What is Neurofeedback?!?!?

 

Autism Spectrum Parents in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton

The other day, in Spectrum Parents, I asked:

I believe ADHD is on the Spectrum.
What do you guys think?

About 35 comments later, we went from discussing ADHD being on the spectrum to the ins and outs of Neurofeedback and how it can help kids with Autism.  (I desperately wanted to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with the world, but I knew I needed permission. Drum roll… answer please….yes with a huge thumbs up!!  I so love Spectrum Parents!!!)

Jumping right in…..

Michelle’s story hit home for me:

Long before I had ever heard of Aspergers my son had sensory integration disorder, ADHD, some OCD tendencies and anger issues. When we started neurofeedback we had a QEEG brain map done to show the areas of his brain that were out of sync so to speak. I’m so glad I did that. Not yet knowing he had ASD the map showed his ADHD to be different from typical ADHD (the treatment usually used would not have been as affective because it was almost “backwards”) His ADHD is more likely a symptom of Aspergers and that if he didn’t have Aspergers, he wouldn’t have ADHD.

WOW! That’s all it took.   I was all in.  So, the next logical question, for me, was, “What does this run???”  Well, it depends on who you go with, but anywhere from $300-$600 for the test.

Nikki Schwartz does Neurofeedback for a living and she was able chime in:

Both ADHD and Spectrum Disorders involve difficulty with executive functioning in the Prefrontal Cortex. That means planning, organizing, keeping track of time, meeting deadlines, setting and achieving goals, etc. are usually difficult for both. So, ASD often will include some or all the symptoms for ADHD, but ADHD does not necessarily indicate ASD. I like how Michelle Moyers put it, that ADHD is a symptom of Asperger’s, but without it he wouldn’t have ADHD.

On the other side, there is overlap so a minor case of Asperger’s might pass for ADHD all by itself. In that way, you could picture it being on the Spectrum.

This makes so much sense for me.  I have heard it before, but Nikki is really good at explaining it!

What exactly is Neurofeedback Nikki???

It is measuring the brain’s EEG (read brain waves), that information is used by the computer to either run a video game or change and alter the screen and volume of a movie.

The movie or video game act as a mirror to the brain about what it’s doing. The brain is quickly intrigued by the fact that it’s impacting the screen’s activity. It’s a passive process, which is great for kids with autism or very young children with epilepsy. They don’t need to “try” to make it work.

I use this example a lot. If someone you are talking to begins to whisper, you will naturally listen more carefully, lean your body and head in to hear better, etc. You don’t have to “think” about it. Kids are actually quicker to pick up on neurofeedback than adults because they don’t “try”, they just relax.

So, the brain is swept up in controlling the speed of the spaceship, the volume of the music, etc. Then the computer will shift the game and feedback to something the brain is *not* doing.

For a moment the brain is caught up, but not for long. It says, “Hey, that’s not what I’m doing. That’s not me!” So, essentially, this computer pushes on the brain and then the brain objects and pushes back. This push and push back is the exercise for the brain that we are looking for. It trains the brain to do something different. The product is better self-regulation. Once the brain learns how, it will do it on it’s own.

I loved how Michelle’s doctor explained it:

“it doesn’t make them smarter…it just helps even out the parts of his brain that were getting in the way from his reaching his true potential.”

When should you start Nikki?

For ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) I would start as early as 2 1/2 or 3 or as soon as I found out they were on the Spectrum. The earlier we can calm the brain, the earlier it can start to catch up developmentally. It won’t make them not autistic, but it can make things so much easier.

Am I ready to take the plunge??  I think so.  Next step… get my husband on board!!!

Spectrum Parents is a local group (Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News) of parents with kids on the Autism Spectrum.  When I started the group, the goal was to get help and share resources within the Hampton Roads Community.  That is still the goal.

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