Erika dropped in a while back to ask for a little more guidance about Fast ForWord. You should check out her dilemmas and my response here. Feel free to add your thoughts.
But I realized upon writing it that part of my reply needed to be upgraded to full post. Because as I can see by my Search Engine Terms, lots of people are looking for information on Fast ForWord right now, mostly because (I think) the summer vacation is a good time to do a programme that takes significant time and energy to make significant gains. And you searchers are absolutely right. Summer vacation is a GREAT time to do Fast ForWord–less pressure, more time. But I also wanted to do a quick overview of some other maybe helpful, maybe not helpful therapies that might be worth looking at. Over the weeks we’ll examine and discuss each one more in depth. But I thought it might be a good time to just talk about the different avenues open to someone looking.
1) Biofeedback for the brain. This therapy monitors brain waves and plays games to reduce brain noise and increase the right kind of brain waves that help with attention and concentration. This is a therapy that is often recommended. We tried it for our daughter, with very little result. The problem: it’s VERY expensive and as you know with brain therapies they are really only effective if you can get massed, focused practice. So, if you can find a good practitioner and if you can afford to have at least 3 sessions a week for an indeterminate amount of time, it’s possible this could be very effective therapy. Possible.
2) Medication. Woah. Stop. I saw you shaking your head there and probably thought “I’m not going to be one of those parents that medicates their child.” I’m just guessing. I don’t know how far down the road of this journey most of you are, but I’ve heard this thing from many a parent. So, I just want to say a couple of things. First of all, the view that parents indiscriminately medicate their child has come from the media and is just plain not true 99% of the time. No parent, including myself, has gone the medication route without AGONIZING over it. But there are kids, including my daughter, that benefit from medication. So, please don’t think you will become a bad mother if you go the medication route. I heard a talk from Howard Eaton who runs the Arrowswmith program (much like Fast ForWord, but more in depth as it targets 19 different learning issues with very specific therapies) and of 100 kids admitted, they told the parents of 10-15 of them (I can’t remember the exact number) that they wouldn’t get through the programme without medication — because brain change takes focus, which these kids just didn’t have. After the programme only 3 of them still required medication. So, maybe medication might be a short-term solution, like you might use a crutch while a leg injury heals.
However, just this week a new study found that kids on ADHD medication were 6-8 times more likely to die suddenly than the norm, so you really have to weigh the pros and cons on that one. (Like you weren’t going to do that right?)
3) Nutrition. This is a tricky one. Get allergies tested obviously. Also get a good naturopath that can test for sensitivities that don’t come up on allergy tests. The problem with allergy tests is that unless something causes a physiological response it isn’t an allergy, so if it causes a behavioural response (like aggressive behaviour) that wouldn’t be classified as an allergy, but is very important information for you. I actually do not recommend going the whole hog organic mommy routine because it can set up a bad food dynamic and extra tension in an already tense household. But diet can be very effective, you just have to be kind of sneaky about it and flexible enough to let some bad foods through.
4) Vision Therapy. Can also be very effective for some kids. Lots of eye exercises that help with changing focus etc. This was more effective for my son than for my daughter but for neither one did I feel the benefits lasted very long. It’s also expensive and requires lots of hands-on exercises which can be tense for the same reasons that Fast ForWord can become tense.
5) Chelation. I would not do it. A nine-year-old autistic boy died from having chelation done.
6) Physical stuff — something that teaches focus like Yoga or Tae-Kwon-Do. If you go the martial arts route though be very careful what school you take him to. Some of them can have a really bad tyrant teacher dynamic.
7) Auditory Therapy — there’s Earobics, Tomatis and a few others that I can’t think of right now.
I think what’s trickiest is the complicated kids get a little distance with each therapy. Maybe Fast ForWord just looked like a magic bullet for my daughter because at that point she’d already been through all the therapies I mentioned plus a couple of others. But lots of little distances still add up to a long distance.
What have you tried? What’s worked? What wasn’t the $$ or the time? Did you try something that isn’t on the list? We really need to know.
I tried some kind of neurotherapy when younger daughter was five or six. Time-comsuming, expensive, and not sure if there were benefits. Also, the people doing it kinda faded away after a year or so, and I didn’t trouble to hunt them down. I suppose it says something that I can remember little of the particulars now.
Brain Gym? Meh.
Dietary intervention. Now here we have seen a difference, mainly because if we stop, we see regression. Most effective: fish oil supplements, Vitamin D, and dietary enzymes (the last we do because I’m way too much of a wuss to tackle GFCF). As I’ve said, if we run out, we see a negative difference within a few days. (And, shhhh, we’ve been doing a mild kind of chelation for the past six years or so, using alpha-lipoic acid. It makes enough of a difference that we have persisted.)
We also found epsom salt baths were a life-saver when she was younger. She doesn’t seem to need them now.
@Persephone I’m with you on the neurotherapy thing. I just haven’t seen it make that big a difference in anybody to make me want to spend that kind of money and time.
Vitamin D and dietary enzymes I’d like to know more about. We already do the fish oil and I can tell when my son has stopped taking his. I hear you about the GFCF. We did dairy, wheat, sugar free for about 6 weeks and it was brutal. Unfortunately, it also made a difference, but it’s a very difficult thing to maintain and it doesn’t teach the kids balance.
Alpha lipoic acid you say? What differences do you notice?
And what do the epsom salt baths do?
So many questions Persephone!
As I know you know all too well, I’m speaking about effects on one particular kid whose official label is PDD-NOS (yes, that one). Your results may vary.
I give her a pretty hefty dose of vitamin D and have for about 7 years now. Canadian kids seem to be at particular risk for a deficiency, due partly to our lack of sunshine. There have been all sorts of warnings about overdosing on this, but you’d need to be really gulping the capsules back to do that. We give her one with breakfast and one at dinner. Again, if we run out, we see the fog closing in within a day or two.
Do links work for this blog? I guess I’ll find out. We use Houston Enzymes and have done so for the past eight years. Within weeks after starting, she made some of her first recognizable drawings, stopped concentrating on the ceiling fans at church and start watching those around her, and her preschool teacher reported a notable improvement in focus. They’re pricey, but now there’s a Canadian supplier which helps a bit with the border expenses.
With the ALA (which we never use for more than two weeks running and usually only on weekends, 100mg every three hours), we’ve noticed, again, an improvement of focus and better speech. She also seems eager to take the pills, but when I try to get her to tell me how they make her feel, the response is inconclusive.
We don’t do the epsom salts any more, but a couple of cups in her bath helped her mellow out at bedtime and made our lives that much pleasanter. Again, her teachers would notice if we discontinued the salts. As I’ve said, she doesn’t seem to need this anymore.
I don’t know if this is any help, but there it is…
Tae kwon do can be therapeutic to kids with ADHD, but you’re right about choosing the school carefully. The school and instructors have to be on-board with having a student with ADHD or it won’t work.