Posts tagged ‘inattentive’

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.

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February 4, 2013 at 5:58 am Leave a comment

Two Distinctly Different Paths for Treatment of ADHD: Neurofeedback or Medication

Neurofeedback (EEG-Biofeedback) and medication are the two most common forms of treatment fo ADHD (ADD).  Both are successful in treating these disorders in a large majority of cases.  There are, however, significant differences in the ways these treatments work, the potential side effects of their use, the length of treatment necessary, and importantly, the lessons learned by the child of how to correct personal problems. 

Most of the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD are dervied from some form of stimulant or antidepressant.  Most of these medications carry the FDA’s “Black Box Warning” Labels, and should be used with caution.  These warnings refer to the possibility of serious cardiovascular side effets, as well as the possible suppression of children’s growth, and heightened risk for psychosis, bi-polar illness, and aggression. 

In addition to these problems, this class of medications is also associated with the following serious potential side effects: weight loss in children, overstimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, tremors, headaches, and tics or Tourettes Syndrome.

Now, let us take a look at how these different treatments work.  The medications contain artifical chemicals, which increase neurotransmitter levels in the brain, allowing the brain to function better, thus alleviating the condition.  As these chemicals are artificial, and foreign to the body, they may cause unfavorable reactions in the brain, and therefore brings about the aforementioned negative side effects.

Neurofeedback trains the brain to funciton faster through a highly specialized type of exercise.  As the brain learns to function faster, it naturally increases its production of neurotransmitters, and the brain functions better, thus treating the condition.  The end result is the same in both forms of treatment… with one very big difference.  As neurofeedback does not introduce anything unnatural into the brain, and rather trains the brain to function better through its own natural mechanisms (i.e. it learns or teaches itself to improve), it produces none of these side effects.  As vulnerable as children are, the last thing we want to do is expose them to these unnecessary dangers. 

Finally, length of treatment is another big difference.  Medication is a lifetime process, as it is only effective while it is in the bloodstream.  Therefore, no amount of medication will ever produce a lasting effect.  The medication must be continually taken to treat the condition, with once again, the continuing potential for these serious side effects and health dangers.  Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is a “one time” treatment for this disorder.  It is a far simpler solution, once treatment is complete, no further sessions are necessary.

Finally, there is a subtle lesson being taught to the child about how to deal with life’s problems. It is a lesson that will assume major importance as the child grows older.  The lesson is “Do I take a substance to be smarter, get my work done more quickly, and be more popular- getting along better with others… or do I improve my capacities, performance, and relationships with others through working on and improving myself?”  The abuse of these medications is already growing steadily in schools.  As the child grows older (and, unfortunately, this is happening at a younger and younger age) they will be presented with increasingly more dangerous substances to deal with essentially (if not exactly) the same questions.  In many ways, the stage is already being set by the way in which parents choose for their child to deal with their ADHD.

Once neurofeedback treatment is completed, no further treatment is necessary, and the child learns a healthy lesson about the right way to strengthen their abilities.  With neurofeedback, there are no side effects, the treatment is a one-time process, and the child avoids learning a potentially dangerous lesson, and instead learns a healthy one of self-reliance and self-improvement.  Neurofeedback is an effective, drug free, painless procedure in which the child learns to retain the attention mechanisms of their brain , alleviating the condition. 

If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about Neurofeedback or would like to schedule an evaluation, please contact Dr. Ferrari at Alta Neuro-Imaging (Placentia, CA).

December 9, 2011 at 12:20 am 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

Lazy, Excitable, Oversensitive… ADHD?

In my 17 years of practicing Neurofeedback (EEG-Biofeedback) in Orange County,CA  for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), mild Autism, chronic Anxiety, chronic Depression, and Sleep Disorders, I have heard these problems described by a wide variety of terms and phrases other than the above.  What’s in a name?  Well, in some cases… a lot.  We, as people, and in some cases, our situations, are often defined by the language we use.  In the case of conditions that are treatable, this language may determine the help that people get, or don’t get, and the judgments (erroneous?) that are made about them. 

In regards to ADHD, the terms used to describe these children and their behavior often determines their self-concept, and how others see them.  This, in turn, may determine which doors are opened to them and which are closed, what they believe they can and cannot do, and, therefore, what their future will be.  In some cases these terms may actually be accurate.  In other cases, the wrong words may be used because of a lack of awareness of the proper terminology. 

Approximately 85% of ADHD is genetic and, as in the past, this disorder was unknown and many parents of ADHD children may apply the same self-limiting terms to their children as they themselves lived in the shadow of.  However, since the language used may determine so much for these children, it is important to do reliable testing and/or treatment to find out what is really going on.  One form of effective, drug and side-effect treatment involves Neurofeedback.  During the process of the therapy, patients re-train control mechanisms of the brain that deal with concentration and/or hyperactivity.  Unlike other forms of ADHD treatment, re-training of the brain is permanent once the program is completed.

There are three sub-types of ADHD: Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined Form (combination of two previous sub-types).  Different terms may be misused to describe these forms of ADHD.  Let’s take a look at a few of the more common ones.       

Primarily Inattentive:  Lazy; Daydreaming; Tuning Out; Spacy; Bored; Unmotivated; Procrastinating; Unconfident.   While children may indeed exhibit these states without the presence of ADHD, the inattentiveness brought about by the disorder is often improperly described by these terms and can lead to mis-labeling, and the child missing out on the opportunity for help.

Hyperactive:  Excitable; Wild; Active; Physical; Hyper.  Once again, these conditions, particularly if temporary, don’t necessarily indicate ADHD.  However, if these behavior styles are typical, proper testing is necessary to get them the most help possible.

Impulsive:   Aggressive; Oversensitive; Immature; Emotional; “Jumps to Conclusions”.   As above, if persistent, it is best to determine the cause of these problems through the proper testing, and if the child screens positive for the disorder, it should be corrected through the right treatment.

It is imperative to find a veritable form of testing to see if one or more of the above mentioned symptoms is associated with ADHD.  If you reside in the Southern California area and would like your child or yourself to be tested for this disorder, please feel free to contact us.

January 27, 2011 at 1:23 am 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

“Impulsivity” In Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

There are three sub-types of ADHD;  Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined.  While most people have a pretty clear understanding of inattention and hyperactivity, the terms “impulsive” or ”impulsivity” can be somewhat confusing.  These terms are often confused with “compulsive”, which is quite different.  Compulsion can be defined as a repetitive stereotyped act performed to relieve fear connected with an obsession. 

In regard to ADHD, there are two forms of impulsivity: Behavioral Impulsivity and Cognitive Impulsivity.

Behavioral Impulsivity –Actions.  People with ADHD who have symptoms of behavioral impulsivity do not stop and think before they act.  No matter how many times they are told to “stop and think first” they are unable, in most cases, to exercise this type of forethought, or judgment.  They usually are not able to learn from their past mistakes.  They act on the first impulse that occurs to them.  This can be quite exasperating to their parents, teachers, and other caregivers (which may in itself further add to the problem).

 These ADHD children often:

     ·       cut in line

     ·        can’t wait their turn

·        blurt out answers in class

·        speak when they’re supposed to be quiet

·        may show aggressive behaviors

·        are often too loud

·        sometimes fight

They can start a friendship or relationship, but it often fails as they blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time.  This can also lead to isolation, as others don’t “get” them, which in turn inhibits the learning of other important social skills.

Cognitive Impulsivity –Thinking and Choices.  People with ADHD who have symptoms of cognitive impulsivity do a lot of guesswork.  Often, rather than thinking about an answer, these individuals will make a multiple number of guesses in a short period of time.  If you give them multiple choices orally, to a question, they will guess for the right answer very quickly…first one, then another, often back and forth…until you finally step in when and say, “That’s it” when they guess right.  This pattern only reinforces their guessing.

These individuals have a very limited problem solving strategy.  They are impaired in their ability to think the problem through.  They will usually just guess and let trial and error carry them through.  This not only tends to have a negative effect on how others perceive them, it also interferes with their ability to learn new material, and further develop more effective problem solving strategies.  If this disorder is not corrected, no amount of direction, encouragement, or discipline will change this inability.

Fortunately, both these problems, as well of the other sub-types of ADHD, can usually be corrected without medication.  Neurofeeback is a highly effective, drug-free, painless procedure, with no side effects, in which the individual learns to retrain the impulsive, hyperactive, and/or attention mechanisms of the brain.  Once treatment is complete, no further training is necessary.

Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari
Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback
1075 Yorba Place
Suite 105
Placentia, CA 92870
714.990.6536
Website: www.ocbiofeedback.com

 

January 9, 2009 at 2:31 am Leave a comment

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