Neurofeedback Trainer Focus: Dr. Lise DeLongAlex Theoret
Dr. Lise DeLong is a Neuroptimal® trainer and Cognitive Rehabilitation specialist. She has pioneered an innovative treatment model known as NeuroCognitive Processing in which she combines neurofeedback with rehabilitation brain training. When used in tandem, these two methodologies address both cognitive and physiological problems.
With a Ph.D. in neuropsychology and a sub-specialty in neurocognitive processing, Dr. DeLong oversees clinics in Greenwood, Indiana and Walnut Creek, California, where she currently resides. Language disorders (primarily with Autistic children) have been a primary focus of hers for many years. At this year’s NeurOptimal® Research Conference, DeLong co-presented results from a study based on her research with children on the spectrum.
NeurOptimal® neurofeedback recently sat down with Dr. DeLong for a Q & A. What follows is an excerpt of that interview.
Neuroptimal®: The results from the children’s study intrigued a lot of people in the neurofeedback community when you presented them this past February. Can you tell us more about your involvement in this groundbreaking research?
Dr. Lise DeLong: I was the second core reader/advisor for Dr. Susan Nachand, a then Ph.D. candidate from the Wright Institute. Susan based her dissertation on research data that I have compiled over the past few years. She basically used my raw data to tell a broader story.
Neuroptimal®: You basically supplied Dr. Nachand with your standardized test results and she employed unique statistical analysis of the data?
Dr. Lise DeLong: That’s right. Together we had the privilege of presenting Susan’s results at the NeurOptimal® conference in February. But the analysis and conclusions were entirely hers.
Neuroptimal®: So tell us first about your research. What methodology did you employ and what were you looking for?
Dr. Lise DeLong: I have been working with a group of very bright children struggling with autism and ADD. Some of them had very little verbal ability. I recorded the results of standardized testing before and after the use of neurofeedback and my own concurrent cognitive rehabilitation activities. I wanted to see if this protocol could have any positive effect on these children and measure that effect with standardized testing.
Neuroptimal®: Did the test results show any improvement?
Dr. Lise DeLong: Yes; in some cases, spectacular improvement.
Neuroptimal®: In which areas of testing did NeurOptimal® neurofeedback prove to be particularly effective?
Dr. Lise DeLong: The testing showed great improvement in auditory discrimination. It’s very common in children with autism to have difficulty in one or more areas of auditory cognition. The standardized tests we used – KBIT and Peabody for receptive language measures – showed a statistically significant difference in this area. The 4 subtests we ran for auditory discrimination all showed improvement. Even expressive language was better after the neurofeedback training.
Neuroptimal®: What do mean when you say “significant” improvement?
Dr. Lise DeLong: Keep in mind that some of these children had almost no verbal ability. For these little guys to show a positive change in standardized testing within 30-40 sessions – that is BIG. We don’t see this very often in this field.
Neuroptimal®: Did you see improvement in all or just some of the children?
Dr. Lise DeLong: It was consistent across the board and affected all the children to a degree. The standardized tests are designed to be normed against neurotypical kids (not other autistic children). Even in that context, our kids showed improvement. That is pretty spectacular.
Neuroptimal®: So you collected this impressive raw data. How did your doctoral student use it?
Dr. Lise DeLong: She basically wanted to tell a broader story with my data. She took these raw statistical numbers and wanted to make a case for how neurofeedback can be comparable with more “traditional” therapies used for autism; methods like ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy, for example.
Neuroptimal®: This was the study you co-presented with Dr. Nachand at the Neuroptimal® Research conference this past February
Dr. Lise DeLong: Yes.
Neuroptimal®: And how did NeurOptimal® neurofeedback stack up against other therapies for autistic spectrum disorders?
Dr. Lise DeLong: Extremely well. Susan’s findings argue that Neuroptimal® neurofeedback can be a very viable addition to more widely known therapies for autism, like ABA.
Neuroptimal®: You’ve dedicated your career to helping children on the autistic spectrum. I’m just wondering why?
Dr. Lise DeLong: I had learning disabilities and was told I would never be able to graduate High School much less college. When I discovered I essentially had a “deaf brain” I went to college to learn sign language and Deaf Education, this proved to be the method that allowed my brain to succeed.
Neuroptimal®: Contrary to prediction, you obviously made it through college. How did you do it?
Dr. Lise DeLong: I learned tools to cope with my impairment, but it’s still a challenge for my brain to remediate when I’m over-tired or anxious. Sometimes I just have to stop; take a break and think things through.
Neuroptimal®: So you can probably relate to the cognitive struggles of an autistic child.
Dr. Lise DeLong: Yes. A high percentage of kids with autism have an auditory processing disorder.
Neuroptimal®: Just to wrap up, how did it make you feel to have someone like Dr. Nachand come along and use your research data to help autistic children?
Dr. Lise DeLong: I felt very proud. It’s great to know that something I’ve done will have a positive impact on the world. I’m sure (NeurOptimal® founders) Val and Sue (Brown) feel the same way, when they see how many people are using the system they created.