ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it’s not yet understood why.

Kids with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what’s expected of them but have trouble following through because they can’t sit still, pay attention, or focus on details. Did you know it is also one of the most mis-diagnosed disorders in children and adolescents as well? The accuracy rate of diagnosis using an ADHD checklist alone is 50%. Most parents do not know that and have been led to believe that an ADHD checklist is a valid test to determine the diagnosis.

The first step is accurate assessment and then the second step is comprehensive treatment which includes more than medication for long term success.

Neurofeedback and Working Memory Training are the two most common adjuncts to treatment beyond medication and behavioral therapy. The American Academy of Pediatrics has placed both Neurofeedback and Working Memory Training at the top of the evidenced based treatment chart of considerations indicating that there is enough research to support both for the treatment of ADHD.

In October 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics report on Evidence-based Child and Adolescent Pyschosocial Interventions concluded that for ADHD neuro-biofeedback was a “Level 1 Best Support’ intervention, the highest level of support. This supports that there were enough studies showing a positive and significant outcome with this treatment modality.

Neurofeedback has been used for many years to treat ADHD and learning disabilities in children and adolescents. Neurofeedback helps the brain exercise areas of the brain that are not functioning optimally in ADHD and learn new patterns, allowing the symptoms of ADHD to decrease. Also referenced as brain training in the literature, neurofeedback assists individuals to improve attention, focus and impulse control associated with ADHD.

According to the literature the most common profile for ADHD is increased slow wave activity in the front of the brain or the frontal lobes. Neurofeedback helps regulate and stabilize brain functioning and allows the brain to change and improve functioning. Research has shown that once the brain changes it tends to hold the new patterns. I tell most clients it is like learning to ride a bike or skate board, once we learn to do it, we usually don’t forget it and neither does your brain.

Studies with ADD/ADHD have likewise documented improvements that were equivalent to or superior to those produced by methylphenidate on 1 year follow-up. This is significant since the average stimulant medication follow-up study is only 3 weeks long within the medical and drug company literature. Studies have documented positive changes in concentration/attention, academic performance, mood stability, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, IQ/achievement scores and sleep. Along with behavioral changes, various studies have also shown post-treatment improvements in brain function on EEG measures, and a recent study (Levesque, Beauregard, & Mensour, 2006) established with fMRI that not only did neurofeedback improve behavior in ADHD children compared with a no-treatment control group, but that positive changes in both subcortical and cortical functioning also occurred. Studies show that close to 78-80% of ADD/ADHD patients show significant improvement. Placebo-controlled research with neurofeedback has also demonstrated the effectiveness of this treatment modality.

Emily began working with ADHD in the early 90’s at a special alternative school for children with ADHD and learning disabilities. From there she applied what she learned from the education setting to the clinical setting to provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment. This is one of her favorite topics to speak on around the country.

For more information about Neurofeedback and Working Memory Training go to Treatment on our website or call for a consultation with Emily Stevens, PhD., LMHC, LPC, NCC, BCN.