Case Studies

9-year old girl with AD/HD and Alexia (severe reading disorder)

Grace is a 9 year old girl who is very friendly and talkative and especially like animals. She takes horse riding lessons, takes care of her pet rabbit, and is known to take in stray cats in the neighborhoods to find them homes.

She was diagnosed with AD/HD at the age of 5 because she had trouble sitting still and had problems with emotional control. She was oftentimes in arguments with her peers that would lead to frequent “meltdowns” in school.

Her parents started her on psychostimulants, but these lead to an increase in her aggression, and when the medications wore off in the evenings, she was weepy and emotionally uncontrollable. Her parents put her on a gluten free diet and carefully monitored her sleep and exercise habits. They also tried herbal remedies and omega 3 fatty acids, but all with little noticeable differences in her behaviors.

Before neurofeedback, Grace also had a severe learning disability, in that at age 9, she still had a hard time accurately identifying her letters, and could not read at all. She was tried on various phonics programs, including FastForward. None of these approaches were helpful. Her parents ultimately decided to home school her because she was having anxiety about going to school, and was developing very low self esteem because of teasing and social comparisons at school.

Her parents came to Neurofeedback after having tried everything they knew how to help their youngest daughter.

Grace's EEG showed evidence of what looked like focal seizure-like activity over her left fronto-temporal area called “Broca's Area” because of it's importance in language and higher order cognitive functioning. There were also other abnormalities noticeable in the QEEG. It was recommended that they seek out the consult of a neurologist to check on the brain abnormalities that were observed to rule out more serious brain pathology.

Grace began responding to the treatment almost immediately. Her mother reported that she was in a better mood often, which we learned was a reflection of her increased tolerance for frustration. During her home schooling exercises, her mother noticed that she was not “clock watching” during her exercises, meaning she stopped asking her mother how much longer she had before her lessons were done.

It wasn't until after she had 8 sessions of neurofeedback that she was able to get in to see the neurologist, who based on the QEEG report ordered an MRI and a sleep deprived EEG. They noted no abnormalities, including an absence of epileptiform activity on the EEG. The neurofeedback had eliminated this abnormality within 8 sessions!

After 8 sessions, Grace's mother reported that she was focusing on her work for up to 60 minutes at a time without complaining or getting sleepy, something that would occur within 5 minutes of her working before the beginning of neurofeedback.

She started asking her mother in the evenings to do extra computer reading work, something she had never done before.

By the 15 session, Grace decided that she wanted to have a “journal.” She got a small spiral notebook and started writing notes in it. The notes her love notes to her family members and pets, and she would secretly write these notes and leave them around the house for her family members to find. She started writing “to do” lists with as many as 10 items on them. Grace's mother brought in the list, and almost all of the items were phonetically accurate with many misspellings, but understandable. Just 15 sessions before, she couldn't even read, and had never spontaneously written anything before.

By the 20th session, Grace's mother reported that she could not remember the last time she had a “meltdown” and she was focusing on school work for long stretches of time. She had enrolled her in basketball again this year, and other parents noted to Grace's mother how much more in control she was. Her mother noticed that she seemed much more coordinated in carrying out the complex sequences of dribbling the basketball, and seemed less confused and more “with it” during the practices and games.

By the 30th session, it appeared as though Grace's AD/HD was no longer a problem. She was still an energetic, sociable girl who loved talking to others and telling stories, but her talking no longer had a driven quality to it, and she was able to read social cues much better and stop to take turns in conversation. She was also seemed able to understand what people were telling her better, so she was able to actually engage in relationship rather than talk at people with an endless barrage of words.

Grace's mother was given common AD/HD rating scales before the beginning of treatment, and after the 30th session. Her scores were no longer in the clinically significant range for inattention. Although her activity level remained higher than average, it was no longer in the clinical range.

Grace completed 40 sessions of neurofeedback. By the 40th session, she had improved her reading skills by 2 grade levels, from the pre-kindergarten level, to the 1st grade level. Her parents were confident that now that she was able to pay attention, and she was excited and motivated to read and learn, that she would be able to continue to learn given their enriching home environment.

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