In October of 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics gave neurofeedback their top rating in application to the behavioral symptoms of ADHD. This means that neurofeedback has met the highest standards currently being applied to the appraisal of psychosocial interventions. Although in our minds some kind of recognition could have happened—and should have happened—decades earlier, it was nevertheless surprising when it occurred.
ADHD? How could that be? My son would engage in video games for hours with no break in concentration. Robert wasn’t wiggly in class like the other ADHD kids. In fact, I suspected that ADHD might be a myth – an excuse for poor teaching or lack of parental discipline. I couldn’t understand how parents would let anyone put their kids at risk with narcotic drugs, no matter how unruly their behavior. All in all, I held a fairly typical attitude.
Something exciting is happening at The Salvation Army Bell Shelter in Los Angeles that I want to share with you this Veterans Day. It started this past May with a small group of veterans who volunteered to be part of a neurofeedback pilot study. The veterans were randomly selected to be either part of the treatment group or the non-treatment, waitlist group. For four weeks during the month of May, the veterans in the treatment group were given five 30-minute neurofeedback sessions. At the end of 20 sessions, five veterans in the treatment group were compared to five veterans in the non-treatment group. I am happy to report the results were astounding.
After serving in Iraq, wounded Marine Lance Corporal Chris Allen couldn’t shake images of losing his best friend after their Humvee was hit by an RPG; Chris was the sole survivor. He took shrapnel to his knee, thigh, and eye and, after returning home, he turned to alcohol to help numb the emotional and physical pain. Chris was experiencing the classic signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A fellow veteran and former Homecoming for Veteran participant at Neurofeedback – Train Your Brain (NTYB) convinced Chris to do neurofeedback.
Most of those who enter the Armed Forces benefit from the training experience, and would agree that life in the military allowed them to improve in their personal competence and skills to a greater degree than if the same amount of time had been spent in civilian life. On the other hand, it is also likely that combat experience exacts a price in a large minority, if not the majority, of service members. This is not easily accepted because it is difficult for any of us to confront our own shortcomings. The burden military discipline imposes is to take full responsibility for one’s own performance. When that is not possible, denial is the likely response. You want to own the problem by any and all means, and go from there.