Brain Hacks: A Final Update on Learning Breakthrough
A final update on our experience with Learning Breakthrough (LB) since many people are following along and interested.
No question we received benefit from LB…it just wasn’t effective enough. Unfortunately, it became a burden and my son was pulling back from it and goofing around, so we ended up not moving forward after the first five months. We’d read that there was a plateau period and we moved past that, but the benefits we were receiving from LB just wasn’t enough of a payoff for the effort we put into it.
Learning Breakthrough (or Dore, in my opinion) is probably as good as having an ADD/ADHD person performing daily aerobic exercise and eating a good diet…and we all know how few of us do the things we know we should, and trying to get a kid to stick to something like LB is quite a challenge.
Then a Doc (Dr. Chuck Parker) who writes CorePsychBlog sent me an email since I’d written about brain SPECT imaging on this blog. Having the SPECT analysis helped us identify the subtype of ADHD my son was experiencing. Parker and I went back and forth, I helped him with his blog, and he ended up offering to work with my son (though a local Doc has to prescribe). Parker’s belief is looking at the whole person, the “core” of the psychology, vs. just treating or focusing on one area like the cerebellum (which is the area of the brain positively affected by Learning Breakthrough or Dore).
Here was the big “Aha!” for us: Parker recommended that my son take a genetic test for gluten intolerance and we discovered that he’s genetically gluten and casein intolerant (the former is the wheat protein and the latter the one in dairy products). We modified his diet, got him off his current ADHD medication and switched to Vyvanse, and the results were immediate and impressive.
His grades are mostly A’s & B’s, he’s much happier and seemingly more socially adjusted, and a delight to be around vs. the struggles with this exceptionally bright kid that couldn’t focus.
Nailing down the specific turning point is tough since we modified his diet, my son had a growth spurt, and he ended up on Vyvanse. While it would be nice to know precisely or to find a complete, holistic solution instead of yet-another-med or diet modification, it’s hard to argue with the results!
By the way, this gluten intolerance is fascinating and is something worth considering if you or your child is gifted with ADHD. Celiac disease, an intestinal malady which is the worst-case scenario of gluten intolerance, mostly affects people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but studies show that it also affects Hispanic, Black and Asian populations as well. Though we went through withdrawal from those two proteins (e.g., fatigue for two weeks) both my wife and I feel much better being off gluten and dairy.
Update July 14, 2012: Two days ago I received this note from Louis Weissman, president of Learning Breakthrough:
Hello Steve. I hope all is well with you and your family. I have a request and appreciate your consideration. You may remember me. I’m Louis Weissman with Learning Breakthrough Program. Since your use of the program a great many things have occurred. Most notably, that thousands of people have made quality of life improvements from fully utilizing the program. Many have reported eliminating Dyslexia and ADHD and other learning difficulties, as well as life changing benefits to stroke victims. The therapy, which must be used every day for 9 to 12 months, works, but as you point out in your final post, not if the program is uncompleted or not used as directed.
I am asking that you consider removing your post because it provides too many people negative connotations, that, not intentionally on your part, puts doubt as to whether the therapy is for real. If you make a search, you will find no other negative comments on the web! I have dedicated my remaining years, since retirement, to helping people learn and perform better. In my 10 years of working with Learning Breakthrough, I have never, not even once, had anyone report they did not receive significant quality of life improvements from using the program correctly for 6 to 12 months, not one single report!
I am happy to discuss this with you by phone if you wish and ask for your serious consideration to remove your post.
My Reply: I informed Mr. Weissman in my email reply to him that, “Rule #1 in blogging is posts remain up. They are cached anyway by Google and are oftentimes contained within Archive.org’s Wayback Machine (http://archive.org/web/web.
Giving Mr. Weissman a couple of options on how to amend & update this post, he opted to have me refer you to his comment below from November of 2008…so I am. Please see his comment for Mr. Weissman’s rebuttal to my post.
Leave a Comment
About Steve Borsch
Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.
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.
Thanks so much for your kind comments and your refreshing transparency in a world preoccupied with “beliefs” about what to do about ADD symptoms without looking at the current science, or the entire person – from body to brain to the new meds. I’m just so pleased that we were able to pitch in and help your son – he sounds like such a cool guy!
I do hope we meet one day in Northern MN for a fishing trip on those beautiful lakes up there!
-And a big long distance thanks back at you for your tremendous help and inspiration with my blog, your creative design and your time and specific help with the cool header,- and taking the time to help me with next steps going out into the virtual teaching world.
On a side note I will be offering a teleclass soon addressing all these issues for public and professionals, [once I figure out how to get the opt in page set up] -on Resolving the 10 Biggest Problems with ADD Meds, – expect it will be about 5 hrs using a specific platform which will give me our audience immediate mp3 recordings – as we will be covering much material.
Thanks again for this thoughtful, and as usual, interesting posting,
See you soon in the ethers,
Here is the letter you suggested I post on your blog regarding the Learning Breakthrough Program.
First let me say that I am thrilled you found specific therapeutic actions to help your son.
I understand first-hand the gut wrenching feeling a parent has when an obviously bright kid struggles every day. I also understand the joy in a child’s face when their self esteem improves, which has so much to do with quality of life now and once they become adults. You are one of the lucky parents who found what works for your child. Unfortunately, so many parents never do and their struggles continue. The Learning Breakthrough can provide affordable, powerful help, but one must follow the program to completion.
I appreciate your blog comment that “no doubt we received benefit from Learning Breakthrough”. Your next comment about your son pulling back, goofing off and that you stopped the program after 5 months is THE number one issue with Learning Breakthrough, compliance, both in consistency of use over a long enough period of time and performing the exercises with precision. These two components are required to derive the maximum benefit, which certainly varies from person to person.
As you know, Learning Breakthrough activities develop neural networks in areas of the brain that can positively affect cognitive and physical performance and ability (one note, Dore professed the idea of the cerebella being the key however Dr. Belgau, the Learning Breakthrough developer, is very clear that many parts of the brain are involved and affected by LBP exercises) . It takes on average 9 to 12 months of daily use for these neural circuits to become large enough to maintain and reach their maximum effectiveness. As you experienced, often immediate improvements occur however the commitment to a long enough period of time is needed to get whatever amount of benefit one may be able to derive.
Our brains are incredibly complicated and different people derive varying degrees of benefit from these brain organizing exercises as is the case with all therapies, including drugs.
People across the globe, who use the Learning Breakthrough Program for a long enough period of time, report heartwarming, quality of life changes in kids who would have otherwise gone down the path of failure and despair. Stroke victims who have been able to regain their ability to speak, kids with Autism who even the slightest of change can have a huge impact, ADHD sufferers who now read for fun and have risen to the top of their class and elite athletes getting that “edge” are a few examples of the feedback I get on a regular basis.
Since 1982 developmental specialists around the world have used the program with great success every day. Dr. Belgau has dedicated his life to helping people learn and perform better and I have made it my personal goal to get this type of help to as many people who can truly benefit from it.
The types of beneficial brain change that can occur from consistent and proper use of the LBP is different from doing aerobic exercise and eating a good diet. I am concerned some of your readers may misinterpret your comment. Your statement about “we all know how few of us do the things we know we should do” is true but the aerobic/diet comment may lead some people to believe they can expect little benefit even if they use the LBP properly and consistently, which is not the case.
I am sorry your son did not complete the program as I am confident the improvements you experienced would haave grown and become a permanent part of his life. I have no doubt there are beneficial changes he did derive while using the program, but it does take time for real, long lasting change to set in.
I have included my email address and phone number if any readers would like additional information.
Best regards to you and your family,
Human Performance Group LLC
Global providers of the Learning Breakthrough Program
There seem to be a plethora of brain stimulation programs available now (DORE, Learning Breakthrough, HANDLE, Brain Balance Center etc). Why are there NO substantial random controlled trials to support any of this work? (none that I am able to find anyhow – please correct me if I am wrong) If it actually works as they purport, I would think it would be to their benefit to see that this is studied and proven to work in a peer reviewed, evidenced based manner.
Saunders – My thoughts exactly. I was wondering the same thing. Why are there no double blind studies proving that these programs work?
Mirriam and Ali, I have no experience one way or another on the efficacy of the brain stimulation programs. I will say, at the expense of sounding like a crazy conspiracy theorist, that big pharma has a lot to lose if the brain stimulation programs are proven to work in scientifically valid studies, and may be a factor for the lack of studies. I point to diabetes as an example. Diabetics are taught to fear becoming “insulin dependent.” They are given a host of drugs to manage #1 sugar regulation, #2 other related symptoms of diabetes such as vision problems, and #3 medicines to combat the side effects of medicines #1 and #2… when receiving straight-up (and cheap) insulin would do the trick altogether without any side-effects.
In response to the above comments: In many new fields there are no double-blind studies because those are extremely expensive. Conducting them without the financial backing of an established medical company requires tremendous fundraising and grant writing.
Your operative word “extremely” may be a bit misleading, but you’re right, they are expensive.
The kicker is this though: it seems to me that 36 or so years is sufficient time to write a grant, fundraise, or to connect with someone like Dr. Richard Davidson at University of Wisconsin-Madison to perform fMRI studies on the efficacy of Learning Breakthrough.
Huh? Where did “36 or so years” come from? Take a peek at this page published on Learning Breakthrough’s site on January 12, 2008: “Dr. Belgau developed the Learning Breakthrough Program because of his observations that many learning challenges are impacted by sensory integration disorders. The program is the direct and innovative result of observations, research, interactions and refinements made over the past 30 years.”