HYPERACTIVITY AND ATTENTION DEFICIT

 

© June 2005 by Robyn, South Africa

 

 

 

This is dedicated to the thousands of children who are incorrectly diagnosed and drugged.

 

As I got further into my research on ADHD, I realized that opinions, even among the experts, range from one extreme end of the scale to the other and that to have a full understanding one should explore all sides of the coin.  It is unfortunate that many have so obviously neglected to do this.

 

DIAGNOSIS AND THE USE OF MEDICATION

The existence of hyperactivity, attention problems and all related symptoms are very real.  Whether or not these symptoms are always diagnosed or dealt with correctly is the problem.  There are millions of children worldwide on Ritalin, a drug that has similar biochemical properties to cocaine and possible dangerous side effects.  There is a black market for adult Ritalin users who get high from sniffing the drug!  In other words, before one decides to put your child onto heavy prescription drugs for any number of years, I would presume that in-depth and proper research should be conducted.  Because there is no single test that can diagnose ADHD, making a diagnosis can be very complicated.  Doctors and specialists only see the child for a limited period and in a specific environment.  They therefore rely heavily on the opinions of teachers and parents.  This can lead to merely treating the symptoms instead of getting to the bottom of the underlying causes of the behaviour.  Schools put a lot of pressure on parents to sort out their disruptive or inattentive child.  Anyone who does not behave in a manner that is acceptable in a classroom situation is a possible Ritalin candidate!  Rather than relying on the easy way out, parents MUST insist, for the sake of their child, that proper investigation be done to get to the root of the problem.  To do this, you will have to really put your foot down and not allow yourself to be bullied by the school or by the medical profession.  This may take a lot of time, effort and money, but it is your child’s life and is worth it.  Strong stimulant drugs do not cure ADHD, but merely control the symptoms and make them more 'manageable' in the short term.  Research has shown that the degree of long term improvement and social adjustment in drug users (Ritalin or Chloropromazine) was identical at the end of five years to a group of children who did not receive any prescription drug treatment.  Are we drugging our children to make their social interactions and schooling easier?  Who are we making it easier for?  By hastily treating your child for what could be a symptom of a more complex illness, you may delay the correct treatment of a serious underlying problem.

 

OTHER POSSIBLE CAUSES OF SIMILAR BEHAVIOUR

Whatever the cause, hyperactivity, behavioural problems and attention deficit symptoms should be addressed, investigated and treated accordingly.  If your child is displaying any of these symptoms, it is a real concern and can be traumatic for the parent as well as the child.  Not all these symptoms relate to what is termed ADD or ADHD, and a thorough investigation should be conducted in the child’s best interest.  There are hundreds of underlying causes that produce or result in the same symptoms described for ADD and ADHD.  These include lead-poisoning, pesticide poisoning, mercury exposure, environmental pollution, house-hold chemicals, medications, intestinal worms, food allergies, food additives, brain tumours, certain virus and bacterial infections, low blood sugar or borderline diabetes, poor diet, genetic disorders, depression or bi-polar disorder, caffeine sensitivity, sleep disorders, candida albicans, hypothyroidism, foetal alcohol effects, prenatal trauma, oxygen deprivation at birth, fluorescent lighting, yeast overgrowth due to antibiotic use, trauma or drama in the home, family problems, learning disabilities, iron-deficiency anaemia, vision impairment, chronic ear infections or loss of hearing, hyper coagulation, petit mal seizures, sensory integrative dysfunction and anxiety/panic disorders, to mention a few.  Many of these can be picked up if the specialist takes the time to question and investigate and carry out some simple blood tests.  More information on can be found in the links below.  Other possibilities for some of these behaviours are children that are merely right-brain dominant, have different learning styles, have a high IQ and are bored in the classroom, maybe they are dreamers or what is known as an Edison-trait child, creative thinkers, or are just a little different and don’t fit into what is classified as normal and acceptable behaviour.   

 
SCHOOLING AND ADHD

As I began to read more about ADD & ADHD, I came to a realisation.  Although the causes of the behaviour should be investigated and treated accordingly, there are few problems relating to these conditions that would be such a big problem outside a school or classroom environment.  In fact, many of these symptoms are not nearly as much of a problem in a one-one-one home environment or in a fun home situation like playing a computer game.  Are we therefore incorrectly diagnosing and medicating our children, just so that they can fit in and perform at school?  What if we take out the school and the classroom?  Most children with ADHD are able to control their behaviour and perform well during individual free play or while getting lots of attention.  If your child is not coping in a school environment, homeschooling is a viable option.  And should certainly be considered before drugs.  Children benefit from one-on-one learning and the freedom to learn as they do best, be it standing, doing or fidgeting.  Each child has an individual learning style which can be adjusted accordingly at home.  For more information on learning styles, see the links below.

 

 

RECOMMENDED READING

 

The Hyperactivity Hoax by Sydney Walker III, M.D.

Dr Walker is a practicing neurologist and psychiatrist, trained in neurosurgery, physiology and pharmacology with over three decades of evaluating and treating hundreds of labelled children.  He shows that the symptoms are due to other underlying and often undiagnosed medical disorders.  This is a must-read for any parent whose child is hyperactive or currently on Ritalin.  The most helpful part of the book deals with advocating for your child with the medical and educational professionals.

 

The Myth of the ADD Child: 50 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior & Attention Span Without Drugs or Labels by Thomas Armstrong

After the introduction, you get to the reason you bought the book – excellent alternative solutions, whether or not your child is on medication.  Thomas Armstrong starts with a checklist of things that may bother you about your child's behaviour - each one checked off directs you to at least one chapter of practical solutions.

 

How to Get Your Child off the Refrigerator and on to Learning by Carol Barnier

Does your hyperactive learner have YOU climbing the walls?  Veteran homeschooler, Carol Barnier knows the challenge - and the solution! As a Christian mother of an ADHD son, she's developed successful techniques to help you teach your high-spirited child.  By incorporating her method of games, manipulatives, and motions, you'll discover that it is possible for your special learner to learn math, phonics, history, and more!  Includes reproducible resources. 112 pages.

 

Heads Up Helping! Teaching Tips & Techniques for Working with ADD, ADHD & Other Children with Challenges by Melinda L. Boring

As a homeschooler, professional speech/language pathologist, and mother of three, Melinda Boring writes with heart-wrenching honesty and humour.  Her real-life examples reveal the trials and joys of teaching and parenting a child with challenges.  Melinda offers practical strategies from both her personal and professional experience in helping children with auditory and visual distractibility, sensory issues, fidgeting and hyperactivity, daydreaming, and social communication difficulties.  The suggestions for modifying curriculum and adapting the learning environment are easily implemented and applied.

 

Unicorns Are Real: A Right-Brained Approach to Learning by Barbara Meister Vitale

This best seller provides simple and practical, yet dramatically effective lessons to develop the right-brain tendencies of children.  Included is a checklist to determine hemisphere dominance and engaging instructional activities that draw on the intuitive, non-verbal abilities of the right brain, a list of skills associated with each brain hemisphere and much more.

 

Strong-willed Child Or Dreamer? by Dr Dana Scott Spears

Does your child forget to follow even the simplest instructions, crave praise and positive attention yet refuse to conform or tell more than his share of fibs and tall tales.  If you recognize these actions, you probably know the frustration of turning to experts only to find the rules and systems don't work and strong boundaries make the situation worse.  The creative-sensitive dreamer is not the strong-willed child.  Get this book and learn how to parent your special needs child who is highly creative, principle-oriented rather than rule-oriented, overly sensitive and frustrated at a world that fails to live up to the ideal.

 

Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who Is Bright, Bored, and Having Problems in School by Lucy Jo Palladino

Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino claims that 20 percent of children have what she calls the Edison trait: "dazzling intelligence, an active imagination, a free-spirited approach to life, and the ability to drive everyone around them crazy."  The symptoms may be similar to those of ADD, but she says that's an overused term often mistakenly applied to Edison-trait children.  She helps you decide whether your child is one of the three types of Edison-trait children: dreamer, discoverer, or dynamo and also gives pointed, practical advice regarding such controversial topics as diet, neuro-feedback treatment, and psychological testing. For frustrated parents and educators, this book will be a rich source of both help and hope.

 

Discover Your Child's Learning Style: Children Learn in Unique Ways - Here's the Key to Every Child's Learning Success by Mariaemma Willis   

Does your child learn best in the morning or evening?  Does his reading comprehension increase or decrease when music is played?  Does she prefer to study alone or with others?  Our children process information in a multitude of unique ways. What works best for one child is often counterproductive for others.  By trying to force all children into the same learning mode, we unfairly short-circuit their education as well as their intellectual development.  This book shows you how to assess and nurture your child's individual learning potential based on his or her talents, interests, disposition, preferred environment, and more.

 

LINKS AND INTERESTING INFORMATION

 

Born to Explore: The other side of ADD

Lots of Excellent Articles about ADD and links to articles about other conditions that mimic the symptoms of ADHD

 

Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

 

Attention Deficit Disorder - What's Happening to Our Children?  by Jane Sheppard

An Excellent Article with information about alternative causes and solutions to ADD

 

Rainbow Paediatrics Knowledgebase ~ What are the steps in diagnosing ADHD?

This article gives a good idea of what steps should be taken by a specialist before even diagnosing a disorder

 

Sassafrass Grove’s ADHD Links Page

Lots of links to adhd articles and information – not all my opinion!

 

Raising Your Spirited Child – Encouraging and Informative 3 page article

 

Learning Styles & Hemisphere Dominance - Right or Left Brain: Which is Dominant in Your Family?  

By Karen M. Gibson

 

Learning with Style by Pamela Glaser

Understanding Learning Styles – lots of information and links

 

ADD, Toxic Exposure and Heavy Metals

An interesting article about the effects that toxic and heavy metal exposure have on children

 

Food Allergies and Their Effect on Behaviour and Brain Function

 

 

 

I know he'll be a wonderful adult; it's just a matter of getting through childhood!

 

 

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