Friday, October 31, 2008
By Laura Gater
CHICAGO, Ill -- October 31, 2008 -- The standard drug treatment in autism is aimed at reducing associated symptoms, such as irritability and hyperactivity. No drugs have been shown to improve core social and community impairment in autism, according to David J. Posey, MD, MS, Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis, IN.
In a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), Dr. Posey also noted that D-cycloserine (DCS) is a partial agonist at the glycine modulatory site of N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamatergic receptors. In schizophrenia, DCS had initially shown to improve negative symptoms that have similarities to the social withdrawal in autism. However, a recent large, multisite study failed to confirm these findings.
In a larger, double-blind, parallel-group study, Dr. Posey and colleagues aimed to determine the efficacy of low-dose DCS for social withdrawal in a larger sample of children with autism.
This study was an 8-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of boys and girls aged 3 to 12 years. Patients received either DCS 1.7 mg/kg/day divided into twice-daily doses or matching placebo for 8 weeks.
Primary outcome measures were parent-rated social withdrawal subscales of the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist (ABC) and Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) Scale. Secondary outcome measures were parent-rated ABC and Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS).
Along with co-applicants Mark and David Geier, TAP Pharmaceuticals* filed an international patent application (PCT/US2007/082866), "Methods of Treating Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders," in October of last year for the use of Lupron (leuprolide acetate, a GnRH analog), with or without chelation, in children with autism. (A big discovery hat tip for finding this patent application, along with related US patent applications, goes to Kathleen Seidel of the Neurodiversity blog.) The text of this application was published in
AugustMay of this year, and treatment descriptions in 7 children can be found if the reader is willing to wade through a lot of repetitive verbiage—including a seemingly endless string of "need in the art," "known in the art," and "skilled in the art."
Thursday, October 30, 2008
In Monday’s Post endorsement of Jill Thompson (no surprise there), there was an incredibly startling statement that I feel needs to be brought into the spotlight. The endorsement stated that “forcing private health insurers to provide coverage of rare conditions such as autism and diabetes would drive up the price of insurance.” We all know The Post Editorial Board leans Republican, but there are some serious issues with that statement.
Autism and diabetes are NOT RARE diseases. The Center for Disease Control estimated that approximately one in 150 births resulted in a child with autism; take the entire population of Ohio (11,478,006) and divide that by 150 and we can guess that over 76,000 people in this state alone have autism — that’s over three times the size of Athens — and the CDC says it is growing by 10-17 percent per year. As of August 2007, it is estimated that over 9 percent of Ohioans have diabetes. That’s more than 1 million people. It is the fifth leading cause of death in Ohio. It is especially prevalent in the Appalachian region, making it vitally important that the people we elect to represent us understand and care about the issue.
DynaVox Releases Software Version 1.05 for DynaVox V and Vmax
Latest Software Enhances Communication Options and Provides Greater
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- DynaVox, the world's leading
provider of advanced communication solutions that assist individuals with
significant speech, language and learning disabilities, announced the
release of software version 1.05 for the V and Vmax speech-output devices.
This new release includes a range of new features that enhance
communication options, ease device setup and use, and provide greater
flexibility when working with applications outside the V/Vmax communication
New features include:
-- EyeMax Support - A robust new eye gaze system, the EyeMax enables
individuals with significant physical limitations to access all Vmax
features using just their eyes.
-- eBook Reader - This tool allows users to download books from sites
such as bookshare.org and eBooks.com directly to the V or Vmax. Books added
to the eBook Reader can be read onscreen using multiple access methods, or
the V/Vmax can read the book aloud to the user.
-- Navigator - This intuitive user interface provides quick access to
speech, email, internet, computer, eBooks, and environmental control
capabilities. An alphabet-based core word strategy that combines seamlessly
with the InterAACT language framework, Navigator supports fast, easy and
independent communication for literate adults.
-- Onscreen Keyboards - These specialized keyboard pages enable V/Vmax
users to operate other Windows software applications using the same
selection method (e.g., scanning or eye gaze) used for their communication
-- Enhanced Environmental Control Functionality - An intuitive setup
interface allows individuals with significant physical limitations and
their care teams to quickly configure V and Vmax devices to operate common
household appliances such televisions, DVD players, etc. equipped with
infrared remote controls.
-- Bluetooth Connectivity - The V or Vmax can now be configured to
control another computer through a Bluetooth connection. This benefits
users who wish to use another computer as their primary computer.
"This latest software release for the V and Vmax is very exciting,"
said Jim Shea, DynaVox's vice president of marketing. "Software version
1.05 streamlines communication and device support and makes basic tasks
such as reading a book or using computer software easier and more
accessible. This release is the direct result of customer feedback and
DynaVox's commitment to supporting our customers by continuing to enhance
our product line to better meet their needs."
Software version 1.05 for the V and Vmax is available free of charge
and is included with all devices shipped on or after September 24, 2008.
Individuals with devices that shipped before that date can obtain the
software by visiting Support at Dynavoxtech.com. Instructions for
determining the current software version running on a specific V/Vmax can
be found on the same page.
DynaVox pioneers speech communication technology, giving an opportunity
for a better life to the millions of adults and children around the world
challenged by significant speech, language and learning disabilities caused
by conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's
Disease), stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's
Disease, autism and mental retardation. Driving by a strong entrepreneurial
culture, the company applies proprietary and third-party technologies, and
applied research efforts to deliver a broad range of speech communication
hardware and software tools, and offers an extensive customer support
program, which enables individuals and their families to access the latest
technology and reimbursement counsel regarding the company's suite of
products. For more information about DynaVox, visit http://www.dynavoxtech.com.
Dynavox Symbols Changed, Setup for failure? One of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Developmental, Individual Difference, and Relationship Based (DIR®) Model Theory and Application with Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
information on -:
• The theoretical and research support for the DIR® model, with an emphasis on the
application of the DIR® Floortime approach with children with an autistic spectrum disorder.
• Experiences and perspectives from professionals who are using the DIR® approach in their
work with children and families as well as anecotal evidence from our local Australian
parents using DIR® Floortime as an effective approach with their children.
• The levels of training and mentorship required by professionals to be able to practice as a
DIR® Floortime therapist/educator at an accredited level.
• The DIR® infrastructure and networks within Australia
Please note that this paper has been written and collated by staff from the Learning Tree
Therapy Centre, a multidisciplinary DIR® based service, which is based in Perth, Western
Australia (www.learningtreetherapy.com.au, www.sensoryconnections.com.au).
DIR Floortime Australian Position Paper
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Michael O'Hanlon and Stuart Spelman
WASHINGTON TIMES COMMENTARY:
In their last debate, Barack Obama and John McCain both graciously expressed concern about children with autism.
Mr. Obama in particular then spoke about the need for more research funding to understand the causes of this prevalent handicap. We concur. But that is hardly the extent of what the candidates need to understand about the state of autism in the United States today. Preventing future cases is crucial, but so is addressing the huge unmet needs of the more than 1 million Americans already afflicted.
Here's an example. At age 2, little Olivia was diagnosed with an autism disorder. Unable to speak, she preferred to sit in the corner of the room and repeatedly push her mini-Ferris Wheel hundreds of times in a row. She did not look people in the eye; she did not try to attract their attention by pointing with her index finger like normal toddlers. She was largely oblivious to, and uninterested in, other kids around her. She even lost the three or four words that she had learned the year before.
Four years later, after 30 hours a week of a type of intensive intervention that resembles speech or occupational therapy, Olivia was in regular kindergarten, following class discussions and interacting with her peers. She still was limited in her use of language, and had trouble keeping up with peers socially - but at least she was imitating and learning from her peers. Her future was still very uncertain. But her prospects for graduating from school, holding a job and having at least some real friendships had gone from nil to rather promising.
Those four years of preschool intervention came at a high price - about $75,000 a year. Medical insurance paid for none of it. Claiming that the therapies, which fell under the general billing of applied behavior analysis or ABA, were still "experimental," Olivia's insurance plan flatly denied coverage. Counting on the fact that mental and cognitive ailments have often been viewed as second-class issues by America's health care system, the insurer was confident it could escape with this bogus excuse. That was the case even though the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other key organizations endorse precisely the therapy regimen that Olivia followed - and even though ABA has been repeatedly shown to help up to half of all children with autism wind up mainstreamed in school, with the other half showing major progress as well.
It is time for this to change.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Acupuncture and AutismFULL ARTICLE
Studies have shown that there is an increase in the number of children that have been diagnosed with autism. Until now, doctors have not yet found a cure to this illness which is why some parents want to experiment with alternative forms of treatment and one example is acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a holistic approach in treating and preventing certain diseases. Its main tool are very thin needles that are inserted to targeted points in the body. The body has about 400 of them linked through a system known as meridians or pathways. Once these are stimulated, these are supposed to create balance in the body.
Autism on the other hand is a brain disorder that is long term. This disease is characterized by deficits in language, social communication and cognition. Children who are diagnosed with this illness may also suffer from secondary problems such as aggression, irritability, stereotypes, hyperactivity, negativism, volatile emotions, temper tantrums, short attention span and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Preliminary studies have shown that acupuncture may provide symptomatic relief to children suffering from autism. Although difficult at first, it is believed that it is rewarding in the long run. This is because while conventional therapy and treatment requires that the child stay still, acupuncture doesn't. Some say it's a quick prick at the vital points in the body.
A group of children in the US participated in a test to see how effective acupuncture is among children. There are 22 respondents and each of them was given the treatment once every other day for four months.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
It's a universal question asked by people from every walk of life. Elapsed time is an abstract concept that is difficult to understand and even harder to manage. Yet, managing time is a first step toward independence for many and a critical success factor for everyone. This important concept needs to be clearly understood to promote the efficient use of time.
Today, there is a company dedicated to making the concept of elapsed time easier to understand for people of all ages and ability levels. Time Timer LLC is taking the idea of a simple, visual depiction of elapsed time and turning it into a line of products that helps solve time perception problems. These proven products are so easy to use that even young children and those with learning disabilities can monitor their own timed activities.
Tangible time management is finally a reality with the Time Timer® line of products. When you need to manage time or teach the concept of time, there is no better tool than a Time Timer. You don’t need to focus on, or understand a traditional clock face to successfully use a Time Timer. This innovative tool constantly reinforces the sense of elapsed time in order to promote better time management. You see and "feel" time elapse as the Time Timer’s dial graphically shows you how much time is left.
Wherever time needs to be measured, the Time Timer line of products offers a unique and superior solution. You can use Time Timer products to:
A wise person once said, "The one thing you can’t recycle is wasted time." That statement is just as true in the office as it is in school or at home. No one can afford bad time management or poor comprehension of time. With consistent use, the Time Timer product line ensures that time awareness is easy to understand and monitor.
No other tool communicates the concept of elapsed time as well as the Time Timer, and now it's available as a discreet personal watch! The Watch Plus version features all the benefits of the Time Timer Wrist Timer with incredible added features. There is a Time Timer Function that can be set anywhere from one minute up to 12 hours with an optional audible alarm for when time is up as well as a pre-alarm to let you know when time is running out. The Watch Plus also functions as a standard Watch that can be set in Analog or Digital mode, along with an optional Time of Day Alarm. With simple operating instructions, the Watch Plus comes with a convenient backlight to help you see the display in low light conditions, is water resistant up to 30 meters and comes in a durable stainless steel case. The Youth Size measures 4.75" to 6.75" cir.
Large PECS Communication Notebook (Picture Exchange Communication System)
- Use this notebook to organize and implement your picture exchange program.
- The front cover and inner part of the back cover also serve as pages for the picture symbols.
- A sentence strip with velcro runs across the lip of the longer back cover.
- The Large PECS Communication Notebook measures 9.25" x 10".
- This is an ideal tool for any individual using a Picture Exchange system.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
What is Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)?
Light and Sound Brain Machine now helping those with autism spectrum disorders
Can brain functioning be improved with flashing lights and pulsing tones? Many seem to think so reports David Siever, CEO of Mind Alive and the inventor and developer of a unique patented audio-visual device called the DAVID machine, which stands for Digital Audio Visual Integration Device. The actual creation of this machine in 1984 was driven by the needs of others at first to reduce stage fright, stress and anxiety and later to help people cope with their Attention Deficit problems such as concentration.
For many years it has been known that sound therapy utilizing strictly sound training, which de-sensitizes the person with sensory issues, has been helpful for many on the autism spectrum. By stimulating the auditory system, and through it, by stimulating the brain, methods such as the Tomatis Method has been able to reduce the autistic symptoms to varying degrees.
Each autistic person is different and may respond differently to this program. In some cases results are seen within a few weeks, There are still good days and bad days but the trend is often upward, especially when you look back over a period of a few months. In many cases improvement has been noted in the following areas, decreased hypersensitivity to sound, reduced tactile defensiveness, improved language skills, improved appreciation for food and less picky in food preferences, better self image, improved social skills, better eye contact and less aggressive behaviors
Combining a method similar to this auditory training technique with the visual aspect of flashing lights also seems to have a very strong impact on the minds of those with autism spectrum disorders. The light and sound device consists of a set of earphones and eye goggles. What makes this piece of equipment work is a series of timed flashing white lights, coupled with intermittent pulsing tones that graduate in intensity so as not to overwhelm the listener.
The actual process that take place is called brainwave entrainment, which is exactly as the name implies that is, training brain waves to fall into an specific pre-determined brainwave pattern such as the alpha state. This is much like what happens during a similar process called biofeedback, which helps the patient concentrate to relax their minds. The results are even verified by tracking brain wave patterns through a clinically administered EEG. The same or even better results are achieved even though a different process is utilized. The mix of the two sensory tools gently bring the mind to a relaxed calm alpha state which is the state that is achieved through years and years of training in the process of meditation all in a single session. No wonder it has such a wonderful effect on people.
When my son Jonathan was first diagnosed with autism, I was so frustrated with him that I actually went "outside the box" of traditional thinking and decided to give this unit a try. We were desperately looking for something other than the typical route prescribed by doctors of medicating our young child. This was way back in 1994, which were most likely, a therapy ten years ahead of its time. With the help of the staff of Mind Alive we managed to get Jonny, then 3 ½ years old to try the DAVID. Placing the earphones and eye goggles on his little head was no easy task. In spite of this fact, we persevered. Later we discovered doing this once he was sleeping was far more effective and less intrusive.
We saw such great results at first that we decided to run our own little "mini study" on him. For a period of six weeks we slipped into his bedroom after he had fallen to sleep and slipped the gear on his little head three times a week. The changes were quite evident in the areas of improved behavior, increased eye contact and more appropriate interaction to mention a few observations. His doctor even commented:
"Jonathan has been using a sound and light machine which his mother and the program perceive to have been of benefit to him. Although there is no formal information available to support this observation, there is certainly some informal information suggesting that this might in fact be a useful therapy" It is certainly worthy of further exploration and I will be in contact with the people using the machine for further information about it"
Pioneering new ideas are what I tend to gravitate to though carving out new things is no easy task. We were so impressed with the technology I decided to open a clinic to help others called "The Wellness Center". Due to the sensory nature of the equipment the biggest challenge was getting the children to have the gear so close to their faces though this obstacle has since been overcome by using external light and sound tools. As long as we were able to get the gear on the other children with autism the results were typically good. . I then became pregnant with my fifth child and after two years of operation closed the clinic.
The easiest alternative to the actual clinic is the portable device carried by Mind Alive.
The original David PAL is $240.00 USD and can be purchased here
The all new DAVID PAL 36 is $295.00 click here to purchase
by Dawn-Marie Ickes, PT
Helping children organize overly sensitive nervous systems.
Breathing, concentration, focus, and flow are four of the cornerstones of Pilates, a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor, but also as an important adjunct to physical rehabilitation of all kinds.
The benefits of Pilates within the fitness industry have been well documented. As its popularity has soared in the last 10 years, we have seen a shift in its applications beyond the realm of pure fitness. More and more health care practitioners are using its principles and exercises for a variety of treatments. Because of the increasing numbers of health care practitioners who are acquiring comprehensive Pilates training, we also see an abundance of innovative applications using Pilates for therapeutic outcomes.
Pilates as a Therapeutic Modality
For many PTs, Pilates is a logical choice for a large variety of reasons based on individual practices and specialties. Pilates offers extreme versatility for strength and flexibility training, balance and proprioceptive re-education, motor learning, and many other therapeutic effects. This versatility is driving the shift in the rehabilitation industry toward using some aspect of Pilates for the attainment of patient goals.
As a school-based pediatric PT transitioning into private practice, I have seen a wide variety of both children and adults and have observed that many traditional therapy treatments focus primarily on using external techniques. Pilates, however, creates an environment that has a balance between internal (the patient) and external (the clinician) regulation. In my roles as a comprehensively trained Pilates teacher and PT, I have observed amazing outcomes in our clinic’s patients as a result of how Pilates challenges the active, passive, and control systems in each individual’s body.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Police: Girl's Computerized Voice Box Stolen From Car
It's probably a good idea to make sure that you ...
- Have the proper insurance
- Keep the documentation showing what you paid for the device in case you have to submit a claim.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
- 106 Gibson Wells-Brazil Road
- Humboldt, TN 38343
This is a charitable endeavor supported mainly by fundraisers and your charitable donations. Although the lessons cost each student $15 per hour, no rider qualified for this program will be denied services because of lack of funds.
Posted using ShareThis
- Oxytocin Wikipedia
- Oxytocin Touted As Autism Treatment
- Oxytocin, music of love
- Oxytocin: love potion #9.1
- Autism and Oxytocin
- Social Skills may be Improved with Oxytocin Hormone Treatment
- Oxytocin: The Asocial Cure? (TIME mag)
- TRUST NBC=OXYTOCIN
- NIH: More Studies of Oxytocin for Autism
- Association between the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and autism
DEFEAT AUTISM NOW CONFERENCE TO SHOW FILM THAT PROVES RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE
Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum will screen this Saturday in San Diego
Daphne Plump October 19, 2008
Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.
19019 Ventura Blvd, Ste 300
San Diego, CA
(o) 818.345.2345 x 270 / (c) 661.478.6512
San Diego, CA – Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) national fall conference, scheduled October 23-25th, 2008 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort, has the much talked about, newly released documentary, Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back on tap for screening this Saturday. The screening will be held inside of the resort’s Golden Ballroom at 5:30pm.
RECOVERED is a film by one of the nation’s leading autism researchers and psychologists, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, and esteemed videographer Michele Jaquis. The film tells the story of four children diagnosed with autism, who achieved success using treatments rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The documentary includes clips of therapy sessions along with interviews of the children who are now teenagers, their parents, therapists, and Dr. Granpeesheh. The children (now teenagers) will be present at the screening.
“Many people don’t believe it is possible to recover from Autism. Our intention in providing proof of Recovery and in identifying a course of action toward that goal is only to bring hope and determination to those families who feel it is in the best interest of their child to learn new skills in order to better access the rewards of life. We feel every child has the right to be healthy, to be taught the skills they need to interact appropriately with their peers and to be allowed to demonstrate their strengths, instead of fight their weaknesses. We feel confident we have found the path to make this a reality.” Says Dr. Granpeesheh.
“It is also our intention to bring awareness of this fact to the general population, medical practitioners and government funding agencies so that the needed support for the treatments of Autism becomes a priority. As an artist I am interested in producing work that engages its audience on an emotional level and sometimes that means delving into difficult subject matter. It is challenging to go back and relive a part of one's life that was difficult, and Doreen and I asked these families to do that. It is my hope that the families who are featured in RECOVERED have found their involvement to be both cathartic and rewarding.” Says Michele
Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, Michele Jaquis and the Recovered Children
Saturday, October 25, 2008 - Town and Country Resort
500 Hotel Circle North - San Diego, CA
*Golden Ballroom* - 5:15pm - Contact: Daphne Plump – 661-478-6512
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Dr. Dana McDougall
Mission Bridge Psychological Associates
Biofeedback as a field has been growing since the late 1960s. This form of training and treatment uses monitoring instruments attached to the body to "feed back" to people information on the functioning of their bodies. In this way, people view information of which they are not normally aware, such as hand temperature, blood pressure, number and depth of breaths being taken, level of muscle tension in any target muscle, or the electrical activity of their brains. It has been established that, once people have more detailed access to information on what their bodies are doing, they are able to either consciously or subconsciously alter or control those functions. In this way, people with tension headaches can learn to relax tense muscles, people with urinary incontinence can learn to control their bladders, people with Raynaud’s disease (circulation difficulties in the extremities) can learn to warm themselves by increasing blood flow, and people with high blood pressure can learn to control that symptom.
Of particular interest to psychologists is the electrical functioning of the brain. The form of Biofeedback that enables people to alter brain electrical activity is called
"neurofeedback" (or EEG Biofeedback). The reason that neurofeedback is of special concern to psychologists is that the brain is a central contributor to the emotions, physical symptoms, thoughts, and behaviours that define many problems for which people seek psychological consultation. Problems being addressed through neurofeedback include anxiety, depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, memory difficulties and general cognitive functioning, learning disabilities, head injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, epilepsy, immune system disturbances, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, and more. Scientists have identified specific patterns of brainwaves that contribute to a lack of wellness, and that tend to be related to disorders such as some of those listed here.
The Mind-Body Connection
Biofeedback, including neurofeedback, is based on the increasingly accepted idea of the interconnectedness of mind and body. Recognition of the mind-body connection is becoming a standard in the practice of a healthy lifestyle, and many health professionals assert that the health of mind is intimately connected with the health of body. Is your brain "mind" or "body"? The answer that makes the most sense is, "It is both."
During the past 30 years, there has been a powerful scientific movement to explore the mind’s capacity to affect the body and to rediscover ways in which the mind affects and is affected by the body and all of its functions. Investigation of the mind-body connection has been encouraged by the rise in chronic illnesses that appear to be related to environmental and emotional stress: heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, and asthma included. Also being examined are specific links between mental processes and the functioning of immune and nervous system functioning.
Mounting evidence of the mind-body connection includes the following findings and facts:
Researchers in the area of obsessive-compulsive disorder have found that the changes that occur during "talk therapy" are visible in "before" and "after" PET scans. PET scans measure the metabolic activity in various parts of the brain. Thus, talk therapy has been found to alter brain functioning.
Researchers in the area of fitness found that a group of "couch potatoes" who simply closed their eyes and visualized doing physical exercise actually increased their muscle mass by 16%.
If a person imagines moving a particular body part, the part of the cortex associated with that body part will show some indication that the body part actually IS moving.
Strong negative emotions, which can be triggered during abuse situations, trigger the release of toxic neurochemicals such as cortisol, which dramatically influence the developing brain in a way that makes people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression throughout the lifespan.
One study found that medical students who experienced high levels of stress during exam week produced lesser levels of a particular messenger molecule, which resulted in compromised immune system functioning. Thus, emotional stress (mind) translated into physical effect (body) and many of them got sick. This same messenger molecule has been shown to be related to the immune system’s ability to fight some types of cancer (interleukin-2).
Antidepressant drugs change the availability of neurochemicals in the brain, such that changes in thought, mood, and behaviour result.
These are just a few of the phenomena that make it increasingly difficult to talk about the mind and the body as separate entities. Mind changes are body changes, and body changes are mind changes. neurofeedback is a therapy of training the mind and body to function in a more optimal way in order to ease negative emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioural experiences. It is seen by many people as a viable alternative to medication, instead encouraging and nurturing the body’s own ability to reorganize, change, and heal itself in a natural way.
In the remainder of this paper, you will learn about:
The Birth of neurofeedback as a Discipline
In the early 1960s at the University of Chicago, psychologist Joe Kamiya made the discovery that some of his research subjects could learn to alter the power and speed of their brainwaves if they were provided with information on the activity of their brains.
Barry Sterman also did research involving neurofeedback in the 1960s. He found that cats could learn to alter their brainwaves if they were given rewards for producing the "goal" brainwave. With repeated exposure to neurofeedback training, the cats became adept at doing so. Sterman’s subsequent research project studied the effects of rocket fuel toxicity. Sterman injected cats with the rocket fuel, and found a close relationship between the cats’ seizure activity and the amount of exposure to rocket fuel. The more rocket fuel, the more seizures. It is always scientifically pleasing to find a straightforward relationship, and Sterman began to make some conclusions from his results. However, he began to get results that did not fit the relationship he had been establishing. Some of these cats seemed to remain seizure free, even at dosages that had made other cats erupt into seizures. Upon further examination, Sterman found that it was his neurofeedback cats (that had been transferred to the rocket fuel study) that were throwing off his results. This finding was impressive: the cats who had received neurofeedback had a higher seizure threshold than did other cats. There was a clear clinical application that had not been apparent before. Research on neurofeedback for epilepsy began.
While these were astounding discoveries, this technique soon fell into disrepute for a number of reasons: some parties made claims for neurofeedback that were not yet supported by science; other involved parties formed a close link with "flakier" movements that compromised the scientific integrity of the discipline; and still others thought that this technique was too close to "mind control." The result was that neurofeedback was kept only barely alive by a few diehard pioneers until its revival in the 1980s.
The field of neurofeedback has grown very rapidly in the last 20 years, and especially in the last 10 years. The number of practitioners worldwide is approaching 2000, with the bulk of those practitioners residing in the U.S.A. There is a small scattering of practitioners across Canada. The field is beginning to recover from the low esteem in which it was formerly held – now, the science is catching up with the claims that have been made for its efficacy. Even while new information is being collected and published, many health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and family physicians are unaware of current developments in the field.
Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG)
The electroencephalograph (EEG) has been studied and applied since the early 20th century as a way of looking at the electrical functioning of the brain. Billions of neurons in the cortex, which are also influenced by structures that are deeper beneath the cortex, produce electrical activity that is readable by attaching sensors to the scalp. Because of the skull, the impulses are very faint at the level of the scalp. The electroencephalograph amplifies those faint impulses so they may be viewed by the human eye.
As digital computer technology developed in the 1960s and 1970s, scientists were able to more precisely examine a person’s electrical brain functioning in ways that were not possible through a simple visual inspection of raw brain wave tracings. The computer can calculate and make visible many features of the EEG that the human eye can not. This form of computer analyzed brainwaves is called quantitative EEG, or qEEG.
Recording of the qEEG involves placing an elastic cap on the head, with 19 sensors held in place on the scalp. In addition, a clip on each earlobe provides a reference point for the brain activity. Because there is very little electrical activity in the earlobes, they are much more electrically "dead" than scalp sites. Once the cap has been placed, each of the 19 sensors is checked to ensure that it has a good connection with the scalp. The electrical activity at each of the 19 scalp sites is then recorded and calculated by comparing it to the more electrically neutral earlobe. Data on the electrical functioning of the brain is recorded simultaneously at each of the 19 sites. One set of data is recorded with eyes open, and a second set is recorded with eyes closed. During recording of the brainwave data, it is very important to remain as still as possible so as not to contaminate it with a lot of electrical "noise."
Prior to the quantitative analysis of the brainwave recordings, the data is "artifacted." An artifact is defined as any activity that can be seen in the EEG recording that is not actually brain activity. For example, muscles also operate electrically. This means that any muscle tension on the scalp, the forehead, or anywhere near the sensors will be picked up by the sensor. This "artifact" is electrical noise that must be cleaned out of the brainwave recording in order to ensure that the results reflect brain activity and not some other irrelevant information.
Once the brainwave recording is cleaned up, it is put through a number of analyses by the computer, and the result is a collection of measurements. A number of variables of brain functioning are calculated and compared to a database comprised of a collection of measurements taken from people who are free of difficulties, injury, and disease. Scientists have created such databases to enable the comparison of one individual’s brain functioning to a group of others of the same age and gender. In this way, an individual’s brain may be evaluated in terms of how much its functioning departs from "normal" or "optimal." These variables of functioning and the degree to which they are higher or lower than optimal are of interest in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of an individual’s brain functioning. An outline of some key variables follows.
The Variables of Brain Functioning
Quantitative analysis of brainwaves produces measurements of frequency, amplitude, symmetry, coherence, and others (these measures are described below). The report of the analysis provides a value for each of these variables for each of the 19 sites at which the brainwaves have been measured. Each value represents how much the activity at a given site differs from usual. Values that are positive (i.e. +2.4) represent activity that is higher than usual, and values that are negative (i.e. –2.4) represent activity that is lower than usual. Because each value represents how different a site is from usual, the number "0" represents a close match with the brains to which an individual’s brain has been compared.
Frequency refers to the rate at which a brainwave repeats its cycle within one second. The number of cycles per second is called "hertz" (Hz). The more times a brainwave repeats its cycle per second, the FASTER it is said to be. Some practitioners divide the frequency of brainwaves into categories:
0-4 Hz Delta
4-8 Hz Theta
8-12 Hz Alpha
12 Hz and above Beta
Delta waves occur primarily during sleep, however, they are also present to various degrees throughout normal brains when awake.
Theta waves are also slow waves, and are often associated with twilight states such as that between sleep and wakefulness. Theta is much more complicated than this simple explanation, as it has also been shown to be important in memory consolidation.
Alpha is thought of as an idling rhythm, sometimes associated with relaxation or meditation. Alpha is also associated with multi-tasking. For example, a person is multi-tasking when he is focused on many things at once such as ironing a shirt, listening to the weather report, and wondering what is for breakfast. Alpha is produced by large groups of neurons that are not engaged in any particular task, but rather, are standing at the ready to serve a function should they be called upon. Alpha may be likened to "the ready position" in volleyball, or a car sitting in neutral.
Beta is the fastest and most active form of brainwave, and is associated with focus and concentration. When excessively present, Beta can contribute to anxiety. Consider how much focus and concentration one may have while driving down a busy freeway in a snowstorm: this is focus that is exaggerated to the point of possible anxiety.
Frequency is one of the parameters of brain functioning that has to do with the speed of the brainwave or how many times it repeats itself per second. All sites of the brain show all frequencies of activity, however, the amount of a particular frequency that is desirable depends on where it is located in the brain. In general, concentrations of alpha are found at the back of the head, and faster waves are more prominent at the front of the head. Thus, no brain wave is good or bad. It is simply more or less adaptive, depending upon where it is concentrated in the brain.
The amplitude of the EEG is defined as the voltage in microVolts. Another way to think of amplitude is in terms of power or how much energy is being put into a particular brainwave. Put simply, the amplitude can be thought of as the "volume" of the brainwave. A high amplitude theta signal at a particular site means that a lot of energy or power is being put into theta at that site.
Symmetry is the degree to which the activity at a particular site on one side of the brain is similar to the corresponding site on the other side. In this way, a person can serve as his or her own reference. For the most part, the activity at one site should look similar to the activity at the corresponding site on the opposite side of the head. Recording data simultaneously from each of the 19 sites enables the symmetry between left and right to be calculated.
Coherence is a measure of how closely each site communicates with each other site. There is an ideal amount of communication that should take place among sites. With too much communication, the brain is devoting too much energy to doing the same thing – this is not a good use of resources. With too little communication between sites, the brain also is not using its resources most optimally. Communication in the brain may be thought of in the context of the crew on a sailing vessel. If the captain issues an order for some of the crew to solve a problem on one side of the ship, it would not be wise for the entire crew to rush over and leave the rest of the ship unattended. Further, if none of the crew communicated with each other, the running of the ship would quickly become disorganized. Recording data simultaneously from each of the 19 sites enables calculation of the coherence (or level of communication between each pair of sites).
The Experience of neurofeedback
Once the specifics of an individual’s brain functioning have been assessed, psychologists look for connections between troubling symptoms and the strengths and weaknesses that have been identified by the qEEG. While the qEEG often reveals generalized problems in brain functioning that will influence many aspects of the individual’s experience, people most often seek assistance from psychologists for a particular difficulty – the qEEG variable that most closely matches the complaint of the individual will be addressed first.
It is on the basis of this "strengths and weaknesses" profile that the psychologist will write a computer program to assist the individual in the learning process that will lead to the enhancement of strengths, or, more often, the amelioration of weaknesses. For example, if qEEG assessment shows that an individual has too much slow activity (theta) and not enough fast activity (beta) at the front of the brain, and that person’s complaint is of attentional difficulties (which matches the complaint of frontal slowing), training will consist of inhibiting the slow (theta) activity and enhancing faster activity (beta).
The individual receiving neurofeedback training wears a clip on each ear, one sensor on the forehead, and one sensor on the site that has been targetted for training (i.e. the site(s) that the qEEG indicated was different from usual). The sensor that is designated as the "target" site is referred to as the "active sensor." The brainwave activity recorded by the active sensor is displayed on the computer monitor, perhaps as a coloured bar. In the example above, where the goal is to enhance faster activity (beta), the coloured bar represents beta and fluctuates up and down with the individual’s beta waves. Also visible on the screen is a "high jump bar" or threshold, set at an appropriate level such that the beta activity is able to "jump over it" (exceed the threshold) at least 60% of the time. Each time the beta "jumps" over the "high jump" (i.e. each time the beta recording reaches or exceeds the goal threshold that was set for it), the computer emits a pleasant tone. With repeated exposure to this form of feedback, that is both visual and auditory, the brain begins to recognize a relationship between its own activity and what it is observing on the computer monitor. In other words, the brain begins to recognize itself. This is when learning begins to take place.
Once the brain "catches on" to what it needs to do in order to make the high jump successfully and to hear the pleasant tone, it begins to do so more consistently. This sounds rather unbelievable, however, it has been established that this process occurs. Fortunately, the changes are quantifiable and observable through measurements taken during neurofeedback sessions, as well as through follow up qEEG assessments.
Learning may be looked at in three ways: subconscious learning, the forming of a conscious association between feelings and brain states, and the development of flexibility in neural pathways.
Subconscious learning occurs in a process whereby the brain, at a level below awareness, begins to recognize itself on the computer monitor and to make the changes required to keep the bar above the high jump. As this is occurring, the individual may feel quite disconnected from the process. People feel as though they are simply watching the display and listening to the tones, without experiencing it as a personal process being driven by their own neural activity. This learning is on a subconscious level. Remember, cats and other animals can learn to alter their brain functioning when appropriate rewards are utilized – they certainly are not consciously considering what they need to do in order to receive the reward. This learning process occurs over time and outside the level of conscious awareness.
The second way that learning occurs is through the conscious association between indications that the target is being met (i.e. the visual and auditory cues) and how the individual feels. Often, a description of how it feels to meet the target defies words. For example, many people are unable to express in words what "more alpha" feels like although they can tell when it is occurring. This process of learning is conscious, and involves the development of an awareness of sensations in one’s body that was not present before. In this way, individuals are able to voluntarily do what is necessary in order to produce that sensation at will. There is the sense that, "this is what it is supposed to feel like when I produce more alpha."
Finally, change through neurofeedback occurs as a result of exercising underdeveloped neural pathways. The more the brain practices moving into a more optimal state, the more flexible it will be in responding to demands.
neurofeedback is seldom used in isolation from other techniques. It is usual for a session with your psychologist to include neurofeedback as well as other techniques such as EMDR and/or cognitive-behavioural exercises to support the changes you would like to make in your life.
Is neurofeedback Right for You?
Engaging in neurofeedback requires a strong commitment, as people may not experience the beneficial effects for ten or more sessions. Some conditions will require forty or more sessions. It is usually not helpful for people to engage in a highly limited number of sessions, as change does not occur quickly. It requires a time commitment as well as a financial commitment, and you must be prepared for both. Preliminary indications have shown that the changes appear to be permanent, with booster sessions sometimes being necessary if some type of life experience or use of a substance compromises gains that have been made.
neurofeedback is very helpful for many people, depending upon the particular problem that they want to address. Those who are interested should be aware that it is a form of training that is considered experimental by many people. You should read the attached consent form carefully for more information.
neurofeedback is a healthy alternative to other forms of treatment that are more invasive, such as the use of medications that may have troubling side effects. neurofeedback, used by qualified practitioners, is largely free of side effects. Possible side effects that may occur are managed as they come up, by making slight changes to the way in which treatment is delivered. For example, a protocol to increase faster activity, if delivered late in the day, may make for some difficulty in sleeping that night. With slight modifications, side effects are easily managed. Another possibly uncomfortable effect of neurofeedback is emotional: when changing the activity of the brain, it is possible that a person may notice an emotional change such as the surfacing of difficult emotions that you may have experienced in the past. While this is sometimes initially troubling for people, it also forms an integral part of the treatment as people learn to better manage their emotions and to process past experiences that may have been difficult.
As you think about whether or not to engage in this process, you should:
Consider the time involved
Consider the cost involved
Consider your commitment to this process
Ask lots of questions of your psychologist
Do your own research to make an educated decision about whether or not this process is right for you
Review the attached consent form closely with your psychologist
Consider whether neurofeedback might be a useful addition to other forms of treatment such as psychotherapy, physical therapy, medication, etc. or whether one of these other forms of treatment might be appropriate for you.
This document was intended to provide preliminary information regarding the process of neurofeedback, however, a great deal of information is available to you upon request. Your psychologist can provide you with copies of scientific papers that describe how neurofeedback is used to treat your problem. Further, you may begin to do your own research on the internet. The following websites contain information that may be of interest to you.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
"If you love someone with autism, please, contact your state representative and senator NOW and encourage them to maintain funding for the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Waiver/State- Funded Program. The PDD Waiver provides early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) services in the form of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to children with autism spectrum disorders in South Carolina. Without the PDD Waiver, hundreds of children with autism across S.C. will be denied the right to live the highest quality and most independent, integrated, and inclusive lives possible."
Thousands around the world already connecting, sharing guidance and help
FAIRFIELD, Conn., Oct 21, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Autism Support Network today announced the launch of its free online support community available at http://www.AutismSupportNetwork.com. The online service -- rapidly growing already with thousands of members around the world -- connects families and individuals touched by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with each other, provides support and insight, and acts as a resource guide for treatments, strategies and therapies.
Key features of the community include matching those members seeking similar support with one another, the ability to create appointments virtually or in actual locations between members, community groups for open sharing of information, user blogs, chat and capabilities for members to host and share personal photos and documents. The Autism Support Network also includes resource listings across the United States, Canada, England and India.
"Parents frequently feel paralyzed and isolated when they discover their child has autism. Those adults who have autism themselves also frequently find it difficult to engage socially with others for support," said Brian Field, co-founder of Autism Support Network. "Whether you're a parent whose child has autism, a medical practitioner or someone with autism, our global community was created to facilitate an exchange of ideas, help and interactive discussion. Those dealing with ASD needn't have to 'reinvent the wheel' -- they can find others here that have likely experienced what they're going through and can help provide personal guidance."
Today, 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism, with a new case diagnosed every 20 minutes. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States today. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.
Autism Support Network
Fairfield, CT 06825
Tel: (203) 404-4929
Fax: (203) 404-4969
Monday, October 20, 2008
Excerpt from ... Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness
There are five types of brain-wave patterns
1) Delta brain waves (1-4 cycles per second) very slow and mostly during sleep
2) Theta brain waves (5-7 cycles per second) slow, daydreaming, relaxation
3) Alpha brain waves (8-12 cycles per second) mostly during relaxed states
4) SMR (sensorimotor rhythm ) brain waves (12-15 cycles per second) occurring during focused relaxation
5) Beta brain waves (13-24 cycles per second) fast brain waves during concentration or mental work
Over the last dozen years researchers including Joel Lubar, Ph.D. have demonstrated the effectiveness of a powerful tool to treat ADD problems: EEG biofeedback.
In evaluating over 6,000 children with ADD, Dr. Lubar found that the basic problem with these children is they lack the ability to maintain “beta” concentration for sustained periods of time. Through the use of EEG biofeedback, Dr. Lubar found that children could be taught to increase the amount of “beta” brain waves and decrease the amount of “theta” brain waves.
More research needs to be done but studies have shown that autistic children have also been helped by studying these different brain waves.
Local artist joins with Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy as part of \'Year of Giving Back\' : Art Galleries : Boulder Daily Camera
Photo by Cliff Grassmick
Local artist joins with Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy as part of 'Year of Giving Back' : Art Galleries : Boulder Daily Camera
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