Ferrari at his Southern California office, Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback.

September 15, 2011 at 12:24 am Leave a comment


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