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Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD, ADHD, Impulsivity, Behavior & Attention Problems

When you have ADD, people often see symptoms like distractibility, impulsivity, inattention, or lack of follow-through as a result of laziness or lack of effort.

If ADD were laziness or lack of effort, doctors wouldn’t prescribe medications. Doctors prescribe medications because ADD is a brain problem -- it’s not a psychological issue.

Medications may help, but only temporarily. Medicines do not teach you how to be calm and focused, or to behave.  That’s what is needed.
 
In addition, even the best talk therapy and behavioral interventions can seem to make minimal progress with difficult kids.  Brain Training is a new approach that can help almost anyone learn to gain self-control and improve attention.   

Neurofeedback is particularly suited for children, because it looks like a computer game.  It is – of sorts.  They are very special games.  It’s not played with a mouse – but with your brain.  Kids think it’s neat.

Medication concerns

Many parents have concerns about side effects.  The list of these can be long, but can include a loss of appetite (especially in growing children) cardiac risks, interference with sleep, or even becoming “less personable.”  There’s concern that children are taught that pills can solve their problems.

The longer someone takes medication, the larger the risk of side effects. You can build up a tolerance to medication, which means that medications get changes, or the dosage is increased, or additional medications are added.  This can also increase the risk of side effects. 
 

Brain Training helps overcome the problem

Most people are unaware that brain training can better regulate focus while decreasing distractibility, impulsivity, and behaviors which are annoying to teachers and loved ones. So, out of desperation, people, seek artificial chemical control.
 

The Problem with the ADD Brain

How do stimulants appear to slow down a hyperactive client and help him focus? It is common knowledge that stimulants speed you up. With hyperactive ADD there may be too much slow activity in brain regions that regulate focus and attention.

ADD clients compensate for this slower than normal brain activity by stimulating their brains with constant body movement to “wake their brain up”. Stimulants increase brain activity so one can focus without the constant body movement. Slow activity in certain brain regions is also associated with lack of motivation, distractibility, inattention, depression, and worry.

Example:

Alternative ADHD Treatment

Excessive fast activity in the brain can also cause problems.  That can include impulsivity, aggressiveness, and anxiety. Imagine your brain racing so fast that it’s difficult to listen or sit still. People with ADD are normally very intelligent. They often get the big picture right away.  Because their mental pace may be faster than the person giving the instructions, they move ahead and miss many details.   

Brain Training is an effective and researched alternative.

Because ADD is a brain problem, doesn’t it make sense to work directly on the problem?

Your brain drives all learning.  When your train your brain with neurofeedback, it helps you learn how to become focused, calm, and to gain self-control.   

Most people can’t control the number of heart beats you make per minute.  It’s also hard (without brain training) to learn to control the rhythm of the brain. If the brain’s waves are “not in sync” or are too fast or slow, it’s very hard to focus, be calm, or be in control. 

The good news is various studies conducted over many years show that brain training with neurofeedback improves inattention, distractibility, impulsivity and self control.

How does brain training teach the brain?

The brain is a self-regulating feedback loop.  When one area of the brain is out of sync, it messes up other areas that kick in to compensate for the dysfunctioning area.

Neurofeedback effectively improves attention and behavior through consistent reinforcement of the state the brain is in when it is calm and focused. This is a normal state for the brain. Through neurofeedback the brain learns to return to normal regulation and balance.

With neurofeedback the client is rewarded and made aware when the brain is producing the proper brain waves, reducing excessive fast or slow activity. Without reinforcement it would be impossible to know when you were practicing the proper balance which would allow you to improve brain regulation.

When you learn to a catch a ball and are rewarded by catching it, over time catching a ball becomes easier. It is no longer a conscious decision to think through the steps learned to catch a ball. It becomes somewhat automatic and the more you practice the better you get. Similarly, once you learn to pay attention and practice it you won't forget. 

What type of results can I expect from brain training?

Surveys of health professionals using neurofeedback estimate that over 85% of their clients successfully learn to focus, regulate behavior, and decrease impulsivity when they train on a consistent schedule.

Once learning is achieved,  we work with the client and his physician to decrease medications while decreasing his training schedule. Many individuals are able to decrease medications and training all together while some are left with the minimal dose and a maintenance training schedule.

We also have several other tools available that compliment and often optimize the training experience. Depending upon the individual client, these tools may assist by increasing the impact of neurofeedback and at times shortening the duration of training.  Please contact us for an individual consultation. 

What are the long-term effects of medications for ADD/ADHD?

Although Ritalin was introduced in the 1950s as a treatment for narcolepsy (a condition in which a person suddenly falls asleep), and was first used for treatment of ADHD in the 1960s, 40 years later there still have not been studies of the long-term effects.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, “… while research has conclusively proven Ritalin's short-term effectiveness; little is known about the long-term efficacy and safety of a drug that some children take for many years. In fact, the average duration of randomized trials of the drug is 3.3 weeks … There aren't long-term studies, and that's of some concern because we don't know whether the initial positive effects . . . might diminish over time. Moreover, we don't know what happens to the side-effects . . . whether those get worse or maybe they diminish too - we don't really know."

 

NY Neurofeedback and QEEG • Merlyn Hurd Ph.D. • Licensed Psychologist and Certified Neurotherapist
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