ADHD, Attention and Learning Difficulties

What is ADHD ?

ADHD and Learning Difficulties 2

ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and affects between 3 to 5% of primary school children and 11% of secondary school children. It usually manifests before 7 years of age and 75% of children continue to experience problems into adulthood, with over 1 in 20 of the world’s adult population suffering problems with poor attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Whilst ADHD affects more males and females in childhood this seems to balance out by adulthood and just as many women are affected by men. The symptoms of ADHD in adulthood may be less obvious than in childhood making diagnosis more difficult, with less than 25% of adults with ADHD having a diagnosis.

Research shows that ADHD has a very strong genetic basis. So when a child is diagnosed with ADHD there is a good chance that at least one of the parents will also have it as well. It is not clear yet exactly what causes ADHD but there appear to be problems with the function of key areas of the brain involved with attention and impulse-control. Special brain scans known as QEEG can help to pin-point these problem areas and the results of these scans can be used to direct successful treatment.

ADHD is an umbrella term that includes 3 main subtypes:

Predominately Inattentive – Symptoms can include: Difficulty organising and completing tasks, poor time management, difficulty concentrating, making simple mistakes, getting bored easily, forgetting things and not appearing to listen properly.

Predominately Hyperactive / Impulsive – Symptoms can include: Restlessness, moving and talking excessively, inability to relax, feeling nervous or on edge most of the time, difficulty with focus and attention, difficulty sleeping.

Mixed – A combination of Inattentive, Hyperactive and Impulsive symptoms.

In clinic we find that children and adults often present with problems affecting:

Concentration and focus – If you have problems with concentration and focus you may have trouble staying focused on tasks (especially when it is a boring or every day activity), you may be easily distracted and getting bored quickly, have difficulty paying attention particularly when listening (they often say they “zone out” during a conversation or can’t remember directions or people’s names), and have a tendency to make mistakes and overlook details.

Organisation and memory – If you have problems with organisation and memory you may have trouble prioritising, starting and finishing tasks, generally be disorganised and have poor time management (often arriving late and underestimating how long as task will take to complete) and you may also frequently forget things.

Hyperactivity and impulsivity – If you have problems with hyperactivity and impulsivity you may find it difficult managing your emotions and have poor self-control. You may find it difficult in situations with others and be impatient and interrupt people, you may act or speak before you think and have difficulty sitting still or waiting your turn. You may find it very hard to relax and “switch off” and may find it difficult to sleep.

These types of behaviours can have a severe impact on all aspects of life, particularly at school or work and home. Children with ADHD are at in increased risk of having disciplinary problems and dropping out of school. Adolescents with ADHD have an increased risk of car accidents and are more likely to smoke cigarettes and abuse drugs, have problems with employment and are at an increased risk of mental health problems. Adults with ADHD are at an increased risk of physical and mental health problems including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, compulsive eating, drug or alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, marital and relationship difficulties as well as employment problems.

Not surprisingly the wide-reaching effects of ADHD can lead to embarrassment, frustration, hopelessness, disappointment, and loss of confidence for both children and adults. You may feel like you’ll never be able to get your life under control. Getting a diagnosis of ADHD is often an enormous source of relief. It helps you understand that you are not to blame and the difficulties you have been experiencing all your life are the symptoms of ADHD and not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw. Getting treatment for your ADHD will probably change your life, and the lives of people around you.

Treatment

In the past treatment for ADHD was often limited to medication. However, now it is generally accepted that the most effective treatment for ADHD should involve a range of interventions. At The Perth Brain Centre we focus primarily on providing Neurofeedback Therapy, which is recognised by The American Academy of Paediatrics to be an effective treatment for ADHD and featured in Dr. Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”, the sequel to his international best-selling book “The Brain That Changes Itself.”

Neurofeedback is a brain-based treatment that uses a sophisticated brain-computer interface to “strengthen” or retrain the brain. Neurofeedback harnesses neuroplasticity and the brain’s natural and life-long ability to learn by training brainwaves, the tiny electrical signals produced by the brain. At The Perth Brain Centre we use QEEG brain scans to pin-point the “weak” areas of the brain. In many cases of ADHD there is too much slow brain wave activity (known as Theta Brain Waves) in a region at the front of the brain known as the “pre-frontal cortex”. Neurofeedback works by “strengthening” or retraining this “weak” part of the brain by normalising brainwave activity.

“2-D QEEG Brain Map showing increased (seen as red areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with ADHD. This increased slow frequency brainwave activity is localised to a region of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex."

2-D QEEG Brain Map showing increased (seen as red areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with ADHD. This increased slow frequency brainwave activity is localised to a region of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex.

3-D QEEG brain imaging known as Loretta Analysis also showing increased (seen as red areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with ADHD. 3-D Loretta Analysis can help pin-point the problem areas in the brain, and in this case confirm the presence of increased slow frequency brainwave activity localised to the pre-frontal cortex.

3-D QEEG brain imaging known as Loreta Analysis also showing increased (seen as red areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with ADHD. 3-D Loreta Analysis can help pin-point the problem areas in the brain, and in this case confirm the presence of increased slow frequency brainwave activity localised to the pre-frontal cortex.

 

Neurofeedback is suitable for people of almost all ages. Patients sit comfortably and relax during training whilst sensors precisely detect and measure brainwave activity. This information is analysed in real-time and presented as audio and visual feedback which is used to “strengthen” and retrain the brain. Changing the brain takes time but people often notice improvements within a few sessions.

In addition to Neurofeedback Therapy we also provide life-style advice to help people with ADHD. This includes advice about diet and exercise, sleep, time-management and organisation skills.  In some cases it can also be helpful to consult with our psychologist and we are of course very happy to work alongside other healthcare professionals in the best interest of all our patients.

To discover how we can help you please call to arrange an appointment on (08) 6500 3277 now.