Neurofeedback Therapy for Children with ADD and ADHD
ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is a general term given to an individual who exhibits chronic problems focusing on what they are doing or concentrating on a given task. Add hyperactive and impulsive behavior to that description and you have what is known as ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder.
Over the last couple of decades, the number of children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD has risen at an astonishing rate. In fact, in the average primary school classroom today, about 20% of children have been diagnosed with one of these conditions at some level and about 10% of those diagnosed are taking medications to control their behavior.
ADD and ADHD Medication
Currently, the most popular treatment for ADD or ADHD is to prescribe medications, but many parents are becoming more concerned with the risks associated with them. Most often prescribed are stimulants like Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Aderall and non-stimulants such as various anti-depressants and Strattera.
* Stimulants. Besides the fact that nobody knows the long-term effects of stimulant ADD and ADHD medication on the brain of a developing child, stimulants have a number of other drawbacks that should be considered. They can cause heart problems, psychiatric problems later in life, as well as increase the potential for abusing other drugs.
* Non-stimulants. Strattera, certain anti-depressants, and even blood pressure medications are often used to treat ADD and ADHD in children. Some common side-effects include sleepiness, dizziness, mood swings, and headache.
Is it any wonder that parents would seek out non-conventional, alternative means for addressing the symptoms of ADD and ADHD?
Being one of the most promising alternative treatments for ADHD, neurofeedback or biofeedback therapy is a treatment modality that utilizes the patient’s own brain to modify behavior. This up and coming therapy is a simple, painless procedure that is done in a practitioner’s office. Essentially, electrodes that are wired to a computer are attached to a child’s head in various places. The display screen on the computer produces images on the screen in response to the child’s brain activity. When the child is focused and concentrating, they are visually rewarded with positive pictures – maybe a burst of color, or a puzzle piece falling into place. When focus is diminished, the picture fades or gets fuzzy. Through neurofeedback sessions, children are able to develop the capacity to train their own brains to become more attentive. Another advantage to neurofeedback therapy is the fact that changes appear to be much more permanent. Unlike medication that wears off after a few hours and only masks the problem in the first place, neurofeedback therapy appears to actually have longer- lasting behavioral effects.
Although more research needs to be done, neurofeedback therapy appears to hold much promise for being a safe and effective alternative to medication for children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD.
“ADD/ADHD Medications.” 2011. Helpguide.org. 6 12 2011 Evans, James R. (Ed); Abarbanel, Andrew (Ed), (1999). Introduction to quantitative EEG and neurofeedback, (pp. 103-143). San Diego, CA, US: Academic Press.