Over the past several decades, we have identified a major culprit in the poor academic performance of our kids: ADHD. This disorder is known to cause behavioral issues, lack of concentration, and academic struggles in school-aged children. While society once attached a harsh stigma to ADHD, things are changing; we are becoming more knowledgeable, more accepting, and more resourceful in treating ADHD.
One of the most healthful tools to address these learning shortcomings is the Interactive Metronome (IM). IM is providing accessible care to children and helping them to overcome their attention troubles and find enjoyment out of learning. Let’s dive deeper and learn more about this effective technique, and how diet can play a big part in your child’s success.
What is Interactive Metronome?
The Interactive Metronome (IM) was created in 1990 as a non-invasive and research-backed training tool for ADHD sufferers. IM improves neural-timing and synchronized cognitive communication in the brain, helping to rewire and train the brain for better processing.
So, what does all that neuro-jargon really mean? IM helps the brain take in information more efficiently and clearly. It also improves the synchronicity of the nervous system. This makes it not only useful for children with attention disorders, but those recovering from strokes or brain injuries. Pretty cool, right?
Today there are over 20 thousand IM providers in over 10 thousand locations in the US and Canada – and growing! Imagine the impact a non-invasive technique like this could have on children and adults across the country.
How IM Works
Interactive Metronome therapy usually consists of 15 to 20 training sessions over a course of a several weeks. The goal is to re-adjust neural timing by stimulating the temporal lobe of the brain. This section is responsible for analyzing sounds and reacting to them accordingly. It is also our dutiful master of concentration, comprehension, and information processing.
Everything we do relies on timing, and we need our brain to respond accurately and appropriately. Motor coordination, memory, comprehension, attention, self-regulation, and other important processes need quick and reliable communication.
Now, here’s where the metronome comes in: Participants in IM therapy wear a headset that communicates a special beat, to which the user performs a predetermined response. Over the course of treatment, the brain develops healthier neural timing and the child’s focus and overall brain function improves.
This therapy can be so effective that repeat trainings are usually not needed, but every case in on an individual basis. Talk about treating the root!
Benefits of IM
Although IM is relatively new, research has already shown that it is an effective therapy.
Take a look at this 2001 study, for instance, that showed significant improvement in boys 6 to 12 years old with ADHD compared to groups undergoing other training process like specialized video games.
Case studies from participants have also proved the Interactive Metronome to be of huge value; patients with a range of issues including ADHD/ADD, autism, and dyslexia – as well as adults recovering from or diagnosed with cerebral palsy, stroke, and Parkinson’s – had great success with the program.
Whether it’s improving attention/concentration, working memory, processing speed, or other academic skills, IM is an amazing option for children to overcome their learning struggles.
The Importance of a Balanced Diet
Okay, so we’ve seen that IM can be a useful therapy for ADHD. Now, why is diet so important?
Well, like most health issues, diet makes up a significant piece of the puzzle. While IM facilitates faster and more successful cognitive improvement on its own, diet encourages healthy brain function from the inside out.
The right food fuels excellence. Setting the brain up with all its necessary nutrients ensures that it will be able to work at its best. A good foundation, provided by a healthy diet, improves the outcomes of the IM therapy and fosters balance and health in the entire child.
The right diet can make a huge difference in the success of IM; we just need to know what to choose. This is not the time to get crazy with fad diets or impossible rules. Let’s start simple. Here are my 4 steps to a healthier, focused kid and brilliant IM success:
Fats have gotten a bad rap over the years. And it’s a shame! Fats are absolutely essential to our body’s health and – most importantly – brain health. The brain is one-third fat. This includes the myelin that covers our nerves and helps the brain communicate quick and efficiently. Fats are also needed to absorb several important vitamins and minerals.
There is, however, a good way and a…well, not so good way to go about using fats in your child’s diet. Avoid large amounts of animal fat, trans-fats, fried foods, and omega-6 fatty acids. We want to fuel the brain with the good stuff. Choose healthy fats, like those in nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils, wild salmon, and other sources of omega-3s.
The brain also needs carbohydrates. Again, we are looking for the good guys here – no refined sugars, processed junk snacks, or gluey white breads. Choose complex carbohydrates (like brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, and lentils) to make up 40-60% of your child’s daily diet.
We’ve all heard it repeated endlessly in high school biology: amino acids are the building blocks of life. Well, it’s true! Amino acids (found in protein) are necessary for life and all the body functions that come with it.
Proteins are not only needed for energy and growth, but for cognition and focus as well. Developing kids benefit from healthy protein sources, like high quality chicken, eggs, beans, green vegetables, and legumes.
Consider this: if the brain is starved for energy, it likely won’t be too interested in concentrating on learning. Fuel up!
Time to get rid of these nasty culprits. Processed foods, sugars, artificial dyes, flavorings, and other chemical, non-food junk leads to a lack of focus in just about anyone. If your child is suffering from ADHD, these foods are huge triggers and must be avoided.
Multiple studies have shown that artificial dyes found in soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and candies compromise children’s focus and attention. This held true for both children with and without ADHD.
Who needs these foodie villains anyway? Once you’ve done away with the junk, you’ll find that whole foods are so much tastier, not to mention healthier for the whole family. Stock your fridge with high quality meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy grains. While it may take some getting used to, kids will learn to love whole foods, especially when they start to feel better and see their amazing progress.
Taking the Next Step
Understanding ADHD can be incredibly difficult and confusing. As parents, we want the best for out children and ADHD can make that goal all the more frustrating. Fortunately, there are options and holistic treatments available to help our children thrive. IM and healthy diet choices are amazing opportunities for kids to reclaim their cognitive health and set out on the path toward a rewarding and brilliant future. It all starts with taking that first step!