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    Developmental trauma no match for neurofeedback

    submitted by Dr. Maria DiDonato, D. Ed. Psychologist, Achievement & Wellness Center

    Ricky (not his real name), an 11-year-old boy from Newtown, was experiencing difficulties with adjustment to a new lifestyle with his adoptive parents. His behaviors were reflective of developmental childhood trauma. Because of that trauma, he was displaying low motivation, lack of positive affect, poor emotional awareness, and expression. His adoptive parents decided to bring him for neurofeedback to help with the adjustment of a new lifestyle and hopefully help with establishing a better emotional and behavioral balance.

    Academically his achievement was also below the expected levels. On interview, Ricky appeared guarded, did not smile, and appeared to have a flat affect. He avoided eye contact and seemed uncomfortable with the interview process. He did agree to listen to the benefits of neurofeedback and a trial session. 

    The protocol that was used specifically addressed developmental trauma and calmed the trauma and hypervigilance parts of his brain. After the first session, he reported that he had more energy, felt calm, had better concentration, felt more awake and alert and felt physically better. Gradually, he started to look calmer and more cheerful. Over time he appeared more cheerful and smiled more.  He appeared more comfortable when he entered the office and engaged with the counselor. 

    A quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) was part of his diagnostic plan to help with addressing specific areas of dysregulation. Gradually, Ricky’s progress reports reflected less depression, forgetfulness, agitation, spaciness, aggressiveness and sleep dysregulation.  He began achieving better in school.

    Even though progress is slow, parents are pleased with the adjustment he is making socially and academically and are hopeful about his continuing progress and happiness.

    Neurofeedback can help to regulate traumatic experiences by calming the area of the brain that is most disrupted by trauma. Over time as the trauma is calmed down. the individual is able to begin enjoying a happier life. 

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