Treatment of Learning Disabilities

Deficits in brain function contribute to difficulty in processing information and are telltale signs of a learning disability. The disorder may be evident at an early age or when the child enters school and experiences challenges in learning mathematics, reading, writing and spelling, listening or expressive language. 

Whenever they are recognized, schools are equipped to identify and accommodate disabilities. Learning disabilities are a neurological disorder, and conventional medicine views it as a condition that cannot be "cured."

Response to intervention (RTI) is first recourse when the school determines that a child is struggling with learning. This process involves testing, screening and making appropriate modifications in the instructional programs to suit the unique needs of the child. When the child does not meet the progress goals, a comprehensive evaluation is administered to measure cognitive ability in specific areas of learning.

A considerable disparity between achievement and ability levels is an indication of a learning disability. For children and adults struggling with the condition, they may be enrolled in an individual educational plan (IEP) that is designed to meet their distinctive learning needs.

Can other factors co-exist?
Factors that influence learning can also exist. These can include language, emotion, coordination, integration and numerous medical issues. The list can be extensive, and an evaluation by a qualified neuropsychologist or school psychologist is essential in making the identification. Sometimes a neuropsychological evaluation is necessary to evaluate more thoroughly the processes that underlie the functional disconnect between ability and achievement.

Why neurofeedback?

Learning disabilities have a neurological basis. Thus, to address the underlying cause of the problem, treatment is aimed at the neurological substrates. A brain map can identify those areas that are not functioning optimally. From that information, a program of remediation can be set up to help the brain function more optimally.

Does neurofeedback increase intelligence?
According to research, neurofeedback also contributes to an increase in intelligence scores and an improvement in academic achievement. While it may seem that the treatment can make the person or child smarter, it merely facilitates a more efficient use of mental faculties and their innate skills. Simply put, neurofeedback contributes to better processing of new information, learning and performance. The person is probably not smarter, only more efficient in using their innate skills. Because intelligence is a measure of one’s ability to learn, those who are "smarter" learn more quickly and are more efficient. A brain that is "smarter" has actually become more efficient in processing novel information and learning.

How does the neurofeedback affect behaviors?
Children who are more successful are less anxious, depressed, oppositional and aggressive. They begin to demonstrate better judgement and improved compliance, self-direction and adaptive behaviors. This is true in part to the fact that neurofeedback also calms emotional states. Very often children who are taking various types of medication to control mood and behaviors can have these medications reduced through a treatment plan using neurofeedback.

What does the treatment consist of with neurofeedback?
Generally, there is a two-step plan in treating learning disabilities. After a careful evaluation, the brain is first stabilized and then the specific areas of disability are trained to improve specific processing skills. Often with a dyslexic child, treatment may need to go to a site-specfic area after overall stabilization is achieved.

Does neurofeedback "cure" learning disabilities?
Conventional thinking considers learning disabilities as a lifelong condition. Some types of disabilities are inborn, such as a very low IQ. However, what neurofeedback does is to reduce and even eliminate processing problems, according to the individual person's situation. This can be a "cure" when the child is no longer in need of an IEP or special education placement in order to be successful in school. They no longer feel different from or inferior to their peers. By way of example, one of Dr. Di Donato's severely learning disabled graduates remediated by the neurofeedback program became so successful in school that she was the classroom consultant to the others for clarifying teachers' instructions and lessons.
Neurofeedback can also be beneficial to students who are just below their optimal level of achievement and need peak performance for college entrance and success. We have experienced numerous successes in this area.

Discover state-of-the-art techniques to enhance mental processes and intellectual faculties at Achievement & Wellness Center. We serve the residents of Bucks, Montgomery, Mercer, Burlington and Philadelphia counties, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

To learn more about our treatment solutions for learning disabilities, please contact our friendly office staff at 215.321.9502 with your questions or scheduling needs. For your convenience, you can use our online Request an Appointment form.

Blog Post: Anxiety and Depression
Ended by Neurofeedback

Alan, not his real name, a high school student from Lawrenceville, began neurofeedback as a troubled and depressed student. At that time, thoughts of self-harm were disturbing him. Moodiness and withdrawal from the family were a concern to his mother. He lost interest in many activities, friends, and family, while experiencing difficulty with communicating his feelings.

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