Parents and Schools are increasingly recognizing Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) as a major difficulty which produces academic underachievement .With an estimated 6% of school age children affected, you can expect almost every class to have someone with A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).Their problem may include short attention span and difficulties organizing and completing their assignments. Many also have an impulsive style; they start work without checking directions, blurt out answers and have trouble awaiting their turn.
What may be confusing to parents is that often the individual with ADD may exhibit superb concentration and focus in specific situations. Children with ADD may, for example, become totally absorbed in games, certain T.V. programs, building with materials, play mobile and so on. Only some of these activities are exceptionally fast changing therefore this is certainly not the only factor which might account for their intense concentration.
Fortunately, there is a new approach to helping both children and adults learn to self-regulate their brain waves to improve their concentration. This educational approach is called Neurofeedback or computerized EEG feedback. Within 60 sessions people can acquire the skill of producing brain wave patterns which are associated with focusing and concentrating. Unlike stimulants, Neurofeedback training appears to have a direct long term effect on increasing the child’s ability to remain focused (decreased slow wave activity) and spend extended periods of time concentrating in a problem solving manner (increased fast wave activity).There is a significant decrease in the phenomenon of tuning out (associated with Alpha and/or Theta activity) when the child is expected to be carrying out an assignment or listening intently in class. In addition, Neurofeedback appears to have a similar effect to stimulants in that it increases the child’s “natural guards” to inhibit or avoid impulsive actions. Children already taking medication can continue while training, however, most find that they can gradually reduce the dosage as self regulation is mastered.
The Assessment Interviews
The Centre’s initial interview process may be of interest to you. It will, of course. However, for the most part, this interview procedure takes 3 ½ hours. During that time the history of the client’s strengths and difficulties are reviewed and any available reports are discussed. For children these may include school or psychological reports. Clients or parents are asked to fill out questionnaires appropriate to the problems they are reporting. The client is also given the TOVA (test of variables of attention) continuous performance test. These are the most widely used computerized tests for such factors as attention span, impulsivity and variability of response time, which are among the key factors in Attention Deficit Disorder but are also factors in a number of other problems including learning difficulties, Tourette’s and anxiety problems. These tests involve pressing a button when a target appears on the screen and inhibiting that response when a non-target appears
Following this, the QEEG Assessment Protocol is administered to the client. With adolescents and adults a ‘stress-test’ may be done. This demonstrates to the client how their respiration, heart-rate, skin temperature, skin conduction, and muscle tension varies with even a minor mental stress such as math. This may lead to recommending that biofeedback of some of these variables be recommended to accompany the neurofeedback of brain wave patterns.
The Second Testing Interview for Clients Who Decide to Enter the Program:
If the child or adult who presents with ADHD or a learning problem has not had psychoeducational testing in the last two years then this will be carried out in a second interview. This assessment also takes approximately 3 ½ hours. Intelligence and academic testing is carried out.
Training and Reassessment:
Training usually takes around 60 sessions, although some adult clients have taken fewer than 20 sessions to reach their goals. Children who have extreme hyperactivity and/or learning disabilities or Asperger’s in addition to attentional problems take more sessions than those who are simply ADD and inattentive. Progress testing is routinely carried out after at least 40 sessions and this is done without additional cost.
For ADHD the results of training are: improved behavior, increases in IQ scores, increases in scores on academic tests and a decreased need for continuation of stimulant medication. By the end of training, most clients with ADHD no longer require drugs as their symptoms no longer warrant medication. ADHD clients who are on a stimulant medication when they begin training remain on their medication until the neurofeedback training takes effect. The only time we request that a person be off stimulant medication is for the first assessment interview.