Researchers and doctors say that between 30% and 50% of children with ADHD or ADD grow out of it by the time they are adults. I am going to step out on a limb and say that no one actually outgrows ADHD. I would prefer to say that about 30% to 50% of people with ADHD reach a point where they no longer need medication.
This happens for a few reasons.
First, a person simply learns to deal with ADHD and no longer needs assistance from medication. The mind tends to learn new ways of doing things in order to accomplish its purpose. Sort of like a rat in a maze. Given enough time they will find a solution. The human brain will do the same thing given proper motivation. At least that is my experience. People also tend to teach themselves ways to outsmart the problem.
Second, a persons environment changes to where the problem is not a problem anymore. In many cases it becomes a strength. For example, lets say you have a person that is very hyperactive. Make them sit though a philosophy lecture for a couple of hours and you have a problem. However, put them on a racquet ball court and the problem seems to go away. The person did not change, the environment they were in did. When a person goes from a classroom setting to say a work setting where concentration is not as crucial then ADHD may not be an issue at all. Also, as you get older the hyperactivity problem normally lessens or goes away naturally.
Thirdly, the symptoms can actually become less severe over time. As a persons body chemistry changes it is possible for attention deficit symptoms to lessen. It does not go away but just becomes less of an issue.
There are two different types of attention deficit problems. One is mostly attention oriented and the other is both attention and hyperactivity related. In other words you can have an attention problem and not be hyperactive or you can be both. Having both would obviously be more difficult to deal with. Here are the symptoms to look for.
Symptoms of Attention Deficit Only :
Has difficulty focusing and maintaining attention
Loses or misplaces items regularly
Appears to not be listening
Has difficulty with organization
Avoids tasks that require focus and concentration
Often makes careless mistakes
Child is distracted easily
Child has difficulty following instructions
Is forgetful of basic daily activities.
Children that are hyperactive generally have the following symptoms:
Fidgets and cannot stay still
Is noisy when engaging in activities
Is constantly moving and on the go
Has difficulty waiting his turn
Talks much more than an average child would
Shouts out answers before a question has been fully asked
Interrupts others often
Climbs chairs, desks or runs about more than a typical child would
Cannot stay still and constantly moves hands, feet and head when sitting
If your child has only the top list of issues then they are most likely only ADD. If they have issues from both lists then they are most likely ADHD. There will be varying degrees of each and the more severe each is the more you will need to work with the child and establish a plan. Also, in my opinion, kids with ADHD or symptoms from both lists are more likely to need medication to control the problem.
Medication is an effective way of dealing with an attention deficit problem. However, it is not without side effects. For some people, the side effects are worse than the problem the medication addresses. For others, side effects are mild.
I am going to discuss the different medications in another article so in this article I am going to focus on alternative treatments for ADHD that do not involve the standard medications like Ritalin.
There are a couple of good reasons to try and treat ADHD using alternative methods. First, if a child has a very mild case and only struggles a little then alternative treatments will be helpful. In other words, if they can excel in school without medication then that is best. Second, if a child has severe reactions to all of the medications then the only other choice is treating the condition without medication.
Simply refusing to treat your child with medication is not a valid reason for trying alternative treatments. Keep in mind that your child is struggling much like a bad swimmer in rough water would be. If medication can solve the problem then it is simply cruel to not let them have that solution.
Before we start, if you already treat your child with medication then the following alternatives can still be used. If fact, if you will use these methods along with medication then as your child gets older there will be a better chance of them getting off medication completely.
Learning good study habits will help anyone. Especially those with an attention deficit. Having your child tutored by an older student who has good study habits is one way to instill these characteristics in your child. Much like playing a better tennis player makes you better. It does not have to be torture. In fact, it can be fun. You simply want the tutor to go over each class and see how your child is doing. They will then make suggestions and help them with any work they are falling behind in. Twice a week should be sufficient. Each session should be about an hour. What this will do is create accountability and structure and also pass on some good habits to your child. Good study habits include:
Writing assignments down.
Take Notes – writing down information helps you to retain it.
Keeping up Schoolwork so as not to fall behind.
Remembering to bring your homework to school.
Maintaining good communication with the teacher.
Establishing a study area at home.
Structure – do things at a predetermined time on a schedule.
Reward yourself for finishing work.
Break down studying into small blocks if necessary.
Sports that Require Focus and Discipline
This is an effective and fun way to develop focus and discipline. My sport was Taekwondo. Karate and other martial arts are also excellent. Taekwondo taught me discipline, goal setting, achievement, focus and more. Plus I was able to spar my sister which was a bonus. We have a separate article on this subject in our links to the right.
Eating right is a must for any child, especially if they have an attention problem. A well balanced meal will give them the right type of energy and will help you focus on real problems and not those caused by malnutrition.
A diet / nutrition plan will involve removing certain foods from a childs diet temporarily and removing some permanently. It also involves adding some foods to help concentration and focus.
You can click here for a full article on a good ADHD / ADD diet.
Herbal Supplements and Vitamins
Treating ADHD or ADD naturally with herbal supplements and vitamins is a viable option especially in mild cases. For example, for some people, caffeine which is a natural stimulant, has a similar effect to ritalin when it comes to focusing. For mild cases of ADHD, a cup of coffee in the morning and a little Mountain Dew through out the day works well. For others it does not.
Flax Seed Oil is also a recommended nutritional supplement. It contains Omega 3 oils as well as Studies on the effects of Omega 3 and ADHD show that the levels of these fatty acids in the blood of those suffering from ADD and ADHD needs to be maintained at a certain level. The benefits of flax seed oil make it an effective tool for keeping the levels of these fatty acids high to improve concentration and behavior.
A multi vitamin is also helpful in making sure that you have no deficiencies in this area. Sort of a back up plan to good healthy meals. Keep in mind that vitamins cannot replace a healthy meal.
If you wanted your child to have low self esteem, not believe in themselves, to feel out of place in their world, to resent you as a parent, and to later rebel against your authority, what would you have to do. That’s easy, just hold them back in school.
When I was in pre-school and having some difficulties it was suggested that I be held back. This was well before I was diagnosed with ADHD. Thankfully my parents did not do it. This article discusses holding kids back a grade in general and also how it sometimes relates to ADHD prior to a diagnosis.
To begin with, I believe that the only good reason to hold a child back a grade is if there is absolutely no way they can handle the next grade. Another way to say it is that the child did not successfully complete one grade and therefore is not ready for the next grade. This is the only good reason. If a child can handle the next grade then you must advance them. To not would be like a person passing their driving test and then not being allowed to drive. If a child is not in school yet then the same rule would apply. If they are old enough to go to school and can handle the work then you put them in.
Being held back is traumatic for a child even if they are young. Kids know how old they are and how old their friends are. If a kid is a year older than everyone else then everyone knows he has been held back. Its not really that hard to figure out and I don’t understand why parents can’t see this. I have even heard of an old wives tale that says if a boy is born in the summer he should be held back a year. Sounds ridiculous to me too.
A common tactic in warfare is to demoralize the enemy until he gives up the will to fight. The tactic actually works very well. Unfortunately, too many parents do this to their kids by holding them back unnecessarily and then wonder why the child loses the will to achieve. Your goal as a parent is not to conquer your child’s will or to dominate them. Your goal should be to encourage them and let them know they can do anything they set their mind to. You have been entrusted with the welfare of your child and should not break that trust.
You may ask what holding a child back has to do with ADHD. The answer is simple. If a child has an attention deficit problem it is going to appear as though they are not ready for school when in fact it’s the problem you are seeing and not the childs readiniess. Having ADHD does not mean you can’t pass a grade in school. It just means it is going to be more of a challenge. Starting your child a year after their friends or forcing them to fail a grade does not make the problem go away. It just labels them.
There were several reasons why my parents did not want to hold me back in preschool or any other grade. First, they did not want to teach me that the solution to a problem is to quit. Also, my mom and dad had worked with me and knew that I was able to do the work. Also, my dad was actually 6 months younger than me when he started school so he definitely did not agree. Lastly, I have a twin sister who was doing fine in pre-school and there was no way I was going to let her to get ahead of me. Mostly what I remember is that my parents believed in me. That helped me believe in myself and I think made a big difference.
In conclusion, I think that parents should consider holding a child back ONLY as a last resort and only after the child has proven they cannot handle the next grade. Also, I think that a child should at least have some say in the matter and their feelings should be considered. Think about how it would make you feel before you act. If you are a good parent then you definately want to make the problem better and not worse.
ADHD or ADD Diet – Good Nutrition for Attention Deficit Kids
Eating right is important for any child or any adult for that matter. For children with an attention problem a proper diet is more important than ever. A well balanced meal gives a child the right type of nutrition and energy and will help you focus on real problems and not those caused by malnutrition. Diet is one of the first treatments you should consider.
A good way to approach an ADHD diet is to use a multi step logical process that accomplishes a few things. First, you want to make sure the child’s problems are not being made worse because of a food allergy. The only way to know this is to put them on a healthy controlled diet for a week or so and observe them. Then you would move them to phase two which is simply a healthy well balanced diet that excludes certain types of foods. In addition to this you are going to want to include foods in your child’s diet that improve brain function and help them concentrate better. Note – these are only suggestions. You should consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Before we go into phase one remember to DRINK MORE WATER. The brain is 80% water so a dehydrated person will not perform as well as someone who is hydrated.
To begin the first phase you will want to cut out almost all sugars and junk foods. Also, cut out anything that the child may be allergic to like milk, dairy and wheat gluten. Basically, anything processed or artificial. No chocolate, no fruit juice, no nutrisweet, no artificial colors, no fried foods, no soft drinks, etc. Just a healthy diet of high protein meat, vegetables, water, etc… By doing this you will hopefully be able to isolate any foods that are causing an allergic reaction or that may be adding to the ADHD problem. If the child’s situation improves after cutting these items then you can add them back one at a time in an effort to identify any problem foods. Here’s a great idea. Go to a book store and buy an old cook book that would have come from the pre 1950’s era or even older. This would have been before the modern fast and junk food epidemic. Cook like they did back then and you will be doing your entire family a favor and especially an ADHD child. The first phase would last about two weeks.
The second phase will be to implement a good healthy diet. This phase will last an indefinite period of time and consists of excluding and including certain foods.
First, you will want to make a list of foods to exclude or reduce. Foods that contain large amounts of processed sugar should be kept at a minimum. This would also include things like candy, sodas, chocolate, etc.. Also, many experts say to exclude artificial colors, especially red and yellow and food additives such as aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and nitrites. Fried foods should be reduced as well as any other food that is difficult to digest. Also, in this phase, if you determined that certain foods like milk or wheat gluten affect your child then eliminate those. If not then include them.
You will want to include high protein meats, vegetables, foods high in protein, Omega-3, nuts, fresh fruits and fresh fish. You don’t have to go organic but you do want to eat smart. Keep in mind that eating well is more work than eating poorly but worth it.
In addition to the above recommendations you may want to add a multi-vitamin to your childs diet. Theoretically, the body gets all the vitamins it needs from a balanced diet, however, a multi-vitamin will assure you that nothing is lacking.
Including flax oil is said to improve brain function. It contains the Omega 3 oils you need anyway so adding it to a diet is helpful either way.
As mentioned above, cook like they used to before the modern junk food era. Get an old cookbook and have some fun.
Instead of just telling you to eat healthy I thought I would give some sample menus of what I would consider a healthy meal. Keep in mind that these are not necessarily organic or all natural but should lean in that direction. The main goal with these meals is to reduce sugar and increase protein.
Here are some easy breakfasts that you can make for your kids.
Eggs scrambled in low fat butter and a glass of orange juice. Also add a piece of toast with all natural jam.
Slice of whole-grain bread toasted with a little whipped butter or margarine and a dab of all-fruit jam; low-fat milk.
Whole grain bread dipped in egg and toasted in a skillet. Then served with a sugar free syrup and low fat butter. Also a little pan seared thin ham on the side.
Whole-grain cereal with low-fat or 2% milk with some lean meat like a pork chop, chicken or steak. Add some orange pieces or orange juice.
Plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit like apples or mandarin oranges.
Homemade Instant Breakfast Smoothie and a sausage patty. Smoothie can include milk, some frozen yogurt, fresh bananas, other fruit like strawberries and a protein supplement if desired.
Mixed nuts; fruit; glass of low-fat milk.
Grilled-cheese sandwich made with whole-grain bread and two-percent cheese; glass of orange juice.
Natural peanut butter on whole-grain bread, with a dab of all-fruit jam.
There are quite a few articles on the internet about nutrition and diets for kids with ADHD or ADD (attention deficit). I have found them to be informative but a little general in nature. In this article I am going to go over some specific recipes and meals that in my opinion will help kids with attention deficit and/or a hyperactivity problem. The recipes and meals that I outline below are meant to provide nutrition for a growing kid while at the same time reducing ingredients that can make ADHD worse and increasing ingredients that can make ADHD better. This particular article is going to focus on “smoothies and shakes”. We have other articles for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The goal of these meal plans and recipes is not weight loss so they can still taste good and filling. In fact, if your child is on medication you are going to need to feed them meals that will keep their weight up not down. This fact makes meal planning a lot easier than if you are also trying to lose weight.
Shakes and Smoothies
Shakes and smoothies are a great way to blend together a variety of great ingredients into one healthy drink. Here are some sample recipes.
Fruit Smoothie #1
4 ounces of whole or 2% milk
4 ounces of frozen yogurt
3-4 tablespoons protein powder
1/2 cup bananas, blueberries, strawberries, or peach slices. Fresh is best but frozen is fine also.
Mix these ingredients in a blender, add ice and blend until smooth. Serve with whole grain toast and sausage patty if desired.
Mocha Latte Protein Shake #1
Cup of Coffee
Cup of Milk
1 tablespoon protein powder
Pack of Splenda
Pour the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. This protein shake tastes good and can helpful in improving focus and concentration. Since 100 milligrams of caffeine is about the same as a 5 milligram dose of ritalin this drink often makes a good substitute. You can vary the ingredients a little to your childs taste.
Keep in mind that some people have issues with caffeine, however, for most people this recipe is helpful and boosts focus for an hour or two. Use your own discretion. The protein helps to fuel the body and brain. Try a shake or two and if they work have one at breakfast and maybe at lunch. Leave plenty of time to let the caffeine get out of the childs system before bed.
Fruit Smoothie #2
4 ounces of whole milk
4 ounces of vanilla frozen yogurt
1 tablespoon flax seed oil
3-4 tablespoons protein powder
3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit
Mix these ingredients in a blender, add ice and blend until smooth. Flax seed oil is felt to be beneficial in treating ADHD.
Brain Boost Omega 3 Smoothie
2 cups Ice Cold Pineapple Juice 2 Tablespoons Flax Oil 2 Tablespoons Protein Powder 4 Tablespoons Plain or Vanilla Yogurt 2 Cups Frozen Strawberries Ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Add ice cubes as desired to put the “frozen” in this frozen yogurt smoothie. Enjoy!
Since your child is most likely growing and not trying to lose weight you will want to let them snack between meals. This is especially necessary if they are on medication and have appetite issues. Here are some ADD ADHD snack suggestions.
Celery with peanut butter mixed with flax seed oil.
Fresh Fruit (Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Bananas, Grapes, Etc..)
Hard boiled eggs
Nuts (keep raw ones in the freezer if you think you’ll overeat them)
Low Carbohydrate Trail Mix
Celery with Tuna or Chicken Salad
Sliced Apples and a low sugar, low carb dip.
Sunflower seeds and other edible seeds
Beef or Turkey Jerky (get low sugar type if possible)
Cheese sticks, such as string cheese
Oatmeal with Splenda, some Brown Sugar, Butter and Flax seed oil.
Cheese with a few apple slices
Low Carbohydrate, Low Sugar Smoothies
Sugar Free Yogurt with Fruit.
Lettuce Roll-ups — Roll luncheon meat, egg salad, tuna and vegetables in lettuce leaves (add flax seed oil)
Lunch Meat Roll-ups — Roll cheese or veggies in lunch meat. (Get low carb meats and add some flax seed oil)
Many children with ADHD are deficient in Omega oils (or essential fatty acids). This deficiency has been shown to decrease a persons ability to concentrate or focus, cause fatigue, affect memory and produce mood swings or depression. FLAX SEED OIL is a good source of Omega oil and when added properly to a diet can correct this deficiency. Omega oils are beneficial in many other areas as well and are a good addition to any diet ADHD or otherwise.
The idea with any ADHD diet is simply to bring the body back into balance and remove anything that may be adding to or causing a problem. That way you are at least dealing with the issue in a child that is healthy in all other respects.
It is recommended that you start with 1 – 2 teaspoons a day of flax seed oil in a childs diets. I have found that the oil works great in smoothies. It actually makes them better believe it or not.
You can get the same benefits from Fish Oil but many people are hesitant to use fish oil because of the fear of mercury poisoning. Using flax seed oil can eliminate these concerns. Evening Primrose Oil is another source of Omega Oils.
Flax seed oils or any oil that contains Omega 3 and 6 also have other benefits. Better skin and hair, a healthier heart, lower inflammation, better circulations, better immunity to name a few.