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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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ADHD, Dyslexia. It's a family issue. Improve
grades and self-esteem. Evaluation and non-drug therapy that
Information Regarding Progress in and
Expectations of the Sharper Minds
We want you to achieve the highest results possible with
the Sharper Minds program. Therefore,
it is VERY important that you follow the instructions as provided to you by your
therapist, and put in the steps required by the services agreement.
To help you understand why results may not come as quickly or as desired,
following are some answers to questions that families may have.
If you can identify with any of these, please take steps to reduce or
eliminate their negative impact.
Why isn’t progress sometimes noted or coming slower than a family would like?
brain is dynamic and changeable (this is called the principle of neuroplasticity).
Change can either be for the positive or negative, based upon the dominant
stimuli that the child is exposed to. If
negatives are the dominant force/stimuli on a child’s mind, progress in the
Sharper Minds program will be at best, slowed down or in the more severe cases
may not be realized. In very severe
cases, there may even be deterioration.
a scientific standpoint . . .
a given time period, only so many new stem cells are generated in the certain
sections of the brain. These
migrate through the corpus callosum to the area of greatest stimulation, where
they differentiate into mature neurons. If
stress, physical or emotional trauma, conflict, other educational demands, or
competing passive entertainments, etc. are present, these stem cells migrate to
those dominant points of stimulation, rather than the points of need created by
the Sharper Minds exercises. Hence
the integration progress is hindered and results will be diminished or come
slower than desired.
What is meant by stressors?
anything that causes emotional or physical stress can have negative effects.
These include (but are not limited to):
medication dosages or switching medications,
of conflict or stress in the family dynamics,
between, separation or divorce of the parents,
emotional and/or sexual abuse,
dynamics and/or other factors at school, church, after school care, or other
issues that include, but are not limited to the lack of a present, actively
involved and emotionally present mother and (especially) a father,
parenting and discipline (i.e. boundaries keep changing),
emotionally checking out of the program prior to completing Module M. Kids
sense this dichotomy and shut down as well.
shuttled between homes, extended absences by one parent, frequent moves, and
adoption issues etc.
lower the levels of stress or conflict in the child’s life, the more it will
facilitate proper skill and brain development through the Sharper Minds program.
Does Sharper Minds guarantee that my child will be able to discontinue
We have never guaranteed that all children will be able to get off all
medications. Nearly all will
experience cognitive improvements, but once again, not that every child will be
able to discontinue medications. In
our experience, around 4 of the 600 or children that we've dealt with will be kept on
or need to be on medications for reasons mentioned on this web page. Some
children have co-morbid mental health conditions (Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD,
Schizophrenia, and Depression, etc.) that may require treatment including
medication. These issues are not specifically addressed or corrected by our
program. Secondly in some
cases, the adults in their lives, usually due to reasons listed in the answers
to question 2, leave some children on medications.
And there are a few parents who resolved to keep their child on
medications whether or not there was improvement.
In still other cases, parents or educators are sensitive to energetic
children or don’t tolerate creativity and innovation.
The habits of 10 to 15 years are not easily broken or changed in just one
year of therapy. (For example,
“Love and Logic” authors Cline and Fay estimate that it takes 1 month of
consistent effective Love and Logic parenting to undo 1 year of ineffective
inconsistent parenting. Parenting
styles and habits can be just as hard if not more difficult to change.)
Sharper Minds program is designed to create positive brain changes, and to make
it easier for other therapy, tutoring or counseling to be effective.
Many of you have heard the billiard ball example:
A billiard ball will not absorb water no matter how much you pour over
it. You must first make it porous (such as by dipping it in an
acid which etches away the acrylic), and then it will be able to absorb the
water. The same is true with an
ADHD child. The Sharper Minds
program is designed to equip the child’s mind with the circuitry to learn.
The teachers in the schools must still teach the information.
Habits must still be properly formed and guided by the parents.
The Sharper Minds program is not a substitute for proper parenting,
education or counseling by a trained professional.
After going through the Sharper Minds program, will all my troubles with my
child be gone?
most problems will be diminished, your children will still be normal
immature, but growing children. If
one attends an anger management class, does that mean one will never get angry
again? Of course not!
By attending the class, one will be exposed to the tools and skills
necessary to better manage and control their anger.
Hopefully, an attendee will learn and use the tools and skills necessary
to manage their anger, thus decreasing the frequency and severity of angry
outbursts. The same is true with
the Sharper Minds program. Going
through the program exposes the child to and hopefully provides many of the
skills and tools necessary to improve academic performance and related
behavioral issues. However, it is
up the child whether or not they choose to use or not use the tools and skills
they were given. A failure on the
part of the child to use the tools they were given in a particular situation
does not usually mean that the Sharper Mind Program did not work or was
recommend that the parent record on audio and/or videotape what your child was
like prior to starting the program. Record
the progress as they continue through it. Note the changes in a personal diary. Sometimes their progress is so gradual, parents don’t see
it, or forget where they came from.
realistic goal is not a perfect child, but to see a substantially reduced number
or severity of problems in your child. It
is unrealistic to expect to NEVER see problems again (that would be nice though,
wouldn’t it?). We don’t promise
straight A-students after they complete all the modules, although many students
do achieve a consistent A/B grade level.
most of the time there is a genetic component to a child’s issues.
That means that frequently, one or more of the parents may have similar
or lingering issues as well. It is
strongly recommended that the parents personally work through all the modules of
the program with their child, but often this does not happen.
We have also seen where one or both parents may have unresolved issues,
(e.g. negativism, criticism or perfectionism), that may perpetuate conflict with
a child even after the program is completed (wouldn’t it be nice if the
Sharper Minds program made perfect parents?).
Should I expect my child’s personality to change?
parents will notice that their child become calmer, more readily able to sit
still for longer periods of time. If
the child was predominantly right brain (creative), the program should help them
with self-discipline besides reading and language.
If the child was predominantly left brain (detailed, logical), the
program should encourage new creative skills (though it is much more difficult
to wire the right brain into a left-brained person than vice versa).
Academically, there are usually noticeable improvements.
The child’s ability to be self-disciplined should improve if the
Program Success Principles were applied as instructed.
However, if a child is innately a quick and active (within reason) kid,
then this high level of energy should not be disparaged, but rather properly
focused through constructive activities. Leaders
in all walks of life were often the most active children when younger.
We do not claim to nor does the Sharper Mind Program make personality
Why do teachers put up a fuss when you tell them you are going to take your
child off of medications?
a child is taken off of psychotropics (such as Ritalin, Concerta, or Adderall),
there are frequently withdrawal symptoms that may last up to 6 weeks.
These can include irritability, emotional lability, withdrawal,
moodiness, forgetfulness, rebound hyperactivity, agitation, insomnia, abdominal
cramps, nausea, severe emotional depression, exhaustion, anxiety etc.
Some of these same behaviors may also be seen when a child is changed
from one psychotropic medication to another (e.g. from methylphenidate (Ritalin/Concerta)
to Dextroamphetamine Sulfate/Amphetamine blend (Adderall) or to Strattera, which
deals with a different neurotransmitter. Since
pharmacologically, psychotropics are very similar to cocaine, withdrawal
symptoms can be nearly indistinguishable. For more specifics, search the Internet for the terms,
“Withdrawal symptoms of __________” where you add the name of the medication
that your child is on. If you wish
to discontinue meds, ask your doctor for recommendations on a tapering-off
schedule. High stress times are not
good times to make changes.
My child just started school and his new teacher is concerned about his
the Sharper Minds program (all modules as instructed) increases attention span
and academic performance by the end of the program in everyone who diligently
does the program as directed. However,
classroom attention span is affected by more than the Sharper Mind Program.
Classroom attention can be adversely influenced by a variety of issues
including (but not limited to): what the child had for breakfast (sugar and
caffeine are sure ways to create attention problems), conflict in the home,
large class size, classroom and other background noise, the ability of the
teacher to maintain order, or present materials in a way that kids find
appealing, whether or not the child is a kinesthetic learner, level of maturity,
etc. Often a teacher at the beginning of a new school year won’t
know how far your child has come in terms of improvements. Ask them to be patient, explain where your child was and how
far they’ve come, and educate them on effective ways to work with your child.
Most teachers are eager for and will appreciate your suggestions.
What happens when one switches medication or changes dosage?
change places the body in a mild biochemical crisis. It may take up to 6 weeks for the biochemistry to stabilize
and for the desired nerve growth to begin again.
Therefore, unless it is critically important to change the dosage or
switch medications, we recommend that you focus on the exercises as taught by
your therapist and minimize changes and instability. If changes need to be made,
make gradual, rather than abrupt changes. Psychotropics have been shown to impair or slow nerve growth
and in higher doses are known to be neuro-toxic (that’s why some studies show
a diminished brain size, a decreased numbers of neurons, as compared to a normal
What other things do I need to consider?
your child gets excellent nutrition (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains
and adequate protein. Minimize the
eating of sugars, simple carbohydrates, such as white flours or white rice, food
additives and dyes. Avoid caffeine
and known food allergies). It may
also be helpful to place them on nutritional supplements including Gingko Biloba
(which stimulates circulation to the brain) and B-vitamins, which help the body
to deal with stress.
your child gets enough sleep (8-10 hours) at night, especially during growth
your child doesn’t spend a lot of time doing sedentary activities such as
playing on the computer or other electronic devices and/or watching TV.
These are mental cotton candy, which “tastes good” and can be highly
addicting to the mind, but ultimately undermines the ability to the brain to do
sustained and/or challenging mental work.
permit violent or sexually explicit videos or video games, nor permit your child
to become involved in chat rooms or online pornography (this is a form of sexual
heavy metal music (noise pollution) is very damaging to the brain and ears, and
should not be permitted. Minimize
isolative listening through headphones for hours on end.
High volume noise and/or music can also be very damaging to the hearing
and neural pathways.
as much as possible sibling rivalry. As the “dysfunctional” child improves,
the other “functional children” in the family may become uncomfortable with
the change of roles, and feel threatened. They may try to sabotage the progress,
criticize their brother or sister or act out to get more attention.
Let your children know that all of them can be winners.
members should not be permitted to make denigrating comments to or about one
another. A person should never make a comment to another such as “so-and-so is
stupid!” even if in jest.
still need to be some parental involvement regarding turning in homework and
accomplishing tasks, though most commonly less than before.
Some students may slip back into lazy behavior patterns, allowing peer
pressure or behavior to influence their thinking and attitudes.
In some circles, it’s not “cool” to be smart or get good grades.
Monitor and if necessary, control who your child associates with.
Gradually allow them to assume total responsibility for their grades.
physical exercise that involves both sides of the body in balance.
Optimal exercise includes swimming laps, gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do.
are parental conflicts, get appropriate marital counseling.
Be proactive. Instability, especially in a marriage, impairs a child
ability to learn and emotionally mature.
the father plays an active and present role in the child’s life (avoid lengthy
business trips and/or excessively long hours at the office).
Spend time building a relationship with each child.
positive about the progress being made. Changes
can be small and gradual, but the cumulative effect over the entire program can
be quite substantial. You will see
what you are looking for. If you
look for progress, you will see progress. If
you look for problems, you will see problems.
will live or attempt to live up to your expectations. So have realistic but positive ones. We’re not going to turn every child into a genius, or
change the habits of poor behavior in only 1/10th of the time it took
for a child to develop them. It
still requires good parenting and loving discipline to guide the child in his or
mentioned earlier, while nearly all children at some point are able to
discontinue medications, about 3% are not able to do so.
Generally, this is due to factors beyond Sharper Minds control, including
but not limited to: a clear biochemical need for psychotropic medication and
ongoing emotional or physical stressors on the child, with family dynamics
playing a dominant role. But even in those cases, improvements are usually noted.
that all humans under fatigue, stress, low blood sugar or a myriad of other
situations can and do “flake out” from time to time and make mistakes,
including misspellings, omissions, etc. In
addition, under high amounts of stress, it is not unusual to experience
regression though again, it should be less often then before going through the
program. It is at these times that
you need to allow your child regroup time and to treat your child with
compassion and understanding. After
all, we are all fallible humans. None
of us are perfect.
If we feel we aren’t getting the results we are looking for, what should we
examine what you can do to remove or resolve any of the above stressors.
Secondly, contact management and schedule a meeting to discuss what's
happening. As a team, we may be able to find the real barriers to progress, and help you
remove or go around them. In some
cases, we may need to allow more time to complete all of the Modules.