Asperger Syndrome and Neurofeedback

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

April is Autism Awareness Month! Autism affects about 1 in 68 children, yet autism can be exceptionally difficult to classify as each case is very unique to the patient. Asperger syndrome, once known as a specific subtype of autism, is now classified as part of the single autism diagnosis by the recently published 2013 DSM-5 diagnostic manual.

Patients with Asperger syndrome, considered to be a higher functioning form of autism, often have deficits in motor development, social interactions, repetitive behavior, and often display a restricted range of interests. Difficulties in language or cognitive development are usually not present in Asperger cases, as compared to autism. More behaviors associated with Asperger syndrome include:

– Repetitive speech

– Obsession with a specific topic

– Limited/inappropriate social interaction

– Challenges reading nonverbal communication cues such as gestures or facial expression

– Challenges understanding emotional issues

– Challenges understanding non-literal phrasing

– Challenges understanding intent in conversation

– Uncommon or awkward movements/mannerisms

– More often discussing oneself than others

– One-sided conversations

 

It is important to note that all individuals with Asperger syndrome may display all the above behaviors, which adds to the challenge of diagnosis.

For those struggling with Asperger syndrome, social interactions can be challenging, confusing, and overwhelming to the patient. With challenges seeing the perspective of others, they may not realize what is appropriate in social context. Difficulty controlling emotional reaction is also commonly seen with Asperger patients, as they may laugh at inappropriate moments or cry very easily. Additionally, since development delay can be present in motor skills as well, children have an even tougher time socializing, as they do not have the ability to play the same way other young children play.

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Asperger syndrome is often undiagnosed until the child or adult experienced extreme difficulties in school or work. When diagnosed in adulthood, many of these patients are seeking treatment for anxiety or depression. Children are often misdiagnosed as ADHD or as having other behavioral issues. Diagnosing can be tricky, because children with Asperger’s often have notably high language development, but do not interact well with other kids due to the mental/social barrier. Inability to socialize is the key factor in diagnosing children with Asperger syndrome.

Neurofeedback can be effective in reducing or eliminating unwanted symptoms that may be disruptive in daily life. An EEG brain map is performed first to identify where the brain is having difficulties, and protocol is developed to naturally target these areas of the brain to improve overall function of the individual. Using Neurofeedback patients with Autism or Asperger’s can experience significant improvements in overall function, allowing them to live a happier and more effective life. To learn more about what neurofeedback can do for you and your family, please schedule a free in-person consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross. As mentioned, every individual case is different, so it is very important to develop an individual wellness plan with Dr. Ross to assess and treat all of your individual needs. Click here to schedule or call our office at 781-444-9115.

 

 

Symptoms of Dyslexia and Neurofeedback

Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Diagnosing a child with a learning disability can be difficult considering all children learn at their own pace. However, all parents should be keeping a close eye on their children’s studies and grades to examine if they are exhibiting symptoms indicative of a learning disability. In fact, fifteen to twenty percent of the population has a reading disability. Dyslexia is a learning disability affecting both oral and written language abilities, affecting both males and females equally. Children inherit genetic links, so if you have a learning disability, it is not unlikely your child may as well.

Children who struggle with dyslexia are often diagnosed by the symptoms they have displayed both at home and/or in the classroom. Though symptoms displayed from young ages persist throughout life, dyslexia is symptomatic in different ways at different ages throughout the child’s life.

Signs of Dyslexia

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Preschool – Difficulties with:

  • Learning the ability to talk
  • Adding vocabulary
  • Pronunciation
  • Recalling the right words
  • Learning the alphabet
  • Spelling
  • Identifying colors, shapes, days of the week by name
  • Following directions with steps
  • Telling stories correctly
  • Separating sounds in words

Kindergarten-Fifth Grade – Difficulties with:

  • Consistent reading and spelling mistakes
  • Letter reversals, such as confusing d for b
  • Word reversals, such as top for pot
  • Inversions, such as u and n
  • Transpositions, such as felt and left
  • Substitutions, such as house and home
  • Reading isolated single words
  • Connecting letters to sounds
  • Learning to tell time
  • Planning

    Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Confusing small words like at/to or does/goes
  • Remembering facts
  • Learning new skills
  • Relying too much on memorization without comprehension
  • Impulsivity

Middle School – Difficulties with:

  • Finishing homework that requires reading in a timely manner
  • Reading in front of class
  • Stammering
  • Replacing similar sounding words despite different meanings, such as distinct and extinct
  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Expressing ideas in an organized fashion

High School – Difficulties with:

  • Not understanding puns or hidden meanings
  • Not understanding punch lines to jokes
  • Arguing a point, not being able to support an argument
  • Getting to the point of a story or argument
  • Trouble reading charts and graphs
  • Confusing left and right

 

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If children who have dyslexia are not treated within the first few years of development (up until Kindergarten or first grade), they will see significantly more problems in learning to read grade level appropriate material throughout their life. In fact, 74% of children who read poorly in the third grade remain poor readers until ninth grade.

Neurofeedback trains the brain to work efficiently, improving executive functions and other necessary skills needed to read and comprehend material. If you suspect your child may have a reading disability such as dyslexia, call the office to schedule a free consultation with director Dr. Jolene Ross (781-444-9115). The sooner a person is able to overcome a learning disability, the more success a person will see throughout their lives!

8 Ways Neurofeedback Improves School Performance

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Neurofeedback works for students of all ages ranging children and young adults in grade school to college level students. Younger ages benefit from neurofeedback because the sessions strengthen and enhance brain development. For older students, neurofeedback keeps the brain strong and healthy and prevents the decline of memory and other executive functions vital to academic success. Read the eight ways neurofeedback improves school performance by boosting brain function!

Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 1. Attention – Being a good student heavily relies upon being able to sit and listen during lectures and classes. Neurofeedback improves the brain’s ability to maintain attention for longer periods of time which directly impacts how much information is absorbed in any given class session. This benefit of neurofeedback is particularly important for students who struggle with ADD or ADHD, as it minimizes the possibility of distraction and having the brain “zone out”.

 2. Focus – Students often face heavy workloads and long study hours during the semester. Neurofeedback directly improves a person’s ability to focus, making it easier to complete work at a faster rate with better completion. Additionally, more information will be absorbed if a person is focusing better during the hours that they study. This will positively impact test taking because the improved study ability will ensure the students are adequately prepared for important exams.

3. Memory Studying for certain subjects often requires a substantial amount of memorization for exams. Neurofeedback works to enhance the brain’s ability to absorb and hold information for easier recall in times of need.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Test Performance – If a student struggles with test taking in general, neurofeedback strengthens the student’s ability to focus while actually taking the tests, promoting better test outcomes. Test results are sure to reflect a person’s strengthened ability to memorize as well.

 5. Sleep Quality– The success of students is heavily determined by the amount and quality of sleep a person gets. The brain does not function at highest capacity if the brain is tired. Neurofeedback specifically improves a person’s ability to fall asleep, to stay asleep, and enhances overall sleep quality.

6. Anxiety Reduction – Neurofeedback can be specifically used to lower a person’s anxiety. When it comes to school performance, anxiety can be crippling, especially in times of high stress such as during final examinations. Training the brain to function calmly and effectively will reduce anxiety levels, setting a student up for success.

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7. Mood Improvement – The stresses of life outside of school do not disappear during the semester. If a person struggles with mood issues, such as depression, this will likely have a negative impact on school performance. When the brain is functioning more calmly and working at it’s highest aptitude, depression symptoms often decline and/or disappear.

8. Learning Disability Improvement – If your child or you struggle with a learning disability, school can be much more difficult with which to keep up. Certain tasks may take longer and may not register as easily. Neurofeedback works to reduce the symptoms of learning disabilities to ensure for better success. Each person has different, unique needs, which is why neurofeedback sessions begin with taking a quantitative EEQ brain map to pinpoint where in the brain these issues are initiating. The protocol for the neurofeedback sessions is then determined based on these individual needs.

 

To schedule a free consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross, click here.

Why December is Great for Neurofeedback Booster Sessions

Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Neurofeedback helps to retrain the brain to function at it’s optimal ability, creating safe and long-lasting results. However, patients can return to Advanced Neurotherapy for occasional booster sessions to ensure the brain continues to stay on the right track. December is an excellent time to come in for a booster session for several reasons!

  1. Finals – If you are a student, December brings the hardest exams of the semester. In addition to the actual tests, students spend long hours compiling information and studying to prepare. A booster session keeps the brain functioning at it’s best to ensure success during difficult academic periods. The better the brain functions, the better performance a person will give on their exams.
  2. Depression and Anxiety – For many people, the holidays provoke many emotional symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although the holidays are meant to be a time of happiness and celebration, often people feel increased symptoms of emotional distress. Booster sessions provide emotional assistance to the brain as neurofeedback teaches the brain how to cope.
  3. Stress – The holidays bring about a substantial amount of stress. Holiday parties, financial struggles, and family-related issues can impact a person heavily during this time of year. Neurofeedback helps the brain handle the stress with greater ease. A booster session provides excellent stress management.
  4. Grief – For those who have lost loved ones over the years, the holidays can bring feelings of immense sadness and grief. To help the brain cope with the grief and try to improve emotional stability, boosters sessions are very effective.

To schedule a booster sessions, please call our office at 781-444-9115!

Booster sessions are effective year round! Read our list of 10 Reasons Why Neurofeedback Booster Sessions are Beneficial to Clients.

 

Amblyopia – Eye Turn and Neurofeedback

by Dr. Jolene Ross

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Jessica’s* eye turns way out to the side”, her mother told me.  “She is supposed to have surgery for it in a couple of months.” Jessica’s mother looked very nervous, but believed that surgery was the only possible solution for this problem.

“Give me a little time.” I replied. Her mother looked at me with a look of confusion and surprise.

“Well, when we do our QEEG’s (electronic EEG’s), we typically see the signature for this.  The brain runs the eyes and controls the eye muscles. So, with neurofeedback, we have been able to bring a wandering eye in and properly under control.”

This was particularly important for Jessica, because with impaired vision, she did not have a learning channel and was really struggling in school. With eye turn, the eyes do not work together, making reading much slower and much harder. Since vision often uses more of the brain’s resources than any other function, the brain must put a great deal of effort into vision during reading, much more when there is eye turn. That means much less of the resources will go into reading comprehension, which, in these cases, is typically low. With poor reading comprehension and greater effort required for reading, most children with eye turn avoid reading whenever possible and do not become recreational readers.

 

What is wandering eye?  What are treatment options?  Why would we want to use neurofeedback to treat this condition?

Also called Strabismus amblyopia, unequal alignment of the eyes

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Turn in – Esotropia, cross eyed

Turn out – Exotropia, wall eyed

Surgery for unequal alignment shortens the muscle to cosmetically straighten the eye, but this may not improve vision in the amblyopic eye. However, eyes often go back to being misaligned after surgery. There is a 30% to 80% success rate. Early intervention during the critical period when vision is developing further acuity can be beneficial, but only if the outcome is perfect. If not, the eyes will not work as a binocular team. Perfect means the eyes must be perfectly aligned and suppression (ignoring input from one eye) should no longer happen. If the surgery is not perfect the patient may continue to experience suppression, or the patient may see double.

Here at Advanced Neurotherapy, I have seen a number of children with eye turn. Eyes work together, which is known as binocular vision.  Binocular vision produces depth perception, and when depth perception improves clumsiness is reduced. Children stop bumping into furniture, tripping over things and bumping into other people. Given that we see the signatures on our QEEG’s, we can develop neurofeedback treatment protocol to address this problem.  In most cases, we can bring the eye in so that binocular vision is established, dramatically improving the function of the eyes in general, not just during reading.

 

Does the effect of this eye turn correction last

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had the occasion to meet one of my eye turn clients eleven years after neurofeedback. He was doing intensive neurofeedback therapy, which means he was having sessions daily.  It was summer and he was taking sailing lessons in the morning. He stopped going to sailing lessons for a week. His mother explained that he could not go sailing because he had gotten very dizzy while sailing. By the end of the week, the dizziness had resolved and his eye was very close to being normally aligned, an improvement of approximately 30 degrees. Eleven years later, when I met him again, he was about to transfer to a very competitive college. He was a very good student, highly motivated, and quite a reader.

As for Jessica, she was not an auditory learner and, with eye turn, she was not a visual learner either, making learning a very serious challenge. By the end of her neurofeedback treatment, her eye was aligned, surgery had been averted, and she had a visual learning channel, which meant her grades went up in school. With the addition of improvements in her auditory processing capacity resulting from neurofeedback, she was much more able to learn through listening as well. We are very proud of how well Jessica has used her enhanced learning capacity.

 

*Names have been changed to protect patient privacy