“0n 17th November 2011 I attended the Conference for the SENCO’s in the Independent Sector. One key note speaker was Dr Rutterford from the Learning Assessment and Neurocare Centre/University of East Anglia. He was describing neurofeedback training, something that I had not heard of before. I was both intrigued and captivated by his methods and findings from two perspectives; one as a SENCO in a school with a number of pupils with ADHD and ASD; and two as my daughter, also has ADHD and ASD. My instant feeling was that this could benefit these children.
When I approached Dr Rutterford to discuss if he could come to my school and speak with parents and staff he was only too pleased to do so, despite the school being located on the Scottish Borders. Within 2 weeks Dr Rutterford was delivering this talk to the interested parties. Whilst Dr Rutterford was here it was also agreed that my daughter would also take part in the QEEG analysis. Prior to this Dr Rutterford and I had emailed on a number of occasions and had spoken on the phone in order that my daughter could be prepared for the process and so that there would be no surprises. Dr Rutterford explained that there was no need for my daughter to come off the medication that she was taking for her ADHD which was also quite a relief to school and us at home.
The QEEG analysis was completed sensitively and my daughter was constantly reassured throughout the process. Dr Rutterford, was experienced in working with children with difficulties such as Olivia and had pre-empted any of the fears or anxieties that she might have had. Before placing the electrodes on her head he stuck them to his arms and to hers so that she knew that they would not hurt her; the gel (which might cause distress to sensory children) was also liberally applied to Dr Rutterford before going onto my daughter and he was able to chat to her exactly about what she needed to be able to do. The most amazing thing was that all my daughter had to do in fact was sit still (sometimes challenging!) with her eyes open and her eyes closed. Better still this ‘assessment’ only lasted a few minutes and did not require lots of people asking her to perform, listen, perform once again etc. The only other requirement for the process was a short questionnaire for parents to complete. This asked for areas that we felt were difficult for her.
Within the week Dr Rutterford had produced the report for us and the data was hugely revealing. Not only did it tie in with her ADHD diagnosis, her ASD traits but also her difficulties associated with communication and language processing. This provided us with a really interesting piece of evidence and in a way acted as reassurance for some of the decisions that we had made for her. We were already convinced by my daughter’s diagnosis but had not been so certain of the decision that we had made to medicate. In a strange way this made us feel better about this decision as we had some hard facts to back up the very valuable but often subjective decisions that had been made by other professionals working with her. We also recognised that it was a real privilege to have this data as we could also use it to help to explain to her and to family members and those that work with her that much of her behaviours and difficulties were truly not in her control.
Dr Rutterford discussed this with us over the telephone and we agreed that it would be beneficial for my daughter to start the programme of neurofeedback training that was recommended in the report.
My daughter began the process and has now completed about 25 sessions. These sessions are delivered at school by my daughter’s Learning Support Assistant and the School Nurse. Over the few weeks that she has been doing the programme she has become increasingly more familiar with the process involved and is actively engaging with it. Luckily for us our daughter loves food so a few little treats at the end of each session are proving to be sufficient motivation for her to continue and try.
Over this time Dr Rutterford has asked us to rate a number of areas to see what impact there has been. Interestingly her school teacher has noticed that she is more responsive and engaged in her learning. Her concentration has improved and she is more prepared to take risks such as trying something that she hasn’t been able to do before. At home she is becoming more verbal and is contributing to regular conversation far more than she has done in the past, she is able to ask for things and her concentration when completing her school work has certainly improved. Indeed, her Speech and Language Therapist visited today and noticed a marked difference in her sentence construction and what she actually wanted to say. All of the areas that we initially rated as the worst rating possible have gradually bettered and I am hopeful that this will continue. This has been a positive thing for all of our family to go through and I am very pleased that we have been able to be part of it.”
Mrs. H. Notman