Millions of kids in the U.S. are affected by ADHD. Ten (10) possible warning signs.

187190_f260I don’t know about you, but I hear many people say, “I don’t remember children having so many issues when I grew up.” While pollutants in our environment, food additives and food processing may be the culprits adversely affecting our health, the reality is we are also learning more about the role of genetics.

Studies have implicated that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) runs in families and that genes play a role in this chronic condition. Moreover, problems with the central nervous system during critical stages in development may also be a possible cause of ADHD.

According to the Mayo Clinic ADHD affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD manifests with a combination of problems such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. When ADHD is not properly diagnosed, a child often experiences poor performance in school, low self-esteem and trouble in relationships.

Criticism doesn’t work!

When I was a kid, if a child had difficulty paying attention or if he daydreamed a lot and didn’t complete homework, he was deemed defiant and lazy. The sad part is some of these kids were often forcefully disciplined, ridiculed and harshly criticized. The root cause of the problem was overlooked. Parents who responded in this way often exacerbated the problem.

Parenting requires an incomputable amount of patience. Easier said than done, right? We must constantly remind ourselves that we are champions to our kids. They need to know that we listen, care and are committed to doing whatever is necessary to help them learn how to overcome challenges.

Today, we realize children that manifest the following 10 symptoms may have ADHD and require therapeutic and/or medical interventions:

1. Difficulty paying attention (not due to vision issues)
2. Appears to be not listening and doesn’t follow through on instructions
3. Tends to forget important items and activities that are needed like homework
4. Often fails to complete schoolwork and chores at home
5. Easily distracted by things going on in the room
6. Displays excessive talking
7. Frequently fidgets and squirms in his seat
8. Difficulty remaining seated
9. Frequently interrupts and intrudes on others
10. Has difficult waiting his turn

The rule of thumb is that a child shouldn’t receive a diagnosis of ADHD unless the core symptoms of ADHD start early in life and create significant problems at home and at school on an ongoing basis.

Since there’s no specific test for ADHD making a diagnosis will likely include:

A Medical exam to help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
Information collection such as medical issues, personal and family medical history and school records
Interviews or questionnaires from family members, your child’s teachers or other people who know your child well such as baby sitters and caretakers
ADHD rating scales to help collect and evaluate information about your child

While treatment will not cure ADHD, it can help individuals learn strategies of how to cope with these tendencies. Children can benefit by participation in behavioral interventions and in some cases medications.

Here are alternative medical remedies.

Unfortunately there’s little research that indicates that alternative medicine treatments can reduce ADHD symptoms. That doesn’t mean that some of these options may not have benefits. The key is to discuss these interventions with your child’s physician to determine if the therapy will be safe.

Some alternative medical treatments have been tried, but are not yet proven scientifically…

Aroma or massage therapy. Some parents have used massage and scented oils (like lavender) to calm down and relax their children with ADHD. I have used scented oils for myself and just started trying this with my son. There isn’t any data to support this therapy. If you do try this option, NEVER LEAVE your child unattended with the oils or diffuser.

Fish oils/Essential fatty acids. These fats, which include omega-3 oils, are necessary for the brain to function properly. Researchers are still investigating whether these may improve ADHD symptoms. My son and I take cod liver oil with DHA.

Yoga or meditation. Doing regular yoga routines or meditation and relaxation techniques may help children relax and learn discipline. This may help them manage their symptoms of ADHD.

Eliminating certain foods. Most diets that have been promoted for ADHD involve eliminating foods thought to increase hyperactivity such as sugar. Some diets recommend eliminating artificial food colorings and additives. So far, studies haven’t found a consistent link between diet and improved symptoms of ADHD, but I eliminate additives and artificial colorings from my son’s diet. His sugar intake is also closely monitored. No one should be consuming these unhealthy substances anyway. Caffeine use as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have risky effects and is not recommended. Excess caffeine for adults with ADHD may also be harmful.

Vitamin or mineral supplements. While certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for good health, there’s no evidence that supplemental vitamins or minerals can reduce symptoms of ADHD. DO NOT exceed the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). It can be EXTREMELY harmful.

Herbal supplements. There is no evidence to suggest that herbal remedies help with ADHD and some may be harmful. Don’t be fooled. Herbs are potent medicine!

Neuro-feedback training. Also called electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback, this treatment involves regular sessions in which a child focuses on certain tasks while using a machine that shows brain wave patterns. Theoretically, a child can learn to keep brain wave patterns active in the front of the brain — improving symptoms of ADHD. While this treatment looks very promising, more research is needed to see whether it works.

Sensory integration therapy. These can include occupational and physical therapy and interactive metronome training. At this time there is not enough research to support their effectiveness. My son is in the process of participating in this type of therapy. Stay tuned!

Still want more information?

If you would like to learn more about how to help children and adults with ADHD contact Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a national non-profit at CHADD provides education, advocacy and support for individuals with ADHD.

And, please always remember, we must value and respect all of our little ones. After all, they add spice and flavor to what may otherwise be a drab and ordinary life.