Posts tagged ‘alta neuro-imaging’
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.
There are many misconceptions and questions regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD). The following are some of the more common ones I hear in my practice:
1. “How can I tell if my child has ADD?”
There are a lot of misinformation and uniformed opinions available about this disorder, and unfortunately it may often even come from people who are supposed to know. Most people think in terms of symptoms, and this is logical as it is real world problems a person experiences that gets our attention and matters the most. However, these should not be used as the determining criteria as to whether or not the disorder is present in a person. There are other problems that can cause ADD symptoms, which are often missed, and if an assumption is made that ADD is present without the proper testing, a big problem can occur. In misreading the real cause of the child’s symptoms, and assuming it is ADD, one can miss finding and correcting the true underlying cause(s). This unfortunately happens frequently. The only objective way to determine if someone’s symptoms are truly coming from ADD is to examine the underlying neurological processes and see if the misalignment that causes the disorder is actually present. This can be done easily through a simple form of testing by the proper professional.
2. “Does my child have to be hyperactive to have ADD or ADHD?”
No, there are actually three distinct forms of the disorder: Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined Form (a combination of the first two forms). Hyperactivity as a symptom is not uncommon, but certainly not necessary for the disorder to be present. The inattentive form of the disorder is quite prevalent.
3. “Is medication the only effective form of treatment for ADD/ADHD?”
The common serious side-effects and rigors of medication unfortunately cause many parents to deny even the possibility of the disorder’s presence in their children. As a result, proper testing and, in most cases, relatively easy treatment of the disorder does not take place and the child is left to unnecessarily struggle and often fail both academically and socially. There is a highly successful, side-effect free treatment option (which we shall discuss later).
4. “My child has been doing fine until she hit third grade. Now, all of a sudden, she is struggling. Can ADHD come on out of nowhere like this?”
While the sudden onset of the disorder is possible, particularly when there is some type of brain trauma, in most cases what is being described here is a case where ADHD has always been present, but the effects are now starting to manifest. The high intelligence typically found with the disorder can mask its effects until the cumulative complexity of material being learned and/or the increasing abstractness of the subjects (math for example) finally catches up with them and becomes overwhelming. This is one of the points at which it can really come to a parents’ attention, although earlier testing and treatment is very important.
As we mentioned earlier, there is an important alternative to medication in the treatment of this disorder. Neurofeedback is a drug and side-effect free procedure in which the individual learns to retrain the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.
There are many different ways in which the underlying neurology, or physiological causes of ADHD can be described. There are many good articles that delve into the underlying neurological structures involved in this disorder, or that discuss the role of various neurotransmitters and receptor sites. However, I feel that the way we all can best relate to the causes of ADHD is to think of it in terms of inter-related functions of the brain. Or, put another way, discussing how the brain goes about doing certain things, and where ADHD interferes with that.
The first or “gateway” function of the brain, from moment to moment, is to monitor our surroundings. That is how it keeps us safe. Our senses detect characteristics of our environment (touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight) and brings them into our brain. This is called sensory function. From there, our brain processes or identifies theses sensory inputs. This is called sensory processing and it is how we know what is going on around us.
Once our brain knows what is happening around or to us- whether it is the numbers on a page, the words someone is saying, or a movement we detect, etc.- another set of functions begins. These functions are “executive” functions, in which our brain decides first, which of all the things it is aware of, both externally (sensory processing) and internally (memory, emotion, analyzing, etc.) is the most important at the moment. Secondly, the brain will then minimize our awareness of the non-important things and maximize our awareness of the non-important things and maximize our awareness of the most important thing. Essentially, this is how we focus or pay attention.
ADHD interferes with this process in a critical way. As we have seen, the process of paying attention involves several functions. The “executive” functions cannot take place until sensory processing or identification has taken place. With the inattentive form of ADHD, there is a delay in sensory processing. This delay is in terms of milliseconds; however, it is signficant enough that it, in turn, delays the executive functions. This delay in deciding which “thing” in the environment is the most important causes the brain (in order to “keep us safe”) to spread our attention across a number of things. Unfortunately, this results in a deficit of attention on the things we should be attending to.
Many parents avoid testing for and/or treating ADHD because they fear what they think are the unavoidable side effects and rigors of medication. By utilizing a treatment called neurofeedback, a child or adult 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 maintainance 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 Orange County facility.
Does 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 into 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.
A further complication to this problem is 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 problems mentioned above and the hectic schedule of the school, sports, etc. often make it near impossible to get help during the school year. However, when the school year ends, and the summer is finally here, an opportunity presents itself to make a big change for the better. Neurofeedback treatment for ADHD requires thirty sessions, each being thirty minutes long, 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 one to two months.
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/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 an effective, drug and side effect free, painless procedure in which the child learns to re-train the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. 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 please contact:
Dr. Stephen Ferrari for Orange County Neurofeedback
The causes of ADHD for Orange County children can be described in terms of neurological structures within the brain with slight malfunctions, or in terms of what causes these malfunctions in the first place. The first is usually obscure and confusing to most us and is hard to relate to our daily world. The second is more understandable and practical in my opinion, and that is the approach we shall take.
Genetic: Approximately 80-85% of this disorder is genetically based (in our DNA or family tree). While consistently passed on to each successive generation, this gene does not always manifest, or show up in all offspring. This means that while it may be present in one or both parents, in may skip generations or manifest in one of a parents’ children and not another. In looking back up the family tree you may see it in an aunt or an uncle, or a grandparent (or not if it was not properly diagnosed).
Oxygen Deprivation At Birth: There are a number of conditions, which can bring this about. Premature Birth, Jaundice, and difficulty in labor can all result in oxygen deprivation at birth. Those these condition do not always cause ADHD, they certainly can.
Drugs and Alcohol in the Prenatal Environment: Excessive alcohol and /or drug use by the mother while the child is in the uterus can cause a number of problems, and ADHD is one of them. In addition to this problem, there are also other learning and behavioral disorders which can compound the ADHD problem.
Head Trauma: Injury to the head or neck can also bring about this disorder. This can be the result of a cesarean or forceps assisted delivery, a serious fall or blow to the head, or something as routine as a “normal” childhood fall from a tree or down to the stairs. This cause is less predictable as there are many injuries as serious as a skull fractures which don’t result in ADHD, while often mild injuries can bring it about.
While it is interesting (and in some instances prevention is possible) to know the causes of this disorder, the majority of the time the cause of ADHD is not in any way a parent’s fault. Misplaced guilt, or the idea that a child’s problems reflect on them (not my child!) can cause pain and anxiety and many parents will deny the possibility of the problem and the necessary testing and/or treatment. Often parent also resist testing because they dread the possibility of what think are the unavoidable side effects and rigors of ADHD medication. This is definitely not the only solution!
Individuals can retrain the attention mechanisms and/or impulse control mechanisms of the brain during Neurofeedback. It is a painless, drug free procedure which alleviates the condition. No further treatment is necessary once the training is complete.
For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari at his Southern California Neurofeedback center.