Neurofeedback Training for Children with ADHD
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, struggle with controlling and focusing their attention. This neurodevelopmental disorder is believed to impact an estimated 11% of children at different levels. Behavioral and environmental changes can be effective in controlling some levels of ADHD and the symptoms, but other children may require more focused treatment. At Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta, we offer neurofeedback training for children with ADHD, which can be an alternative to medications.
The common drugs that are prescribed for children with ADHD are stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. While these drugs can be effective for some of the symptoms of ADHD, they also come with other side effects. Sleep disorders, stunted growth, difficulty retaining weight and abnormal heart rhythms have been associated with taking stimulants for ADHD. Another course of treatment to consider is neurofeedback training, which does not require medication or have negative health impacts.
What Is Neurofeedback (NFT)?
With neurofeedback training for children with ADHD, or NFT, the brain waves of the children are monitored to determine changes when focusing on certain tasks. This is also referred to as electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback. Sensors are attached to the child’s head to monitor brain activity. While most people’s brains speed up when they concentrate, the opposite occurs in children with ADHD. By monitoring how their brain waves react when they try to focus on an activity, we can help determine patterns that can help the child adjust and control how they can activate concentration. With training, children may be able to recognize and use techniques to control their brain activity, even without using the sensors.
If you have a child with ADHD and want to explore other options beyond stimulant medications, contact us at Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta. We offer neurofeedback training, or NFT therapy, for children with ADHD at our clinic in Alpharetta.
More About Neurofeedback Training
Does this sound familiar …?
- You pick your child up from school, the teacher smiles at you “They had a great day today!” Your child smiles, you smile, you get to your car, shut the doors, and smile into the rearview mirror “So you had a good day today?” And then… it begins. A wave of raw irritation crashes over you in a harsh, aggressive tone “UGH MOM, can’t you just LEAVE ME ALONE!!”
- Your child gets off the bus and rushes into the house. They slam the door. They hurl their backpack to the floor (perhaps spilling pens and notebooks into the hallway where’d they’d abandoned it.) “How was school?” you ask, as a blur of motion rushes passed you to the refrigerator. “It was fine.” You hear, mumbled through a mouth full of loose deli meat. “What’s going on for homework tonight?” They glance up at you, pausing with a handful of deli meat still in one hand “Oh… oops, I think we had math homework, but I forgot to write it down… and I didn’t bring my textbook home.”
- Sitting at the kitchen table, finished your coffee, and watching as your child’s breakfast gets cold, you hear the blaring of their alarm clock for the third time this morning. You glance at the clock, they need to be up and dressed in ten minutes if they want to have any hope of eating before school. You knock on their door for the third time, “It’s time to get up sweetie, you’re going to be late!” You hear a series of unintelligible mumbles as a response, opening the door and turning on their lights. “Did you hear me? You’ve gotta get up!” You know they were asleep on time last night, like every night, but every morning it’s this same routine.
- You knock on your child’s door. It has been three hours since they’d gone in there to clean their room. “How’s it coming along in here?” You ask, but as their door pulls back to reveal them sitting in the middle of their messy room, staring at their phone. Disappointed and angry you ask “What’s going on? You promised me you were cleaning your room today!” “I know! I’m going to!” They insist, their tone hurt and equally angry, “I just… don’t know how to get started.”
- Do you relate to any of these stories? Do you ever find yourself lamenting why your smart, capable child seemingly *refuses* to do simple things? Do you find yourself in a weekly crying routine, after your child comes home from school with a new reason to be mad at you? Have you tried therapy and medications and still find yourself going in circles?
Today I want you to know, that there’s a better way. Medications and therapy can be crucial tools in someone’s health, but they come in many different kinds. And their effectiveness depends on how accurately they are matched to the root cause of the issues. The last time you went to see a counselor or a psychiatrist, did they look at your brain? Did they look at your hormone levels or gut health? “No,” you’re probably thinking, “Why would they.”
Did you know? You have over 100 million neurons “brain cells” in your GI tract? These neurons are connected in what’s known as the Enteric Nervous System and it acts a lot like the Central Nervous System that you’re probably more familiar with. You probably know that mood and attention issues are controlled by your brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, but did you know that the majority of those neurotransmitters in your body are produced by the Enteric Nervous System and the effectiveness of that system depends on your gut health? So if I know there are attention and mood issues in the brain, I know we need to evaluate what’s going on in the gut, in order to really improve the issues.
Did you know? Behaviors like inattention, mood instability, memory issues, sleep dysfunction, and more are represented in the brain by specific brain wave patterns. We can assess which patterns are strong or weak in your brain by doing a brain map (also called Quantitative Electroencephalography or qEEG) This non invasive procedure involves putting a special cap on your head, placing electrogel in specific spots. No signal is sent into the brain, but this allows us to record your active brain wave patterns under 3 conditions: When your eyes are closed, when your eyes are open, and when you’re engaged in a brain region specific task, like reading, or listening. After we have collected this information, we can design an individualized brain training protocol specifically around the issues actually occurring in your brain.
Brain training comes in two parts in our clinic. Part one is a series of in-office neurofeedback sessions (the number determined on a case by case basis, but the average is 15) once or twice a week. Part two (which occurs simultaneously) is a take home device called Audio Visual Entrainment, which is to be used at home a minimum of four times a week.
In office Neurofeedback appointments involve you choosing a preferred feedback, either a show or movie to watch or music to listen to. Depending on what brain wave pattern we are training, your eyes may be open or closed. Based off of your brain map, we set a goal to increase power to a desired pattern and/or to decrease power to an undesired pattern. When your brain approaches the set goal points, the sound will increase to normal volume, and the brightness (if a visual feedback is being used) will increase to normal. As your brain strays from the goals, the sound and/or brightness will decrease. This gives your brain a direct reference point everytime it achieves the desired patterns. This causes your brain to associate these patterns with the reward, which increases the frequency it falls into these patterns over time.
At home Audio Visual Entrainment sessions involve wearing a pair of headphones and special, opaque glasses, with LED lights on the inside of the lenses. You will close your eyes and adjust the sound and brightness to a comfortable level, it will not change throughout the session unless you change it again. The glasses flash the selected frequency, and the headphones use isochronal pulse tones to expose your brain to brain wave patterns selected based off of your brain map. Overtime your brain begins to mimic these patterns on its own.
Using individualized neurological protocols in addition to individualized lifestyle medicine approaches allows us to address your issues directly, as opposed to treating you broadly based on just your diagnosis. We don’t want to guess. We want to know. So come in today so we can get started finding and addressing the root cause of your issues, instead of wasting time only suppressing symptoms.