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 BreakthroughÃ¢â€ž¢ is a form of Ã¢â‚¬Å“balance remediation trainingÃ¢â‚¬. 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…
About Steve Borsch
SiteGround is 'The One'
Connecting the Dots Podcast
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.