I’ve heard teachers say, “All the kids in my class have ADHD.” Of course, that’s not true but I’m sure it must seem like it.
And how many times have you said “Oh, I was just so ADHD today”? Or maybe you’ve said, “If my kids would just stop running around like they have ADHD”?
ADHD is a common term. Some of us, especially those with kids who aren’t working up to their potential, use the term “ADHD” or “ADD” all the time. Usually we mean that our kid is being hyperactive and can’t pay attention. Or our child is dreamy and never seems to know what’s going on.
In addition to how often we use the terms, it also seems like every expert (and lots of non-experts) has their pet theory of what causes ADHD.
A few of these theories that have been blamed for “causing” ADHD include
Poor diet and too much junk food
Allergies to artificial coloring (and flavoring)
Traumatic Brain Injury
Too much TV
Too many video games
School is boring
School is too hard
Right-brain kid in a left-brain world
None of the above “cause” ADHD but they can cause behavior that looks like ADHD. And many of these factors when corrected will help with both ADHD and ADHD-like behavior.
Sometimes it’s hard to sort out. For example, children with what researchers thought was ADHD have been put on the Feingold Diet.
The Feingold diet promoters suggest that poor diet causes ADHD and a better diet will “cure” it. This somewhat complicated elimination diet does help lots of kids. In some children, it eliminates ADHD symptoms totally. In other kids curb the symptoms a lot. But that doesn’t mean that bad diet caused ADHD.
All we can really say is that a poor diet can cause ADHD-like symptoms, And that a nutritious diet often goes a long way in helping with both ADHD-like symptoms and ADHD itself.
If, however, a child’s ADHD-like symptoms go away entirely after eating more nutritious food, they didn’t have ADHD in the first place. They had behavior caused by their brain getting too few nutrients and that looked like ADHD.
The distinction between ADHD and ADHD-like symptoms is important since stimulant drugs are not appropriate for ADHD-like symptoms. These drugs may, however, be appropriate for ADHD.
It’s always important to rule out factors that can cause ADHD-like behavior before putting kids on ADHD meds.
Unless these factors are ruled out, we put our kids at risk of taking powerful drugs for a condition they don’t have. For a list of 12 of these factors that can cause ADHD-like behavior, take a look at “Maybe They Don’t Have ADHD After All”
On the other hand, most non-drug alternatives will help with both ADHD-like symptoms and ADHD so the actual diagnosis doesn’t make that much difference. Non-drug strategies, programs and activities can help kids pay attention and focus. Can help them to be less hyperactive or less dreamy. Can help them from being so impulsive.
Now these children can reach their potential in school without that pesky ADHD behavior getting in the way.
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from MaryJo Wagner, Ph.D. – The Learning Doctor, helping you help your kids learn quickly and easily every day in every subject even if they have ADHD.
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