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Parents select a specific behavior they want their child to complete, and when they do, they earn a reward. “Of course it is critical parents be consistent and use the chart every day. High structure in each day is very important,” said Dr. Schechter. For middle school children, Dr. Schechter emphasized the importance of providing the kids directly with the tools they need to feel confident and reduce stress, like teaching effective study skills and time management techniques. Get moving In addition to a focus on increased structure, practitioners also recommend exercise. Certified Holistic Health Coach Melissa Brunschwig says, “Children with ADHD need to release energy throughout the day and should be involved in both structured and unstructured play and sports. Give your child the opportunity to try individual and team sports to see which best suits his needs and personality.” Participating in group sports can be very beneficial for the ADHD child, both physically and socially. “Keep in mind that sometimes children with ADHD have weaknesses in social skills and cooperating in groups, so parents need to work closely with the coach and be an active supporter at their child’s games to help with supervision and behavioral correction, as needed,” said Dr. Schechter. Several experts suggested participation in a sport which is more one-on-one, such as taekwondo or jiu-jitsu. Martial Arts encourage great self-discipline and provide the strenuous activity that helps ADHD children thrive. Besides, it helps them to release all of that extra energy in a productive way. Eat healthy Another major area where parents can look to modify ADHD symptoms is through the child’s diet. Proper nutrition is necessary from the earliest years of life to support brain development and encourage healthy growth. If a child’s diet lacks in any major components like
2012 cover Kid, ephraim c.
My Child Has ADHD
Lauren Labbe’ meher
Alternative Treatment Options
protein or calories, this can negatively impact a child’s learning and behavior at home and in the classroom. Brunschwig suggests to begin by focusing on including fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and high quality sources of protein and healthy oils such as avocado, olive oil and coconut oil in the diet. Work towards eliminating artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup and minimizing sugar consumption and processed foods. Starting with the basics is one way to ensure your child can do his best in all areas of life. There is much debate over food elimination-type methods of reducing ADHD symptoms. Consider eliminating gluten and dairy from the diet to see if there is any improvement in overall behavior, sleep patterns and concentration. Keeping a food diary for one week is helpful in determining how changes to diet may impact your child. A simple modification to diet may prove beneficial so, it’s worth a try, right? Get some sleep The importance of sleep is one that is often taken for granted. Like exercise and diet, this most basic necessity is often overlooked. Dr. Schechter noted that often children are misdiagnosed with ADHD, when all they really need is uninterrupted sleep. Is your child staying up too late? Having trouble sleeping through the night or simply not getting enough sleep? It’s important to analyze your child’s sleeping habits and make adjustments, as needed, to rule out the possibility that this is an underlying symptom masked as ADHD. Ensuring healthy sleep patterns is a must. Get to the root of the problem For parents who have tried these methods and are still seeking alternate methods for managing ADHD, consider consulting a Naturopathic Doctor. Tiffany Burton, a practitioner at the local non-profit Center for Natural Healing says they can assess children and adults using a variety of methods. One example is hair analysis. Researchers can analyze a strand of hair to reveal whether or not someone has nutritional deficiencies, excess toxic metals or biochemical imbalances.
Burton says this type of testing helps them focus on the root cause of each individual’s ADHD symptoms. “Once you narrow down the root cause, the symptoms become easier to address. Body imbalances play a key role, so it’s often simply working to put the body back into balance and for children, it’s often the smallest changes that yield the greatest results.” Small changes One small change that often makes a big difference is the addition of probiotics to the diet. “Hundreds of years ago, we had the proper probiotics needed from our soil, fruits and vegetables. Now, because of agriculture, pesticides and radiation, these probiotics are basically extinct in the U.S. Researchers have studied specialized strands of probiotics which can be provided to children and adults with positive results. One recent success story involves a young child who first came to the Center for Natural Healing in April. She was placed on the center’s natural program, which is individualized in an effort to meet her specific needs. Examples of the natural program range from something as easy as taking supplements, to metal detoxification and dietary changes. In this particular child’s case, she benefited from this special probiotic, combined with metal detoxification and supplements. This combination has helped to naturally put her body back in balance. In six months her symptoms have improved without the need for medications. When it comes to ADHD, the one thing that becomes clear is that there is no one ultimate resolution for every kid. It appears that a combination of medication, behavioral and environmental modifications will achieve the greatest impact. Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are a multitude of options available locally. Parents can continue to research these issues to determine exactly how they might want to incorporate them into their family’s lives. Whether the treatment option you choose is medication or slightly off the beaten path, the main objective is ensuring your child’s health and potentially easing ADHD’s inconvenient effects. ■
January 2013 | www.brparents.com
The number of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is significantly on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, as of 2007, 5.4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. This means that nearly one in ten school-age children have an ADHD diagnosis and about two-thirds of these children are on medication. The likelihood that this disorder hits parents close to home is unfortunately high. It’s natural to be hesitant about immediately placing your child on medication—especially if there is another practical option available. Therefore, many parents are looking for alternate methods of treating ADHD. Meet Baton Rouge mom Leslie Harrison. Leslie’s two children are both on medication for ADHD, which is not uncommon. She describes the catch-22 struggle that many parents face. “I would love to take my children off of medication because it’s so expensive and I don’t know what it’s doing to them in the long term. They struggle now—even on medication so it’s
www.brparents.com | January 2013
difficult to take them off, especially while trying to succeed in school.” Despite these challenges, Leslie, like other moms, is still searching for a different approach to treating her children’s symptoms. What's the alternative? In addition to the potential long-term side effects, and the cost of medication, parents see short-term effects as well, including loss of appetite, weight loss, drowsiness, facial tics and personality changes, to name a few. For these reasons, parents are now looking for alternate methods. Or, medication may not be the
best treatment plan for all kids so proactive parents often search for an answer—one that you don’t need a prescription for. Although most physicians recommend stimulant mediations such as Ritalin, they also recommend environmental strategies. For example, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 86 percent of physicians surveyed recommend increasing daily structure for ADHD. Behavior management Local child psychologist Dr. Lynn Schechter provided some specific examples of behavior management techniques she uses to create structure for children with ADHD. For preschool and elementary school children, she suggests a highly-structured day with emphasis on rules and routines.