Posts tagged ‘side-effect free’

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

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

Do any of these complaints sound familiar to you?  “My child is struggling in school… the teacher complains that they don’t complete their class work, can’t follow directions, and are frequently daydreaming.  Their grades are below average, yet I know that they are intelligent.  Homework takes forever, and is a constant battle.  If this were not enough, they are frequently getting in trouble at school, and it’s the same at home.  The poor kid can’t get a break, and the family is constantly in an uproar. We always dread the start of the next school year, and things seem to be getting steadily worse.”

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

The problems mentioned above and the hectic schedule of school, sports, etc. often make it near impossible to get help during the school year. However, when the school year ends, and summer is finally here, an opportunity presents itself to make a big change for the better. I think the key part of the word “summertime” is “time”, there is much more of it. With the pressure of school, tests, and homework gone, it is a more relaxed time for kids and parents alike. In the summertime the opportunity presents itself for an easier to do four week Neurofeedback treatment, which is much less stressful on parents and children.

There are three core types of students who benefit the most from the summer intensive programs.  The first type is the student who struggles significantly with homework (which increases in amount and difficulty each year) and tests.  This is usually a problem with attention span, task completion, and/or organization. Problems such as homework taking too long, not being completed, not being turned in, or not being brought home, as well as difficulties taking tests, all fall into this category.

A second type is the child who has to work too hard to get what success they can.  Poor grades and difficulty with testing are typical for this child.  These are children who often can do okay when the work is done “one-on-one”, but are too distracted in group settings such as the classroom or group activities.

The third type is the student who has significant difficulties with his/her behavior. They may be getting into trouble frequently, and as a result may even be getting blamed for things that they don’t do.  This behavior may make it hard to make friends (or the right kind of friends) and lead to feelings of isolation.  They can often be held in or punished at recess (further isolation), and may begin to believe that they are troublemakers, or “bad” kids.  The resulting damage to self-esteem from this, and the other above patterns, can shape self-fulfilling self-images that are very sad to see develop.

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

Neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life, is an alternative to medication.  This  form of treatment mitigates the symptoms of ADHD in a beneficial and side-effect-free manner by re-focusing the thought processes of brain.

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

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

Can we still rescue this school year?

This is the time of year when many parents whose children have struggled with school start to either despair or panic.  Most parents will say: “We’ve done everything we can; we’ve talked to him (or her), we’ve encouraged him, we’ve pushed him as hard as we can, we’ve even tried tutoring and counseling, hoping for the best, and nothing seems to have gotten better.  The school is talking about holding him back and/or putting him in a special class”.

 Most of the time, as I inquire further into the child’s problems, I will hear that he (or she) is having significant problems academically and can’t seem to focus or retain what he’s learned at home, or is having lots of behavior problems at school, lacks confidence, is isolated… or all of the above.  

This question actually has two parts to it.  For the first part: No, it is definitely not too late to get help for this school year.  It is at the end of the school year that the evaluations and decisions are made as to what is best for the child in the coming year and we are definitely not at that point yet.  I have worked with many teachers, and I am consistently told that if they see significant improvement in academics and/or behavior before the end of the year, it can definitely effect their decisions.

Parental attitude toward this question is also critically important to their child.  Your decision to accept these problems as unavoidable and/or to give up on this school year, as opposed to not giving up and continuing to find the solution to your child’s difficulties, makes an indelible impression on how your child sees themselves and their approach to solving problems.  If you take the first option, things will probably get worse for them as they will sense you’re giving up, and they will too.  They will also think less is expected of them and they may put forth less effort.  If you choose the second option, and ground that for them firmly in the fact that the problems do not represent their true self or abilities, and that they are worth these extra efforts to solve the problems, then you have the opposite effect and their self esteem and effort climbs. So does your chances of final success for the school year. 

The second part of the question regards whether or the not the proper underlying cause of the problem is being addressed.  While tutoring and counseling definitely have their place, the problems mentioned here are more likely stemming from ADHD.  Furthermore, the effectiveness of tutoring, counseling, and many other interventions will be significantly reduced if the underlying ADHD is not treated first.  This is a disorder that many parents reject testing for and if present, treating, because they understandably fear what they think is the unavoidable use of medication with its undesirable side-effects and rigors.  There is, however, a much preferable alternative to this scenario, and that is neurofeedback.  

Neurofeedback is an effective, drug and side-effect free procedure in which the individual learns to retrain the attention and/or impulse control mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition.  Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary. 

In conclusion: No, if the parents don’t give up on the school year (or their child), and the true underlying cause of the problem is identified and corrected, it is definitely not too late  to save this school year, and the decision to do so is critical for your child.

April 11, 2012 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

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

ADHD Basics

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

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

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

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

Many parents avoid testing and/or treatment for ADHD because they understandably fear the side-effects and need for lifetime use of what they mistakenly think is the only remedy to the problem, medication.  There is, fortunately, an alternative to this scenario.  Neurofeedback is a proven, painless, and effective solution to the problem of ADHD,which opens for the person the opportunities they deserve for a lifetime of learning, growing, and relating well with others.

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

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


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