How Can Neurofeedback Therapy Help Language and Processing Development?

From birth on, parents can count on their children to be individuals who grow and develop at their own pace. But from a developmental perspective, there are timeframes when kids typically achieve milestones. Often, however, parents recognize a delay and may become concerned, especially if their children aren’t mastering language at a typical age.

Fortunately, therapies exist to help children who may be experiencing a delay in speech development, says Ann Richman, president of The Discovery Clinic in Glenview, which provides an integrative model of various therapies for children, teens and adults.

“Especially if parents have older children, they will recognize what is normal for a 2-year-old child, and often come in and say, ‘My child isn’t doing what my other children did at this age.’ So we work with that,” says Richman, who is a speech pathologist with 27 years of experience in neurofeedback therapy.

What is neurofeedback therapy?

Neurofeedback is a therapeutic treatment that allows an individual to train their brainwaves to improve cognitive functioning. The Discovery Clinic provides neurofeedback therapy to treat migraines, anxiety, depression and learning disabilities, as well as speech delays and stutters.

During an initial visit at The Discovery Clinic, therapists will measure the electrical impulses in the brain, which can become imbalanced or unstable due to stress, illness, brain trauma or simply genetics. When the brainwaves are not balanced, an individual may struggle to carry out even simple tasks.

Following an initial reading, therapists will set goals for improvement. “A child may have a highly sensitive nervous system, and we will use neurofeedback therapy to calm it down,” Richman says. Throughout therapy, parents also receive information to learn how to support and reinforce their child’s improvement.

Other therapies offered at The Discovery Clinic

Another type of therapy offered at The Discovery Clinic is Interactive Metronome (IM), which shows positive outcomes for increased focus, reading coordination, balance, speech and language. “IM therapy is a physical activity where we actually use a metronome to create a beat that the child will clap or tap to, or maybe match the beat on a hand and foot, then on the opposite hand and foot,” Richman explains. “This teaches the brain motor and auditory processing.”

Auditory processing problems occur when the input received by a nerve may take longer to reach the brain. “The individual will hear the beginning of the conversation and not be able to follow through to the end. This creates a lot of problems,” she says.

IM therapy works to speed up the ability of the brain to understand what was said. Richman says she herself experienced this particular challenge and, through IM therapy and neurofeedback, saw improvement in her own ability to focus on conversations, even in noisy or chaotic environments. “It was an amazing revelation to me. When I see that kids are having trouble with this, I will work specifically with them to overcome this challenge,” she says.

For young children, The Discovery Clinic also offers educational play therapy with a teacher who is skilled in the Montessori educational method. Specifically trained to follow a child’s interest, she works one-on-one to help a child learn to actively label objects to complement the neurofeedback therapy they receive. Through the use of music, the child builds and strengthens language and processing skills by singing, which encourages language production.

“Singing is very important for learning these critical skills,” Richman says. “This educational play therapy really works to help bring out the skills the children have learned in neurofeedback.”

This branded content also appeared in Chicago Parent’s fall 2020 magazine

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