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by Alan Solomon, Ph.D.
Treatment for ADHD without Medication
Some parents have raised concerns about medication treatments
for their children who are diagnosed with ADHD, whether it be the more
traditional stimulant (such as Ritalin), or a newer medication (Strattera,
for example). Recent reports from the FDA, which identified possible issues
for adults with ADHD on stimulant medications regarding blood pressure
and stroke risks, have prompted more questions from parents about the
use of medications for their children.
There is an alternative to medication, called Neurotherapy, offered to
children at the ADD Treatment Center, in Torrance, California, run by
Gary Schummer, Ph.D. The Center describes it as an approach that “…allows
an individual to develop control over their own brain activity.”
Feedback from a computer, using EEG technology, informs the patient “…when
his/her brain is producing desirable patterns consistent with attention
and alertness. Likewise, the computer lets the patient know when his/her
brain is producing undesirable excess low frequencies or heightened muscle
tension.” These low frequencies are associated with lower levels
of attention, focus, listening, learning and comprehension – all
the classic symptoms of ADHD. “By letting a patient know instantly
when they are more attentive, focused, and alert, neurofeedback makes
learned self-control possible, without the need for medications, or their
The first reports of success with this approach were published in the
mid and late 1970’s, by Dr. Joel Lubar at the University of Tennessee.
He developed protocols for these initial treatment efforts with ADHD.
Dr. Schummer, and others, have further advanced these efforts over the
years. More information is available at www.addtreatmentcenters.com.
My own observations of children in this type of treatment does substantiate
that it can cause significant progress. A substantial commitment of time
and resources is needed, however – generally a minimum of 4-5 months
of sessions that must take place 2-3 times per week. An initial evaluation
with a specialized EEG is also required to identify the type of ADHD and
the protocols to use in the therapy.
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