Posts tagged ‘adolescent’

The Best Option for Testing for and/or Treating ADHD

About this time of the school year, for the child with Attention Deficit Disorder, very significant problems are really starting to raise their head.  If the problems of inattention, difficulty with homework, poor behavior, and/or hyperactivity (there are several forms of this disorder) are occurring, you are probably wondering what you can do to fix the problem.  There are, today, four basic treatment options with varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at them:

Schools are very rarely equipped to properly diagnose this disorder.  The proper thing to do, therefore, is to have your child tested by an outside, independent professional.  There are two types of testing: those based solely on symptoms, observed or reported (the most common form of testing), and those 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).

This brings us to the consideration of the options available for treating this disorder, if it is found to be present:

Counseling or Therapy:  This is designed to help children and their families feel better about, and cope with the problems the disorder brings, rather than correcting the disorder.  As the underlying problem is neurological, and not emotional, this approach is not effective in correcting the disorder.

Tutoring:  While the cumulative effects of difficulty in learning can cause significant gaps in the knowledge base required for a child to progress satisfactorily, filling in those gaps (tutoring), will not do anything for the ongoing problem ADHD causes with learning.  Furthermore, until the ADHD is corrected, the tutoring efforts will be significantly hampered by the disorder.

Medication/Drugs:  Medication/Drugs are fairly successful in suppressing symptoms while the medication is in the blood stream.  However, once the chemicals are out of the blood stream there is no longer any benefit.  If medication is missed accidentally, or intentionally (adolescent compliance is often a problem because of the stigma attached to the medication, or the unwanted side effects), or when it wears off, the problems return in full force.  Adolescents’ not taking their medication is a significant problem; having the ADHD problems returning and combining with the hormonal and other challenges of adolescence can be a very bad combination. Furthermore, since the drugs are only effective while in the blood stream, and the underlying cause is never corrected, the medications must be taken for life.

The potential of harmful side effects as a result of the medications is a major problem. These side effects range from weight loss, over-stimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, tremors, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome. There may be one or a combination of these side effects.  These are serious side effects in any person; when one considers the vulnerability of children, the dangers are even more worrisome.

Neurofeedback:  Of the four options, neurofeedback is the only method that corrects the underlying cause of the disorder in a one-time treatment, rather than merely managing the symptoms or teaching the child how best to live with it (counseling-therapy); filling in the gaps in learning caused by the problem without actually correcting the ongoing disorder (tutoring); or merely suppressing the symptoms through a lifelong, often side-effect laden administration of pharmaceuticals (medication).  Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life.  By utilizing neurofeedback, a child can re-teach the sensory and/or impulse control functions of the brain, including processing, to ameliorate the disorder.  Neurofeedback is a painless and effective process, where there are no side effects, and no maintenance or re-training is needed after treatment is completed.  It allows for focus, task completion, organization, impulsivity,  hyperactivity and a variety of other symptoms to come within normal, age appropriate limits.

In conclusion, neurological testing of the underlying chemical (brain) imbalance is the only objective method to determine if the symptoms are actually caused by ADHD (this is the type of testing done in neurofeedback).  Furthermore, neurofeedback is the best option for treating the disorder, as it actually corrects the problem in a one-time treatment, rather than trying to feel comfortable with a correctable problem, constantly playing catch-up, trying to fill in gaps that continue to occur, or life-long medication with the great possibility of significant side effects.


February 4, 2013 at 5:58 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

A New School Year…A Time to Learn or a Time to Dread?

Ideally, for most parents, a new school year brings the pride and feeling of accomplishment 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 deeper and deeper into believing that they are not smart, are a “bad boy or girl”, and as a person, 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.  One mother from Orange County recently told me:  “I’m worried… Sammy had such an awful time in second grade last year.”  Sammy had spent the year grounded in the classroom… no recess, no field trips, no parties, all because he constantly was behind in his work.  ” We were constantly doing homework or tutoring, and he was still behind,” she continued.  To add to his academic problems, Sammy had spent most of second grade in social isolation, even when he was free from being “grounded” in the classroom.  He was the last one picked for teams, and the first one to be teased.  This downward spiral in confidence, spreading from one part of life to another, is tragic.

A very significant possibility exists that some or all of the conditions described above 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 (as we shall see shortly), can be corrected relatively easily.  What makes the aforementioned tragic self-image even more unacceptable is the 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 it is possible.  Don’t wait until your child’s first report card to initiate testing or treatment because, 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 that 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.

As parents, we do have a choice as to whether this year will be a time for learning, full of  joy and pride, or another year of dread… for both our children and ourselves.  What will your choice be?

October 15, 2010 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Teenagers and Depression

 As many as 25% of all teenagers with ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with/without Hyperactivity, ADD) are clinically depressed.  All three types of this disorder; Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined Form, are capable of producing depression in teens.  Depression is a serious disorder, capable of depriving a person of much needed energy, mental clarity, objectivity reasoning (a crucial skill for this age group), optimism, clear judgment, and enjoyment of life.  It can sometimes, tragically, build to even suicidal levels.  It is very important to be able to recognize the signs of depression in these young people, and in the cases where it is being primarily produced by ADHD, correct this cause. 

The stereotypical image we all have of depression is usually someone who is sad, tearful, listless, and lonesome.   Teenagers with depression often don’t look like this at all.  They don’t typically display gloom, criticize themselves, or talk about feeling hopeless like adults do.  

Teens with major depression are often negative and anti-social; feelings of wanting to leave home or run away are increased.  They may have a strong sense of disapproval or being misunderstood by peers, siblings and parents.  They may also change their basic emotional tone, and become aggressive, grouchy, and restless.  Often a depressed teenager will stop paying attention to personal appearance, or may even adopt the “uniform” of social sub-groups that claim despondency and depression as a way of life.  There may be an increased, unfounded sense of being unloved or rejected by loved ones.  

 Girls have a tendency to internalize performance difficulties more often than boys do, although this happen in many boys too.  A girl will more frequently see failure as a sign that she is a bad, or deficient person.  She will often make the unfortunate leap, that she is therefore unlovable.  This is another way in which ADHD can trigger significant depression. 

Boys (and some girls) will often become aggressive with their parents and/or peers, be more agitated at home, and get into trouble at school or with the law.  Parents are often frustrated, angry, or confused by this kind of behavior.  Some parents respond by becoming stern disciplinarians, engage in power struggles, or may even put the teenager down, which only serves to increase feelings of depression.  Some parents feel helpless, and withdraw form the parenting and help their children need, further isolating them.

If there are some of the other signs of ADHD present (difficulty concentrating, organizing, completing tasks, and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity) along with the depression, it is a very good idea to have the teenager tested for ADHD.  If the disorder is present, it is likely treatable without medication, and the depression should be alleviated too.  Lifting huge burdens of the teen’s head and heart (not to mention Mom’s, Dad’s, and the rest of the family.

Neurofeedback is a highly effective, drug free, safe, non-invasive and painless procedure in which the child learns to retrain the brain, correcting the problem.  Once training is complete, no further treatment is necessary.

To request information on the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD), Mild to Moderate Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Chronic Depression, Chronic Anxiety, and Peak Performance Training contact:

Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari
Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback
1075 Yorba Place
Suite 105
Placentia, CA 92870

July 13, 2009 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

Teenagers and ADHD

Attention Deficit/Hyperactiity Disorder is behind lots of problems for those who struggle with it, as well as for their parents and families. For most of these individuals, and their uninformed parents, they can lose sight of the fact that these problems are caused by the disorder, and not an indication of their true personality, desires, or abilities.  In fact, most individuals with ADHD (ADD) have a higher than average I.Q., though they usually have significant difficulty expressing it fully.  This results in the blaming of themselves (and not the disorder), and causes lowered self-esteem, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.   

For a teenager, with their heightened (over?) sense of self consciousness and perhaps self doubt, these negative feelings can be overwhelming to both the teenager and their parents.  The following are some frightening statistics that bring into focus the serious problems confronting these teenagers and their parents.     

  *Teenagers with ADHD have 400% more traffic accidents and traffic tickets than teen without ADHD. 

   *Twice as many teens with this disorder will run away from home (about 32%) than teens without ADHD. 

    *As many as 50% of the teenagers in juvenile detention facilities have untreated ADHD. 

     *Teens with untreated ADHD are three times more likely to be arrested for arson (16%) as those without ADHD. 

     *Teenagers with untreated ADHD are ten times more likely to get pregnant, or cause a pregnancy, than those without the disorder. 

    *Teens untreated for ADHD are 400% more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease than those without ADHD. 

    *Teens untreated for ADHD will average two arrests by the age of 18. 

   *Approximately 20% of teenagers with untreated ADHD will be arrested for a felony. 

In addition to the above, teenagers with ADHD suffer from increased amounts of anxiety, a sense of being overwhelmed, and depression.  Depression can look very different in teens from its appearance in adults.  Since as many as 25% of teenagers with ADHD suffer from depression, let’s take a moment to describe it.  Teenagers with depression can be anti-social and overly negative.  Sometimes he or she may stop caring about personal appearance, and there may be an increased sensitivity to being loved (unloved?) and accepted.  There may also be the more usual signs of adult depression. 

It is critical to a teenager with ADHD that the disorder be treated properly to avoid these pitfalls, and allow them to experience success and gain confidence.  Unfortunately, many parents avoid testing for and treating this disorder because they fear the rigors and side effects of medication.  There is however a very successful alternative to this scenario.  Neurofeedback is a highly effective, drug free, safe, non-invasive and painless procedure in which the patient learns to retrain the brain, correcting the problem.  Once training is complete, no further treatment is necessary. 

To request information on the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD), Mild to Moderate Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Chronic Depression, Chronic Anxiety, and Peak Performance Training contact:

Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari
Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback
1075 Yorba Place
Suite 105
Placentia, CA 92870

March 19, 2009 at 12:40 am 2 comments

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