Posts tagged ‘attention’

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.

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

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

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

A Four Week Summer Intensive Program for Children with Difficulties in School

Do any of these complaints 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 any of the academic performance and/or behavioral parts of this statement sound familiar to you, there is a good chance that your child may be suffering from ADHD, a learning disorder, or a learning disability.  The destruction of the child’s self-esteem, and the conflict and chaos wrought on the family dynamics can be very difficult to live with.

The 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. I think the key part of the word “summertime” is “time”, there is much more of it. With the pressure of school, tests, and homework gone, it is a more relaxed time for kids and parents alike. In the summertime the opportunity presents itself for an easier to do four week Neurofeedback treatment, which is much less stressful on parents and children.

There are three core types of students who benefit the most from the summer intensive programs.  The first type is the student who struggles significantly with homework (which increases in amount and difficulty each year) and tests.  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, as well as difficulties taking tests, 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 okay when the work is done “one-on-one”, but are too distracted in group settings such as the classroom or group activities.

The third type is the student who has significant difficulties with his/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.

If the problems in the beginning of this article sound familiar to you, and you would like to see your child improve their attention and mental processing, think and react faster in school and social situations, be more confident, and improve college readiness, then this type of program is essential for them.

Neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life, is an alternative to medication.  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.

If your child struggles with these problems, or you know a student that we can make a difference for, please let us know.  We will be happy to follow up.

June 20, 2012 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

Hope is Most Valuable Commodity for Parents of ADHD Children

Hope…not patience, not financial resources, and not perseverance, is the most important thing parents of children with ADHD (ADD) need to have. While the other assets (among several) are valuable, albeit essential to these parents, maintaining hope for their children’s condition to improve is the most essential ingredient for this wish to come true.  The critical thing to remember when considering this asset is that it exists on a sliding scale.  At the bottom of that scale is hopelessness, which means giving up.

The hope parents have for their children’s condition to improve is both fortunately, and unfortunately, not fixed.  This is a good thing if hope is sliding up the scale and increasing, and a bad thing if it is sliding down and a parent is losing hope and in danger of giving it (hope) up completely.  It is also important for parents (and grandparents, etc.) to realize that losing hope is something that one is often not proud of, and so it may be hidden, both from one’s self and/or other concerned persons.  Gaining or losing hope is also contagious, and likewise one needs to be aware of its status and encourage it in the right direction, guarding it carefully.

Hope springs naturally from a happy and healthy heart (as human beings, this can vary according to life’s trials), and from other places such as spirituality, the encouragement of friends and professionals, and faith in one’s resourcefulness, among others.  The reasons for losing hope are often listening to the wrong people (however well intentioned) both professional and non-professional (this can include teachers and doctors), overwork and fatigue (though this seems simple, it’s the culprit in much of our “giving up”), and feeling that you have no options.

Often persons who we figure should know what they are talking about, actually don’t.  Some people with lots of experience working with children and being good at fixing other problems (doctors, teachers, grandparents, friends with children with similar problems) do not actually understand sufficiently this disorder and the treatment options. Unless someone’s specialization is ADHD, you are going to be getting inadequate or inappropriate advice.

As ADHD in frequently hereditary, many parents of children with ADHD who never got the right help, think that nothing can be done, and give up.  Some of the same type of parents go the opposite way and steadfastly refuse to accept this handicap for this children.

A great many parents are afraid (with good reason) of the many side effects that can occur with medication, and seeing no way out, become hopeless too.  This is a big mistake. There is an alternative to accepting the limitations that ADHD forces on their children, and the serious side effects that frequently come with medication. There is a treatment called neurofeedback which is free of side effects and the rigors of medication, and in one set of treatments can free their children of these significant limitations.

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.  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. 

Timing of the treatment is important too.  If it is possible, it is a good idea to begin the treatment before the end of the school year so the child can experience some of the improvements involved in the school setting.  Once again, it is critical that parents maintain and guard their hope by obtaining the correct (by a specialist in ADHD) consultation and, if necessary, treatment.

May 15, 2012 at 1:01 am 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

ADHD Basics

ADHD (ADD) is an abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  There is some confusion with the initials and names used for this disorder.  ADHD actually means Attention Deficit, with or without Hyperactivity, Disorder.  Some people think that attention and hyperactivity (and/or impulsivity) need to be present in order for the disorder to be there, and this is a mistake.  There are actually three sub-types of this disorder: Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive (either or both), and the Combined Type (all three).  When speaking with true professionals who specialize in this disorder, these misconceptions and misunderstandings should not be a problem.

ADHD is one of the most common childhood behavior disorders.  Of all children referred to mental health professionals, about 35% are referred for ADHD – more than any other condition.  It is estimated that approximately 9% of all children are troubled with this disorder. 

The first step to take in determining if this disorder is present is to do the proper testing, usually, once again, by an independent professional.  Frequently, it is very unfortunate that medication and treatment are prescribed based solely on a parent’s or anothers opinion or observation.  While these may be well intentioned, they are usually not based on the proper criteria or knowledge.  In the cases where testing is actually being done, it is based largely only on symptoms.  While symptoms are important, and indeed are the true “real world” problems, there are other causes than ADHD that can bring about ADHD-like symptoms.  The only way to determine if ADHD is truly present, in conjunction with the symptoms, is to look at the organ in question, which in this case is the brain.  This is done through brain monitoring (EEG analysis), which is a painless non-invasive test.  This is the only objective way to determine if the disorder is present.

There are basically three forms of treatment.  Therapy or cognitive-behavioral treatment: These forms of treatment mostly offer support in learning to live with the disorder.  Since ADHD is a neurological disorder, and not an emotional or psychologically based problem, these treatment options are quite limited in treating the disorder.   Medication: Usually effective in treating the disorder, however, there are frequently unwanted side effects, and, since the medication is only effective while it is in the bloodstream, the medication needs to be taken for life.  Neurofeedback:  An effective, side-effect free treatment in which the child retrains the underlying mechanisms that cause the disorder.  Once treatment is complete, no further sessions are necessary.

Many parents avoid testing and/or treatment for ADHD because they understandably fear the side-effects and need for lifetime use of what they mistakenly think is the only remedy to the problem, medication.  There is, fortunately, an alternative to this scenario.  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.

January 26, 2012 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

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