Posts tagged ‘Dr. Ferrari’
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.
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.
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.
1. What does the EEG (electoencephalograph) show?
The EEG shows activity levels of different parts of the brain and the relative balance or imbalance, which underlies ADD/ADHD.
2. Can everyone do Neurofeedback?
Most people are good candidates for retraining these parts of the brain. Approximately 85% of the people with ADD/ADHD, through proper training, can bring about this correction.
3. Are there age requirements for doing the training?
We normally start testing and training at the age of 4. There are no upper limits to the age at which ADD/ADHD can be corrected through successful Neurofeedback training.
4. How can Neurofeedback do all the things listed in your brochure (i.e. chronic depression, chronic anxiety, pain management, sleep disorders, migraine headaches)?
Various imbalances in the brain underlie the various conditions that Neurofeedback is successful in treating. Working with different parts of the brain enables one to correct imbalances or disorders.
5. How will we know if the Neurofeedback is working?
The patient and/or the parents, as well as the teacher, will have every indication that this is working through evidence of changes in their performance and behavior difficulties. Neurofeedback is the type of treatment whereby improvements come steadily throughout the training, as opposed to having to wait to the end to see these improvements.
6. Is Neurofeedback permanent?
Yes, this part of the brain holds any adjustments it learns permanently. Individuals with ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum disorders, chronic depression, and/or chronic anxiety, who are good candidates for the training (as determined in the evaluation), and who successfully complete the training, will have permanent results. There will be no need for any other treatment.
7. Are there other actions that must be done to insure success?
No, all treatments are conducted in our office.
8. How many sessions are necessary to complete the training?
The treatment typically consists of 30, one-half hour sessions. A minimum of one session a week is required.
9. How can you tell if one is ADD or ADHD?
The underlying neurological condition of both of these disorders is the same. In some individuals it is expressed in attention difficulties. In others, the difficulty is with impulse control and hyperactivity. Furthermore, in some cases there may be a combination of all symptoms. The symptoms determine what sub-type of the disorder is present.
10. Are there other techniques used for different conditions?
Yes, techniques used vary depending on the disorder.
11. Does it hurt or is it uncomfortable?
No, Neurofeedback is safe, painless, non-invasive drug free treatment. It is not uncomfortable in any way. Most patients find it enjoyable and satisfying.
At Alta Neuro-Imaging, southern California children and adults can undergo Neurofeedback treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder, mild to moderate Autism Spectrum disorders, sleep disorders, chronic depression, chronic anxiety, as well as peak performance.