The QEEG

Every few months we take Emma in to have another QEEG done.  (Developed about 25 years ago, a quantitative EEG – a measure of brain wave activity is 94% correct in being able to diagnose ADHD as well as see which areas of the brain are overly active or under active.)  Yesterday afternoon, we took Emma in for yet another QEEG.  They hook up 21 electrodes to her head and have her sit still with her eyes closed.  She must be in a relaxed state for them to get an accurate reading.  It takes anywhere from 25 minutes to over an hour to get about 5 minutes of data.

Emma knows the drill.  She sits in the chair as the technician applies a sticky goop to a metal round end of a long colored wire.  The other end is plugged into a machine, which is attached to a computer and the now sticky metal end is applied to specific spots on her head and then covered with a thin gauze.  The first time we had this done, Emma was five or maybe six years old.  It took more than two hours.  More recently, however, we were in and out in less than an hour.  Emma doesn’t seem to mind, though it’s difficult for her to sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time without moving her forehead, scratching, talking, opening her eyes, scrunching her face up or any number of other things that serve to hinder the process.

Yesterday was no different than any of the other times we’ve gone in recent years.  As we sat, I was aware of how much I want her brain waves to tell us things we are not seeing manifested in her behavior.  A cognition, a repairing of the language areas in her brain, a symmetry and regularity which has so far, alluded us.  It is impossible for me not to fantasize about coming to meet with her neurologist in another week or so and have him say gleefully, “Congratulations!  She has a neuro-typical brain!!”  What parent doesn’t want to hear those words uttered?  It’s like winning the lottery.  “Oh come on?  Are you sure you’re looking at the right chart?!”  “Sure you have the correct name?”  To hope for this kind of pronouncement is dangerous, I have found.  The let down, the inevitable sadness one feels when these words are not uttered is too painful to describe.  And even when we have heard from her  doctor that the QEEG is showing “significant progress” we are left wondering if our definition of “significant” needs amendment.  Our hopes and dreams are perhaps too lofty.  Our desire to see her one day mainstreamed is, perhaps unrealistic. But what’s the alternative?

So we placate ourselves by reminding each other she continues to make good progress.  Her handwriting is coming along beautifully.  She has gotten the hang of finding almost all 26 letters on the keyboard, as well as “.”.  We move ahead with her literacy program, something which has given us more hope than anything else.  We continue to work with her on the proper use of pronouns.

And we watch and we wait.

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