Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by behaviors of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity (1). The stigma attached to this disorder is that the child is undisciplined, eating too much sugar, watching too much TV, or is surrounded by a chaotic living environment with limited attention. This can create some form of chaos in the household but it is untrue for it to “cause” ADHD. Only a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor can diagnose a child with ADHD by the DSM-5 criteria. (A full description is linked at the end of this article.)
Research has shown that it is unknown what truly causes ADHD. There is not one major factor but many key factors that can contribute to these symptoms. Research has determined two factors that have shown to be key indicators: genetics and brain chemistry. If a parent has ADHD, then a child has more than a 50% chance of having it (2). Studies show that brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, “don’t work the same in children and adults with ADHD. There also tend to be differences in the way nerve pathways work” (Pagan, 2016). Neurotransmitters are information pathways to communicate different types of information to many different parts of the brain. The end result is a child’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts. If the brainwave connections are not being met or if there is too much information, then the communication between the neurons in the brain will break down and negative symptoms will begin to emerge.
Scientists in California say they’ve found a way to better differentiate teenagers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. They say the brain waves of teens who are unable to pay attention are very different than the brain waves of teens who are simply overactive or impulsive. They say this is the first time doctors can clearly see subcategories within the ADHD diagnosis.
See video for news review.
Neurotransmitters are information pathways to communicate all different sorts of information and an individual’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts are communicated between neurons within our brains. If the connections are not being met, then the communication between body and brain breaks down and negative symptoms will begin to emerge.
Here is a great example of how brain waves are functioning in a child’s brain with ADHD vs a child without ADHD.
Neurofeedback is a drug-free, non-invasive natural approach to impulsivity, ADHD, mood, behavior or impulse control concerns in children and teens. Neurofeedback works to create more efficient brainwave connections by conditioning appropriate brainwave patterns, which improves a brain’s response to stress, impulsivity, anxiety, and combats the negative symptoms associated with many other cognitive issues and disorders.
With neurofeedback, individuals can balance the communication between different parts of the brain across the two hemispheres and develop the skills necessary to reduce or eliminate the negative symptoms they face through positive reinforcement simply by watching a movie, listening to music or playing a video game.
Many children who have been diagnosed with ADHD generally have problems with concentration, focus, controlling their impulses and moods, or with hyperactivity. The Prefrontal Cortex (frontal) area of the brain controls the “executive functions” including judgment, impulse control, management of aggression, emotional regulation, self regulation, planning, reasoning and social skills. (3) A specialized test called a qEEG Brain Map is used to record brainwave data and the results from these type of children normally show an excessively high amounts of slow wave theta brain waves in the frontal lobe. When an excessive amount of slow brain waves are present in the executive (frontal) parts of the brain, it becomes difficult to control attention, behavior, and/or emotions.
There are many studies that show that the brain is capable of change. It can reorganize and re-balance the brain wave patterns through consistent practice. This is what we do at SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training. We utilize neurofeedback to balance the brain to optimize the communication between the neurons so results will show improved concentration, focus, sustain attention, a decrease in impulsivity and hyperactivity, increased mood stability, improved sleep patterns, increased attention span, improved academic performance, increased retention and memory, and increased IQ scores.
Dr. Sears, University of California School of Medicine reported “With neurofeedback the child is exercising the nerve pathways that control attention and mental processing. As these neural pathways are exercised, children develop a sense of what concentration feels like, and they get excited about it. After practicing these exercises over a period of time, the pathways involved in attention and learning seem to work more efficiently. This enhanced brain activity becomes a natural part of the child’s functioning.”(3)
SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training aims to help children and teens who struggle in academics, social interactions, and those that show poor behaviors in school and home. We use a holistic approach that is tailored to guide a child’s brainwave patterns through a specialized neurofeedback training program, which is designed to meet their specific needs and optimize their brain potential.
Many other programs that are available will help to work with the child’s symptoms to improve specific areas; such as, cognitive behavioral therapy, or will focus on sensory motor processing in the forms of exercises, activities, or play therapies. While these can be great alternatives, they are unable to look directly at the brain connections and pinpoint the locations of dysfunction. They use assessments as guides to detect symptoms while SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training uses qEEG Brain Mapping to record and analyze brainwave activity to review areas of improvement. We create a tailored plan for each trainee specific to their individual needs. Our clinical team monitors progress through tracking assessments while conditioning the areas with neurofeedback and optimizing your child’s brain potential. This would help a child improve their focus, concentration, impulsivity and hopefully reduce the need to use any stimulant medications as the brain would then be working efficiently and medication would be no longer needed.
Research has shown that the results of neurofeedback are long-term with continued improvements once treatment has ended due to the brain is working optimally. Since the late 1970’s, neurofeedback has been researched with ADHD in multiple clinical trials. Dr. Lubar (1995) and his colleagues at the University of Tennessee, published a 10 year follow-ups on cases and found that in approximately 80% of patients neurofeedback substantially improved the symptoms of ADHD, and these changes were maintained.
The main reason neurofeedback is especially important for managing ADHD is that medication can drastically affect the quality of life. Medication is either a stimulant, designed to improve focus – which should be given to children with extreme caution – or an antidepressant, which can have implications on mood and behavior outside of the disorder.
Neurofeedback is an additional opportunity for rehabilitation through directly retraining the brain, correcting the root cause of dysregulation and is ideal when utilized with other programs; such as, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, occupational, physical, and relaxation therapy.
DISCLAIMER: It is important to discuss training options with your primary doctor or pediatrician concerning any diagnosis or options when concerning a behavioral, physical, or cognitive learning disorder. At SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training we do not diagnose, treat or provide therapy to individuals but utilize the benefits of neurofeedback brain training to optimize brain potential through an alternative approach to medication.
Click here for an in-depth breakdown of DSM-5 criteria.
Lubar, J. F., Swartwood, M. O., Swartwood, J. N., & O’Donnell, P. (1995). Evaluation of the effectiveness of EEG neurofeedback training for ADHD in a clinical setting as measured by changes in T.O.V.A. scores, behavioral ratings, and WISC-R performance. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 20, 83-99.
Pagan, N. C. (2016). Neurofeedback: Brain training for ADHD symptoms.