Learning Disabilities (LD)
Many techniques help teach someone with learning disabilities the skills they need to compensate or work around their problems.
Neurofeedback is different. It is used to train the area of the brain involved in learning or performing certain skills, such as reading, math, or auditory and visual processing.
It is much easier to enhance learning skills when the brain works better. That’s what neurofeedback training is about. There are other training and regulation techniques that we also use at the Center for Brain Training to enhance the brain’s capacity to learn.
Recent research shows that learning involves coordination between multiple areas of the brain. These different areas of the brain communicate to each other at incredibly fast speeds. When the timing between them is is off – even slightly, learning can be impaired.
Neurofeedback has been used to train increased coordination and communication between different areas of the brain. This improvement in timing is critical to learning. Think about how hard it is to play tennis, golf, or baseball if your timing is off. It’s much harder to learn when the timing in the brain is off. Brain training helps target and train those issues directly.
Some solid research by professionals show the newest “connectivity training” seems to provide more consistent improvements in learning issues such as dyslexia, reading, math deficits, and visual and auditory processing problems.
Aaron’s mother Alicia was getting very worried about her 13-year-old son. He had twice been diagnosed with processing problems. Accommodations at school helped, but academic success was becoming harder for him as his schoolwork became more and more complex.
The kids at school sometimes bullied him and called him dumb and stupid when he would do things like raise his hand to answer a question and then not be able to get the words out. He had test anxiety, which made succeeding in school even more difficult.
Home life was equally challenging. Every day after school Alicia would have to pressure Aaron to get his homework done. Day after day she sat patiently with him, painstakingly going over his assignments. Vocabulary was a nightmare. Aaron could easily read, but the definitions and meanings escaped him. Aaron didn’t comprehend a word he read. Alicia worked all day long, then came home to this tense environment. She was, quite frankly, exhausted and feeling helpless. “This situation turned my life upside down,” she said. “It was almost like home schooling him after being in school all day.”
How could such a bright child have so much trouble learning simple definitions, she wondered? Why was he spending every free moment, nights and weekends, doing homework? As helpful as the teachers – and the accommodations – were, Alicia feared for Aaron’s future. Would he have to work this hard for the rest of his academic career to succeed in school? Would she?
Aaron made an effort to comply with his grueling homework routine, but not always. There were days when he was so frustrated and discouraged that he pushed back, and the two argued. Aaron’s and Alicia’s stress levels frequently climbed to the top of the charts.
Then one day Alicia attended an out-of-town seminar on how to keep your brain healthy at any age. She mentioned Aaron’s challenges to the instructor. He told her that she “had a pioneer in the field of brain training right in her own backyard in Jupiter – Mike Cohen with Center for Brain.”
At Center for Brain, Mike suggested a connectivity map, which indicated the parts of Aaron’s brain that were not communicating well and were causing processing problems. They agreed to try 15 neurofeedback sessions, which would help connect areas of the brain and ultimately improve Aaron’s processing. It only took two sessions, however, before Alicia began to see results.
After the second session, Aaron came home and started doing his homework by himself and without being told.
After several more sessions, Aaron was consistently calmer doing his homework and finished substantially faster. He began easily remembering the definitions of his vocabulary words, and his grades improved. He made a 96 on a science test, when he previously had not been able to score higher than the low 80’s. He reported having considerably less test anxiety, which manifested itself in the best grades he had ever made – including an A in English!
The homework pushback stopped, and Alicia had time to do some things for herself in the evenings for the first time in years.
“I cannot deny the impact on Aaron of the neurofeedback training,” Alicia said. “Getting neurofeedback training for my son was a great investment in him. I was worried he would eventually stop trying and just give up. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking him to Center for Brain. We achieved our ultimate goal, which was seeing him become more independent, more confident and academically-successful. It was life-changing for him and for me.”