Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Recently, during my son's parent/teacher conference, his teacher told me how poorly he is doing in school and how he has trouble focusing and "staying on task" and has a poor attention span.  I was thrown for a loop, as his grades are all A's and B's.  She also emphasized how bad, his "test-taking skills" are.  She went on to explain how one time he scored extremely poorly on a reading test and then weeks later, scored above grade level? So, I have a smart kid who gets A's & B's but sucks at test-taking and can't focus during test. Is this her conclusion? What am I to do with this kind of information?

I know my child does not have a learning disability and honestly, I am not oblivious to my child's behavior, because I do know that he is not the "best listener" around, but I never expected such a gloomy outcome to the conference.  

In recent weeks, I have noticed, a change in his behavior, pushing the "limits" more and more, but I thought perhaps he was testing his "behavioral boundaries" with me combined with his near entrance into his "pre-tween years.  Regardless, now I must do something immediately to help him, both academically and emotionally, so he does not fall behind because I know very well, that even if you have a smart child, once a teacher and the "system" start labeling your kid, it does not go well or in the favor of the student.

Since having had my parent/teacher conference, I have already looked into resources at our local school district and I plan on making some calls to a couple of his previous teachers to consult with them, as he had a great rapport with these teachers, as well as the ESE Specialist and the principal of the school, which I have known for years.  Independent of all these things, the conference and the teacher's comments left me wondering now, if my kid actually could have ADHD,(Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.)   

I know that poor-test taking does not equate ADHD,  but it is the combination of the symptoms and patterns of behavior I have noticed, coupled with the teacher's very specific details of his classroom behavior and his overall demeanor recently, that has lead me to my reading and research. Plus, to top it off, I read a list of symptoms that are common in children that have ADHD and I was able to check the majority of the bullet points. Yikes!

Symptoms in Children

Symptoms are grouped into three categories:
Inattention. A child with ADHD:
  • Is easily distracted
  • Doesn't follow directions or finish tasks
  • Doesn't appear to be listening
  • Doesn't pay attention and makes careless mistakes
  • Forgets about daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still
  • Often loses things
  • Tends to daydream
Hyperactivity. A child with ADHD:
  • Often squirms, fidgets, or bounces when sitting
  • Doesn't stay seated
  • Has trouble playing quietly
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things (In teens and adults, this is more commonly described as restlessness.)
  • Talks excessively
  • Is always “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”
Impulsivity. A child with ADHD:
  • Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
  • Blurts out answers
  • Interrupts others

My online research regarding the topic of ADHD, lead me to an interesting post on alternative (homeopathic ) ways to try to deal with a child's ADHD or at least try to lessen some of the symptoms. I know obviously, these are not cures and many kids have much more serious problems but, I found it to be quite informative and a good alternative to try, even if my child has not been officially diagnosed with ADHD or other behavioral issue.  

I always appreciate alternative methods to medicine and believe that some of these tips can benefit many children, independent of whether they officially have ADHD or not.

After reading the list below, I have to say that I have to make a very conscious effort to implement some of these, especially, No. 1, regarding food-coloring!

1. Forgo food colorings and preservatives

Alternative treatments may help manage some symptoms associated with ADHD, including:
  • difficulty paying attention
  • organizational problems
  • forgetfulness
  • frequently interrupting
The Mayo Clinic notes that certain food colorings and preservatives may increase hyperactive behavior in some children. Avoid foods with these colorings and preservatives:
  • sodium benzoate, which is commonly found in carbonated beverages, salad dressings, and fruit juice products
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow), which can be found in breadcrumbs, cereal, candy, icing, and soft drinks
  • D&C Yellow No. 10 (quinoline yellow), which can be found in juices, sorbets, and smoked haddock
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine), which can be found in foods like pickles, cereal, granola bars, and yogurt
  • FD&C Red No. 40 (allura red), which can be found in soft drinks, children’s medications, gelatin desserts, and ice cream

2. Avoid potential allergens

Diets that restrict possible allergens may help improve behavior in some children with ADHD.
It’s best to check with an allergy doctor if you suspect that your child has allergies. But you can experiment by avoiding these foods:
  • chemical additives/preservatives such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxy-anisole), which are often used to keep the oil in a product from going bad and can be found in processed food items such as potato chips, chewing gum, dry cake mixes, cereal, butter, and instant mashed potatoes
  • milk and eggs
  • chocolate
  • foods containing sali-cylates, including berries, chili powder, apples and cider, grapes, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, and tomatoes (sali-cylates are chemicals occurring naturally in plants and are the major ingredient in many pain medications)

3. Try EEG biofeedback

Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback is a type of neuro-therapy that measures brain waves. A 2011 study suggested that EEG training was a promising treatment for ADHD.
A child may play a special video game during a typical session. They’ll be given a task to concentrate on, such as “keep the plane flying.” The plane will start to dive or the screen will go dark if they’re distracted. The game teaches the child new focusing techniques over time. Eventually, the child will begin to identify and correct their symptoms.

4. Consider a yoga or tai chi class

Some small studies indicate that yoga may be helpful for people with ADHD. Research published in 2013 reported significant improvements in hyperactivity, anxiety, and social problems in boys with ADHD who practiced yoga regularly.
Some early studies suggest that tai chi also may help improve ADHD symptoms. Researchers found that teenagers with ADHD who practiced Tai Chi weren’t as anxious or hyperactive. They also daydreamed less and displayed fewer inappropriate emotions when they participated in tai chi classes twice a week for five weeks.

5. Spending time outside

Spending time outside may benefit children with ADHD. There is strong evidence that spending even 20 minutes outside can benefit them by improving their concentration. Greenery and nature settings are the most beneficial.
A 2011 study, and several studies before it, supports the claim that regular exposure to outdoors and green space is a safe and natural treatment that can be used to help people with ADHD.

6. Behavioral or parental therapy

For children with more severe cases of ADHD, behavioral therapy can prove beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that behavioral therapy should be the first step in treating ADHD in young children.
Sometimes called behavioral modification, this approach works on resolving specific problematic behaviors and offers solutions to help prevent them. This can also involve setting up goals and rules for the child. Because behavioral therapy and medication are most effective when used together, it can be a powerful aid in helping your child.
Parental therapy can help provide parents with the tools they need to help their child with ADHD succeed. Equipping parents with techniques and strategies for how to work around behavioral problems can help both the parent and the child in the long term.

What about supplements?

Treatment with supplements may help improve symptoms of ADHD. These supplements include:
However, results have been mixed. Herbs like ginkgo, ginseng, and passionflower may also help calm hyperactivity.

Supplementing without a doctor’s oversight can be dangerous — particularly in children. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in trying these alternative therapies. They can order a blood test to measure current levels of a nutrient in your child before they start taking supplements.

There are a lot of natural remedies out there, and each day, different natural remedies come out promising great things. Caveat emptor! Discuss treatment options with your doctor, as some natural remedies may interfere with remedies that your physician is providing.
– Timothy Legg, PhD, CRNP

(Note:  Read more on L-carnitine)


ADDENDUM:   Also, if you have a child who happens to have a learning disability, here is a
guide that provides information on specific rights and services offered to help families of children with learning disabilities such as:
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Individualized Education Program
  • 504 Plans

Sometimes families may be forced to pay out of pocket for treatment costs so their child can get the help they need. To help with this issue, The Simple Dollar created a resource that outlines treatment plans and how to afford them based on the type of disability, including ADHD.

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