A Terrific Treatment for Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Developmental Disorders, Depression, and More!
Neurofeedback is recognized as a non-invasive treatment with successful results for problems related to ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum, scholastic performance, and addictions. It helps the brain to regulate itself in a way that the person treated is able to overcome whatever deficit she/he has.
Neurofeedback addresses the foundations of learning; a balanced and organized brain can process and remember information more easily. Improved mental performance and ability to pay attention equals better learning; reducing stress develops better test results; and calming emotional and behavioral issues improves social interactions. All this equals better prospects for the future. It’s especially effective for kids. It is in fact easier to work with young and flexible brains before habits mature and become adulthood traits.
The stressed brain does not present healthy brain wave patterns. It gets stuck in unproductive and irregular patterns that keep repeating themselves. Neurofeedback is in essence a workout for the brain. It seeks to change and strengthen healthy brain wave patterns by presenting it with stimuli that challenge its deregulated patterns. Research has shown that hyperactivity of the right prefrontal cortex is related to negative mood and avoidance behavior. Neurofeedback addresses this imbalance head on, giving children the tools required to conquer imbalance.
The process begins with tests, a thorough understanding of the symptoms within the context of an individual’s medical and psychological history, and a treatment plan. At each session, sensors attached to the patients, scalp will record and analyze brainwaves. In real time, this information is sent to the system in the computer that feeds this information back to the brain through the images and sounds (visual and auditory feedback) in the monitor and vibration of a special toy (kinesthetic feedback), rewarding the brain for any positive changes happening in the wave patterns. Simply put, it is a way to harness the brain’s own self-regulatory mechanism to achieve optimal function. All this happens while the patient is simply watching a movie or playing a video game.
ADD & ADHD
The brain produces measurable electrical signals. Neurofeedback measures these electrical waves, usually with a device called an electroencephalograph (EEG).
Like other electrical devices, brain waves cycle at specific frequencies. The five different brain waves are alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and theta. They each have different frequencies, and these are measurable by an EEG.
Some research suggests that people with ADHD have too many theta waves and too few beta waves. Neurofeedback claims to correct this difference by training people with ADHD to use their brains differently.
Neurofeedback practitioners begin by attaching electrodes to the head in order to measure brain activity. This produces an ongoing screen printout of brain waves that can be watched during the session.
Based on brain wave feedback, the neurofeedback provider will instruct the person to perform a specific task. The process may involve sounds and other stimuli to encourage the brain to process information differently. There might be music or a tone, or sounds that suddenly stop or start.
This approach can interrupt, alter, or amplify brain activity based on feedback from the EEG.
Supporters of neurofeedback claim that this steady feedback can slowly alter brain waves. As brain waves change, so do the symptoms of ADHD.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Parents consistently report that as their children begin brain training, they are calmer, manage emotions better, and don’t get overwhelmed as easily.
The research indicates neurofeedback reduces symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The most important study published so far is called “Assessment-Guided Neurofeedback for Autistic Spectrum Disorder,” and includes 37 children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It was conducted by Dr. Robert Coben, a well-respected neuropsychologist from New York, and his colleague, Dr. Ilean Padolsky.
The results of this study showed improved ratings of ASD symptoms for 89% of the experimental group as reported by parents, based on the ATEC scale (from the Autism Research Institute). The ATEC rating scale included symptoms covering: speech/language/communication, sociability, sensory/cognitive awareness, and health/physical/behavior.
Dyslexia & Learning Disabilities
The areas of the brain associated with reading skills, visual distortions, and over-sensitivity to light are well understood. Neurofeedback protocols have been established to help difficulties in this area. In cases of dyslexia, neurofeedback can help increase the effort and energy required to read and stay focused on reading. However, this isn’t a stand-alone treatment.Kids will also have to work on reading and phonetic skills. Neurofeedback training targets the areas of the brain that dyslexia affects and works with children to strengthen their brain, and in turn, their reading skills.
In addition to helping the child overcome learning disabilities, the ability to play a game using only their mind can give a tremendous boost to a child’s self-esteem. Children with learning disabilities can spend all of their school years just trying to get things right. Now, however, they have visible proof that their mind can make things happen. This is especially powerful if children start to notice real-life differences after their first 10-20 neurofeedback sessions.
Much focus over the fast few decades has been on the brain chemistry, the neurotransmitters that carry electrical signals and information from one nerve body to the next. The thought has been to treat the chemicals with other chemicals and alleviate symptoms. But the chemicals delivered through psychotropic medication come with potential side effects, some lasting. Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is thought to be less invasive, nonpainful, and more permanent. For people whose disorders fail to respond to conventional medical treatments or therapeutic methods, neurofeedback offers a hope. It has been shown to alleviate stress-induced symptoms and may be an alternative to anxiety medications.
In sum, when treated with Neurofeedback, a person presenting symptoms such as lack of concentration, difficulties to focus on the tasks and finish what he/she started, defiant and aggressive behavior, constant emotional reactivity, lack of social skill, irritability, irregular sleep patterns, decreased energy, change in appetite, difficulty thinking and concentrating, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and others can have a long lasting results recovering from his/her problems and live fulfilling lives.
Potential Disadvantages of Neurofeedback
Getting a baseline brain wave scan requires multiple scans where a child must sit still ten minutes at a time. For children with developmental disabilities, this can be difficult and emotionally painful.
Neurofeedback is considered an experimental treatment and is not always covered by insurance. Because neurofeedback centers require a multiple fMRI brain scans and base package of 10 to 20 sessions, expect the out-of-pocket expenses to be high. The average initial cost starts at $3,000.
Much research has been conducted on the efficacy of neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD. The success rate of neurofeedback with other developmental disorders is less well known.
Compare centers. Neurofeedback is unregulated. Different centers, while having similar technology, may have different approaches and treatment plans. If possible, find a center run by a medical practitioner who has years of experience in the field and potential research publications. #
For more on Nuerofeedback, visit International Society for Neurofeedback & Research at isnr.org.