Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Neurofeedback Therapy For Developmental Disorders

I am often in awe of how the right doors open for Emma as we move forward along this journey.

It starts with a thought, an idea, a chance encounter, a book I stumble across, a website....some ideas fade away but it's the ones we can't get out of our head that we need to pay attention to. Some people call that intuition but I know it's the voice of God directing to me towards the things that are going to help recover Emma. I know I'm not alone.

So why Neurofeedback?

After 6 months of doing the NACD neurodevelopmental program we began seeing results. We were no longer treating the symptoms of her disability but targeting the cause: Her brain. We had begun the process of re-wiring Emma's brain to function like a normal brain. 

But was there something more we could do to accelerate her progress?

I waited.

And then... someone mentions to me how neurofeedback (neurotherapy) basically cured their child's epilepsy. 

And then....over the Christmas holidays I'm reading a book on neuroplasticity and an entire chapter happens to be dedicated to the effectiveness of neurofeedback for children with developmental disorders.

The more I read - the more excited I became. 

And then I see a sign while I'm driving advertising a psychologist who practices neurofeedback.  I call. The receptionist was so incredibly kind and encouraging that I felt I may have been talking to an angel. I couldn't believe how 'right' this felt.

Our First Meeting

The psychologist acknowledged Emma was a severe case and offered a less common form of neurofeedback called the LENS (low energy neurofeedback system) which treats central and peripheral nervous system functioning. Thankfully, this is the less expensive kind.  

I was told there were no guarantees but the expected results would be an 'acceleration in her progress' which was the exact 'thing' I had been praying about. The psych. also said that Emma was more likely to respond to the neurotherapy because of all the other 'work' that has gone into healing her brain e.g the diet, supplements and neurodevelopmental program. What encouragement!

Our First Session

Following her first treatment we saw a huge increase in her energy levels. 

Emma has always been a low-energy kid and sleeps..A LOT.  She is often pale and lethargic. That night she didn't crash as soon as her head hit the pillow and started resisting bedtime. After that she stopped falling asleep in the car on short trips (this is huge because it has always been annoying!). Her meltdowns became more intense so we thought perhaps the stimulation had been too much.  But we realised the meltdowns were actually a response to an increased awareness of what was happening around her.  She was becoming frustrated at appropriate things like not being understood,  being left out, not being allowed something she wanted...all pretty normal for her developmental stage.

Session 2-3

Emma's increase in energy levels continued and her speech became clearer! She seemed so much more 'switched on' and her engagement during program improved. This isn't surprising as the evidence base for neurofeedback is in its use with focus and attention for those with ADHD.

And it continues.............

We have had 7 sessions for far (out of 20) and it has been incredibly effective. Our family is constantly marvelling at something 'new' Emma has done. She is getting really good at following simple requests like "Shut the door" (something she couldn't do before starting NACD) and she is using language more spontaneously e.g today looks at a chicken and said "chicken" without being told to say "chicken".

I should now add that this acceleration in development has meant Emma is like a tornado. Her new favourite thing is drawing on our floorboards, walls, windows, anywhere really...usually in permanent marker. This new 'intensity' is so similar to what my boys were like as toddlers that the 'craziness' is actually comforting - it feels normal.

Neurotherapy has been the PERFECT compliment to our neurodevelopmental program and I strongly believe that a neuroplastic approach to early intervention is the key to recovery for kids with developmental disorders. 

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