Dear Worried and Confused Parent: ADHD is a Real Thing & Giving Medicine For It Is Most Often Completely Appropriate

I know you’re worried about doing the wrong thing. And I know you’re worried about all the things people are telling you and what people might think of you and your child. But let me tell you a few things you need to know…

I have ADHD and so does one of my four kiddos. I am both a research fanatic and champion of the go-all-natural-whenever-possible mindset. Most folks would definitely categorize me as “crunchy”, unconventional, and relatively non-conformist. I’m a homebirthing, non-antibiotic-taking, vax questioning, preschool-child-breastfeeding, organic kale eating, kefir drinking, homeschooling, coconut-oil buying, free-range-kid raising mama. This is all said to help you appreciate what I am going to say next.

fish oil

The daily amount of clinical-quality fish oil supplements studies say a child needs to take in order to get the same level of effectiveness achieved with prescription medication. We couldn’t actually test this one appropriately because we couldn’t afford to buy even one month’s worth of this amount of fish oil–let alone keep buying it month after month. FYI, the grape is for size comparison, not for treating ADHD.

Over the past few years my (now teenage) child and I tested out extended and significant diet changes and also multiple lifestyle adjustments to see if they might help us. We added various daily supplements: both individual supplements, tested out separately, and also a half-dozen different ones taken at certain times throughout the day. None of these things made almost any perceivable difference to our mental processing capacity, our ability to “focus”, or level of success in achieving the everyday things that had been eluding us our whole lives. (The one caveat being the eating of two eggs within the first 1/2 hour of waking. This definitely gave me much greater focus for the first 2-3 hours of the day. Ironically, eggs were one of the foods many diets suggested eliminating as a possible problem. Whatever. I need more than 2 hours focus per day anyway!)

We both ultimately decided that prescription medication along with experienced professional counseling/coaching was what we were going to need if ever we were to live and achieve at the level of our intellectual capacity–and to finally be free from the agony of the near-constant “sabotaging” our poorly-wired prefrontal cortexes did to the intentions and attempts that sprang from the other portions of our brains. We are now testing out our pharmaceutical options.

…what ADHD feels like. http://imgur.com/gallery/QBfVT

ADHD is a real thing. And it’s not easy to live with. When people minimize those truths, no matter how well intended their comments, it just makes life all the harder for the person with ADHD–perhaps especially so when the comments come from a parent. Be careful. Don’t minimize or disregard what your struggling child is telling you–no matter what you read somewhere or what someone told you.

Yes, sometimes people can exhibit all the symptoms of the disorder due to other problems, and elimination diets or supplements may be life-changing for those people. But if you genuinely have ADHD, you can’t cure it with these things or anything else, you can only manage it*. If you have ruled out the other causes for the symptoms of ADHD, and if you are being intellectually honest with yourself and truly being motivated by the desire to best help your child, you will have to actually do something about the ADHD if you hope to minimize the affects the disorder is having on your child’s life.

(*If you are fairly wealthy, and live near one of the rare facilities offering a uniquely successful program of extended therapy based on the principles of neuro-plasticity, you may be able to change the physical structure of your brain and quite literally cure your ADHD–but that option is so generally unavailable that it only warrants mention here following an asterisk.)

That said, if you have reservations about just running out and getting your child a pill, I think you are a wise parent. You would do well to also try the things we tried, because they may in fact work for you–and if not, you will at least be able to go ahead and fill a prescription with a “clear conscience” knowing that it’s a completely appropriate step to take.

adhd-workingmemory-wordcloud

ADHD affects much more than just your ability to focus and your attention span–and that’s why understanding and managing it is a big deal.

I would encourage you to pursue an in-depth analysis with a reputable neuropsychiatrist that can get a more complete picture of what’s happening cognitively with your child, give your child an appropriate prescription, AND offer counseling, coaching, and family resources for dealing successfully with ADHD. Because even prescription medication doesn’t cure ADHD, it just gives a person the ability to finally manage it successfully, and to experience greater success in any efforts to retrain and re-wire their brain.  And most pediatricians and family practice docs simply do not have the specific education, training, or experience necessary to understand this disorder well–let alone treat it successfully.

I guess what I most hope is that you will conscientiously remain open-minded about all treatment options and that you will pursue information about the disorder from multiple sources and various perspectives that will enable you to ultimately make the truly informed decisions that will be most helpful to your child.

And that you would know that I’m here for you if there’s anything I can do to help. ❤

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