As parents of special needs kids, we are willing to try so many things to help our children grow and succeed in the world. That is certainly true of me with my son Daniel (AS) in terms of alternative therapy/treatments.
We have tried many, many things with Daniel. He was on ADHD medicine (Concerta) for most of elementary school. That helped him function in a classroom setting but it had lots of side effects like not eating much, not gaining weight, and not sleeping well. He decided to stop when we started homeschooling.
We also did NeuroNet therapy for a couple of years in elementary school. The website says this about NeuroNet: “NeuroNet is a research-based learning readiness program designed to help students develop core academic skills and become independent learners. NeuroNet exercises facilitate learning through movement, an approach based on extensive neuroscience research and clinical practice. The NeuroNet programs provide structured, at-home practice of exercises that can be completed in about 20 minutes a day.” We went once a week to the therapist to learn the new exercises for the week and we worked on them daily at home. They were repetitive and some nights it was a battle to get Daniel to do them but they seemed to improve his sensory issues, focus issues, and some of his coordination issues. I can’t tell you objectively what it helped and what it changed but, subjectively, I think it made a difference. Of course, it wasn’t cheap, but I was (and am) willing to try whatever might help Daniel function and enjoy life more than he did.
More recently, we tried BrainCore at our chiropractor’s office. The website describes it as: “BrainCore Therapy is a form of neurofeedback that incorporates all of the latest technology aimed at teaching patients how to control their own brainwaves. It is a fascinating form of treatment that is backed by more than 40 years of university based research studies. Until recently the technology and equipment necessary to perform neurofeedback could only be found in research labs. Now, in the last five to ten years, advancements in the field have allowed trained BrainCore clinicians to offer this incredible form of therapy to the general public. Though the BrainCore technology is quite complex, the training activity is simple, painless, drugless and non-invasive. Surface electrodes are placed on the scalp and brain wave activity is transmitted to the computer software. Auditory and visual feedback is provided instantly, so that the patient sees and hears representations of their brain in action. The patient is instructed to observe the auditory and visual feedback and allow the nervous system to reset itself based on that feedback. As the nervous system reorganizes itself based on this instantaneous information, the patterns begin to normalize. Over the course of 10 to 20 training sessions, neuroplastic modifications result in the permanent alleviation of the symptoms.”
We just completed the basic course of BrainCore this spring. It was pretty neat to see him control what was happening on the screen by just changing his brain waves. It was almost like watching a magic show or science fiction. The results for Daniel continue to surprise us. He had a hard time sleeping and staying on a schedule – his brain seemed to have no sense of time – now he finds it much easier to sleep and stay on schedule (if he chooses to – like all teenagers). He had a lot of trouble focusing and I was nervous about him driving but he is turning out to be an excellent driver. He took an online digital art class this summer and, normally, I would have had to sit beside him to keep him focused while he read the lessons, did the homework, answered the questions, and took the quizzes. He completed this class almost totally by himself, stayed focused, worked really hard, didn’t give up, and made an A!!! I was SO thankful. In the past, that kind of independence and focus would have been unheard of! He took a web design class for middle and high school students this past summer (for a week) and did very well and was able to get along with the other students. The last time we did a class like this, he had to call me halfway through the first day and asked to go home and never come back. This time, not only could he handle the workload but he did well with the social aspects also! He is also becoming more outgoing and less anxious/nervous about new situations and changes.
I know many parents have had success with modifying diets, adding exercise, and working with an occupational or physical therapist. We haven’t tried those – yet. I’m sure that part of Daniel’s growth is due to natural maturing and growing up but I am still glad that we gave these treatments and therapies a try. Who knows what we will need to do next but I am thankful that these options were available and that God provided them for us and provided the money we needed to do them. I am always thankful when I remember that God loves Daniel even more than I do and neither of us will give up on him!