Neurofeedback training in school- how can it be implemented?
I have long been a proponent of the use of neurofeedback in a school setting for children with ADHD. In fact, I believe that all children could benefit from the self regulatory skills that brain training provides. The quick fix reliance on stimulant medications is harming our children. They have dangerous long term side effects and were not intended to be more than a short duration intervention. The statistics on the use of these medications is quite eye opening. Read Alan Schwarz’s excellent article in the New York Times here.
Neurofeedback provides a safe, non-invasive, drug-free training that sets the young brain on a course of stability that will last a lifetime. Now a new study has just been published in The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics once again demonstrating the significant positive impact that neurofeedback has on children with ADHD. This time in a school setting. These studies are expensive to run so we in the clinical community are always appreciative for more research that supports what we already find in our offices. The study compares neurofeedback to cognitive behavioral training against a control group.
Results of the study comparing Neurofeedback and CBT –published in the Abtract
“Children in the NF condition showed significant improvements compared to those in the CT condition on Conners 3-P Executive Functioning, all BRIEF summary indices, SKAMP Attention, and Conners 3-T Inattention subscales. Stimulant medication dosage in methylphenidate equiv- alencies significantly increased for children in the CT (8.54 mg) and control (7.05 mg) conditions but not for those in the NF condition (0.29 mg).
Conclusion: Neurofeedback made greater improvements in ADHD symptoms compared to both the control and CT conditions. Thus, NF is a promising attention training treatment intervention for children with ADHD.”
Neurofeedback training has been done in schools over the last 20 years in a variety of settings, both large and small, the most famous is probably the program that was instituted at the Yonkers school district in New York.
“The Yonkers Project was set up in a Yonkers, New York public school in 1995 and ended in 2001. The project was created through the efforts of two women – Linda Vergara, vice-principal of a school in Yonkers and Mary Jo Sabo, Ph.D. It represents the opportunity and the challenges of having neurofeedback in schools. The project struggled with funding from day one. A small grant was obtained for equipment, but the bulk of the effort initially was all volunteer.
The program targeted training the most difficult kids in the school. Many of these kids were ringleaders and the most difficult behaviorally. It was then expanded to two additional schools.
After the program ran for a year or two and showed itself effective by improving difficult behaviors, it received funding with the help of a city council member. Once they had funding, they hired a full-time staff member in addition to the outside supervision from Mary Jo Sabo. This helped the program immensely. Unfortunately funding was always a struggle, and the Yonkers school board was under heavy pressure to cut spending. It was a big effort to convince them to keep the funding every year. After 9/11, it simply got cut.
According to Mary Jo Sabo, because of the publicity the program received, many school superintendents traveled from around the world to see the neurofeedback program in Yonkers. While the way the program was integrated into the school was impressive, none of the visiting superintendents ever put neurofeedback in their districts. In general, school superintendents are not themselves architects of change.” 2014- aboutneurofeedback.com
Neurofeedback in your school
Ask your principal and Special Education Department to investigate the possibility of including a program at your school. Yes, funding is a challenge but the benefits for your child will be enormous and life long. Call me and I’ll help you get it started!