I was recently asked by a mom to help her son with Attention Deficit Disorder. Like other parents, she was hesitant to start medications and was finding herself frustrated with her son’s lack of focus and school performance. I offered her a Integrative Approach that I wanted to share with you all. Hope it helps you or someone you know…….
Focus: there are many secondary causes of poor focus, some can be age and immaturity of the child which with time improves, there can be excessive screen time which needs altering, poor sleep quality or sleep apnea needs to be addressed, poor nutrition with lack of protein, excessive processing and dyes and exposures to environmental toxins through plastic, food additives and coloring, lead, organophosphates in pesticides, and mood disorders like depression that can cause secondary causes of focus issues. Learning issues like dyslexia and hearing impairment can also be misdiagnosed as ADD.
If there are genetic links like parents with similar issues and above factors are managed well, we can move on to therapeutic options for true ADD. If a child has a rich inner life and listens to a different drummer, hypersensitive to changes in his environment your parenting style may need to change for him or her.
1. SMART Plans : Specific directions, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.- example: Start to get ready for bed by brushing your teeth at 8 pm instead of go to bed soon. Or Spend 15 minutes studying spelling words before 4 pm instead of you have to work harder at school.
2. Break down tasks into smaller, tangible tasks: Instead of set the table, start with an exact task, place a plate at each persons place at the kitchen table. Followed by praise, thank you that was so helpful, now place the forks at each plate.
3. School: work with the teacher to create a 504 plan or an IEP if necessary. They can receive services such as a smaller class size, tutor, modification in homework or extended test taking times or help organizing. They can create a structured work environment with simple instructions, low distractibility, and test for learning issues.
4. Consider teaching him breathwork and meditation to help him focus or be more mindful. Fun games that require him to recall objects on a table without looking and other mindful exercises. You can do biofeedback with progressive muscle relaxation to get them focused or considered structured programs such as EEG biofeedback or CogMed Working Memory Training to help working memory.
5. Supplements: Omega 3 fatty acids show benefit in children with ADHD (1000mg/day), deficiencies in iron, zinc, mg+ and vit b6 have been found in kids with ADHD so we always keep in mind additional testing. Herbal blends are hard to recommend since there are limited studies in children. Melatonin and Valerian have been used for sleep issues, Rhodiola can be considered for focus and energy after the approval of the pediatrician.
6. Back rubs and massages, chiropractic and osteopathy, acupuncture can help based on additional symptoms.
Take home is always lifestyle, environment and diet. Start with a medical workup with your pediatrician and behavioral work up with a developmental pediatrician or psychologist, check for learning disabilities before any medications.