ADHD: Assessments & Neurofeedback Solutions
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are neurological disorders that affects children from the first months of their lives, through their school years and into adolescence and adulthood. The hallmarks of adults and children with ADHD are difficulties with attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, which can be in varying proportions. Those that suffer from ADD and ADHD will display certain symptoms from an early age. ADHD in children is not always difficult to detect. Individuals with the disorder have difficulty paying attention, have a poor working memory, tend to act quickly without thinking things through, rarely learn from past mistakes and have trouble sitting still for lengthy periods.
Until recently, Attention Deficit Disorder was considered a disorder of childhood only. While ADHD is often detected early on, the onset can occur as an adolescent or an adult. It is now recognised that up to 70% of all children with ADD continue to exhibit symptoms of the disorder as adults. The condition does not always resolve in childhood as previously thought. When ADD persists into adulthood it is often associated with secondary problems such as anxiety, depression, gambling, and drug and alcohol abuse. Proper ADHD assessments, as well as management of the problem in childhood, decrease the risk of these secondary problems occurring later in life. We provide ADHD tests at our Sydney clinics for children and adults alike.
The onset of symptoms must occur before the age of seven and persist for six months or longer. In other words, a child cannot suddenly develop ADD; rather the signs must have been present for a relatively long time. No two individuals with ADD present exactly the same profile i.e. a child may have poor concentration and be impulsive without being hyperactive. Since there is no “gold standard” for testing ADHD (the diagnosis made is a differential diagnosis and one of exclusion) it is necessary to pay careful attention to the developmental history of the child and to the family medical history. ADD, attention deficit disorder, can also manifest in ADD anxiety, ADD depression and ADD hyperactivity.
Recent technological advancements such as continuous performance tests (CTP’s),
quantitative electroencephalograph (QEEG), IVA (Integrated Visual and Auditory) and TOVA (Test of Variable of Attention) are now being used as an adjunct to the behavioural descriptors of the DSM-IV and to select the most appropriate neurofeedback training protocols. Neurofeedback training is optimal in ADHD.
Neurofeedback training allows the practitioner to deliver drug free, non invasive and safe methods of improving attention and mental control in those who exhibit symptoms of ADHD or ADD. This method is safe for working with ADHD in children.
This is possible because neurofeedback is an integrated strategy in a complete ADHD learning program that works to improve the brain’s ability to produce certain brainwaves. The training helps a person regulate brainwave activity by informing them about their own brainwave characteristics. By identifying the kind of brainwaves a person is producing, the ADHD learning program makes it possible for the individual to learn to change their brainwave patterns to improve their brain function.
Hence, neurofeedback training, as part of our ADHD learning programs, can be thought of as “exercise for the brain” like the way exercise works to strengthen muscles. Neurofeedback for ADHD helps the central nervous system become more adaptive and responsive instead of remaining inflexible and reactive. Another advantage of this type of training is that it can be done in conjunction with medication, cognitive behaviour therapy, diet and physical therapy. This is a natural, drug free solution for ADHD. In most cases, the improvement in brain function continues long after the training has stopped.
Is there any research to support Neurofeedback?
There are now over 1500 scientific papers written on QEEG and neurofeedback which have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Several books on the subject of neurofeedback are also available. The entire January 2005 edition of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America was devoted to the study of QEEG and neurofeedback.
Frank Duffy, M.D., Director of Clinical Neurophysiology at the Children’s Hospital, Boston, USA and Professor of Neurology, Harvard University at the end on his literature review concluded that: “EEG biofeedback should play a major therapeutic role many areas”. In his opinion, “if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficiency, it would be universally accepted and widely used”. (Clinical EEG Vol.31, No.1, Jan 2000).
Learning Discoveries Psychological Services is one of the most experienced centres offering ADHD assessments and neurofeedback in Sydney.
In addition to neurofeedback training, ADHD in adults and ADHD in children will often require working memory training. Working memory has been called “the search engine of the mind”. An efficient working memory allows you to keep information online, manipulate it and use it in your thinking. Working memory is necessary for attention, staying focused on a task, blocking out distractions and keeping you updated about your environment. Children and adults with ADHD are known to have working memory deficits.
Learning Discoveries Psychological Services now offers the Cogmed Working Memory Training program that has been shown to significantly benefit children and adults with memory deficits such as those with ADHD, Learning Difficulties, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), epilepsy and aged related decline. The program is evidence-based and research has been published in peer-review journals over the past decade. This is a respected ADHD learning program.