Friday, November 11, 2011

Neurofeedback Therapy Has Started

My older son began neurofeedback therapy in October 2011.

Why?

He is having some symptoms that the psychologist who is board certified in neurofeedback feels are neurological problems from his past Lyme Disease, which negatively affect learning (rather than the symptoms stemming from a lifelong learning disability which is what I suspected the issue was). That conclusion was based on findings after performing testing using EEG and discussing his past medical history.

(These symptoms are different than past symptoms of an eye tracking problem that was helped by a behavioral optometrist using vision therapy at home trained for me to do the doctor.)

I am hopeful for the outcome of the therapy. It is expensive and time consuming, so I am putting faith in this. We'll see what happens.

This was my husband's idea, not mine. I am, honestly, sick of looking to label problems. I just want the problems solved. No, we need them solved or else changes have to be made in our family, such as quitting homeschooling as I can't take working with a kid who has the challenges he has. I now realize that due to him taking more outside classes with others I both missed out on realizing some situations were bad or needed fixing as well as having been spared the stress of what it is like to work with him on every subject all day, every day.

Worse though, than whether we continue homeschooling or start to use school is my son's future. If things do not change he will be unable to do an intense rigorous education that is required for certain majors like engineering. Simple example: at this rate he will not get all the math done through calculus in 3.5 year's time, and that does need to happen.

I am willing to do whatever I can doin the role of mother and homeschooling parent-teacher that it takes to get my son's goals accomplished. But I can't do the learning for him. He has that responsibility.

On the emotional side, I am tired of blaming struggles on a learning disability. I am tired of throwing money at cures or helps for LDs. But, if there is an LD and that points you to a solutuion you didn't try, then that's a good thing to know the label and to know of the therapy. So then again, investigating something and seeking a therapy is good if it really does help and if the therapy works.


It is not fun being the parent of a child who struggles to learn. It is heart-wrenching and painful.

Some say LDs are over-diagnosed. Who would wish a learning struggle on their child? What parent wants to invent or create a problem? I don't think one can be invented by a parent anyway. I can't pretend my kid can't spell or can't recall facts. If they learn, they learn, and there is no un-learning things.

The older that my younger son gets the more I see a difference in my two kids. I know every kid is different. However, the younger child has never struggled or experienced the things that my older son has. The two are like night and day. Something just is not right with my older son and it really upsets me to know it's not all resolved yet.

I was getting to a point where I was ready to throw up my hands and give up on helping my son fulfill his dream to become an engineer. Maybe some kids with certain medical conditions or learning disabilities or those who may just be "average" just have to settle to do some other kind of work with their life than what they dreamed of. If you thought the only thing necessary to fulfill goal X was hard work and the hard work is not resulting in success then maybe the dream should be given up on.

Academic pursuits should not be different than a physcial path: our society can somehow accept more easily that not all kids have the physical talent to have a career playing a sport professionally. A healthy kid with average physical abilities will never qualify to be in the Olympics.

Why do we have a hard time saying a if kid can't cut the mustard academically in order to do well in school to get the required degrees for certain professions? Jobs have requirements for skills. A cashier who can't handle money accurately and blames it on their dyslexia shouldn't get a pass. (That story was left on my blog the other day. The dyslexic cashier who couldn't give out right change to customers thinks it is unreasonable to expect it.) I want the engineers designing bridges to be competent in advanced math, don't you? Why can't I expect a cashier to be competent at handling my money and giving me accurate change?

Heading into this semester I blamed certain lack of progress on the fact that certain homeschool co-op classes didn't deliver what was promised, or that we never put enough time in at home to finish Algebra I last year. To make up, this semester we hit the books hard. I was disappointed and frustrated seeing the same patterns of learning struggles with my older son. He knows the information one day, but the next day it is gone from his head, and also the fact that he cannot sustain studying and learning beyond a certain number of minutes a day. Anything done beyond that point is futile as "nothing sticks".

The EEG clearly showed that my son's brain was trying too hard on all the activities and thus his brain was burning too much energy to accomplish things in a more efficient manner in order to save "brain power" for more tasks. Then he crashes and is spent, depleted. (The reports break all this out in terms of delta waves, theta, and so forth but I'll spare you those details.)

Doing this therapy has meant our regular homeschool schedule has been altered to make time for the appointment and the travel to and from the office.

I hope it's worth our time and money.

If this doesn't work and old fashioned hard work doesn't pan out my son will have to explore options other than engineering for his career path.

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Update: I drafted this post a couple of weeks ago and was holding off on publishing it. Yesterday after the 10th neurofeedback session I had a long talk with the psychologist about academic goals and reasonable expectations especially while my son's brain is taxed by this therapy. I think I will share that information in a separate blog post as it may be useful for some people to hear.

Also we have scheduled a brain map to be performed later this month. That more detailed test will help them design a more customized therapy plan for my son. This should be interesting as it will show exactly what is happening in the different brain centers.

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Neurofeedback therapy is also being used as a way to help kids with ADD and ADHD by changing the way their brain uses its energy, instead of using drugs to sharpen focus chemically. I'm mentioning this in case you are interested in ADD/ADHD.

It is also being used post brain injury such as post concussion and post stroke. Children's minds are more malleable than adult's older brains so they are supposed to respond to these therapies faster and easier (better).

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I encourage you to research neurofeedback therapy if you are curious about it.

If you want to find a local provider I would encourage you to find a board certified health care professional by visiting bcia.org.

Disclosure: I have nothing to disclose.

5 comments:

Xa Lynn said...

I'm sorry to hear you and your son are struggling so with this.
I had a thought as I was reading it, though. If he literally cannot finish the math in 3.5 years, could he do it in 4.5? Could he take that extra year, live at home and go to a local community college to pick up some of the freshman year required courses like English and Western Civ and a foreign language, while completing his math? Then he could apply for entry to an engineering program as a transfer student to the schools he really wants to attend. He will have acquired some knowledge of what is required in college level courses academically, have earned some credit hours so the year isn't wasted, and still finished his math.

Xa Lynn

Anonymous said...

I have no idea whether or not this will help you since I have never dealt with learning disabilities in my homeschool, but have you ever looked into the Life of Fred math curriculum? This program turned one of my C students into an A+ student in math in short time. It focuses on teaching children to think through problems rather than to memorize lots of facts and formulas. I know a number of families that use this curriculum and all of their children love it. Algebra I can be done in as little as 2 months with it, so your son could still finish all of his math if he is able. Anyway, it might be worth looking into if you think it might help.

ChristineMM said...

Thank you Anonymous. I own that curriculum but we have not used it yet. We switched to Thinkwell and he loves it. I was hoping to blog that full story but have not had time.

KC said...

I'll be interested in what you think of neuro feedback. I've been looking into it for my son. I'm still on the fence (mostly due to low funds). Also, my husband is a mechanical engineer and his high school didn't offer calculus, so his first exposure to it was in college. (Granted, he graduated in 1990, so I know things have changed since then.) Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is you can still be a successful engineering student without taking calculus in high school (though my hubby knows that some exposure to it would have made his freshman year easier). But then again, I really have no idea what college admissions are like now.... I know you've mentioned MIT, but a good state school with a good engineering program would definitely be a good alternative and still lead to a productive, happy career.

AGG said...

Hi, I just was searching the web for neurofeedback and lyme disease and saw your post. I had lyme several years ago and still stuffer with cognitive dysfunction. I am currently thinking about doing the neurofeedback stuff, has it been succesful with your son?
You can contact me at jrose135@gmail.com, thanks so much, and all the best.
Adam