Posts tagged ‘school problems’

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.

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October 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

Successful Treatment Planning for Attention Deficit Disorder

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.

February 15, 2012 at 1:23 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

Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Having been in the field for over 16 years, helping children and parents with school related problems, and also having worked closely with teachers, I have learned a few things about parent-teacher conferences.  Conference time is just around the corner, and for some it may already be here.  These conferences should be seen as a rich opportunity to build understanding and communication between the home and school.  Due to budget shortfalls and increasing multiculturalism, teachers are under pressure and overworked.  Many parents are also pressed for time, have lingering negative impressions from their own school years, and are apprehensive about what will be discussed during the conference, particularly if their child is struggling.  What follows are some suggestions to help make the conference go better:

After you received the notice,  schedule your conference as soon as possible within the allotted time blocks (you’ll get better choices).  Arrive on time or you’ll forfeit important parts of your allocated time frame and miss key information points.  Thank the teacher for their time.  As it does for you, appreciation goes a long way to help both you and your child.  Do not bring toddlers or babies as they are too big of a distraction.  Leave your personal problems at home, unless they directly affect your child’s school experience.

Bring prioritized questions with you to the conference, and make sure they are not already covered in the informational packets sent home.  Prior to the meeting, discuss it with your child.  Find out what they like or dislike, as well as what they struggle or excel at.  Ask the teacher what they think would make the school day go better.  Some good questions are, ” Has my child completed assignments regularly?” and “How does my child handle taking tests?”.  Other good questions may include, “Have you noticed any changes in my child’s behavior during the year?”, “What areas academically, and in terms of attitude, do they need extra help in at home?”, and “What is my child like during the day?”.

If your child is struggling academically and/or with their behavior, or if they seem isolated, you or their teacher may bring this issue up (which is a good thing to talk about).  As parents, we can often be defensive and in denial to these problems, and their possible causes.  Remember, both you and teacher are there as your child’s advocates.  Be open to this discussion, as it can only help your child.  Often these problems are caused by ADHD (Attention Deficit with/without Hyperactivity Disorder) or other learning disabilities.  Many parents, believing that medication is the only treatment for this disorder, avoid the appropriate testing and/or treatment because they understandably fear the side effects and rigors associated with the medication.  There is, however, an effective alternative to this scenario.

One 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.

October 14, 2011 at 1:49 am 1 comment

Prevalence of ADHD

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder- “ADD” or ADHD- affects approximately nine percent (9%) of the children in the United States.  It is one of the more prevalent, and most studied, of all childhood psychiatric disorders.  A new study reports that only about a third of them are getting proper treatment.

“There is a perception that ADHD is over diagnosed and over treated,” says lead researcher Dr. Tanya E. Froehlich, from Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.  “But our study shows that for those that meet the criteria for ADHD, the opposite problem- under diagnosis and under treatment- seems to be occuring.  Interestingly, Froelich commented further that “…girls were more likely to be under diagnosed.”

Also of importance are the findings of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  The researchers found that of the children who met the criteria for ADHD, only 47.9% had been diagnosed with the disorder, and of these, only 32% were being treated consistently with medications.

There are three sub-types of the disorder: primarily inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined (a combination of the two previous types).  Attention Deficit Disorder is not a trivial problem; it can have a serious, detrimental impact on a persons life in terms of learning, social relationships, and self-image, as well as success and happiness in adult life.  In addition to the negative impact the disorder has on the individual, it can wreak havoc on family dynamics.

As we saw earlier, approximately fifty percent of the actual cases of ADHD are identified, and of these, only a third are receiving proper treatment.  One of the major reasons for these unfortunate facts is parents’ understandable fears of the serious side-effects and rigors of medication.  Fearing that medicating their children is the unavoidable response to testing them, or, if the disorder is already present, thinking that medication is the only treatment available.  Many parents avoid testing and treatment altogether and abandon their children to their fate.  This is a distressing scenario.

The good news however, is that medication is not the only, and certainly not the most successful, form of treatment for ADHD.  There is an alternative to this scenario.

The alternative is Neurofeedback.  It is a drug-free, painless procedure which a child or adult does to re-train the mechanisms in charge of attention within the brain.  Neurofeedback is permanent; once treatment is complete, no further treatment is necessary.  Parents no longer need to avoid testing and/or treatment for fear of the “drug solution”.  They do not have to be forced to accept poor grades, endless hours of homework, calls from the school, and feelings of hopelessness.

They can get help for their children if they so need.

If you would like more information about Neurofeedback, please contact Dr. Ferrari at his Southern California office, Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback.

November 3, 2010 at 10:29 am 1 comment

A “Short Course” Summer Remedy for ADHD

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

May 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

The Joy of Homework

Ideally (and I do mean ideally) homework should be a time (and not too long of a time) for a child to practice skills learned in the classroom, share with their parents what they are learning, show off their new abilities, and gain confidence in themselves. It can and should be a positive, affirming experience for all involved.

However, for many children and parents, it is quite often the opposite (if it gets completed at all). For them it can be “evening-killing” stressful, conflict-filled, prolonged period of frustration, failure, and blame. It is often a confidence-shattering time for the child, which erodes the positive bond between parent and child (not to mention that between the parents), and is disrupting to the whole family dynamic.

For these children, just getting the assignment written down and the correct books in the book bag to go home may be a daunting task. Papers invariably get lost, either on the way home or going back to school, where they may or may not get turned in at all (this is particularly exasperating after all the work it took to get it done). If by some miracle everything necessary to do the homework makes it home, the energy it takes to recall the instructions, understand the assignment, and complete the task may prove to be too much.

Furthermore, the learning required to do the task in the first place may not have happened in the classroom. The same issue that is causing the problem at home may be short-circuiting the learning process at school, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

For parents who come home from work tired themselves, or for homemakers who never get away, the last thing they want to do is jump into this task (who wants to do third grade again?), and so, the avoidance and blame game ensue. Finally, because the origin of these problems for the child is often genetic, the same traits may be present in one or more of the parents, further multiplying the problems.

When this scenario is present, there is a good chance that the underlying problem is ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This is a relatively minor disorder, which, was we have just seen, can have far reaching, serious effects on a child, a parent, and a family. Many parents avoid considering or testing for this cause because they, understandably, fear the necessity of drugging their child.

Fortunately, there is a highly successful alternative to this scenario. 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.

As all the above-mentioned factors can make the problem worse with each passing year, it is imperative to have your child, or a child you know has or you suspect of having ADD (ADHD), evaluated and/or treated as soon as possible.

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 contact:

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

October 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

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