February 20, 2018

Neurotherapy for Reactive Attachment Disorder and ADHD

We have been learning SO MUCH about Reactive Attachment Disorder and ADHD over the last couple of years, and much of what we learned is very scientific. One of the things we’ve learned about is neurotherapy (or neurofeedback) and how that can help with these disorders.

We have five adopted kids, and one of the main things you need to be aware of if you’re going to adopt is that the child is most likely going to have some attachment issues. Reactive Attachment Disorder is a very real and very serious problem, but it is one that can be reversed and the child can become whole and well again.

What happens when a child is abused, neglected, or any number of other things, is that their brain does not fully develop in a healthy way. They get used to doing all of their thinking in the back or “Flight, Fight, or Freeze” part of their brain and the neural pathways never develop to the logical, front part of the brain. This is a very simplified explanation of what happens and being that I’m just a dad and not a doctor or scientist, I’ll leave it at that. You can learn more from a neurotherapist in your community if you’re interested. However, I can speak to what happens to the behavior of the child.

Our kids have been having neurotherapy sessions once a week for 3 months now and I can truly say the results are astounding! One of them would get very stuck: if he didn’t want to do something or thought it wasn’t fair, he would become extremely belligerent, verbally abusive, he would act out, and be totally illogical for hours or days on end. He didn’t care who he hurt or offended – he was miserable to be around! In the last 2 or 3 weeks, we have seen the most remarkable change! He is able to articulate his feelings and to handle adversity and the word “no” much better. It seems like he’s grown up 5 years in the last 2 months – we can’t believe it!

We have another kiddo that is 11 and has always had the worst handwriting. About a week ago my wife looked at one of his papers and said “Who wrote this for you?” He stated that he did it, and she couldn’t believe it! It was 50 times more legible than it had ever been in the past.

Another one of our guys is 12 and he’s always been pretty ADHD. Since we started the neurotherapy, we’ve taken him off of his medication, and he’s much calmer and doesn’t have to be in control like in the past. It’s great!

So how does this work?

The first thing they do is go in for a “Brain Map”, which involves putting a electrodes all over their heads and measuring their brain waves – basically an EEG. This is how the therapist determines which areas to work on.

Then the therapy starts – watching movies and video games! They put these little sensors on the kid’s fingers which measure heart beat, breathing, and sweat, then they make a car go in a video game if they’re able to stay calm. This helps to remap the brain somehow – don’t ask me how, but I know it works!

After that, the child picks out a movie and the therapist puts sensors on each ear, and on one spot on their head (in the area they want to “fix”). The kid watches the movie, and if the brain does something that it’s not supposed to, the movie stops for a split second. The brain then “reprograms” its action, using a different pathway that’s more appropriate and the movie starts again. This teaches the brain to use the right pathways instead of the wrong ones, and builds up that communication between the back and the front of the brain.

It seems wild, I know, but it works! If you’ve got a kid that has RAD, ADD, ADHD, or autism I would highly recommend trying out this therapy! What have you got to lose? Here’s a video I found about one child’s experience, take a look.

What else can you do?

The best book we’ve found for parenting our RAD kids is When Love Is Not Enough by Nancy Thomas. For parents of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder this is a must have.

We’ve also had much success with Total Transformation by James Lehman. Though it’s not written specifically for RAD kids, the techniques we’ve learned in it have worked very well for ours.

About the author: By

Matt is the parent (along with his wife Julie) to five wonderful kids. He has been self-employed for 25+ years and is the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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  1. Mary Sharkey says:

    Hi Mary,
    I was searching the web for info on Zach’s Disorder and found this article. I thought it sounded very interesting and very positive.
    Let me know what you think after reading.

  2. It sounds like neurotherapy has been successful for your children. Would you give me the name and number of the dr your children went to for brain mapping/neurotherapy? What state ? We adopted and he is 16 now. Has RAD ODD ADD etc. need help!!! Thx so much!

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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