My son is a typical 7 year old boy. He likes to run, he loves his cat, and he has a very, very, short attention span. Like one of those tiny buzzing insects, he zips from one thing to another, not listening, not worried about anything unless he catches sight of something shiny.
A doctor once told us he was most definitely ADHD. Most definitely were the words she used, and since, it has been the filter through which I see him. Not always though – I do not stand around and scrutinize my 7 year old for being hyper, but it does happen.
In this, the age of modern science, the solution should be easy right? Just give the kids a healthy dose of Adderall, and call it a day. For my wife and me, this is simply not an option. Not to say that if your child is on medication to combat ADHD that you are a bad parent, it just isn’t something that we can do. The reaction in my wife, when this option was propose by said doctor, was visceral. ” There is no way in hell,” she said, her eyebrows furrowed in that adorable way that they do when she’s angry.
That was that. There was no way our child will be medicated. Period.
Since then, we have done all that we can to keep that from happening. With a school system that is very Pro-medication, it can be tough. To keep from this fate, we started digging. Hopefully what we have found will help, if you too want to help a child in your life without medication.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ADHD is defined as, “…Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age.”
As much a word salad as this may be, it does not answer any questions, only making sweeping generalizations about the condition. To find the cause for my son’s condition — no, that is not the right word. My son is not sick, this is not a disease. He merely has trouble focusing at times. You see how this whole thing works? We are lead to believe that something is wrong with our children. The fact is, ADHD is not a sickness, it is not a condition. It is more like a predisposition for hyperactivity. That last part, by the way, was pure opinion. Don’t get all huffy…
Still bothered by the lack of actual definition of this “condition,” I continued my search. The DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Version) which is the psychological tool used to diagnose mental conditions. It packages into a neat package, the set of conditions to be met in order to be considered to have ADHD. They are as follows:
-Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
-Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
-Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
-Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
-Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
-Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
-Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities.
2.Hyperactivity and Impulsivity:
-Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
-Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
-Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
-Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
-Often talks excessively.
-Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
-Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
I am no psychology savant or anything, but all of these, I mean all of these sound like normal childish outbursts, behaviors, et cetera. Children are not neat descriptions in a manual. My child does A LOT of things often. It is one of the reasons I adore him. Again, not broken, just distracted.
There is more to the before mentioned definition, but you get the idea. This is not a study on what psychologist think. We need a solution, and fast, not a diagnosis. For my family it is less the issue hyperactivity than it is the frustration and anger he has. It is not fair to him, or us. Sometimes I see his heart breaking in his eyes and it is worse than any emotion I have ever felt for myself.
The body, being a chemical engine, processes micronutrients, endogenous drugs, vitamins, and minerals to create fuel for the body as a functioning organism. We, in my house, believe that most ailments can be treated by the adjustment of these factors, so it was with that in mind that our research on diet to treat ADHD began. The following is a list of suggestions.
1. The right diet
Keep healthy fats and protein, green vegetables, and WATER as a primary source of nutrients. Gluten-based processed foods and sugar are your enemy for not only hyperactivity, but focus in the long term as well.
An active kids is a happy kid. Keep your energetic, enthusiastic, exasperating child busy with what ever makes them smile. You really can do no wrong here, as long as they are happy. Sports, riding bikes, swimming, nothing is off the table. Well except for possibly sword fighting, or bull fighting.
Kids (and their parents) need adequate sleep. The normal schedule of sleeping and waking is called your circadian rhythm. It is important for both physical and mental health. According to mentalhealth.org in an article titled Sleep Matters: The Impact Of Sleep On Health And Wellbeing, sleep has a bearing on everything from cognitive function, to digestion. I could quote the thing, but I recommend just reading it yourself.
This is a big one we are just delving in to. Vitamins, are the micronutrients necessary for healthy brain function and biological homeostasis. We were looking for a vitamin that could possibly help our child, feeling ad we do that some nutritional deficit (and the above rambling) were part of the issue. We found a vitamin that comes well regarded called On Task. I will keep you posted on how well it works, but the vitamin combination is as follows:
zinc (15-35 mg/d), magnesium (150-350 mg/d), pyridoxine hydrochlorid (vitamin B6) (30-70 mg/d) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) (150-250 mg/d).
This vitamin and mineral combination show a measurable improvement in studies conducted, so I am eager to see what results we discover.
Nobody likes being yelled at, especially a kid who may not even realize they are behaving badly. My little buddy sometimes doesn’t even know I am talking to him. I get frustrated, he gets frustrated, nobody wins. Try this instead of yelling: take a breath, remind yourself that the screaming ball on the ground is your child, and you love them, and then act accordingly.
There you have it. This is what we know so far. Sometimes times are tough, but I love my kid, exactly as is. Time will tell if these measures will do the trick. Remember: don’t try to sell your hyperactive child. You will miss them too badly. Your child, my child, they deserve the best chance at happiness that we can give. They are worth it.