Most major drug companies would like us to believe that there is only one possible route that we can take after the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. This route is the one that always ends in the prescription of powerful drugs with which to â€˜manageâ€™ the condition. There is, however, a growing realisation that these drugs are not the miracle cures that parents are so often promised.
Research is pointing to the following very troubling consequences of long term ADD/ADHD drug use:
â€¢Â Â Â Stunted growth
â€¢Â Â Â Loss of long term motivation
â€¢Â Â Â Mood swings (Leading, in very extreme cases, to suicidal thoughts)
â€¢Â Â Â Substantial risk of abuse and addiction
As if the above were not bad enough it is becoming clear that the effectiveness of these drugs decrease over time.Â They are therefore often not much more than temporary â€˜band aidsâ€™ and do not make any difference to the underlying causes of the condition.Â These facts are causing more and more people to ask the question: â€œIs there not a better way!?â€ Here at â€˜3 Steps ADDâ€™ we have always answered the question with an enthusiastic â€˜Yesâ€™. This is, in fact, exactly what the three steps are about: A better, natural, way to cope with and triumph over ADD/ADHD.
Pharmaceutical companies tried very hard over the years to paint those who advocate natural responses to the condition as being part of a lunatic fringe.Â This is getting harder and harder to do as modern research is pointing to some real successes with natural approaches.Â
The fact that there are a number of treatment options that can produce positive outcomes points to the fact that every person is unique. Different techniques will therefore work for different people. It is also a confirmation of the emerging scientific consensus that ADD/ADHD is not a single unified condition but rather a range of conditions.Â It therefore makes perfect sense that different ‘ types’ of ADD/ADHD will have to be treated in different ways.
A major article in a recent issue of US News and World report provides an excellent overview of the different drug-free methods that have proven successful in the management and treatment of ADD/ADHD. This article confirms the philosophy that we have been teaching here at â€˜3 Steps ADDâ€™. Many of the methods that are detailed in the article are discussed at length in â€˜3 Steps to Conquering ADD-ADHDâ€™ and on this website. They include:
Positive Parenting: ADD/ADHD is a recognised neurological condition. This does not mean, however, that positive behavioural techniques and parental guidance cannot make a difference in addressing the condition. Tried and tested parenting techniques (e.g. setting routines, providing a stimulating and nurturing environment and adapting your interactions with your children according to their personalities) can go some way towards alleviating many of the more challenging aspects of the condition.
Nutrition: I firmly believe that nutrition is one of the most important keys to addressing the growing epidemic of ADD/ADHD. Many are the effects of the condition can be traced back to neurotransmitters in the brain not functioning as they should. Very often this is due to the building blocks needed for these transmitters (i.e. fats, vitamins, minerals etc) not being present in the body. This situation can often be very effectively remedied by following a balanced and carefully worked out anti ADD/ADHD diet.
Sufficient sleep: I have already pointed out in an earlier article that many instances of ADHD misdiagnosis can be traced back to a lack of sleep. Ensuring that a child gets the right amount of sleep appropriate to his/ her developmental stage can therefore be one of the most important things that a parent can do to improve attention.
Exercise: There is growing evidence that aerobic exercise can have a marked positive effect on children’s ability to pay attention. Many people would say that you certainly do not need academic studies to tell you this! Earlier generations were very aware of the positive benefits of physical activity and reaped the benefits in the form of better physical and mental health. In our day and age it is perhaps a bit more difficult to make exercise part of your daily routine but it is a discipline that is certainly well worth pursuing.
Exposure to the natural environment: One of the most interesting and most effective approaches to dealing with ADD/ADHD is to make sure that children are regularly exposed to the natural environment. More research is needed on why this is the case. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the natural environment is so effective in stimulating the whole range of our senses. The bottom line is perhaps that we all need to realise that time spent outside should be seen as an essential part of growing up.
The approaches listed above should make it clear that there are many options available for the treatment of ADD/ADHD. These options may perhaps not have the endorsement of â€˜Big Pharmaâ€™ but that is perhaps exactly the point. None of them involve pumping your kids full of dangerous drugs! I am convinced that natural approaches can work, otherwise I would not have invested so much time and energy into â€˜3 Steps ADDâ€™. It is for this reason that I am delighted with the growing willingness to challenge the accepted orthodoxy on how the condition is to be managed.
(Please check back next week when I will discuss some of the other natural methods that was mentioned in the US News and World Report Article)