According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11% of children 4 to 17 years of age have an ADHD diagnosis (2011). However, the actual number of patients referred for an ADHD diagnosis is about 33 percent. In addition, not all ADD/ADHD symptoms are categorized as dysfunctional, disabling or are they genetically neurological.
What is more, oftentimes a child diagnosed with ADHD is simply overloaded with information in pictures and sound too quickly for their brain to process. Consequently, a child will develop an excessive accumulation of energy in the brain. This energy build-up will then change the chemical balance that is needed for normal brain function.
What Causes an Imbalance of Energy in the Brain?
There are numerous elements that can cause an imbalance of energy in the brain. For one, insufficient dopamine can cause the brain to become overloaded with images and pictures that are difficult to interpret. Once this happens, normal chemical balance is disrupted and the build-up of energy occurs. This imbalance can create moods swings, short term memory loss and confusion. What is more, if the imbalance continues the mind will eventually shutdown.
Oftentimes a potential student with ADHD will get headaches. This is because images and sound input is much faster than a child can process. These images and sounds come so fast that they do not change from actual images into the abstract language for the left brain to process. Since the brain cannot process the accumulation of energy it gets overstimulated. At this point, the brain will shut down to protect itself from electrical charges that can cause seizures.
As a result, the brain cannot process new images or sounds so the short memory disregards them. A student with ADHD is then unable to analyze any questions asked and does not have the capacity or needed concentration to learn.
What Can Cause the Brain to Overload?
There are many things that can cause the right brain to overload with information, especially in today’s society. For instance, action packed movies or television programs, the stimulating imagery of electronic games, loud sounds on videos and even flashing lights. This overload forms a continuous state of discarding fragmentary images, ideas, sounds and impressions and as they enter the brain. If the student with ADHD experiences this process often, they will progressively retrain the brain to think that it is the normal way to learn.
How to Retrain the Brain
The principal remedy for ADHD is to correctly stimulate the part of the brain that is not processing. This is oftentimes done with medication like Ritalin, Concerta or Adderal. However, there are other ways besides or in addition to medication that can be quite effective. One of the most ground-breaking therapies is to retrain the brain. In truth, scientists have found that we can essentially retrain the brain and improve its performance regardless if you have ADHD, stroke-induced brain damage, or other brain inhibiting factors.
You can retrain the brain and turn up the energy needed for optimum attention and concentration in several ways. In fact, there are brain training programs, such as our ACTIVATE™ program, that are designed to correct old habits of thinking that can cause low attention spans, distractibility, and lack of focus.
Many student with ADHD with speech or language difficulty generally have inefficient auditory processing or listening skills. In fact, countless researchers believe that problems with auditory processing may be contributed to the way children perceive or hear sound. Since brain activity is sonar driven for stimulation, certain sound therapy programs can be quite beneficial. In fact, sound therapy is said to heighten the frontal lobe activity consistently. Moreover, sound therapy retrains the brain to listen more efficiently.
Many researchers believe that extended sound therapy can be very useful in retraining the brain. It is believed that continual sound therapy can boost focus and attention, lower hyperactivity and support social skills.
In the early 1990s, Interactive Metronome (IM) was developed to help children with learning and developmental disorders such as ADHD. It is used to improve sequencing and planning. For the student with ADHD, IM is said to increase focus and the ability to filter out internal and external distractions.
IM challenges the student with ADHD to coordinate a range of hand and foot exercises to exact computer generated sounds. The student tries to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions by clapping the hands or tapping the feet. According to the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, IM therapy has positive results in helping some children by increasing their attention span and improving reading and language skills.
One of the newest technologies in training the brain is by utilizing the technology and core base of neuroscience. Although the use of neuroscience for ADHD has not been around long enough to determine if there are lasting benefits, various affirmations from children and adults have found neuroscience brain retraining quite helpful.
Neurotherapy or neurofeedback (NFB) is biofeedback therapy that uses real-time displays of brain activity mostly with the use of electroencephalography. The therapy is intended to teach brain functions to self-regulate. Usually sensors are placed on the scalp to measure brain activity. The measurements are then displayed using video or sound. If the tasks require focus or concentration, beta waves appear. However, student with ADHD have enormous theta wave patterns, which show a state of daydream. With neurofeedback, the intention is to retrain the brain until the student with ADHD can emit beta waves. When beta waves start producing, the student with ADHD has better focus and attention spans.
Since brain wave activity can be mapped, the practitioner is able to see the abnormal patterns. Thus, through a computer game the student with ADHD can retrain the brain. During activity, if there are too many theta waves the game stops working. But when the student with ADHD refocuses, the game resumes. Studies show that it is the continual sessions that can retrain the brain.
Neurofeedback is said to have a lasting effect on the ADHD student for months and sometimes years after the last session. Even after a year of therapy, patents tend to either lower their medication dose by 50% or stop taking them entirely.
Working Memory Training for ADHD
Working memory (WM) is the area of the brain that remembers information long enough to complete a task. It is the region of the brain that holds and processes new and already stored information. The working memory is an important process for comprehension, learning, reasoning and memory updating.
It is said that approximately 81% of children with ADHD have deficits in their working memory and many educators believe that WM training might be the key to resolving ADHD issues. A 2005 study conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm showed that five weeks of WM therapy reduced symptoms of low attention spans and hyperactivity in ADD and ADHD children. At six-month and one-year follow-ups, about 80 percent of subjects retained their working memory advances or improved on them. There are also other scientific studies with similar results.
Working memory therapy usually consists of exercises in a video game format, such as our ACTIVATE™ program, with colorful graphics and sound. The WM program increasingly gets harder as the student progresses. With students with ADHD, their progress is generally assessed once a week for troubleshooting and then given positive feedback. As well, WM training is said to be successful with all ages and both sexes.
The ACTIVATE™ Solution
ACTIVATE™ Education, our ACTIVATE™ program designed specifically for the school setting, helps improve attention, working memory, self-regulation and cognitive flexibility. It helps children with ADHD in the classroom and increases student achievement inside and outside of the classroom. Further, while C8Sciences realizes academic success is dependent on student cognition, the ACTIVATE™ system measures and improves the core cognitive capabilities that have been established as the foundation for academic achievement.
ACTIVATE™ Education is a powerful tool for helping not only students with ADHD retrain the brain, but special education students suffering from cognitive defects as well. ADHD teaching strategies have never been so dynamic.