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Changing Lives: Overcoming ADHD with Neurofeedback Brain Training

May 23, 2024

May 23, 2024

Parents, teachers, and caregivers often face challenges when trying to help children with ADHD and similar behavior issues. Many see ADHD as a condition that lasts a lifetime, and some parents hesitate to get their child diagnosed because they worry about stigma. They might also wonder if the child’s actions are on purpose or if the child is just not trying hard enough to complete tasks. Usually, these assumptions are not correct for kids with ADHD.

What’s not commonly realized is that children with ADHD often have trouble processing what they see and hear. This can make daily activities and learning much harder for them. However, there’s new hope with a method called neurofeedback. This is a safe, non-invasive way to train the brain that’s showing promise in addressing the root causes of the behaviors linked to ADHD.

Children with adhd are often restless

Louis’s Story

Louis* (age 11, African-American, male) was diagnosed with emotional disturbance and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Louis was described as having behaviors that included impulsivity, emotional disruption, potential for self-harm, decreased focus, history of family conflict, being overstimulated by loud sounds, being sensitive to chaos, and being ‘hyper.’ 

Louis was also a pleasant child who seemed to want to do his best, but something was getting in his way. He was struggling in school, and he conflicted with other children. So, it was important to understand what was contributing to his difficulties and determine if an alternative approach to the traditional interventions would make a difference in his life.

Understanding ADHD’s impact on the Black community highlights a growing concern: an increasing number of Black children are being diagnosed with ADHD. According to research by Cénat, which looked at data from 1979 to 2019, about 13.87% of Black children are diagnosed with ADHD, a rate higher than the 10% seen across all races and ethnicities.

The consequences of ADHD and similar learning challenges are significant. Kids facing these issues often struggle more in school and might not do as well academically. They can also have a harder time making friends, might end up in the hospital more often, are at a higher risk for using substances, and could find it tougher to get good jobs as adults. To tackle ADHD and its wide-ranging effects, we need to look closely at the underlying causes of these symptoms.

“About 13.87% of Black children are diagnosed with ADHD, a rate higher than the 10% seen across all races and ethnicities.”

Children with attention issues, emotional difficulties, and learning problems often exhibit behaviors that are easily misunderstood. This is largely because our beliefs about a behavior influence how we respond to it. For instance, a psychiatrist might view these as signs of mental dysfunction and prescribe medication, while a behaviorist might focus on behavior management strategies. Parents might see these behaviors as simply “bad” and resort to punishment. Teachers could feel disrespected, leading to schools potentially expelling the child. However, others might recognize a child in need and offer support.

When we start to interpret behaviors as a form of communication, it shifts the conversation. Viewing these problematic behaviors as a way children express their struggles can help us approach them with more compassion and less judgment. To truly address and resolve behavioral issues, we need to shift from simply trying to stop the behavior quickly to understanding what the behaviors signify. This understanding opens up new, more effective ways to help these children.

Take a child like Louis, who’s been diagnosed with a range of issues from ADHD to oppositional defiant disorder and beyond. These kids often struggle both at home and school. Traditional treatments like medication and behavior therapy don’t always help in the long run, mainly because they don’t address underlying issues like trouble with auditory and visual processing.

Children with these challenges might struggle with things like following directions, completing homework, staying focused, or keeping their belongings organized. It’s tough for anyone, kids and adults alike, to explain their struggles in a way that others can truly understand. For a child, it’s especially disheartening when their efforts don’t seem to meet the expectations of parents and teachers, leaving them confused and upset about the negative reactions they often face.

Parents and teachers must realize these kids aren’t just acting out or being lazy. They genuinely want to do well and make everyone proud. But when they keep running into barriers, no matter how hard they try, it can be scary and frustrating. This ongoing struggle can shake their confidence and self-esteem, leading them to believe they’re not smart or capable, and they can be tough on themselves.

Deep within the struggles associated with ADHD and other behavioral and emotional issues, there’s a lesser-known culprit: problems with auditory and visual processing. This explains why traditional treatments like medications and behavioral therapies often don’t bring lasting relief for many children.

It’s important to understand that auditory and visual processing issues don’t mean a child can’t hear or see well. For example, a child like Louis might hear his teacher’s instructions perfectly but struggle to organize, interpret, and remember what was said. Similarly, Louis might see all the numbers on a math worksheet but have trouble understanding how they fit together or what to do next.

These challenges are not about the ability to hear or see, but rather about how the brain processes and retains what it perceives. Importantly, experiencing these processing difficulties does not imply that a child has cognitive limitations, which affect learning and problem-solving; developmental delays, where a child reaches milestones later than peers; or intellectual disabilities, which impact a range of everyday skills.

Now, let’s get back to Louis’s story…

Child with adhd on successful black parenting magazine

Louis recently took a 20-minute computer test that checked 37 areas of how he processes what he hears and sees. Here are the key points from his first evaluation, which are split into auditory and visual processing sections. In this assessment, a score of 100 is seen as average.

In Louis’s assessment, we uncovered several significant challenges in how he processes sound, which are hindering his ability to learn, grow, and effectively communicate. Here’s a breakdown of the specific areas where Louis is struggling:

  • Auditory Vigilance: Louis often finds it hard to stay focused on sounds, leading to frequent inattentiveness.
  • Auditory Elasticity: Once distracted, Louis has a tough time regaining his focus, which sets him back in situations that require sustained attention.
  • Auditory Focus: He has a very hard time keeping his attention steady, landing him in the extremely impaired range for auditory focus.
  • Auditory Prudence: Sounds easily distract him, showing a clear weakness in filtering out unnecessary noise.
  • Auditory Consistency: Louis struggles with reliably recalling information he hears, which affects how well he can follow through on instructions or tasks.
  • Auditory Steadiness: Keeping up with conversations or verbal instructions is especially difficult for him due to his extremely impaired ability to track ongoing verbal information.

Together, these issues severely impact his ability to comprehend auditory information. Louis finds it particularly challenging to remember details, follow rules, and understand instructions, all crucial for his learning and daily interactions.

Louis’s struggles extend beyond hearing into how he processes what he sees, which significantly affects his academic performance and daily activities. Here’s a closer look at the specific visual processing challenges he faces:

  • Visual Focus: Louis has an extremely hard time maintaining visual attention, which leads to frequent mistakes in math, spelling, and reading because he can’t stay focused on the details.
  • Visual Prudence: His ability to ignore surrounding visual distractions is moderately to severely impaired, which means he easily gets sidetracked by things happening around him.
  • Visual Consistency: Louis struggles with performing visual tasks reliably. This inconsistency places him in the moderate to severely impaired range and increases the likelihood of errors.
  • Visual Steadiness: He has significant trouble performing visual tasks both quickly and accurately, as his ability to track and respond to visual information is extremely impaired.

These visual processing difficulties culminate in substantial challenges in Visual Comprehension. Louis finds it particularly tough to follow instructions on visual tasks, which greatly affects how he handles classroom activities and homework. Additionally, Louis scored mildly impaired on Fine Motor Hyperactivity, which contributes to issues with self-control, adding to his confusion and impulsivity. This array of challenges makes everyday tasks and learning much more difficult for him.

Many of the challenges associated with ADHD, including behavioral issues and emotional difficulties, can be traced back to problems with how individuals process what they hear and see. “

When Louis started struggling with various learning and behavioral issues, a unique approach called neurofeedback, or brain training, was introduced as part of his plan. Neurofeedback is a gentle, non-invasive method where nothing is physically administered to the body—no needles, no medications. Instead, it’s like a workout session for the brain, helping it practice and perfect new skills through repetition.

Here’s how it worked for Louis: He went through 10 hours of this training, focusing specifically on strengthening the parts of his brain responsible for processing what he hears and sees. Much like how we learn to ride a bike or drive a car, Louis’s brain used these sessions to learn and lock in better ways of concentrating, remembering, and staying focused.

After completing his sessions, the improvement was clear and measurable. We could see it in his test results and in everyday life. His ability to process visual information had gotten much better, and issues like hyperactivity were greatly reduced. Although there were still some areas needing more work, such as Visual Stamina and Auditory Stamina, the overall changes were significant. These areas showed less improvement possibly because of external factors like the time of day and his level of tiredness during retesting.

Thanks to neurofeedback, Louis experienced a real shift. His troubles with following instructions, impulsive behavior, and other challenges decreased dramatically. He became a happier child, more in tune with his surroundings, and far more settled.

This approach underscores the incredible ability of the brain to adapt and improve with the right kind of training. For parents looking for alternatives to traditional treatments, neurofeedback offers a promising path to not just managing symptoms but truly transforming lives.

Neurofeedback taps into something truly amazing about the human brain—its ability to change and adapt, known as neuroplasticity. “Neuro” refers to the brain, and “plasticity” means the capacity to be molded or changed. Essentially, our brain is continuously reshaping itself based on our actions and experiences, adjusting its structure and how it functions in response to what we do and think.

This ability is crucial when dealing with auditory and visual processing challenges. These issues can disrupt a child’s ability to focus, pay attention, remember details, and follow instructions. If a child can’t consistently pay attention to information, their brain finds it tough to store that information properly. This inconsistency makes it hard for them to remember things, which is a big part of why kids with these processing difficulties struggle in school and with following rules.

By leveraging neurofeedback, we can directly enhance the brain’s natural ability to adapt and improve itself. This method doesn’t just help manage the symptoms—it actively trains the brain to become better at processing sensory information, making lasting changes that can transform how a child interacts with the world.

Understanding that simply relying on traditional methods is not enough to tackle the symptoms and behaviors linked with ADHD and similar conditions is a key step forward. These challenges are often rooted in auditory and visual processing difficulties, which point to causes that haven’t been fully recognized until now.

Neurofeedback offers a powerful alternative for treating these core issues, not just in children but also in adults. It provides a new way for children like Louis to step away from the old belief that ADHD is a lifelong struggle. By looking at these conditions with a new perspective, we can truly change lives and achieve results that last, benefiting everyone involved.

If you’re curious about how neurofeedback could help, I encourage you to visit my website. You’ll find more about how this approach has been a game-changer for many families over the years. You can also explore Dr. McReynolds’ services, including telehealth options, and check out her book “Solving the ADHD Riddle” to learn more about the transformative potential of neurofeedback.

Dr. Connie McReynolds

Connie on successful black parenting magazine

Dr. Connie McReynolds is a Licensed Psychologist and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with a 30-year career in rehabilitation counseling and psychology. Earning her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she is the visionary behind pioneering neurofeedback clinics in Southern California aimed at treating ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, and other conditions. Dr. McReynolds is an acclaimed author, with her book Solving the ADHD Riddle reaching #1 on Amazon in eight categories.

She is a respected figure in her field and a beacon of hope, passionately committed to improving the quality of life of individuals of all ages through her innovative approaches. For more visit

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