Posts tagged ‘Inattention’

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.

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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

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

Common Questions Regarding Attention Deficit Disorder

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.

April 20, 2011 at 12:18 am Leave a comment

The Neurology of Attention or Inattention (ADHD)

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.

March 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

Children with ADHD Often Rejected by Peers

Enjoyable and healthy peer relationships are essential for a child’s normal development .  A child’s peer relationships have also been found to be an important predictor of adult success and fulfillment in their social relationships and occupation.  Difficulty in finding friends leads to feelings of low self-esteem, and this in turn worsens the other problems a child with ADHD may be encountering: academic difficulty, behavior problems in class, and a variety of problems at home.  In addition, children with poor social skills are at increased risk for delinquency and school drop-out. 

The child with ADHD often lacks the ability to learn the social skills that are essential to succeed in life.  These children may become socially inept, and their lack of interpersonal skills can cause them many important difficulties.  For a child, positive relationships with friends is an essential component of a happy childhood, and furthermore, provides a critical buffer against stress and helps to protect them from psychological and psychiatric  problems.  ADHD children can lack these positive interactions and thus are at risk for a number of emotional problems.  Approximately 65% of these children suffer from peer rejection, and are less likely to be chosen as seatmates, activity partners, and best friends. 

As these children grow older, these problems seem to get worse.  Inappropriate behavior, or simply difficulty in connecting, and the resulting sadness, hopelessness, and resignation can lead to further social rejection.  As adults, they often have difficulty finding and maintaining successful careers.  Relationships and familial matters usually suffer significantly as well.  Problems with the law are much higher for these individuals too.  Approximately 70% of the inmates in California penal institutions have been diagnosed with ADHD.         

 Causes of Rejection

It is difficult to determine all the factors that make a child unpopular.  There are three sub-types of ADHD: inattentive, impulsive-hyperactive, and the combined form (a combination of the previous two).  There are subtle social cues people exchange when interacting, such as tone of voice, the look in one’s eyes, and posture.  When there is a deficit of attention, these subtle cues are missed, and the inattentive child doesn’t know to adjust their behavior appropriately to make and keep a good connection with the person they’re relating to.  Inattentive children become bored more easily and may become disruptive to the class, and have a hard time adjusting their behavior as situations change in the classroom.   They may also be less “tuned in” to activities and games, and this limits participation, on which social connections are made.

Children with the impulsive-hyperactive and combined forms of ADHD often behave inappropriately and/or aggressively, they may engage in more fighting and interrupting of others.  They are more likely to want to dominate play, run, yell, tease and make rough physical contact inappropriately.  These behaviors can make others uncomfortable, and set up a process of peer rejection.  Furthermore, these children will often attract other children with similar behavior, and they may reinforce each other’s bad behavior, making the problems worse.

Remedies

Unfortunately, some parents will not get their children the help they need and deserve.  Many parents deny the possibility of their child having ADHD, and the need for testing and treatment, because they understandably fear the rigors and side-effects of medication. 

An 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.

November 24, 2010 at 1:52 am Leave a comment

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