ADD/ADHD – It’s Just Not What We Think!

I have a theory.

I know and understand the medical basis according to the DSM-IV for the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.  One of the biggest concerns is lack of attention.  Having had a child who climbed through the Mount Everest of an autistic diagnosis then subsequent ADD/ADHD diagnosis, I know what it “looks like” to have a child who is unable to pay attention in class.  However, this same child can attend to the most mundane and minutia of detail, when interested.  He memorized details about the planets, distances from the sun and now has moved onto other interesting things such as sports.  He’s a walking Sports Trivia manual.  I seriously doubt anyone knows more than he does about the topic.  “Attention” in and of itself is relative.  Watch any child with ADD/ADHD nail a video game with the attention of a chess champ in a sudden death game.   But, it can be disruptive for learning and medication addresses this.

In addition, to lack of attention at school a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD includes hyperactivity, impulsiveness, emotional instability, an inability to finish tasks, poor listening skills, speech and hearing disorders and EEG irregularities.  No one is making these up.  These are real issues and concerns.  But what if there were other issues to consider:

  • Nine out of ten children are addicted to sugar and refined flour by age 4.
  • Only 1 of 10 children has the necessary gestational and early childhood nutrition (and studies show that adequate nutrition can improve IQ scores by 20 points!)
  • Food additives (which are the main ingredient in many foods children eat) are linked to hyperactivity.
  • Food sensitivities and allergies cause mood swings, inattention, and a host of other symptoms that mimic ADD/ADHD and are difficult to diagnose as they are sporadic and can last for moments to days.
  • The Toxins our children are exposed to in a single day supersede anything our parents or grandparents were exposed to- perhaps in a life.

I’m not abdicating for a “throw the baby out with the bath water” solution.  That is of no help and no value.  But, before 20 million more prescriptions of Ritalin are written, maybe we should look at what our children are eating and their environment.  Here are just a few of the warnings (found on the label of Ritalin):

  • Do not use under age six, as safety and efficacy has not been established.
  • Use caution with emotionally unstable patients…varying degrees of abnormal behavior, severe depression can occur with withdrawal.
  • Growth retardation (suppression of height and/or weight gain) as been reported
  • Long-term therapy (greater than 24 months) is especially dangerous
  • Trouble sleeping, nervousness, uncontrolled twitching or jerking, burred vision, Tourette’s syndrome…etc.,

I have reviewed over 90 studies that confirm that dietary changes can positively affect the behaviors, increase attention and sleep of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

I have a theory.

If we stop prescribing “quick fix” drugs to long-term problems, we might actually get somewhere.

I think it’s something to pay attention to.

Paying attention to the “whole” – mind, body AND spirit is critical for nurturing children who are equipped to live in a world filled with toxins – from the food, the environment and even society.  To succeed in life, children need a sense of resiliency that is facilitated by looking at the “whole” issue – not just parts or symptoms.


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