27 December 2008


When children are toddlers, ADHD is the law of the land. Little ones are supposed to be all over the place physically and mentally. There's a huge world out there to explore and conquer. Little kids are like bees or hummingbirds, needing to visit as many flowers as possible each day. Think of the song, "What's This?" when Jack enters Christmasland in the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas."

Eventually toddlers settle down and become young children, hopefully before entering kindergarten where staying at their desks or in a circle on the carpet and paying attention is required. In defense of the teacher, he or she does need to get the little students through a curriculum set by the school district, as well as keep a certain degree of control over the children, lest all hell break loose!

Children go through their transition at different rates, many still working through it during their early elementary school years. In kindergarten, these children are assumed to be "young" and there's nothing to worry about. Some parents delay entering their children into school a year for this very reason - their child needs another year to play before becoming a student.

For the children who don't outgrow their life as a bee and the demands of school become increasingly difficult, they might have ADD or ADHD (both are now called ADHD). The parents and teacher need to complete a questionaire that is scored by a licensed child psychiatrist. Boys are scored differently than girls. If the doctor feels your child has ADHD, there are many things you can do at home and your child's teacher can do at school to help your child succeed. Try these things first and see how it goes. If it's still not good enough, then the doctor will consider medication.

About 5 to 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD. One-third are girls and two-thirds are boys. As children mature into adults, their ADHD tends to become less severe and sometimes they even outgrow it. ADHD can continue into adulthood, but many people have developed coping skills over the years to deal with it.

The symptoms of ADHD have been classified into 3 groups- impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Everyone on this planet has some of these traits. We had alot of them when we were younger and hopefully only a few of them as adults. The ADHD sufferers have more than their fair share to the point that it interferes negatively with life at home, school, friends and work.

Examples of impulsiveness include acting before thinking about the consequences or dangers, a tendency to interrupt other conversations, shouting out answers or verbally interrupting the teacher rather than raising one's hand. Gotta do or say something, gotta do it now! Can't wait for social conventions or seeing if it's safe or appropriate.

Hyperactivity describes a certain restlessness that just won't stop. A child has difficulty sitting still or staying put in their chair, fidgets with their fingers, climbs furniture or other things that shouln't be, and just can't find any moments of peace for their body. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but boys tend to be "all body" and girls tend to fidget with their hands.

The inattention part of ADHD refers to being easily distracted, zoning out or "space cadetting," not finishing tasks, difficulty listening, and following through if instructions are given. You are lucky if you get your child to do one thing on the list of wash your face, brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. They might even argue that you didn't request the other two items.

About two-thirds of children with ADHD tend to have other psychological challenges, too. Some have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Tourettes Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, Depression, or some sort of Anxiety Disorder, especially one of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Your child's psychiatrist will take the whole picture into consideration when choosing medication and regular visits with a psychologist or therapist.

So where does my child fit it? ADHD for a girl - fidgetty fingers, zoning out, not finishing tasks, difficulty following a list of instructions, difficulty paying attention (can't do phone calls), and some anxiety (OCD). She's on Adderall and sees a child psychologist twice a month for the anxiety issues. Things at home and school are tweaked to help her succeed. Things are much improved now.

06 December 2008


The Feingold Diet is not a cure-all or stand-alone answer but it can help, perhaps combined with testing for food allergies, arranging a success-oriented environment and /or ADHD medications.

It's the artificial ingredients and chemicals that you should avoid. Here is a list of items to avoid in your food, medicine, toothpaste and drinks.

The Feingold Program eliminates these additives:
Artificial (synthetic) coloring
Artificial (synthetic) flavoring
Aspartame (Nutrasweet, an artificial sweetener)
Artificial (synthetic) preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ

A word about sugar:
Sugar is not necessarily to be omitted from your diet. Cane sugar is the best type tolerated by children. Most people also handle beet sugar pretty well. If you see a sugar that doesn't say what kind it is, assume it is beet sugar. Some folks don't handle corn syrup very well because it contains high levels of sulfite (an additive used in production). It's hard to go without sugar if you like to eat desserts, so try cane sugar as your first "add back in" item after a month of cleansing. If it causes a problem, detox a month and then try beet sugar.

For cooking for the family at home, it's easiest to put everyone on the diet. (unless you don't mind being a waitress and taking multiple orders). This also keeps the the ADHD person from feeling different or ostracized.

Start out the Feingold diet by elimating everything on the no-no list completely for a month or two. It's a back-to-basics way of eating. Buy fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Cook your own unprocessed meats. If possible, stay this way for life - it's healthier for you anyway. If you feel the need to eat something that you've been avoiding, try it (and nothing else from the list) after the detox period for one month and see if there's any change.

Post a list in your kitchen of what fruits, veggies and meats the family likes. You can slowly add to the list any avoided items after a successful 1 month trial. Use this list as your shopping list and meal planner.

Good Luck!