So my first official week of occupational therapy (OT) went amazingly well! Actually, the first few appointments were very similar so I have combine them. If you haven’t read my previous posts about my son’s occupational therapy, check those out to see how we got to this point!
I showed up, and our occupational therapist started with Neurofeedback for my son.
What is Neurofeedback?
I had no clue what it was when I started either. The way it was explained to me is that Neurofeedback is where you have sensors placed on your head, and there is a program that helps to retrain your brain to help it to process stimuli correctly.
According to EEG Info:
“Neurofeedback is direct training of brain function, by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. We observe the brain in action from moment to moment. We show that information back to the person. And we reward the brain for changing its own activity to more appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of brain function that we can measure. Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram, or EEG. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain directly. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the system (the central nervous system) to function better.
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain disregulation. These happen to be numerous. They include the anxiety-depression spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, PMS and emotional disturbances. It is also useful for organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum, and cerebral palsy.”
As you can see, Neurofeedback has a lot of possible uses. Admittedly, as I have been reading, there are no proven scientific benefits, but science is going in that direction. And the way I see it, it is currently helping my son and it’s not medicating him in any way. That is the last thing I want to do for my almost 3 year old unless it is deemed completely necessary.
So as I mentioned, we started with Neurofeedback with my son. The OT put sensors on his head, and then headphones with calming music. The Neurofeedback tracked the electrical impulses in my son’s brain. Evidently, brains are supposed to be as efficient as possible, and the more efficient, the better a person functions on an every day basis.
In order to be efficient brains should have a very small amount of electrical currents taking place. The higher the number, the more out-of-sync your brain is. Or even possibly, the more anxious, scared, or mad the person is feeling.
Usually when my son goes into OT, his number is pretty high, but then when he leaves, the number is much lower.
My son doesn’t just sit there while this is taking place though, since the Neurofeedback usually takes 30-35 minutes, that that would be impossible for an almost 3 year old!
The OT usually works on my son’s poor core and hand strength. We do a lot of fine motor work through really fun activities! My little boy LOVES his letters, so we practice writing letters in many different ways. One of the ways is with a program called Handwriting Without Tears.
It is like a mini magnetic doodle board, but with straight lines and curves as stamps to create all of the capital letters. My son LOVED it! It’s actually going to be a birthday present for him this year.
Along with letter activities, we do other activities that work on his hand, shoulder, and core strength.
For hand strength
The OT uses basic things like play-doh and loop scissors. Along with that, she uses broken crayons to help encourage a correct, tripod, grip. Full size crayons make it easy to fist the whole crayon, which leads to those weak hand muscles.
For shoulder strength
This is where art easels come into play. Having the arm upright and drawing increases shoulder strength. Since my son’s shoulders are so weak, he didn’t even have enough strength to make a mark on the paper with a crayon. I had no idea that those muscles were so weak! So what we did was dip q-tips into paint and let him paint that way.
Another thing the OT suggested was to let him use dry erase markers on a window or sliding glass door. My son has had a BLAST doing something he’s not usually allowed to do (writing on a “wall”). Washable markers also come off really easily with just a wet paper towel. Try it out! Your kids will love it.
For core strength
The biggest thing for core strength that the OT recommended is to make sure that my son was sitting up straight. He is a total sloucher, which doesn’t strengthen those muscles at all. Another recommendation was to get him to jump on a trampoline. Jumping on a trampoline uses a lot of important core muscles that help to keep you upright.
All of these tips can be used at home as well (obviously) and I love that I don’t have to just wait for one time a week to help my little boy. I’m so grateful for occupational therapy and the changes that it is already making for him! I have some pretty big news too, so hang tight for the next post!
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