The Best Option for Testing for and/or Treating ADHD
About this time of the school year, for the child with Attention Deficit Disorder, very significant problems are really starting to raise their head. If the problems of inattention, difficulty with homework, poor behavior, and/or hyperactivity (there are several forms of this disorder) are occurring, you are probably wondering what you can do to fix the problem. There are, today, four basic treatment options with varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at them:
Schools are very rarely equipped to properly diagnose this disorder. The proper thing to do, therefore, is to have your child tested by an outside, independent professional. There are two types of testing: those based solely on symptoms, observed or reported (the most common form of testing), and those based on testing the actual source of the problems (a specific brain function) through EEG-analysis. As there are other problems which can cause ADD-like symptoms, it is essential to test right at the source of the problem, the brain (EEG-analysis).
This brings us to the consideration of the options available for treating this disorder, if it is found to be present:
Counseling or Therapy: This is designed to help children and their families feel better about, and cope with the problems the disorder brings, rather than correcting the disorder. As the underlying problem is neurological, and not emotional, this approach is not effective in correcting the disorder.
Tutoring: While the cumulative effects of difficulty in learning can cause significant gaps in the knowledge base required for a child to progress satisfactorily, filling in those gaps (tutoring), will not do anything for the ongoing problem ADHD causes with learning. Furthermore, until the ADHD is corrected, the tutoring efforts will be significantly hampered by the disorder.
Medication/Drugs: Medication/Drugs are fairly successful in suppressing symptoms while the medication is in the blood stream. However, once the chemicals are out of the blood stream there is no longer any benefit. If medication is missed accidentally, or intentionally (adolescent compliance is often a problem because of the stigma attached to the medication, or the unwanted side effects), or when it wears off, the problems return in full force. Adolescents’ not taking their medication is a significant problem; having the ADHD problems returning and combining with the hormonal and other challenges of adolescence can be a very bad combination. Furthermore, since the drugs are only effective while in the blood stream, and the underlying cause is never corrected, the medications must be taken for life.
The potential of harmful side effects as a result of the medications is a major problem. These side effects range from weight loss, over-stimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, tremors, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome. There may be one or a combination of these side effects. These are serious side effects in any person; when one considers the vulnerability of children, the dangers are even more worrisome.
Neurofeedback: Of the four options, neurofeedback is the only method that corrects the underlying cause of the disorder in a one-time treatment, rather than merely managing the symptoms or teaching the child how best to live with it (counseling-therapy); filling in the gaps in learning caused by the problem without actually correcting the ongoing disorder (tutoring); or merely suppressing the symptoms through a lifelong, often side-effect laden administration of pharmaceuticals (medication). Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life. By utilizing neurofeedback, a child can re-teach the sensory and/or impulse control functions of the brain, including processing, to ameliorate the disorder. Neurofeedback is a painless and effective process, where there are no side effects, and no maintenance or re-training is needed after treatment is completed. It allows for focus, task completion, organization, impulsivity, hyperactivity and a variety of other symptoms to come within normal, age appropriate limits.
In conclusion, neurological testing of the underlying chemical (brain) imbalance is the only objective method to determine if the symptoms are actually caused by ADHD (this is the type of testing done in neurofeedback). Furthermore, neurofeedback is the best option for treating the disorder, as it actually corrects the problem in a one-time treatment, rather than trying to feel comfortable with a correctable problem, constantly playing catch-up, trying to fill in gaps that continue to occur, or life-long medication with the great possibility of significant side effects.