Biofeedback is a self regulation technique that teaches the individual to achieve voluntary control of physiological functions which are normally regulated autonomously (i.e. without consciousness awareness). It is a passive, non-pharmaceutical, and non-invasive technique. The regulation of these physiological activities can positively impact cognitive, physical and emotional functioning. Biofeedback is a learning process, in which the individual increases (or decreases) behavior through the use of reinforcement (positive or negative). How does it work? A sensor is placed on the client recording their physiological activity. The signal is analyzed in the computer and provides real time feedback to the individual. Over time, the individual learns to improve physiological activity.

 HRV is one type of biofeedback, where the individual learns to alter his/her heart rate via breathing to improve self regulation and functioning. During the training, a sensor that detects the heart beat is placed on the ear or finger. The times between the heart beats are being calculated (coherence). When the coherence is high, the individual receives, in real time, a visual and auditory reward. 

HRV stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is connected to the brain stem, helping the brain to switch from fight or flight mode to relax mode. Since the brain stem is connected to the limbic system, stimulating the vagus nerve can help calm the limbic system as a whole.

The Friendship Connection

Center for Social Skills Development

Friendship Groups
Friendship groups will focus on teaching children how to develop friendships and engage in naturally occurring social interactions and community activities. Children will learn and practice the social and communication skills essential to forming friendships and relating to others. Groups will also foster connections between the child and his/her community. Specific skills targeted and activities will be determined by the age, needs, and profiles of the individuals in the group. Any behavioral or developmental concerns raised by parents will also be addressed.

 Social Skills that may be addressed
 •Full body listening (eye contact, proximity, attention)

 •Using and reading facial expressions
 •Reading body language
 •Recognizing environmental cues
 •Initiating interactions 
 •Terminating interactions
 •Staying on topic

 •Using appropriate vocal tone, volume, and rate
 •Listening to others

 •Awareness other’s points of view
 •Conflict resolution
 •Learning to identify appropriate conversation topics and responses
 •Recognizing and engaging in expected behaviors for a given situation (vs. unexpected behaviors)
 •Understanding where to focus your thinking and attention
 •Expanding interest and activity repertoire
 •Phone and e-mail etiquette

 •Creating connections with peers beyond the “acquaintance” stage
 •Defining and navigating different kinds of relationships

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback? 

Who can benefit from Biofeedback and Neurofeedback? 

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of neurofeedback to improve many conditions including:

● Anxiety 
● Autism Spectrum Disorder 
● Bipolar Disorder 
● Chronic Pain 
● Depression 
● Headaches 
● Memory Issues 
● Sleep Problems 
● Traumatic Brain Injury

Individuals report enhanced memory and focus, decreased impulsivity and anxiety, better mental clarity, more restful sleep, improved mood, and a host of other benefits after using neurofeedback. 

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics named neurofeedback a “Level 1: ‘Best Support’ intervention for ADD/ADHD, on par with medication.” The effects and benefits of training last long after the training itself has stopped. Because the brain has actually learned (or relearned) a more efficient way of performing, it will continue in this way as new pathways in the brain are created, thus making lasting change the path of least effort.

Neurofeedback can impact:

● Attention and cognition 
● Sleep 
● Behavior 
● Mood and behavior 
● Memory
● Energy 
● Self-regulation

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Early Childhood Services

Parent-Child “Teachable Moments” Groups

 Every moment is a teachable moment. Many parents have heard this phrase somewhere along the path to parenthood. At no time in a  child’s life is this phrase truer than during the first 18 months of life. Parent-Child groups focus on teaching parents how capitalize on those moments with their infants and toddlers through play.  Parents will learn how to facilitate communication through verbal interactions, gestures (i.e. sign language), facial expressions, and touch. A wide variety of toys will be used to develop play skills and foster interactions. Groups will also explore playful ways to provide sensory input and reduce the effects of overstimulation. Parents will learn how to read and respond to their child’s behavior while building a secure emotional connection.

Play Groups – Ages 18 months-5 years

Play Groups focus on teaching children how to interact with their peers through play. Play is the most fundamental way a child learns about his/her world and how to become connected to it. Groups will work on many key play and social communication skills necessary for young children to learn how to interact with each other and their environment. Groups will also address any behavioral, self-care, or developmental concerns raised by parents. While the group’s primary focus will be on the children, teaching parents how to play with, teach, and understand their children better will also be an integral part of the group experience.

Social Skills that may be targeted:

•Parallel play
•Cooperative play (sharing, turn-taking, working together)
•Observing and replicating daily activities in play
•Ability to engage in both close-ended and open-ended activities
•Dealing with conflict
•Making eye contact

•Using and reading facial expressions
•Initiating interactions 
•Terminating interactions
•Staying on topic
•Using appropriate vocal tone and volume
•Listening to others

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Services Offered

Neurofeedback is biofeedback on the electrical activity of the brain. Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback, is a self regulation technique in which the individual learns to alter her/his brain activity. 

Prior to training, an individual protocol is established for the client. The protocol is designed based on the client’s symptoms and goals, brain mapping, research and experience. 

During the training, an electrode(s) is placed on the scalp in a location(s) established by the protocol. This measures the brain activity (EEG signal) which is fed to the computer and analyzed. When the brain activity is “good” (the targeted brain waves are within the threshold levels established) the individual receives in real time a visual and auditory reward. Over time, the individual learns to alter his/her brain activity. These changes may improve cognition, emotional regulation and behavior. 

Adverse reactions tend to be mild, transient, and quickly resolved when addressed (either by modifying the frequencies and/or the location). Possible reactions include tiredness, headaches, sleep disturbance, and reactivity.


 Andover MA 01810

​Home is a child’s primary environment. While it is the most familiar and comfortable setting in a child’s landscape, it also tends to be the most unpredictable. Home is ruled by emotion and compromise. Families struggle everyday to meet their physical and emotional needs while dealing with the external demands of their work, school and community. No matter how much they try to structure their lives, the day to day of being a family makes it near impossible to be consistent or ordered. Home life is a minefield of unexpected variables and emotional highs and lows. Despite all these stressors, children form the most intimate bonds with the other members of their family. Therefore they tend to be most comfortable expressing their emotional and behavioral struggles at home. This typically results in the most honest display of their behavior.

The goal of home-based intervention is to provide support to the child and family in their home and community. Many parents find that their child behaves very differently at home than in other educational or therapeutic environments. Parents cannot maintain the same level of structure as a classroom or the same degree of one-to-one attention as a therapy session. Providing “in the moment” intervention and training in the home allows the therapist to see the real struggles and dynamics at play in the family. This insight helps create programming that is not only effective for the child, but functional for the family. Home-based intervention affords the opportunity to support and train the people who have the most influence over the child amid the chaos and struggles facing them everyday.  

The specific model of intervention is driven by the individual needs and objectives established between the therapist and the family. It is typically run as a combination of direct service to the child, parent consult and training, sibling support, and facilitation of carry-over between home and the child’s other educational and therapeutic services. 

For the Child:
❖Identify and modify maladaptive behaviors
❖Teach replacement behaviors
❖Address sensory needs
❖Encourage independence in self-care
❖Teach the child how to:
❖Modulate emotions
❖Verbalize needs
❖Access calming and coping strategies
❖Improve self-regulation
❖Function in community and social situations
❖Navigate peer and sibling relationships
❖Build interest and skills in recreational activities
❖Act as a liaison between school behaviorist and educators to ensure consistency in programming and language

For the Family:
❖Help parents understand their child’s unique developmental difficulties and behavioral struggles
❖Provide support and education
❖Teach parenting techniques and strategies necessary to effectively deal with their child’s developmental issues and behavior problems
❖Encourage parental consistency
❖Work cooperatively with parents to develop behavior plans that meet their child’s needs and support school programming
❖Support parents in forming age/developmentally-appropriate expectations for their child
❖Empower parents to effectively parent their child and take control of their home
❖Provide sibling support and education


Classroom Observation with Feedback to Child’s Academic Team

•Consult with classroom team and family – discuss their concerns and observations about the child’s behavior
•Observe and interpret interactions witnessed during the observation
•Discuss different behavioral dynamics observed between the child and the people he/she interacts with
•Identify maladaptive behaviors that may be meeting the child’s needs but not the needs of the group
•Identify maladaptive behaviors that do not meet the child’s needs but he/she continues to engage in
•Emotional register – what appears to frustrate, amuse, anger, sadden, or bring joy to the child
•Analyze why the child may be behaving in certain ways in the environment observed
•Examine the environment itself – reinforcement or organizational systems in place, behavioral strategies employed, spatial layout, stimulus thresholds, staffing
•Discuss possible gaps in the child’s social-emotional and/or cognitive development that may be contributing to his behavioral choices
•Qualitative Report written upon request
•Recommendations if requested

Development and/or Modification of Behavior Plans 
•Create original behavior plans designed to address social dysfunction while modifying specific maladaptive behaviors
•Modify pre-existing programming to more naturally and efficiently work within the dynamics of the classroom and school culture
•Expand current behavior plans into social teaching interactions that foster connections between the child and his/her peer group
•Develop behavior plans that help the child make connections between social expectations and behavioral expectations during structured and non-structured activities

 Training and Support – Support staff, student aides
•Explore of the child’s unique developmental difficulties that impair his/her ability to function socially, regulate his/her behavior and/or modulate this/her emotional register in school
•Teach pro-active strategies to limit reactive or consequential interactions
•Train staff to anticipate a child’s needs and support his/her independent functioning in the classroom
•Discuss how to recognize when you are doing too much for a child and not allowing him/her to productively struggle with a problem he/she has been given the tools to deal with on his/her own
•Learn how to recognize and capitalize on naturally occurring teachable moments
•Creatively think about how to assess situations and constructively shape interactions 
•Learn how to provide the tools for dealing with stressors instead of removing all stressors from the child’s environment or separating the child from the stressful situation.

Curriculum Modification
•Help teachers understand how the child’s developmental disability and social impairment affects his/her ability to learn in the social environment of the classroom

•Develop goals to target social skill development that directly ties into executive thinking and higher learning skills such as inferential thinking, integration, recognizing main ideas, connecting supporting details, applying learned knowledge to novel situations, problem solving outside the parameters of a specific lesson, working cooperatively on a shared assignment, and prioritizing.
•Adapt school-wide social programming to the support individual social development and thinking