Posts tagged ‘academics’

A Short But Effective Summer Remedy for ADHD

Does any or all of this sound familiar to you?  “My child is struggling in school… the teacher complains that they don’t complete their class work, can’t follow directions, and are frequently daydreaming.  Their grades are below average, yet I know that they are intelligent.  Homework takes forever, and is a constant battle.  If this were not enough, they are frequently getting in trouble at school, and it’s the same at home.  The poor kid can’t get a break, and the family is constantly in an uproar.  We always dread the start of the next school year, and things seem to be getting steadily worse.”

If the academic performance and/or behavioral part of this statement sounds familiar to you, there is a good chance that your child may be suffering from ADHD.  The destruction of the child’s self-esteem, and the conflict and chaos wrought on family dynamics, can be devastating.

Denial is often a further complication to this problem in that many parents, thinking that the side effects and rigors of life-long medication are the only remedy, try to deny the problem and avoid testing and treatment.  Fortunately, medication is definitely not the only form of successful treatment.  We’ll discuss this more in a moment.

The many problems mentioned above and the hectic schedule of school, sports, etc. often make it near impossible to get help during the school year.  However, when the school year ends, and summer is finally here, an opportunity presents itself to make a big change for the better.  Neurofeedback treatment for ADHD requires thirty sessions of only thirty minutes each, with a minimum of one session a week.  During the school year the pace of life can be so hectic that the treatment may take four to seven months to complete. In the summertime, the opportunity presents itself for a “Short Course” treatment, which can be completed in as little as two weeks.

One of the gifts of childhood is an innocence, which (as long as their self-esteem isn’t too damaged) prompts them to believe (without anything actually occurring to bring it about) that next year will always be better.  If the child’s parents actually correct the problem over the summer, then a beautiful thing happens to the child’s belief in his or her self. They discover that, “you know what?… I was right to believe in myself… things are better this year.”  When parents intervene for their children in this way, not only does their performance and/or behavior turn around for the better, but the parents also give their child an incredible boost in self-confidence and self-reliance.  These are wonderful gifts to give your child!

Neurofeedback is a proven, painless, and effective solution to the problem of ADHD, which opens for the person the opportunities they deserve for a lifetime of learning, growing, and relating well with others.

May 16, 2013 at 12:24 am 1 comment

Difficulty at the Start of the New School Year?

For most parents, the new school year brings the feeling of accomplishment and pride of seeing their children grow and mature in aptitude, knowledge, and social skills. For some parents, however, it only brings long nights of homework, calls from the teacher, frustrated and discouraged children, and parenting fights about whose fault “all of this” is. There is also the pain of watching your child sink into believing they are not smart, are a “bad boy or girl”, or are not worth much. No parent or child should ever have to experience this.

A typical school year requires sustained attention, sitting quietly, and refined social skills. Some children are not capable of this. A mother recently told me, “I’m worried… Sammy is having such an awful time in school this year.” Sammy is being grounded in the classroom with no recess because he is behind in his work. “We are constantly doing homework and he is still behind,” she continued. To add to his academic problems, Sammy is spending most of his time at school in social isolation; even when he is free from being “grounded” in the classroom, he is the last one picked for teams and the first one to be teased.

A very significant possibility exists that the conditions described above (some or all) are being caused by a disorder called ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This disorder is caused by a minor neurological imbalance (not parenting style!) and, for the vast majority of those with ADHD, can be corrected relatively easily. What makes the aforementioned tragic self-image even more unacceptable is that fact that the opposite is usually true. Individuals with ADHD (ADD) typically have a higher than average IQ and, although sometimes hidden behind the disorder, a very pleasant disposition.

Whenever such problems are occurring, it is extremely important to determine if ADHD is behind them as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your child’s first report card to initiate testing or treatment. By then, your child is already significantly behind. If there’s one thing harder for a child with ADHD than school, it is the downward sliding struggle to catch up.

Unfortunately, many parents of children with ADHD, or those who suspect it might be present, avoid testing and treatment because of their understandable dread of what they think must be the inevitable “drug” solution. Fortunately, for most individuals, there is a much better alternative.

This treatment is called neurofeedback, an effective, drug-free, painless procedure in which the child learns to re-train the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.

October 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

Successful Treatment Planning for Attention Deficit Disorder

If you, your child’s teacher, or someone else significant suspects your child may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or AD/HD), by this time of  the school year you really need to get something going to help them as soon as possible.  What is really needed is to first, find out definitively if it is really there, and secondly, get started immediately with a good plan, before it is too late to salvage the school year.  

Schools vary widely in their ability and willingness to assist the parent in this matter. My brother is an elementary school teacher, and a good one, as are many of his peers.  However, there is a wide range in the ability of teachers, as well as schools, in assessing and working with children with this disorder.  

Some teachers are judgmental in their opinions regarding ADD.  They may believe a child willfully misbehaves.  Everyone knows a “dangerously” little amount about ADD.  School personnel are often more objective than parents, as they can compare the child to hundreds of children in their professional experience.  However, teachers listen to the popular press, have family members with ADD, glean information from other sources, and often base their opinion on what they have heard, and not on the true facts.  With good intentions, school personnel may believe or imply to parents that bad parenting, low ability, and or emotional problems are behind the difficulties.  Some teachers have been known to tell parents not to treat the problem, rather, just to employ harsher punishments, and that indeed is a very bad answer.  Finally, most schools are often very slow to actually do any testing (6 months to a year is not at all uncommon).  Furthermore, the results are frequently too vague, yielding results such as “learning disorders” or “learning disabilities”.

 The proper thing to do, therefore, is to have your child tested by an outside, independent professional.  There are two types of testing, those that based solely on symptoms, observed or reported (the most common form of testing), and those that based on testing the actual source of the problems (a specific brain function), through EEG-analysis.  As there are other problems which can cause ADD like symptoms, it is essential to test right at the source of the problem:  the brain (EEG-analysis).

Medication and Neurofeedback (EEG-analysis and treatment) are the only methods of treatment which actually address the underlying cause of the problem (a minor misalignment in the brain).  Medication is usually effective (unfortunately, teachers will often advise that this is the only answer). However, possible side effects and the necessity of the life long use of these drugs are often understandably very discouraging to parents.  

Neurofeedback is a drug and side-effect free, painless procedure in which the child learns to re-train the relevant attention and/or behavioral mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition.   Once training is complete, no further treatment is necessary.  It is an excellent alternative to the often dreaded medication scenario.

February 15, 2012 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

Homework Problems… And Solutions

In my many years of experience helping children and parents with academic and behavioral problems, one of the most common issues is difficulty with homework.  The purpose of homework is to allow the child further opportunities to independently master their coursework, and perhaps allow the parent to become involved in what is happening for their child at school.

If homework is often a problem for a child, several confounding factors may have developed which add significantly to the problem, in a cumulative fashion.  Past assignments that need to be made up (undone or never turned in) and uncompleted class work that is sent home can add much to the burden.  Additionally, with homework being a recurring problem, your child may have developed the behaviors of “hiding” homework or being deceptive about what or when something is due.

A typical “problem homework” scenario may include some or all of these patterns. After much cajoling and struggling, the parent gets the child to begin their homework.  Then ensues in long battles that last multiple hours, involving countless distractions, struggles (and phone calls?) to understand the material and directions which unfortunately, the inattentive child did not get straight in class, and outbursts of frustration and anger occur from both parties.  The outcome of this homework session is (along with hopefully some learning), exhaustion, hurt feelings, distrust, lowered self-esteem, and anger.  Does this sound familiar…?

What’s very important to understand , and to correct this scenario, is that the child may have Attention Deficit Disorder.  With the ADHD child, they cannot stop this from happening; it’s part of the uncorrected disorder.  However, often teachers, other students, and parents lose site of this, and blame the child.  The result is a child who feels very badly about themselves, and gives up, or rebels, or both.

These daily episodes are very damaging to family dynamics.  In addition to the harm done to the parent-child relationship, there are other significant consequences.  Other childrens’ needs go unattended (not to mention the parent’s), important tasks around the house go undone (dinner anyone?), and last, but definitely not least, the parent’s own relationship suffers as blaming, overwork, and loss of quality time together are also casualties.

Remember what we said homework was for and was supposed to be like in the first paragraph? The homework experience with the ADHD child is not any kind of “Building Up”… it is a “Tearing Down” experience.

Fortunately, this can be changed, without the side-effects and rigors of medication.  Neurofeedback is an effective, drug free, painless procedure in which the child learns to retrain the attention mechanisms of their brain, alleviating the condition.  Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.

November 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm 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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