If you have a child with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, there is a good chance that I can help your child feel better, behave and concentrate better, and lead a healthier, happier life – naturally.
That’s why I specialize in treating children with ADHD, that’s why I wrote a book and that’s why I’m blogging – to get the message out to more parents, pediatricians and every other adult who cares for or influences the care of children with ADHD:
There is so much you can do, and much of it is simple strategies that anyone can try at home or in the classroom or on the ball field.
I’ll be addressing all topics related to ADHD – what it is, its causes, the science behind what we do and don’t know, plus treatments that are proven effective – nutrition, supplements, complementary and alternative medicine, herbs and homeopathy, plus strategies for parenting and school success.
So, how much do you know about ADHD? How much of it is based on scientific evidence? If you want me to keep you updated on ADHD, sign up for my blog list in the box to the right. Once you do, you’ll be able to test your ADHD knowledge on the ADHD IQ Quiz. Let us know your score, and feel free to post your questions. I may not respond to all of them, but I may use them in future posts.
Thanks for reading, thanks for caring, and here’s to doing all we can to help children with ADHD, naturally.
– Dr. Newmark
There are a number of other medical or learning problems that can be mistaken for ADHD. It is very important to obtain an evaluation from a professional who has the time and skill to sort these out. Here are some of the most common:
- Learning Disabilities – The child who has, for example, dyslexia, may act as if they are not paying attention but is actually just having a really hard time learning to read. After a while, they may start to give up and act out in some ways. To make matters more complicated, learning disabilities often coexist with ADHD.
The child with an intense or difficult temperament – these children are very strong willed and will tend to do things only on their own terms. The key here is that they can concentrate beautifully if they happen to be motivated or interested (and I’m not talking about TV and video games-even ADHD children usually can focus on these).
- Anxiety or depression – Both of these can mimic ADHD, and as with learning disabilities, can coexist with ADHD. Anxiety especially, can really look like SADHD, and anxious children can have very negative reactions to typical stimulant medications.
- The Gifted Child – Boredom can be a major problem for the gifted child in an ordinary class. When he or she understands in the first 2 minutes what the teacher is taking 30 minutes to explain, behavioral problems can arise. They may also simply refuse to do work that is too tedious.
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea describes a condition in which a child cannot get adequate sleep, usually due to upper airway obstruction from large tonsils and adenoids. Symptoms include snoring, breath-holding, and tossing and turning at night. Research has shown that this can cause ADHD symptoms.
- Social Issues – Many social factors can contribute to poor school performance which can look like ADHD. Divorce or separation, financial problems, inadequate parenting, abuse, bullying, and many other social factors can cause a reaction which can look like ADHD. One red flag for this is the child who was doing very well in school, and rather suddenly begins to develop problems.
You and your child deserve the time, attention and detailed evaluation of trained experts to determine whether or not it’s ADHD or if it’s something else. I’ll address the components of a thorough diagnosis in a separate post.
A new study in England uses Brain Scan to diagnose autism (but not ADHD).
Researchers in England used super-sophisticated MRI techniques to distinguish the brains of people with autism from those of people without autism.
The test is very sensitive: if you had autism the the brain scan had a 90% chance of picking it up.
However it was also specific: if an average Joe got the scan and it was positive there was still less than a 20% chance he or she had autism.
What I found interesting is that this scan could not distinguish ADHD people from non-ADHD, which is known to create distinctions in the brain.
What should you do? Nothing. I just thought it was interesting. Someday these type of scans may be of more help.
I believe that having a good 504 plan in place is one of the most important things you can do to help your child with ADHD be successful in school.
Now that a new school year is starting, you need to make sure there is a plan in place, that it still meets your needs, and most importantly, that the teacher knows about it and is willing to apply it.
504 plans tend to disappear very easily. Teachers forget them, parents forget them, and your child is unlikely to say anything about it.
My advice: Meet with your teacher now, make sure the 504 plan is in place, and put a copy right on your refrigerator! If you see it every day it will be easier to make sure it is happening.
If you don’t have one, check out the book to for ideas.
There’s new evidence that both video games and television watching are associated with ADHD.
A new study in the Journal “Pediatrics” looked at both 6 to 12 year olds and college age kids. It found that greater use of either television or video games was associated with a higher risk of ADHD.
This is the first study to include the video games aspect; a number of previous studies have linked TV and ADHD. This study actually indicated that these electronic media caused ADHD to be worse, and were not just were a result of kids who already had ADHD using them too much. (Pediatrics 126:214-221 N2 August 2010)
Bottom Line: Limit TV and video games as much as possible. Your child’s brain will thank you in the end!
T-ball is too slow for children with ADHD
I always encourage sports for children with ADHD, but T-ball is not one of them. It’s just way too slow and boring for anyone with the least difficulty in maintaining focus.
If you watch a t-ball game the vast majority of the time is spent doing almost nothing. My own son does not have ADHD and it was the only sport he absolutely refused to play. I was pretty relieved because I was so bored trying to watch it, and I love baseball.
I would much see rather kids this young playing catch or stickball or any other baseball variation in small groups. Not only is it more involving, but they develop their skills a lot more quickly.
This brings me to a larger issue; I really worry about young kids spending so much of their time in organized and supervised activities. When I was a kid we played ball and other games with two, three or four kids or whatever without any adults to bother us. I think this developed creativity and social skills in a way that will never happen in these highly organized activities.
Let’s just let kids play and be kids and get the adults out of there!
Chocolate Toddler Formula is a big sugar hook
As if we didn’t have enough trouble helping our children to eat well, Enfamil has come out with a CHOCOLATE FLAVORED toddler formula. This formula, meant as a transition from regular formula to milk, increases the amount of calories from carbohydrates, basically sugar, from 41 to 57 calories/ounce, compared to their regular follow-up formula. This is an increase of 40% in the amount of sugar in the formula.
This is just a horrible idea. Do we really want to INCREASE our children’s sugar cravings by giving them super-sweet formulas at an early age?
Are we happy to teach them that their basic food should taste like a sweetened dessert? I’m not against occasional chocolate, and have been known to indulge myself, but not as a regular food source.
This is a perfect example of the “toxic food environment” that the food industry has created in our country, and it contributes to an increased incidence of chronic diseases in our society, including ADHD.
My advice is to “just say ‘No’” to Chocolate Formula. While your baby might not be able to ask for it by name, sweets are so addictive, your baby could instantly prefer it and shun foods that aren’t as sweet. If you need a transition formula, the plain and vanilla versions have significantly lower sugar.
Pesticides are linked to ADHD by research, as well as other conditions.
A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that children with higher levels of pesticides in their urine have a higher chance of having ADHD. This is not news to me, as there have been previous studies showing this link. My book covers environmental toxins along with steps you can take to protect your family from them, including pesticides.
This study is really hitting the national headlines, partly because Pediatrics is the most prestigious pediatric journal and partly because the results were so striking.
In this study, 1,139 children had their urine checked. Of those with high pesticide levels 20% had ADHD, while only 10% of those with low levels had ADHD. This is a pretty impressive result.
So what can you do about it?
Children can be exposed to pesticides through food, air, or water. Food is not only the most important source; luckily, it is the one parents can control.
To reduce your child’s exposure to pesticides, buy organic food whenever you can. Get the Environmental Working Group’s Guide of the worst and best fruits and vegetables for pesticide exposure (they have a list of the most common, plus a full guide - both are free). For example, try never to eat nonorganic peaches, but non-organic bananas aren’t so bad.
Take a minute to view the video of Andrew Weil addressing pesticides that’s on the same page.
You can also reduce exposure by not using pesticides and herbicides in your home or yard; or by keeping your children away from the areas while and after spraying.
By the way, previous research has shown that after a child begins eating organically, the levels of pesticides in the urine very quickly drop to almost zero.
Unfortunately, this study doesn’t tell us if reducing pesticides will improve the symptoms of children who already have ADHD, but it certainly might do so, and may improve their health in other ways as well.
Has mental illness really doubled in children 2-5 in the past 8 years? Our use of medication has.
Just when I thought that the over prescription of psychiatric drugs could not get any worse there comes a new study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry(January 2010) that shows the use of powerful antipsychotics in children between 2 and 5 years old doubled between 1999 and 2007. For 25% of these children the diagnosis was just ADHD!
Overall, by 2007, 1 in 70 children between 2 and 5 received some type of psychiatric drug during this time period. The types of drugs were antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, or antidepressant.
What is most shocking is that less than half of the children receiving antipsychotics had a mental health assessment, a psychiatry visit, or a psychotherapy visit during the year they were on antipsychotic drugs, our most powerful and potentially dangerous psychiatric medications.
I find this unbelievable. I am not saying that these medications were not warranted in a percentage of these children, but does anyone seriously think that the number of 2-5 year olds with bipolar disease , schizophrenia or other very serious psychiatric disease doubled in those 8 years?
People should also know that there are absolutely no long term studies about the effect of antipsychotic medication in children, and no adequate studies at all about antipsychotic medication in preschoolers. We do know that even in the short term these medications can cause diabetes as well as other negative side-effects. To give these medications to preschoolers and then not even monitor them for a year is just terrible medicine.
This is also another example of treating common behavioral problems as psychiatric illness and using medication rather than good parenting and good nutrition as first line intervention.
Ritalin Use in the US
If you’ve been an adult for awhile, it’s likely that you could tell me a story about how you never heard of ADHD when you were growing up, and now you might be diagnosed with ADHD yourself, or have a child with ADHD, or at least know or know of several people within your circle of influence. Maybe more than several, some of whom are taking medication.
The chart on the right doesn’t show the number of children with ADHD, it shows the number of children who are taking prescription medications to treat ADHD. We’re looking at a 1,600 percent increase over the past 30 years!
Because of its epic rise, ADHD may be one of the most well known acronyms for a health condition. There are a lot of guesses as it why this is happening. Here are what I consider the four main causes:
- We are better able to recognize and diagnose children who have ADHD.
- An expansion of the definition of ADHD has caused more children to fall within the diagnostic description.
- There really are more children with true ADHD, brains that are wired differently.
- We are over-diagnosing ADHD – labeling children with ADHD who do not really have the disorder.
Why do you think ADHD is on the rise?