The recent disruption to our daily routines has created an opportunity for parents of children with special learning needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place has been hard on all of us, there is no doubt about that. Yet, there is a silver lining to this cloud. We’ve all had our routines disrupted, and for most of us, we’ve had to stay at home far too much. One of the most significant routine disruptions we’ve seen is in the area of school closures, and the inadvertent turning of parents into unwilling and untrained instant “homeschool teachers.”
For all kids, the routine and structure of “regular school” is a major part of their day and education. The disruption of this part of their lives has been very hard on them and their parents. Kids who struggle with school even during “normal” times have, and still are having, very significantly harder times with their education. These kids may have ADHD (in any of its three subtypes — primarily inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive or the combined form), high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, anxiety or depression.
Some of the symptoms associated with these disorders are: difficulty working independently, giving up easily, not following instructions, poor classroom or workplace achievement, fidgety hands or feet, acting or talking impulsively, talking excessively, blurting out answers, frequently fighting and arguing, and poor organization. If you are seeing some of these in your homeschooling, where you are working on a one-to-one basis with your child, imagine what is going on in the classroom with 30 kids and one teacher?
When we are living our everyday lives, things can fly by at a pretty fast pace. Kind of like a video that’s playing, right? We all know that when we hit the pause button, we see things we hadn’t noticed so much before. Well, that’s what COVID-19 did for us. With your children’s education literally in your hands, you can suddenly see quite clearly, undeniably, the significance of the problem — the challenges they face.
The good news is that you can now help fix this life-altering challenge. And this is the perfect time to do it — that’s part of the silver lining!
Some parents avoid testing their children (adults do this with themselves, too), and/or if they are diagnosed with these disorders, avoid treatment because they fear the side effects of medication. The good news is that there is now a drug- and side effect-free alternative to this scenario in the form of neurofeedback, a computer-based therapeutic program that helps retrain brainwaves.
Neurofeedback is a non-drug, painless and side effect-free therapy in which the child (or adult) learns to retrain the attention, and/or impulsivity-hyperactivity mechanisms of the brain. High-functioning autism spectrum disorders, anxiety and depression can also be retrained to help alleviate the conditions. Once treatment is complete, no further training is necessary.
One part of the silver lining is that the virus caused disruptions to daily life and school routine that made this major problem crystal clear. The other part is the timing of this disruption. With no school to attend to, this is the perfect time to work this out. With the accelerated treatment plans that are available during the summer for most neurofeedback clinics, this can be accomplished before fall if started now.
These disorders not only impact learning, family life and friendship-forming for these children, but it is sad to see their belief in themselves start to fade away. It is also important to realize that, if untreated, these same problems can also impact their future work, adult relationships and parenting abilities.
With life at full speed, recurring problems — particularly ones that there are no apparent answers to — tend to get passed along. We’ve had a chance here to see crystal clearly how pervasive the problem for our children is, and we have perfect timing for when to fix it. A child can feel lost and helpless when this is going on. Fortunately, they have you to intercede for them.
Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari, Ph. D., is the director of Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback in Placentia. He specializes in the treatment of ADD, ADHD, mild to moderate autism spectrum disorders, sleep disorders, chronic depression, chronic anxiety and peak performance training.