Getting my A.D.D brain a tune up

Hello fellow ADHD/ADDers!

My journey with Neurofeedback therapy begins this week. I will first have a battery of oral tests to measure my cognitive ability. Then the doctors will start the brain mapping, or using the EEG.
Since graduating college in 2006, I have had had six different jobs and two careers as a teacher and a youth director. I believe most of my positions were terminated because I couldn’t finish my work on time. As a student, I was given extra time to finish my work. Sadly, that is not acceptable in the work place.
I could disclose my disability but even Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau, author of ADD in the Work Place advises that those with A.D.D/ADHD should seek accommodation only as a last result because “A.D.D. is an invisible disability that is poorly understood and often interpreted negatively by employers. If you are having difficulty functioning on the job and then decide to disclose you’re A.D.D, you run the risk of being seen in an even more negative light (Nadeau, pg. 204).”(1)
So what are we ADD/ADHDers supposed to do? There is always medication. Stimulants can be very successful in helping people with ADD/ADHD focus. I myself was on Ritalin as a child and found it very helpful. As an adult, concentration is no longer a problem. Yet the problem I still have is my brain processes things slower and therefore I need more time to get tasks done. This is due to the subtype of ADD I have which is called Sluggish Cognitive Temperament. Think of my brain as an older computer. The more data you store on your old computer, the slower it runs. On the other hand, a newer computer (or the average person) is able to store more data without being overloaded, and thereby is able to work faster.
Another example is the Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise was so much slower than the hare. He had to work harder than the hare to cross the finish line. People with A.D.D./A.D.H.D are the tortoise. The rest of society is the hare.
Stimulants do not work for this subtype. There haven’t been many studies to what medication or treatments would help those with Sluggish Cognitive Temperament.
Recently, my sister found some information on a process called Neurofeedback Therapy. This therapy is used to treat brain disorders such as Autism, Bipolar, ADD/ADHD and even Alzheimer’s. “The brain emits different types of waves, depending on whether we are in a focused state or day-dreaming,” explains Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D., chief scientist at the EEG Institute in Woodland Hills, California. “The goal of neurofeedback is to teach the patient to produce the brain-wave patterns associated with focus. The result: Some symptoms of ADHD — impulsivity, distractibility, and acting out — diminish.”
Pamela Michaels, free-lance writer and editor, explained in her article, Special Report: Beyond Meds, How the treatment is structured: “After a practitioner takes a detailed history of the patient, he maps the patient’s brain. The patient dons a cap lined with electrodes and sits with his eyes closed for several minutes. He is then asked to perform a complex cognitive task, such as reading aloud. The results are shown as a color-coded map on a computer screen, indicating areas of the brain where there is too much or too little brain-wave activity — the sources, theoretically, of the patient’s ADHD symptoms. This digital map enables a person’s brain activity to be compared with other brain-wave patterns stored in databases — and can help fine-tune a treatment plan by delineating sites for the electrodes.
“During treatment, the child wears the same headgear while sitting in front of a video screen. His goal: to move the characters in a computer or video game (goals vary, depending on the protocol the practitioner uses) by producing short bursts of sustained brain-wave activity in those areas of the brain thought to be under-aroused. The software generating the game monitors and records brain activity. Loss of focus will cause the game to stop. It plays only when the child exercises that portion of the brain that is deficient in focus.”
Although this type of therapy is expensive, most insurance companies cover the cost. Neurofeedback has been around since 1992. How successful is this treatment? In November 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics approved biofeedback and neurofeedback as a Level 1 or “best support” treatment option for children suffering from ADHD.
Although this type of treatment has been around for twenty years, Sadly not many of my doctors or therapists have heard of Neurofeedback Therapy. I do believe that most doctors either don’t believe that Neurofeedback therapy is successful or they simply don’t know about it.
What do I hope to get out of this alternative therapy? Well I would like to be able to process information and directions faster so I can accomplish tasks on time. Every few weeks I will blog about my experience and any changes I notice. Stay tune to see how well my ‘tune up’ goes.
-Mary R. Shine

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