Brain Hacks: Will this amazing one continue to work?

NOTE TO VISITORS FROM LEARNING BREAKTHROUGH’S SITE: We’ve stopped using this program and you might want to read my June 9, 2008 Final Update on Learning Breakthrough here to find out why.

Something amazing has occurred that my pragmatic, cautiously optimistic self usually would wait to discuss in such a public way and after being armed with more evidence, but maybe…just maybe…this will be of benefit to others so I’m going to leap forward with my very preliminary results and post about our progress over the next 12-15 months.

As I discussed in my podcast on March 11th, I’ve got ADD and my son inherited mine with a hyperactive twist (i.e., ADHD) which, by the way, I view as a positive and not as a “dysfunction”. Fortunately, his Mom and I have taken an extraordinarily proactive approach to dealing with it in an attempt to shield him from many of the negative effects that often befall young people as they progress through their teen years (e.g., chemical dependency, criminal or aggressive behavior, lack of achievement and failure in school, etc.). So far he’s remained his delightful, 99th percentile IQ, voracious-reading self but is struggling with organizational issues (or should I say the complete lack thereof).

We’ve been to the Amen Clinic and had the Brain SPECT imaging performed which added to our knowledge and really helped us narrow down my son’s ADHD subtype. In terms of regimens, we’ve done diet, exercise, reward, herbal, medicinal and other approaches with only modest success.

Fairly desperate, we’ve continued to be on the hunt. A few weeks ago, after meeting with his exasperated teachers and the school staff due to his missed assignments, disorganization and lack of focus negatively impacting his achievement, I came home and Google’ed my little heart out for hours looking for cutting edge research and approaches.

I found one…and it seems too good to be true and damn, its effects have been almost magical!

That night, I began to read about the theories and preliminary research on the cerebellum and its apparent lack of engagement in the brain function of people with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and other ailments. This manifests itself in the brain of people with these syndromes having to compensate for the cerebellum’s slowed state which exacerbates the focus issues in ADD/ADHD people and perceptive cloudiness in those with Dyslexia.

The one that looked most promising was a treatment center called the Dore Achievement Centers. Begun in the UK by Wynfred Dore whose daughter suffered with severe dyslexia. They claim that “The Dore Program is a clinically proven drug-free permanent solution for ADD, AD/HD, dyslexia, behavioral and other learning difficulties.” I read through their entire site, all the studies, viewed the videos and was convinced. My wife did too and we were so enthused that she contacted them in their Chicago facility and started the process.

Something troubled me about the data which seemed fuzzy and their price of $4,500. That, coupled with an every six week trip to Chicago for a Center visit (and its associated cost in time and money) made me venture out again to explore alternatives.

Then I came upon Learning Breakthrough (LB). Dore’s program cites the founders as a material part of their program, and LB even has a table on their site comparing their approach with Dore’s. Since the baseline data of the “exercise your brain” approaches in total seemed iffy and that Dore’s paperwork warned that anyone else using the exercises could be at risk of injury (to which I call bullshit) and LB was $400 to Dore’s $4,500 (plus travel), we opted for LB.

Let me mention that LB comes across as a Mom and Pop operation but they’ve been at this for over 20 years. They were responsive to my wife’s questions by email and the box of devices showed up a few days ago. The founder’s son is the talent on the DVD and he’s quite good.

So what do we do with all these items? A series of cognitive, spacial and perspective exercises (very simple and yet still challenging!) while standing on a balance board. On LB’s site it says,

“Simply put, Learning Breakthroughâ„¢ is a form of “balance remediation training”.  Clients receive very specialized and custom-manufactured equipment along with a program of specific activities to be performed twice daily.  These activities are done in a clinic setting, academic setting or in the home and are greatly aided by a DVD video that shows exactly how to perform each and every “exercise” required.  Balance therapy hinges on the relationship between the vestibular system (balance), the cerebelum and several other key functional areas in the brain and how, by refining the relationship (integration) between these brain centers (via neuropathways), learning and cognitive function can be improved at a “root” level. In the parlance of Occupational Therapists, it is a program of balance, sensory processing and sensory integration activities designed to help better organize the way the brain processes information.

So what have been the results?

My son and I did the first exercises Tuesday evening and again Wednesday morning. He heads off to school and I travel downtown for a meeting. As I drive, I’m noticing several things that I initially just wrote off to feeling good:

a) I was noticing that a spot inside my brain was hot…but thought I must’ve slept wrong and my neck was sore. But my reactions were faster as I drove, changed lanes and was noticing things out of my peripheral vision that seemed different than before

b) I usually like music low or off…but I was listening to oldies stations on satellite radio and was LOVING IT in ways I hadn’t before (and strangely, this has continued all day today and I didn’t want to turn off the car until a song was over…and this is NOT typical behavior for me). For some reason, the music seemed clearer, more delightful and different somehow

c) At the meeting, it was as though I’d had too much caffeine as my thoughts were clearer than I’d experienced for some time. My focus was materially and markedly different

d) This clarity and focus remained but I could feel it start to diminish about 3pm but CAME BACK IN FULL about 15-30 minutes after I completed the day’s second round of exercises at the end of the day. Hmmm….

e) My son reported on his day. “Dad…it was a GREAT day. I felt fantastic for some reason, I asked that girl to a movie (his first time and she said “yes”), and….I don’t know….I just felt great.” He was eager to do the exercises this morning and wouldn’t even have breakfast until after he’d done them! He was also eager to get to school early in order to make up some work and take a test. Huh? This is NOT the behavior I’ve come to know, believe me.

Now again, take this with a grain of salt and your mileage may vary. I’d read these same sort of gushing testimonials on the web sites selling this stuff and that usually makes me doubly skeptical.

That small skeptic in me is one reason that *I* am doing these exercises too. I wanted to be able to observe BOTH my personal experience AND my son’s behavior change…which hopefully would come. I must admit being a bit stunned by the almost instant results and again, these results are anecdotal and preliminary but I’m sitting here right now with a grin on my face just chuckling over how fantastic this is! Frankly, all that matters is what we’re experiencing and achieving.

If this continues to work for my son and I anything even close to what it’s done in just two days, I’ll be the biggest evangelist for this that’s ever existed AND the biggest burr under the saddle of our education system. I mean come on…how long have we dealt with kids that have ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia? And all they can do is label it a “dysfunction”, try to get those kids to simply organize and they’ll be fine?

I’ll end here with this other delightful piece of info: my son just got home and he called to let me know he was going downstairs to do his exercises. Either aliens abducted my little guy and replaced him, or something fundamentally important is going on here.

More to come…

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  1. Pascal Venier on March 17, 2007 at 1:54 am

    A most fascinating post! I really need to find out more about this.

    I started reading your post as I was cooking my porridge next door in the kitchen … needless to say: the pan got burned!

  2. Cecilia on March 17, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    This is very interesting info. Me and my daughter have the same ADD/ADHD tendencies. Reading about the connection with balance lack it makes a lot of sense as both my daughter and I walk since childhood kind of leaning and hitting the doors and walls as we go. Please, keep us posted on this …
    Just a note on the side, when I read about your attempts to improve your kid’s self esteem praising his 99th percentile IQ, I wanted to mention a book I came across that changed 100% the way I think about success and the way I praise my daughter to achieve her own. Now when she does good I tell her how doing her best effort and paying attention pays off, not how intelligent she is as I used to do before. It does make a huge difference. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success from Carol Dweck is worth reading.

  3. Dr Charles Parker on March 18, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Outstanding information on many levels! Appreciate your diversity of interest and your way of saying/showing it all. Your “net” experience shines within the info grid of your super site.

    As the recent Chief Psychiatrist and developer of the AmenDC office, with many interesting people and scans behind/ahead of me, I agree completely that the SPECT process provides excellent diagnostic information.

    My next steps are now focused on what we can do with that information, how to use layers of technoinfo in the office. Customized tech answers with personal insight – the new key. The deep frontier of psych changes quickly. Now we take nuclear imaging technology further beyond the gamma camera to: systems/brain medicine and molecular and celllular physiology.

    This next step is a deep dive, with many atmospheres of pressure. The challenge is simple: translation into useful protocols.

    Your notes help that process,
    Thanks so much!

  4. PXLated on March 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Cool! Looking forward to updates.

  5. Sharon on March 21, 2007 at 4:13 am

    Now a days most of the people are facing so many problems with Attention Deficit Disorder.They are not able to concentrate on even important thinks also which are related to their live’s. So I want to suggest them an amazing web site which is having wonderful articles, ADD test etc. which will help them to get relief from tease kind of problems.ADD vs. ADHD

  6. António Melo on March 24, 2007 at 2:20 am

    Dear Steve

    To start with, I’d like to say I really like your blog posts – subjects, writing style and overall presentation. I got a reference (from techcrunch?) to one of your posts, some weeks ago, and immediately included it in my RSS reader. And believe me, my subscription list is short.

    Now, to the point.

    I have a brother in law who is related to someone that has a ~13 year’s old adopted child. This kid was adopted when he was around 1 year old.

    He never was a good student, but this year he moved school. In the middle of the year’s appraisal, he failed in all subjects except for gym, where he got maximum grade.

    As you most probably imagine (from in-house experience), the kid is really really down, even saying that his cousin in law with only 7 year’s old already knows more things than himself.

    This school failures seems also to be a shock for his mother, that didn’t know that the problem is so severe.

    Her mother went with him to the doctor, and he told her that the kid has dyslexia, due to lack of enough food in the first year (before she adopted her). That the kid can’t write nor does understand anything that he read.

    I thought I would point my brother in law your exceptional testimonial and the product you mentioned. But, as I think they are a little conservatives, they have stigmas talking about it, and for them the price will not be small, I’d like to have a somehow longer term experience feedback.

    I’d like you to say how things are going with your child and what you think I should do. If you don’t want to post here, please send me an email.

    Thank you,

  7. Lisa on April 9, 2007 at 10:24 am

    That sounds really awesome! I can’t wait to hear about your progress as you guys go through it!

  8. ellie phillips on April 26, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Hi Steve I read your comments with interest as my daughter Leila completed Dore over 18 months ago and has changed out of all recognition. She was a child with a low IQ and was always classed as a child who would always struggle acaedimically. Within 9 months of finishing Dore she was on a par with her peers in all her school tests and we can now see her full potential.
    I myself have dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD which she inherited and her younger brother Kieran who is 6. I am hoping in January 2008 for both of us to also undertake the Dore treatment once Kieran reaches 7. Like you it took a lot of effort on my part through research to find an answer to Leila’s problems and eventually found Dore. I only heard of the break through programme recently as we live in the UK, but both treatments treat the same problem cerebellum development delay and Leila has never looked back. it will be interesting how you as an adult progresses expecially with myself starting Dore. I will look forward to heaing about your progress

  9. Jason Hillard on April 29, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    I am getting increasingly desperate for my son and my wife discovered Dore and we sat down and watched the video the other night.
    It sounded great but I thought it was quite expensive for chucking a few bean bags about!!?
    The Break through programme sounds ideal as it has the positives of Dore but with a smaller price tag.
    Also, my other son is slightly on the hyperactive side and with the BTP, we could get him to try out the exercises too!
    Please keep me posted on your results so I can move forward.

    Thank you.

  10. YahNe Ndgo on June 21, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I am very eager to learn more of your results. I have been obsessing over Play Attention, and decided to explore some other options, particularly because I’m not able to afford to spend the almost $2000 right now. I saw the LB system and thought, is it possible this could work? I’ve been doing research and hearing good things, but isn’t that always the case on the internet? REAL users, that’s what I need, because I can’t have my darling daughter dealing with a thousand different “cures” to her difficulties. Please! Post again soon!

  11. FrazzleDazzle on July 21, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Steve, Just wondering how you and your son are doing on the program! We had communicated by e-mail a couple of months ago.

  12. Redwaan on September 10, 2007 at 3:21 am

    Please help me, i need to know if thias really works as i have a wonderful 7 year old son who has been diagnosed ADHD(inattentive)and the dore program costs R22000 in South africa and this is way beyond my affordablity.

  13. Steve Borsch on September 10, 2007 at 7:27 am

    “Please help me, i need to know if thias really works as i have a wonderful 7 year old son who has been diagnosed ADHD(inattentive)and the dore program costs R22000 in South africa and this is way beyond my affordablity.”

    Hello Redwaan,

    Yes, Learning Breakthrough (LB) works and is certainly equal to Dore in its effectiveness (in my opinion). However, it requires the 12-15 months of effort and we’re not even six months into this term and it has become difficult to motivate our son.

    ADHD is such a complicated syndrome and has many causes. I’m sure like you, we’ve tried SO many different things and we finally have our son walking with us every day outside and he’s started jogging a little bit too.

    We also have been following and Dr. Charles Parker who is a thought leader in ADHD (disclosure: I’ve helped him on his blog and he’s now treating our son from a distance). He encouraged us to have a test done to see if our son was gluten intolerant. Dr. Parker believes that often ADHD sufferers are actually poisoning themselves with food that they’re actually allergic to. It turns out that my son has a gene that predisposes him to gluten and we’ve removed it from his diet (we’re just starting the third week).

    He’s improving, but the tough part is knowing is it the medication he’s taking? Is it LB? Is it the exercise? Is it removing wheat from his diet? Is it the fact that he’s now 5’10” and 175lbs and is maturing physically quickly at 13 years old? Maybe it’s one….maybe all of them….but we’re making progress and will never stop.

    Good luck to you. Hope this helps.

    Steve Borsch

  14. FrazzleD on October 26, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Hi Steve! I aplaud your efforts in finding ways to help your son. In my reading and research, I also have found the gluten connection, as well as the 2nd biggest offender, dairy, to be common problems. Even to the effects of effecting neurological neurotrasmitter levels (such as dopamine production, very common to have lower levels with ADHD.) It will be intersting to read how your son does with the gluten-free diet. It is very difficult, I know, especially for a teen that is probably out of your site for the largest part of the day. It is something I would also like to persue with my 14-year-old son, but don’t have the family support as you do, as he had identified wheat and dairy allergies in his very early life, so I could assume there might always be a tendency there to some reaction, though very hidden from the naked eye. I’m so happy for your son that he has so much support around him. You are doing a great job, Steve! :-)

  15. Gregory on December 25, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    This is most interresting. We are also considering the Dore system for our 12yr old son (dyslexia & ADHD). But I have been hesitant for the same reasons you mentioned – fuzzy baseline testing doccumentation and $5000 price tag. I had not heard of the LB program until now, and I had to wade through a couple of hundred web postings before I found your blog. How has the LB treatment worked for you (assuming you have continued) and for your son (assuming you were able to continue to motivate him)?

  16. Steve Borsch on March 18, 2008 at 8:37 am

    @Duck: Haven’t updated since we basically stopped using Learning Breakthrough. It had great effect, started a plateau, and we moved to the next level.

    What is that?

    I connected up with Dr. Charles Parker ( and ended up working with him on my son. Dr. Parker recommended genetic testing for gluten and casein sensitivity (affirmative on my son) and we changed diet, started a new ADHD med called “Vyvanse”, and my guy is doing very well in school and much of his ADHD symptoms are mitigated.

    I should probably post…

  17. Brainduck on March 18, 2008 at 8:06 am

    So – a year later, how are you getting on with this? I have only been able to find an update at two months – anything more recent that I have missed?

  18. UltraBrainMaster+12 on April 17, 2008 at 11:25 pm

  19. Brendan on June 9, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Steve, any further updates. We were booked to start the dore program with our son(dyslexia), but they have gone bust. We believe the dore approach is a good one and are looking for feed back on the LBT system.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.