Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Neurofeedback

I take my younger son for neurofeedback.  It shows my son what he's doing with his brain and throws in a few exercises to train his brain to do things a little differently.  It helps train the brain to function at certain brain wave frequencies.  All of those numbers are left to our neurofeedback provider.  I can't say I totally understand all those numbers.  All I can say is that my son says it "makes him smarter."  Sometimes he says he feels "calmer."  That tells me that he finds it helpful.

I particularly like that our provider does play therapy to work on social skills as well.  So she is able to assess progress from something other than report, build rapport, and work on social emotional skills.  All in an hour's time.  Parent training occurs at the same time as the neurofeeback.  Since my boy is occupied.  I couldn't tell you how other providers set up their appointments but this is how ours goes.

If you are considering neurofeedback, be prepared to pay out of pocket because insurance doesn't usually cover it.  Side effects are few but if the settings are uncomfortable there can be some mood, energy level, and behavioral changes.  In my son it looks like a horrendous temper tantrum.  Bigger than usual and difficulty recovering from the outburst.  Be ready to commit for at least a year.  Average is 20-40 weekly sessions.  A year is 52 weeks.  We are at 7 months.

If brain mapping is needed that is an extra assessment.  QEEG is different than SPECT you may have read about in reference to Dr. Amen. QEEG is non-radiation and therefor less invasive.  It's also less costly, I believe.  I haven't priced SPECT so I can't say for sure.

Neurofeedback is a drug free option but there still may be a need for medication depending on your situation.  In our case, the demands of school increased faster than the benefits of neurofeedback so we added medication.  Neurofeedback takes time to work.  The benefits are cumulative over time.  In the mean time my son needed to be able to focus on learning new cognitive (thinking) skills to self manage his own behavior at school.  We didn't need medication at first because we started in May and there were low demands over the summer.  I was hoping that neurofeedback would be helpful enough in that time to avoid medication.  Perhaps he won't need medication forever.  We'll see.  I keep hearing and reading the medication eventually stops being helpful. 

Our experience with neurofeedback is a work in progress.  This is just where we are at right now.

Some information:
http://www.qeeg.com/adhd.html
The National Resource Center on ADHD
Fly Family Therapy: Neurofeedback
Spectrum Psychological: Neurofeedback 
Z-score
Brain Mapping


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