Answers to Parents’ Questions Regarding Trouble at the Start of the New School Year
By Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari
A mother recently asked me, “I’m worried…Sammy is having such an awful time in school this year. He is being grounded in the classroom…no recess because he is behind in his work. We are constantly doing homework and he is still behind. To add to his academic problems, Sammy is spending most of his time at school in social isolation, even when he is free from being “grounded” in the classroom; he is the last one picked for teams, and the first one to be teased. Do we just have to take this, or is there something we can do to help him?”
For most parents, the new school year brings pride and feelings of accomplishment of seeing their children grow and mature in aptitude, knowledge and social skills. For some parents, however, it only brings long nights of homework, calls from the teacher, frustrated and discouraged children, and parenting fights about whose fault “all of this” is. There is also the pain of watching your child sink into believing that they are not smart, are a “bad boy or girl,” or are not worth much. No parent or child should ever have to experience this. A typical school year requires sustained attention, sitting quietly, and refined social skills. Some children are not quite capable of this.
A very significant possibility exists that the conditions described above (some or all) are being caused by a disorder called ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This disorder is caused by a minor neurological imbalance (not parenting-style!), and for the vast majority of those with ADHD, it can be corrected relatively easily. What makes the aforementioned tragic self-image even more unacceptable is the fact that the opposite is usually true. Individuals with ADHD (ADD) typically have a higher than average IQ and, although sometimes hidden behind the disorder, a very pleasant disposition.
When such problems are occurring, it is extremely important to determine if ADHD is behind them as soon as it is possible. Don’t wait until your child’s first report card to initiate testing or treatment; by then, your child is already significantly behind. If there’s one thing harder for a child with ADHD than school, it is the “snowballing” downward struggle to catch up.
Unfortunately, many parents of children with ADHD, or those who suspect that it might be present, avoid testing and treatment because of their understandable dread of what they think must be the inevitable “drug” solution. Fortunately, for most individuals, there is a much better alternative.
This treatment is called neurofeedback, an effective, drug-free, painless procedure in which the child learns to re-train the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.
Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari, Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback