WTF is a Mom to do….

There were assignments that had to be done.

There was a long weekend at the beach.

There was a family day when the GF food options just weren’t the most tempting.

That’s where my life as a Mom begins…. over and over and over and fucking over again! (sigh)

Welcome to the world of WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS. A. MOM. TO. DO? I know… the language, but… unless you live it… um…just don’t even… K? 😉

I have always believed that you have to accomplish your chores, tasks and responsibilities before you get your privileges. It just makes sense.

But, when you have a child that is controlled by the foods that are most of what society eats… and those foods are everywhere…. and those foods completely deteriorate his brilliant cognitive process….

YOU GET A LITTLE PISSED OFF THAT THERE IS NOT MORE AWARENESS! Welcome to my world.

Maybe you know about gluten (and casein) sensitivity, maybe you don’t, but let me tell you, not knowing will be the downfall of our society. I know I sound like a drama queen… But, I’m as serious as I can possibly be. ANYONE that works with kids NEEDS TO KNOW THIS INFO!!

Gluten sensitive people (40% of our population) will feel sick when they eat too much gluten. Period. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • brain fog (lack of focus and cognitive functioning)
  • spaced out… think “walking dead”
  • unable to accomplish ADLs (activities of daily living)
  • headaches
  • stomach aches
  • constipation
  • rashes
  • aggression
  • anger
  • frustration
  • lethargy, fatigue
  • obesity, edema/swelling
  • joint pain
  • anxious, depressed
  • IS THAT ENOUGH?!?
  • Sound like ADHD?
  • It’s also ANXIETY!!!!!
  • WE NEED TO WAKE UP!!

We need to scream it from the rooftops! I NEED TO SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!! I’ve lived it in the disastrous, whirlwind of gluten life for over a decade with my son. I was absorbed in the world of pediatrics, and I didn’t know, the awareness IS NOT THERE. The knowledge has not been shared with those that need to know. When I think back, it’s been about 3.2 decades for me and how long I’ve been affected by my personal struggles and symptoms. And, I see it in the majority of the pediatric patients I see (I only see kids). I won’t even go there in this post.

This is the primary reason I care…

inflammation leads to

WE ALL NEED TO CARE! WE ALL NEED TO KNOW!!! BE EDUCATED!!! IT MATTERS!!!!!!!

If it was your 14 year old, and you’d been living it for over a decade, and you were finally getting answers, and you started seeing all the things our society was ignoring… and that lack of knowledge and ignorance is the reason your kid is getting “toxed”… You’d be fed up too! Try to detox… yup, it’s really like detox, wanna know more about the addiction and cravings, read this.  IT’S REAL!!!!! BELIEVE IT! I BEG OF YOU! PLEASE! Just start paying attention.

This part of the journey needs to be more understood… it’s the least enjoyable part in our family, honestly it sucks… especially when you know how to fix the problem. The disheartening and discouraging part is the blatant ignorance and denial of nutrition and it’s effects on our society, the problem is being ignored.

I’m ready to SCREAM!!!! I’m ready to share! I’m ready to spread the awareness of what is happening to our kids! I figured it out, and I know I can help others! Interested in funding my Awareness Campaign? Let me know… I’VE FUCKING HAD IT!!!!

 

*Disclaimer: I’m not against gluten, wheat per se, I am against TOO MUCH and OVER CONSUMPTION of wheat and processed foods. As long as you tolerate wheat and gluten products, make them 20-30% of your diet, if not, 0%, yes ZERO PERCENT of your diet! Period!

This journey is hard, but can be fun, but we ALL need to work together for the awareness of our fellow man, woman, child and for a better tomorrow for our communities.

Peace. kp.

 

Getting ‘Glutened’ is Drugging My Kid! I’ve had it!! (Digestive Health Series, Part 3)

 

So, What does getting ‘glutened’ look like?

A. Laziness, fatigue

B. Anxious, depressed, irritable, angry

C. Disoriented, unaware, spaced out, Cognitive dysfunction

D. Stomach ache, migraine, joint pain

E. All of the above and then some!!!

Anyone that has talked with me knows this is a hot topic for me. What angers me the most is the total disregard of our society for the people that have true dietary issues that are ignored by the general population, including much of the medical population. As a nurse practitioner, I don’t like to say we’re missing things in medicine, but… WE ARE MISSING THINGS!!!!

As a mom, I knew there was more to it, and I knew I needed to keep searching for answers. Never. Give. Up. That’s going to be the name of my book. I’m not really a very good writer, avoided it like the plague in school. I have no idea where to start with a book, but it’s a goal of mine, and I need to share our story with other families. Moms need to know that it is worth every bit of energy you use figuring out how to help your child. 

He is so bright, it puts him on a different level. Friends started noticing it before I did, he put concepts together that 2 year olds just didn’t put together. He was smarter than some of the adults in his world and it caused problems. Problems that gradually got worse as the years went on. There were jokes about Einstein being thrown out of school, he even has a hat with Al on it. But, seriously, it took a decade of lots of struggles and difficulties to realize he wasn’t going to get better with prescriptions or school accommodation or anything else traditionally done for bright, ADHD kids. We’d been trying for years, and things were just getting worse… WHY???  Continue reading

Digestive Health Lesson #2 – It all Starts with Inflammation

Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine (Cleveland), wrote that inflammation is now recognized as the underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.

Inflammation

Inflammation 101

Inflammation defined by the free online medical dictionary: 1. A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue.  2.The inflammatory response can be provoked by physical, chemical, and biologic agents, including mechanical trauma, exposure to excessive amounts of sunlight, x-rays and radioactive materials, corrosive chemicals, extremes of heat and cold, or by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms. Although these infectious agents can produce inflammation, infection and inflammation are not synonymous.

Dr. Edwards points out that anti-inflammatory foods have been used to combat Cancer and many other diseases, i.e.: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, many Autoimmune diseases, asthma. Here is the abstract from her article:  Continue reading

Experiment #1: Essential Oils (doTERRA Vetiver)

Hi friends! I’m so excited to share my journey with essential oils with you. I started using doTerra CPTG Essential Oils about a month ago, and I. AM. HOOKED.

And calmer. More focused. More grounded. More aware. And, thankfully, less stressed.

So, what have we been using so far?  The standard trio that everyone has heard of: lavender, lemon, and peppermint. We’ve been diffusing them in the house and bedrooms. Just a drop of lemon on a tissue on my desk will help get me through the day.

I’m sure you are you wondering what EXPERIMENT #1 is?

I read a study about the effects of Vetiver Essential Oil for focus.

I think y’all now know where this is going… Josh will be trying vetiver. My boy could use a little assistance staying grounded and focused.

IMG_1316

Poor Josh. My guinea pig. That sweet kid is either going to hate me or thank me someday.

Hopefully, he continues to play nice. He’s been pretty cooperative at home. He’s taking some to school tomorrow, just a few drops on a tissue. Tonight, he chose to mix it with Wild Orange. It is next to his bed, and we will diffuse it in the morning with Wild Orange, Citrus Blend, and I think I’m going to add a little Lemon too (it’s uplifting).

We’ve been changing all kinds of things in our world to help Josh with his ADHD and anxiety. Helping Josh only helps the rest of us, he isn’t the only one with challenges.

I’ll be sharing all the new and mind blowing information about the alternative approaches we are trying in another post soon.

I’ll keep you posted about Experiment #1 when I tell you about Experiment #2, sinus issues anyone?

Until then, Enjoy the Journey, friends! 😉

If you are interested in more info, please contact me.

*Using essential oils can assist you on your path to ultimate health and wellness. Please be advised that Essential Oil practices discussed on this website are not intended to replace the advice of your medical provider. Please learn about essential oils before you use them. 

Write his teacher a letter… A lesson I wish I learned sooner

writing_letter_12071260152646It was so well received, I knew I should have done it sooner…. Oh, well… We all live and learn.

Letting your child’s teacher know what to expect when you have a child with challenges like ADHD, Anxiety, learning disabilities, Depression, etc. can make such a difference in your child’s school year. Don’t hesitate to write a letter and tell your child’s teacher about your child’s strengths, challenges, and any other pertinent information that is important to help your child succeed.

All teachers want to help our children, that’s why they became teachers. What most parents don’t know is that teachers are given absolutely no resources about ADHD. Can you believe that? The environment where children spend the majority of their time is housed with educators that are never given the opportunity to learn about ADHD (~10% of kids), unless they find time outside of their work schedule to pursue further education on the topic. Not fair… not to the kids, not to the teachers, and not to the rest of the school population. It is up to us as parents to bring information about our child’s challenges to the school and the teachers. Don’t assume they know. If you want someone to have information about your child or their challenges, tell them directly, don’t assume the information gets shared.

I was taught very early on in my professional training that it is important NOT to label kids, so I certainly didn’t want to do it to my own child. In most of my professional situations this is an absolute, but as a parent of an ADHD child, I WAS WRONG! SO WRONG! If your child’s teacher doesn’t know his strengths and weaknesses, how can she help him grow. Yes, most good teachers figure it out, but why waste those months, there are only 9 to get the job done.

If you’ve read any of my posts about ADHD, you know that my son, Joshua has trouble sitting still and staying on task. I have found that talking to his teachers at the beginning of the school year helps Josh and his teachers be much better prepared. For years, it took the first 3-4 months for his teacher to “get to know him” all because I didn’t want to label him. You know, the whole “clean slate” philosophy. I think part of me was trying to test the teacher to see if she also thought that Joshua had ADHD. There was part of me that would doubt it on occasion, although professionally, I knew he was classic.

After writing or asking for a conference with your child’s teacher(s), there should be a plan. Joshua is given specific expectations, as all ADHD kids should. He is also given tools and accommodations to help him succeed, which all ADHD kids deserve. All of his teachers stay in frequent communication with Josh to help him stay on top of assignments that are due, projects that have deadlines coming up, homework that needs to be done, etc. Throughout elementary and most of middle school, Josh has succeeded with the help of some pretty great teachers. We chose private school during 3rd grade for Josh, and haven’t looked back since. I was a public school advocate for a long time, but that debacle is for another post.

If people do not understand how the neurological challenges alter kids behavior, it is crucial for the child’s educational and emotional well-being that they learn. I just read a post on ADDitude.org today with quotes from parents that “wish they knew…” There is always something more we wish we knew.

So, as you prepare for the school year, don’t forget to prep your child’s teacher. You don’t want months to go by this school year, and then have a conversation about what your teacher wished she had known in September. It’s as easy as writing a quick (and, sometimes, not so quick) email. ADDitude.org has a short article and sample letter with great ideas for accommodations, click here to check it out.

So, as you embark on another year of your child’s education, be sure to keep everyone on your journey informed. You’ll be glad you did. I promise! It will make your life easier and most of all make your child’s educational experience more rewarding and successful. Then, you can say, “I’m glad I wrote that letter!” instead of “I wish I had…”.  😉

As always, I hope you are Enjoying the Journey! 🙂 

letter-writing-anymore

Hyperactive or just busy… Could your child have ADHD?? (v.2)

So many parents ask about ADHD and their child. Kids are busy and active, and they are supposed to be; so how do you know if they are “hyperactive” vs. “normoactive”… Read Hyperactive or just busy… and find out.

Even with the struggles, I hope you to take the time to Enjoy the Journey while you are figuring it out. 😉

dennis_standing vs mom

Can you imagine being Dennis’ mom?? Some days, I think I am…

ADHD: Why medication is so important!!

“Decades of research have shown us that kids with untreated ADHD (not to speak of anxiety, depression and other very treatable conditions) struggle just to become productive citizens.” -Steven M. S. Kurtz, Ph.D, Child Mind Institute.

The decision to medicate your child for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder can be a difficult one.  I have met many parents that do not want to medicate their child. These parents search in hopes of finding non-medication alternatives that may be able to help their child cope with ADHD. If you want to know more about those alternative methods, click here. For most ADHDers, treatment with non-medication options are not enough. Although non-medication alternatives are important, the best way to treat ADHD is with a combination of non-medication options, as well as medication and psychotherapy. 

Failure to treat ADHD can lead to:

  • Trouble communicating thoughts and feelings, hopelessness, poor self-esteem, and depression, increasing the risk for suicide.
  • Frustration from lack of self control
  • Increased risk for fatal accidents because of impulsive behavior and poor decision making
  • Difficult/strained relationships with family and friends
  • Increased risk for troubled relationships, leading to unemployment, job loss and divorce
  • Increased sexual promiscuity
  • Increased risk of being involved in auto accidents.
  • Increased use of smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more recognized and more children are put on medication every day. There has been talk in the national news about whether or not we are over diagnosing and/or over treating ADHD. Some providers will medicate children without trying other non-medication options, and some are quick to diagnose ADHD without a thorough evaluation. Some kids are medicated when they should not be, but many kids are medicated because they NEED to be.

ADHD children are medicated to help them control the symptoms of ADHD that interfere with everyday life in social, recreational and school settings. A child that has trouble paying attention, trouble sitting still and can’t stop talking is going to have difficulty in school. A child that is frequently invading other people’s personal space and frequently interrupts conversation is going to have trouble with friends and other relationships. A person that can’t focus enough to complete a task or assignment is going to have trouble learning, regardless of their intellect. With all of the challenges that ADHD bring, these children will have trouble reaching their ultimate potential without the help of medication.

Let me share what can happen when ADHD kids are not medicated…

School Issues: 

  • According to the CDC (1999), 15% of children with ADHD have a math or reading disability
  • Up to 50% of children living with ADHD are suspended
  • 80-90% of students with ADHD are significantly behind in school by 4th, 5th, or 6th grade
  • A study at UC Davis Health Systems (2010) cites that 1/3 of students living with ADHD drop out of high school, and those that do not are less likely to finish on time
  • As many as 50% of ADHD student fail at least 1 grade in school (Barkley, 2000)
  • ADHD kids are 3 times more likely to fail, be suspended or be expelled (Barkley, 2000)

Relationship Issues: 

  • ADHD makes it more difficult to maintain relationships
  • Decreased ability to put thoughts and feelings into words make it more difficulty to communicate feelings
  • Making impulsive decisions and speaking before thinking create barriers to harmonious friendships and job retention
  • Frustration from school and decrease self control causes self-esteem issues
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior leads to promiscuity

Safety Issues: 

  • ADHD children have more frequent and severe injuries, hospitalizations, and ER visits than those without ADHD
  • Increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents and traffic citations
  • ADHD teens have 3 times more speeding violations
  • ADHD teen have 4 times more accidents within their first 2-5 years of driving

Substance Abuse/Use Issues: 

  • Earlier onset of substance use
  • More frequent use/abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • 75% use drugs and alcohol when non-medicated vs. 25% use when medicated (use among non-ADHD diagnosed youth is ~ 18%)

Juvenile Delinquency Issues: 

  • ADHD youth are at increased risk for engaging in delinquent and antisocial behavior, especially boys
  • 47% of youth in juvenile detention have ADHD

All facts and statistics obtained from the National Alliance on Mental Illness/NAMI.

kids silhoettes playing outside

Check out this great article, “When ADHD Goes Untreated” from a leading expert on ADHD and disruptive behaivor disorders at the Child Mind Institute.

Another encouraging article that supports medication is “Free to Enjoy the Life He Deserves”  found on a great website for ADHD, ADDitude.

So, as you can see, not treating ADHD can have devastating results. For all of you parents out there that don’t want to medicate your child with ADHD, I feel your pain. As a Mom that has been through the struggles of diagnosis and multiple treatment options, I understand your hesitation. I too resisted the diagnosis of ADHD for my son. How could this sweet little boy, that could sit for hours and read, and was so incredibly smart have ADHD. But, how could this child that ran or spun everywhere he went, was unable to sit still through a meal, and looked at everything along the road on a bike ride besides the road NOT have ADHD. After lots of educational, psychological, and other tests, my husband and I realized that our child did indeed have ADHD. The decision to medicate him was not an easy one. Just as the mom that wrote the above article “Free to Enjoy the Life He Deserves” expressed, I didn’t want Joshua’s static to interfere with the rest of the world recognizing that he is such an interesting, cool kid. When I first medicated Joshua, I didn’t know about all of the information and statistics that I have listed above. I just knew that this highly intelligent child would never meet his full potential if we didn’t help him filter out the distractions. This was going to take medication.

So, what medication works best, you may ask? Stimulants work best for ADHD.  There are some non-stimulant medications also, but they do not have a reputation for helping the symptoms as well as stimulants. There are more than half a dozen different stimulants to chose from, and each one works differently for different people. It took 4 different medications and almost 2 years before we found the right medication for Josh. Managing his ADHD is an ongoing battle, just giving him a pill every morning isn’t a quick fix. When he is off his regular schedule, his sleep schedule is altered, or we let him eat things he shouldn’t (like artificial food dyes) things are more challenging. Focusing on the alternative non-medication treatment options are just as important as the medication. And, then there is the occasional trip to the psychologist just to keep us all in check.

Parenting an ADHD child takes a lot of patience, persistence, and dedication. It is not easy, but then again, parenting isn’t easy. I’m convinced that the effort and hard work that my husband and I have put into raising our ADHD child will pay off in the long run. I keep telling myself, and Joshua, frequently, that he is destined for greatness! It’s my job as his mom to help him reach for the highest stars! Sure, we will hit a few speed bumps along the way, even a few mountains that we might have to move, but all in all, we got this!!

Parenting is a difficult job. Making the right decisions is rarely easy. Just remember, one of the most important things is to Enjoy the Journey! 😉

ADHD: Non-medication help…

ADHD kidIt seems like every day I have another parent asking me if their child has ADHD (aka Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). The answer isn’t an easy one, neither is the solution. I wrote a post trying to help answer this very question. If you want more information about how to know if your child’s behavior may or may not be ADHD, read Hyperactive or just busy…Could  your child have ADHD?

If you think your child has ADHD, but aren’t sure if they need medication or not, there are some things you can do that should help. Will these effective parenting tips keep your child from needing medication? No. If a child is in need of medication, then, I recommend medicating them. Medication alone can not help a child that is truly ADHD. The most effective treatment is medication along with therapy and effective parenting. 

I’ve talked before about effective parenting. I don’t think enough attention is paid to the importance of proper parenting. I see parents that want me to fix their child, when the problem is that the child is in need of consistency and routine. Children NEED consistent routines, especially children with ADHD.

  • Routine is unbelievably important. Doing things according to a schedule helps a child learn what to anticipate day after day. Using lists or pictures can be helpful to remind children what they are responsible for and keep them on task. Even with routine, your ADHD child will still need help getting everything done.
  • Make sure the rules are clear and followed consistently. If you have rules that are only enforced some of the time, the child will not know when they do or don’t have to follow the rules. This leads to frustration for the child and the parent. And, needless to say, inconsistent results!
  • Give the kids something to be responsible for…this could be helping to take care of pets, taking out the trash, or other chores around the house. This helps the child feel important, learn responsibility, and also builds self-esteem. You will have to remind your child to do their chores, it isn’t going to just happen. Having a list and checking off chores/responsibilities as they accomplish them can be helpful, and is a good way to reinforce good behavior.
  • Praise and Positive Reinforcement is a must for disciplining all children, especially children with ADHD. Recognize & Praise good behavior and accomplishments. Just getting homework or small chores done can be challenging for children with attention issues.
  • Limit “screen time” – This includes all screens, such as TV, video games, computer, etc. Screen time should be limited to just 2-3 hours per day, and should be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime. This isn’t hard to enforce during the school year because there is limited free time after school. It is a little more challenging during the Summer. Being more liberal with this rule during the summer is ok, just remember, you will see a difference in the child’s behavior; and it is essential to get back into a school routine a week or 2 before school actually starts.
  • Have a good bedtime routine with an acceptable bedtime. Kids in preschool and early elementary grades should be in bed by 7:30-8:30, upper elementary should be 8:30-9, middle school 9-9:30, and high school should be between 9-10. For more information about sleep, please see my blog, Sleep is Crucial for Healthy Development. A tired child has trouble focusing, paying attention, and retaining information. For preschool aged children, there is a significant correlation between hyperactive and impulsive behavior and short sleep duration.
  • Watch what your child is eating, 3 healthy meals and snacks are important for good brain function. Adding essential fatty acids to a child’s diet helps promote good brain function. Eliminate artificial food dyes (AFDs) from the child’s diet. AFDs have been proven to increase hyperactivity in the majority of children. A study done in Great Britain in 2006 documented that 75% of children demonstrated hyperactive behavior correlated with ingestion of AFDs and Sodium Benzoate. I have recommended this intervention to many families, and received many Thank You’s because it makes such an obvious difference in the child’s behavior. I firmly believe that AFDs should be eliminated from our food supply altogether. AFDs have been outlawed in Canada, Britain, Germany and a few other countries.
  • If your child has allergies, treat allergies with a daily allergy medication. Allergies can make ADHD worse! Allergies are a hypersensitivity, ADHD is a hypersensitive state…1+1=2, it’s that simple (not really, but treatment is a must).
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! Physical activity helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that are dysfunctional in those with ADHD. Participation in sports can be helpful and rewarding for your child. Daily outside time, even when it’s cold should be the norm. Tell your kids to run around the house a few laps before dinnertime, it gets the wiggles out.
  • Whatever your child is good at, encourage it! Whether their forte’ is math, sports, or creating, encourage it! Without our multitasking, intelligent ADHDers, we would not have telephones, airplanes, or many of the inventions and discoveries we take for granted everyday. My above mentioned ADHD post expands on this, even listing all the famous people throughout history that have/had ADHD, check it out!

These interventions take time and effort on the part of parents. They are useful for all kids of all ages, but especially necessary for kids with ADHD. Many of these interventions are just good, effective parenting. 

If a child is in need of medication, these interventions will NOT replace the need for medicating the child. There are typically side effects of medication for most kids, and this can be worrisome to parents. Some of the side effects can be decreased appetite when med is at it’s peak, headaches, stomach aches, mood swings, and sleep issues. It’s important to figure out if the medication is actually to blame, or if there is another underlying reason for the unwanted symptoms. For example, most ADHD kids will have trouble falling asleep, it may be the ADHD or too much screen time, and not the medication. It’s also important to evaluate which is worse, the side effects or the effects of untreated ADHD?? In my professional and personal opinion, the effects of untreated ADHD can be much worse than the side effects of the medication. Trust me, I’m living the ADHD thing with my son. Look for a post on untreated ADHD soon.

Having an ADHD child takes effort, patience, and frequently a little wine. 😉 ADHD children are challenging, difficult to parent, and also rewarding. Those creative ADHD minds are awesome to watch create, absolutely fascinating sometimes. So, if you are dealing with an ADHDer, don’t forget to stop and look at the positive side of this challenge. These ADHDers are going to do amazing things for society, they just need a little TLC, and A LOT of guidance to get there.

Good luck, and regardless of the challenges…. don’t forget to ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

 

Small Dose #14- YES, We NEED to treat ADHD!!

“Children growing up with ADHD often face a higher risk for substance use disorders compared with the general population. New research shows that treatment with extended-release stimulants early in adolescence may reduce the risk of developing dependencies on cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.”

-Dr. Timothy E. Wilkins, MD, Director, Center for Addiction Medicine, Child Psychiatry Services, Mass. General in Boston

 There are many risk factors  associated with non-treatment for ADHD.

A post with more information on the risks of not treating ADHD with medication to follow soon.

Learning how to navigate life’s Parenting Journey is never-ending! 😉

Effective Parenting… Important for all kids, but especially important for raising kids with ADHD!

Effective parenting takes time and effort, no doubt about it!!

For kids with ADHD, effective parenting is a must whether these kids are medicated or not medicated.

This information will be useful for all parents, not just those raising ADHD kids…

Does the child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) need to be medicated?? Yes and No… that’s clear as mud, huh? First, it’s crucial to make sure that what you are dealing with is ADHD! Many children will present with symptoms that might appear to be ADHD, but are actually symptoms of other disorders. ADHD can present  differently for different kids. Yes, there are the classic symptoms, but not all children are as obvious as others. For diagnostic information about ADHD, check out my post, Hyperactive or Just Busy…Could your child have ADHD?

If it’s not ADHD, what else could it be? Some disorders that may present as ADHD could be anxiety, depression, lead poisoning, thyroid dysfunction, vision problems, food allergies/sensitivities, sleep apnea or something else entirely. Making sure your child has the appropriate evaluation is the first step to proper treatment.

I see many preschool age children that are brought in by their parents for behavior problems, it’s most frequently boys vs. girls. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that both boys and girls can have ADHD, but boys are diagnosed 2:1 over girls. I always say that God made boys to hunt and gather, not sit still for 8 hours. 😉 Perfect example – I saw a little boy this week for behavior problems, he is 3 years old and his mother thinks he has ADHD. The first thing I do is ask why the parent thinks the child has ADHD? Jason’s mom reported that he got in trouble in preschool A LOT, was biting other kids, was constantly in time-out, talks non-stop, and his dad has ADHD. After meeting with Jason and his mom, I think he might have ADHD, but at 3 years old I NEVER label a kid as ADHD. And, I would NEVER medicate a 3 year old for attention problems or hyperactivity; 3 yr olds are supposed to be active and have a very short attention span. If a child this young presents with problems, he needs a though neuro-psych evaluation!

There are many interventions that I recommend for young children with behavior issues that resemble ADHD. These interventions can make a huge difference for a family, and must be consistent! These interventions take time and effort on the part of parents. They are useful for all kids of all ages, but especially necessary for kids with ADHD. Many of these interventions are just good, effective parenting:

  • Routine is unbelievably important. Doing things according to a schedule helps a child learn what to anticipate day after day. Using lists or pictures can be helpful to remind children what they are responsible for and keep them on task.
  • Make sure the rules are clear and followed consistently. If you have rules that are only enforced some of the time, the child will not know when they do or don’t have to follow the rules. This leads to frustration for the child and the parent. And, needless to say, inconsistent results!
  • Give the kids something to be responsible for…this could be helping to take care of pets, taking out the trash, or other chores around the house. This helps the child feel important, learn responsibility, and also builds self-esteem.
  • Praise and Positive Reinforcement is a must for disciplining all children, especially children with ADHD. Recognize & Praise good behavior and accomplishments. Just getting homework or small chores done can be challenging for children with attention issues.
  • Limit “screen time” – This includes all screens, such as TV, video games, computer, etc. Screen time should be limited to just 2-3 hours per day, and should be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime. This isn’t hard to enforce during the school year because there is limited free time after school. It is a little more challenging during the Summer. Being more liberal with this rule during the summer is ok, just remember, you will see a difference in the child’s behavior; and it is essential to get back into a school routine a week or 2 before school actually starts.
  • Have a good bedtime routine with an acceptable bedtime. Kids in preschool and early elementary grades should be in bed by 7:30-8:30, upper elementary should be 8:30-9, middle school 9-9:30, and high school should be between 9-10. For more information about sleep, please see my blog, Sleep is Crucial for Healthy Development. A tired child has trouble focusing, paying attention, and retaining information. For preschool aged children, there is a significant correlation between hyperactive and impulsive behavior and short sleep duration.
  • Watch what your child is eating, 3 healthy meals and snacks are important for good brain function. Adding essential fatty acids to a child’s diet helps promote good brain function. Eliminate artificial food dyes (AFDs) from the child’s diet. AFDs have been proven to increase hyperactivity in the majority of children. A study done in Great Britain in 2006 documented that 75% of children demonstrated hyperactive behavior correlated with ingestion of AFDs and Sodium Benzoate. I have recommended this intervention to many families, and received many Thank You’s because it makes such an obvious difference in the child’s behavior. I firmly believe that AFDs should be eliminated from our food supply altogether. AFDs have been outlawed in Canada, Britain, Germany and a few other countries.
  • If your child has allergies, treat allergies with a daily allergy medication. Allergies can make ADHD worse! Allergies are a hypersensitivity, ADHD is a hypersensitive state…1+1=2, it’s that simple.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! Physical activity helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that are dysfunctional in those with ADHD. Tell your kids to run around the house a few laps before dinnertime, it gets the wiggles out.
  • Whatever they are good at, encourage it! Whether their forte’ is math, sports or building things, encourage it! Without our multitasking, intelligent ADHDers, we would not have telephones, airplanes, or many of the inventions and discoveries we take for granted everyday. My above mentioned ADHD post expands on this, check it out!

Do I think these interventions will keep a truly ADHD kid from needing medication? Probably not, it depends on the severity of the ADHD. If I child has mild symptoms, the above interventions may be beneficial enough to avoid the need for meds. If a child has moderate to severe ADHD, they will need medication along with the above interventions.

I can’t expresses how important these “effective parenting” interventions can be, even for those children that need medication. Medication alone will not be enough for a child with true ADHD.

I’ve had many parents come back to me and tell me how much these interventions have helped make their life better. I can tell you personally, that they do make a difference in our family. I’ve shared Joshua’s story with you, he is the definition of Inattention and Hyperactive. If you haven’t read Parenting = Biggest Rewards + Most Frustrating Job You Will EVER Have!!, check it out for a little more insight on raising Josh. Joshua literally spun in circles for many years during his early childhood prior to the elimination of AFDs from his diet. I used to refer to him as Taz, the Tasmanian Devil. After a few days with no AFDs, the spinning stopped!! It was unreal!! It turned my little Tasmanian Devil back into a sweet, funny, and interesting little boy. He was still busy, but it was obvious that he had more control over his behavior.

Children with ADHD take extra time and effort, but the extra parenting will pay off someday when they are able to accomplish their goals. The time and effort will build self-esteem, intellect, and help your child grow to be the healthy and happy person you will always be proud of.

All kids take lots of parenting effort and energy. Each child comes with their own unique challenges, no doubt about it. Being the parent of an ADHD kid will take more patiences, time and effort than parenting the average kid. Your efforts will pay off though, I promise!!

Whatever parenting challenges you face, I hope you always remember to ENJOY THE JOURNEY!