Train your brain


Abu Dhabi Week learns more about ADHD

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? At the Dots & Links Center in Abu Dhabi, both children and adults are benefiting from a comprehensive brain-training programme meant to help them learn in a faster, easier and better way.

For children and adults with learning difficulties, staying focused and on task in school or the workplace can be a difficult and frustrating experience. The education centre aims to identify and address specific learning issues to help individuals improve and excel.

We went to the centre to learn more about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The common disorder includes a range of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

“Young children are naturally active and easily distracted. However, if these characteristics are excessive for a child’s general developmental level, and affecting their daily life and learning, it may indicate ADHD,” explained Razan Nabulsi, director of Dots & Links Center.

ADHD sufferers struggle mainly with their inability to focus or concentrate. They may need to have things repeated to them, are easily distracted, have poor listening skills and can be impulsive.

Common treatments for ADHD include medication, however many parents or students want to stay away from prescriptions. “I believe that medication alone is not enough and it has to be combined with other therapies, such as cognitive training. Data from the USA confirms that 50 per cent of students who have completed the BrainRx programme discontinue or reduce the dosage of medication. As most people know, any medication has side effects and it’s always worth exploring other medication-free options or a combination of training and medication,” said Nabulsi.

So what other therapies can be used to address ADHD? Practice makes perfect, at this education centre. Using the BrainRx programme, participants are drilled on a constant basis to help change the ‘wiring’ of the brain. Developed by Dr Ken Gibson, the high intensity lessons are meant to increase neuroplasticity – or adaptability – in the brain. By exposing your mind to new situations or actions, you form new neural connections, and in turn, can ‘re-train’ your brain.

“Since training is done on a one-to-one basis, it can be adjusted to meet somebody’s needs, goals and expectations. No two programmes are exactly the same because no two people have exactly the same strengths and weaknesses,” adds Nabulsi.

“When we have worked with adults, we mostly focus on being more attentive in the work place environment as well as raising their self confidence levels and boosting their memories. School aged children mostly need support in attention and concentration as well as the cognitive skills needed for more success in areas related to reading, writing and maths.”

In the hot seat

Eager to test out our attention skills (or lack thereof), we sign up to take the Gibson Test Assessment. After we arrived, we were taken to a small room to take an online exam which looks at seven specific skills including: processing speed, working memory, long-term memory, visual processing, auditory processing, logic and reasoning and attention. From puzzles flashing on the screen to listening for missing sounds on our headsets, we were surprised at how caught off guard we were. And when the results were in, we discovered we could definitely work on how well we do under pressure, as our processing speed is dismal, and our long-term memory is certainly in need of a workout, which comes as no surprise to us.

Our 20-year-old intern, Chequinah Coutinho, however, fared much better. She said: “Being able to take the Gibson test was a unique experience; the exercises may have started out easy but towards the end, you’ll be tested with a series of nerve-wrecking brain-teasers. The individual assessment right after, allowed us to discover new sets of strengths and weaknesses. It’s astonishing what a person’s brain can handle at one time. Though it is agreed that the results aren’t set in stone, the exercises were more or less accurate.”



Parents of A.B., an eight year old child, told us about their experience with Dots & Links.

“I came across the BrainRx programme while reading Abu Dhabi Week last September. Our child A.B. was finding it hard to pay attention in class, especially when there were distractions. A.B. had a pre-assessment and we decided to give the programme a go. His teacher noticed a difference after only six weeks, which is when my husband and I were reassured that this was the right place for our child.”

Test it out!

Exercise your noggin’ by checking out the centre’s monthly open day. Subject to registration, this free-of-charge session lets you get a taste of brain training. For more information visit:

 Sawaiba Khan


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