The clock on Marina’s* desk became the enemy. Every weekday as it got closer and closer to 1 p.m., she began to tense up. “Please don’t ring,” she prayed as she glanced at her phone and braced herself. Predictably, right around 1 p.m., her prayer went unanswered and the phone rang. It was the school calling – again – with a problem.
Frankie* had had self-control and social issues since he was young. These were horrible handicaps as he entered pre-school, and then elementary school, with all its pressures and stimulations. “By 1 p.m. every day Frankie had reached sensory overload and simply couldn’t cope,” Marina said.
He regularly hit other students, failed miserably at making friends and experienced frightening meltdowns that scared the teachers, the students and Frankie’s classmates’ parents. He also was bullied and socially ostracized.
Normal discipline didn’t work, and medications (she tried several) didn’t work. “They made him almost psychotic,” Marina said. “He would cry and tear up the room.”
One day Frankie, now eight, would be able to get control of himself, thanks to doing neurofeedback, but for years it seemed like an impossible dream.
As a toddler, Frankie had unusually drawn-out and intense tantrums. Both Frankie’s primary care doctor and a psychiatrist reassured Marina that everything was normal. She just needed to “be firmer.”
“I knew something wasn’t right about his behavior, but no one believed me,” Marina recalled.
Thus began Marina’s long and winding road to finding an answer, seeking help from a variety of specialists and school officials. Eventually a school psychologist diagnosed Frankie as being on the mild end of the autism spectrum. At least there was an explanation!
Frankie did well academically, but he had trouble processing language. For example, he was very literal and wasn’t able to get a joke.
With an outgoing personality, he easily met other kids. He would unabashedly approach strangers, but his awkward social skills inevitably resulted in his being rejected and bullied by them.
Outside of school, Frankie’s inability to control himself also caused problems. When Marina took him to Disneyworld one day and they encountered a long line, Frankie became very frustrated, acted out and complained until his turn on the ride.
With medical and behavioral options exhausted, Marina turned to brain training as a last resort to help her son. She found Center for Brain on the internet.
“I saw improvement from the first day at Center for Brain,” said Marina, who has been taking Frankie for training several times a month for 14 months.
“Before, if things didn’t go his way he would lash out,” she noted. “Now those reactions are fewer and further between.” For example, he’s able to endure lines like those at Disneyworld and keep himself under control.
He’s still impulsive, Marina said, but is more tolerant and focused. “He used to always blame someone else,” she explained. “Now he is able to see where he went wrong and to self-correct. He’ll say he’s going to do better, and he does, for the rest of the day. The school has reported improvements as well.”
Academically Frankie is on grade level, and his ability to comprehend what he’s reading and understand inferences has improved.
His social problems, however, haven’t disappeared. Making and keeping friends remains a continuing challenge, but he’s much calmer in social situations.
“The problem we’re having now is that he’s old enough to realize that he’s different,” Marina explained. “Dealing with frustration and rejection is an ongoing problem, but he is coping better when things don’t go his way.”
Frankie’s training at Center for Brain has involved targeting a particular behavior until it improves, then moving on to another area of the brain to address other behavior issues.
“I’m very glad we discovered neurofeedback,” said Marina. “It’s given me hope that Frankie may someday be able to have a normal, happy life.”
*Name changed to protect privacy.