Neurofeedback – A Medical Treatment That Healed Our Son

Dear Dr. Sharon Thetford (a name we won’t forget),

This video is very dark, but the audio is enough to  showcase what these episodes were like. It is heartbreaking.

This video is very dark, but the audio is enough to showcase what these episodes were like. It is heartbreaking.

We wanted to take the opportunity to properly thank you for changing the trajectory of our 2 year old son’s life. You also re-established a family joy that once seemed unattainable. Let’s take a proverbial trip down memory lane: In December 2012, we took our son Keller to an overnight sleep study which confirmed he was suffering from a complex sleep disorder that included night-terrors, nightmares and night-wakings. These nightly episodes (up to 8 a night) wrecked havoc on him, his sister, and our family as a whole. I, his mother, could not console him in any way during the night or even in the morning and throughout much of the day. He was numb to me and seemingly agitated with just about everything.

Revelations of a Sleep Study

2013-05-11 17.39.55It had been almost a year that I couldn’t even put him down to bed, shattering my motherly dreams of bedtime stories and sweet kisses. Dad had to lay him down every night and then we put on our armor to survive another night as best we could. The sleep clinic suggested anti-anxiety medication along with prescription sleep meds. They mentioned ADHD, opposition defiance disorder and other illnesses that were likely in our future. At 2 years old and barely 20 lbs, we weren’t ready to medicate without exhausting other options first. Lucky for us, we happen to personally know a world renown ADHD doctor who told us Keller was simply too young for any major diagnosis yet. He sent us some research on night terrors that motivated us to continue searching for a recovery path. Our pediatrician Joseph A Cannizzaro, MD told us we should meet with a psychologist named Dr. Sharon Thetford to see if something called ‘neurofeedback’ would work.

We came to you in January 2013 a very broken and hopeless family. Our insurmountable goals were this:

  • Get Keller to sleep at least 8 hour straight (was averaging 1.5 hrs in between night wakings)
  • Get Keller to sleep to at least 6 am (his average final wake up for the day was 4:30am)
  • Get Keller to respond to mom (by this point, he wasn’t allowing mom to change/feed/dress him – only wanted dad)
  • Bonus goals: increase his frustration tolerance, decrease his tantrums and find tools to deal with his behavioral challenges

An Assessment That Changed Our Treatment Course

Your assessment concluded that Keller did not hate his mommy nor was he purposefully evoking his night sessions or difficult disposition. It wasn’t bad parenting or a lack of simple bedtime firmness. On the contrary, a brain map by your colleague Alex revealed what you suspected: he had dis-regulation in the left frontal lobe that could be restored through a noninvasive, non medicated approach: neurofeedback.

Inconvenient? Yes, terribly so. It would require 40 sessions 3 days a week. Expensive? Yes, it wasn’t covered by insurance and cost far more than an office visit. Worth it? With every fiber of my being let me shout and scream Yes! We can say that in hindsight, but the decision to make the investment didn’t come without a lot of deliberation and sacrifice.

Hanging by a Thread

Let me be honest, watching Keller have the first few sessions seemed a bit hokey. How could something like this help my son? If you saw the severity of his night terrors, then this would seem an odd treatment. I remember so vividly session 9 – 3 straight weeks of session after session – with no results that I could see. I threw in the towel and lost hope. I should mention that the actual night terrors were gone by this point, but the rage, nightmares and night wakings were still occurring and it was hard to see a silver lining at that point. For anyone going through this – reading this blog – I’d be remiss not to share the highs and lows. The low came when I sent an email to you that said, “It’s not working. I give up. We’re doomed. Keller is destined for a lifetime of this and I don’t think our family unit can survive.” People in the throws of this type of situation can attest to what it does to the family. I was ready to reconsider medication or anything else for that matter.

You, Dr. T., did not give up. You were steadfast in your commitment to heal our son. I also praise Jesus that my husband was able to carry the torch when I was losing steam. If there was a string we were hanging on to, he was holding one end. Then a few weeks later, it would be my turn to press on to take the string.

Fast Forward to Session 10

2013-02-03 13.27.12That night Keller slept for 7 hours straight; it was our first taste of true hope. You were very good about setting our expectations. From session 11-35, it was two steps forward, 1 step back. We’d chip away at our goals steadily. We went days on end of a full night’s sleep and then regress back. Again, you were steadfast. At session 35, when it seemed like the change just wouldn’t “lock”, we became doubtful again. Though we were light years from our starting point, it still seemed like we had to have a weekly session to ensure it would stick. How could 5 more sessions make all the difference? Well, it did. Just like you said. We knew there were no guarantees – and you never promised one – but you said there was no reason for us not to remain hopeful. I also found it really astonishing that you encouraged us to not settle for ‘just better than it was’. You said we should drive toward  complete recovery and should expect more of our son that partial settlement.

Where are we today?2013-01-24 07.53.55

Keller goes to bed every night around 8:30 pm without much fuss; just a wee bit of normal toddler negotiation. He wakes up between 6-6:30 am by coming into our room and proclaiming, “I’m awake. The sunshine is up. I want chocolate milk.” This is a stark contrast from waking up at 4:30 am screaming at the top of his lungs. As for mommy rejection….well, that’s just a thing of the past. I’m now instructed to watch Mickey Mouse every morning with him while we hide under the blanky together.

We’ve since taken your parenting class and have more confidence than ever. The anxiety that once paralyzed me with my son is completely gone. Instead, I fill my days enjoying the family I was blessed with. Will Keller have ADHD in the future? Who knows. If he does, I now know that our family is strong enough to spring into action and seek the proper help (whatever that may be) for the proper diagnosis.

If you ever find yourself weeks on end as a Psychologist without any patient breakthroughs, please remember our son Keller. Let him be a reminder why you’ve dedicated your life to healing people from debilitating afflictions. In the words of Keller that you love so much….”Dr. T, we’re all done today.”

Sincerely, The Hathaways

Here’s a video of our son Keller today (June 2013)

Sharon Thetford Psy.D Website 


Letter of Recommendation: Marty Hunt

Project: Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
Person: On behalf of Marty Hunt
Desc: Realtor Promotion

Let’s talk about Marty Hunt, shall we? In the midst of moving to a new home, becoming a brand new mom of two babies and being beyond busy, I still feel the overwhelming need to take a time out and share my experience of using Marty Hunt’s services. I have even pondered building a website dedicated to “the awesomeness of Marty” along with other service providers that have exceeded my expectations. Yeah, he’s that good. Rarely are you left with such an indelible impression that you proactively seek to report on the good. It’s all to easy to gripe, but it’s equally important to take the time out to share when it goes right. So, I am excited to have stumbled on Zillow to share my thoughts via this and other social media outlets.

My story started back in 2005, right before the height of the housing market. With soooo many buyers at that time, and money being lent hand over fist, it’s hard to imagine the level of service my husband and I received considering that we were only purchasing a starter home. Our budget wasn’t a big commission-maker and we could have easily been tossed aside for all the people gobbling up ultra inflated homes. But we weren’t; it was quite the opposite. I honestly felt like we were his number one clients at all times. Knowing it was our first home buying experience, he walked us through absolutely every nuance of the process with patience and the up-most respect. He showed us home after home after home and never rushed us. He steered us clear of making poor decisions (a la picking a home that has a great paint job and a failing AC unit) and went the extra mile to ensure our long term satisfaction. No matter what tax bracket you’re in, Marty treats you with respect.

Here’s the thing about Marty – his service level is like a throw back to when a man’s word was his bond….when honor, integrity and respect mattered…and business relationships were earned – not assumed. Even when things were good for realtors – no, make that REAL GOOD, he didn’t let an inkling of greed enter his demeanor or process. Can you imagine our surprise when he took off his shoes in our little ole house during the walk through as to not dirty the carpets?

By the time our closing came around, we knew we found the perfect home. So his job was done, right? Nope. Not when you have Marty Hunt for a realtor. He follows up to make sure you set your sprinklers, that you filed for homestead, that you don’t forget to get a replacement bulb for that one that burnt out…you get the point. 5 years later and we still get check ins on maintaining our investment.

So, fast forward half a decade in our starter home – A rapidly growing family and several life stage upgrades propelled us into the need for a bigger home. But uh oh, we are now amidst the biggest housing crises of our lifetime. Not to worry, it was second nature to pick up the phone to our “go-to home buying/selling guy”. As expected, Marty took care of us. He helped us make an informed decision with our old home and got us into our new dream home. Only this time, we were picky. Real picky. Did he care? Nope, he joined our picky-ness and worked relentlessly to meet our amenities wish list.

When months of looking failed to produce my soccer mom haven, we found an alternative. This time, we built our home from scratch and he was there every step of the way. He becomes your advocate in ways that are indescribable – from the builder to the lender to the inspector to the home design team – there wasn’t an ounce of getting anything over on us. Marty makes absolute sure that his clients get what they pay for. The fine print NEVER gets passed him. I can’t tell you the amount of times that he fought on our behalf to get what we deserved.

Would I recommend Marty? Why yes. In fact, I do every chance I can get. And I swear on my new maple cabinets that I’m not related to him in any way! His tag line is “Your Realtor for Life”, and I can assure you that it is the perfect slogan. He will no doubt be our realtor for as long as he is in business.

Letter of Recommendation: Scholarship

Project: Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
Person: On behalf of Autumn F.
Desc: College scholarship application

January 31, 2011

RE: Letter of Recommendation for Miss Autumn F.

To Whom It May Concern:

Autumn F. changed our life. Now, let’s back up and qualify that simple statement.

When  Autumn asked if I would write a letter of recommendation on her behalf as part of the college application process, I couldn’t help but feel both honored and excited. To have any part, no matter how small, in seeing her continue her education and reach her potential is beyond gratifying. She is a remarkable young women and I continue to be in awe of her grace and maturity at every new stage of our relationship. To say she has “overcome adversity” is to say the “grand canyon is a neat little crack in the ground”. Autumn has done far more than simply overcome a challenge; in my humble opinion, she has changed the world for the better.

After 5 excruciating pregnancy losses, including a daughter who died in my very arms, my husband and I turned to adoption. Like any other adoptive parent newbies – we had no idea what to expect outside of exaggerated theatrics as often described in made-for-TV movies. But God had different plans for us.

As we were grieving the loss of our latest baby, there was another couple who were also facing an extremely difficult situation. Autumn, just a sophomore in high school, became pregnant. While the rest of America was gobbling up the “coolness” of being a teen mom, as glamorized by MTV, Bristol Palin and the latest crop of misguided girls who are purposely getting pregnant, Autumn did the unimaginable: SHE PUT HER CHILD FIRST. There are not too many adults, let alone teens, who are unselfish enough to make such a mature and excruciating decision. She could have easily hopped aboard the teen mom bandwagon and paraded her daughter around like the latest handbag, but instead, she looked deep inside to make the best decision for the baby. That is when God put us together.

I could spend just about an eternity describing what my life has been like since meeting Autumn, but it’s not about me, so I will do my best to remain on point. With no other barometer of how to engage in an open adoption relationship, our birth mom/adoptive mom communication rested solely on mutual instinct. We both had to tune out everyone’s well-meaning advice and go with our guts. It turned out to the best decision that either of us could make.

I got to know Autumn on many different levels. One thing I really enjoyed about her was her zest for school. During Autumn’s pregnancy, she was steadfast in her dedication to her education. In our correspondence, she would beam with excitement for doing well on a test or plowing through a report. She often discussed how much she loved being involved in extracurricular activities, like chorus, and that getting good grades is a central focus of her life. She knew the ticket to success was college and made every concerted effort to not let her pregnancy push her into the expected life of mediocrity. I’ll never forget when Autumn called me several months after the adoption to tell me she just landed her first job. She was so happy about earning her own money and taking on this new responsibly. While most girls in her situation would be understandably stagnant, here she was mustering the strength to keep paving her path to excellence. Make no mistake, she did this with a broken heart. She did this with the anguish of a mother’s baron nest. But, she did this in the best interest of both her child and herself.

This is by far one of the things that made me so impressed with her (and continues to do so today). I was drawn to her insatiable hunger for overcoming adversity. There were so many nights that I stayed up with her on the phone as she sobbed at the gut wrenching task ahead – that of placing her child with another family to raise. Can you imagine the dynamics of trying to console a girl who is “your ticket to a family”?  But this was no ordinary girl, and again, we just had to rely on our hearts to guide us in the evolution of our relationship.

Fast forward 10 months post adoption. I am now the proud mommy of the most adorable girl on the planet, Madeline Brooke. She has Autumn’s gorgeous eyes and I love telling people where those magnetic blue peepers came from. I think the most convincing thing I could say about writing a letter of recommendation for Autumn is that I would be darn proud of Madeline if she grew up to posses the same fortitude for life, the same maturity, the same grace, the same dedication to education and the same compassion as that of her biological mom. I greatly look forward to watching Autumn’s life unfold and for being a part of it. Outside of her own parents, my husband and I are her biggest fans.

I am happy to answer any follow up questions you may have about this extraordinary girl.


Mrs. Jourdan M. Hathaway