Personalised Brain training for mind and soul
– lack of empathy, understanding social emotions
– loner qualities
– attention seeking, “class clown” behaviour, hyperactive
– centre-of-the-universe thinking, self-centred
– inflexibility, impulsive aggression
– mild repetitive, restrictive behaviour and interests
– sleep issues – early rise, inadequate sleep time
– calmer, considerate
– emotional maturation
– part of social circle, friends
– improved sleep and rest
– feels valued, appreciated
– flexible, stable moods, self-control
– widened interests
– better relationship with mother
Farouk is 9 years old. Growing up perfectly bilingual, he is an outstanding academic performer, excellent at chess and mathematics, and attends a strict school with structured after-school activities. He was diagnosed with ADHD and some subclinical autistic traits, which stimulant medication exacerbated. Highly energetic, Farouk was difficult to manage in his home environment, and his mother had the following concerns that led her to seek a psychiatric assessment:
When we began neurofeedback training at his home, his parents were wary of his willingness to cooperate, as well as the effect it could have, as they’d tried various approaches before, unsuccessfully, and were worn down by him to the extent it became a strain on their own relationship. Farouk entered the room with suspicion, and seeing that someone new was willing to give him attention, began showing me some magic tricks. We then suggested a brain map to him, and a knee-jerk reaction of “I’m not doing it!” quickly ceded to intrigue and interest. He quickly relented, having built up some trust, and also with the promise of a reward and the threat of sanctions by his mother. We did a twenty-minute qEEG recording, which confirmed the traits above. It was also apparent that he was not getting the necessary sleep, and as a result some intra-cortical communication was inconsistent.
Neurofeedback sessions with Farouk required special attention and presence: He was thrilled at the one-on-one attention of someone he could present his latest tricks and insights to, and once settled, had to check the workspace for pranks, such as magnets under the table on which the equipment was set up. We began with some youtube tricks, usually pranks, sports failures and cartoons, and he demanded my full attention to the content, which he would comment on. Vigorous, unexpected jerky movements commanded another eye on the equipment and cables, and demanded a calming, authoritative yet accommodating presence. We then eased into feature films, which he could watch for at most a half hour initially, losing interest in plot and character development. This improved with every session, and his immersion evolved quickly. Content had to be moderated to avoid repetition of a theme (Transformers) and over-activation, sometimes involving negotiation and distraction.
Still, we were able to do two-hour sessions that generally left him in a state of calm focus. His parents would structure physical activity around the sessions to prepare him beforehand, and deplete any remaining hyperactivity after. Strict adherence to mealtimes he was accustomed to had to be respected.
Within five sessions, Farouk became noticeable calmer in general. He began to develop an insight into some of his more adversarial behaviour, expressing feelings of guilt and remorse when he was reprimanded for attention-seeking pranks. He was sensitive to his mother’s admonishments, and she too was able to engage more emotionally with him. Sleep was still an issue.
We continued the weekly sessions, and for the next ten sessions, improvements seemed slow. A remap showed considerable changes however, in particular with regard to structural maturation as well as mood control. His parents were distracted by family and business matters, and his younger brother required more of their attention during this time.
A change in protocols prompted by the remap let us address other issues that are usually more tangentially related to sleep, but proved highly effective. Farouk began to accept that he needed more sleep and no longer resisted bedtime reminders and his habit of secretly reading and playing when the lights were turned off, as he admitted to his mother. He also ‘overslept’, in his own words, and it became a competition with his brother as to who could wake up later. This was a relative concept, as it still meant a 7am rise, even on weekends, though his sleep time would average in excess of eight hours for the first time.
The remap had convinced the parents that progress was still being made, and the sessions were worth the investment. By session twenty-five, we had been working together for eight months, including various vacation times. The results were now evident: Farouk had found acceptance by his classmates for whom he was, rather than ‘class clown’. Friends (!) came to play with him at his house, and the long school bus trips were no longer incident-prone. Maturity improvements, which the brain map showed, were evident cognitively and emotionally. Farouk was no longer the sole star of every show, but sensed and understood social emotions and felt part of something bigger. He had evolved from his gifted, outsider role and developed a healthy sense of self-worth, fuelled by feeling appreciated.
His sleep improved substantially, reflecting in his demeanour, composition, brain map and his parents’ ability to recuperate, all of which resulted in a noticeably more harmonious home setting. He showed greatly improved emotional maturity and insights, and was entertaining his little brother in a constructive manner. His parents were happy and appreciative, glad to have persisted. Farouk was on a new trajectory that he maintained post training.