What You Need to Know About ADD/ADHD

Has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affected your life, or the life of someone you love? If so, you're gonna want to read this. Go grab some tea and get comfy, because this is gonna be a long one...

Our Journey With ADHD

What did I do to deserve this!? This is the thought that used to go through my mind 6 years ago when my oldest son started exhibiting signs of ADHD. Being a parent was supposed to be a magical experience, wasn't it? This was not magical! It took all my strength to get through the day with my boys. I struggled with depression and no longer enjoyed spending time with them. I also had extreme feelings of guilt because I "just knew" I wasn't supposed to feel that way.

For years I suspected that my oldest son had ADHD, but I avoided having him tested because I didn't want him labeled. Instead I read tons of books on parenting and took parenting classes because I was sure that I was doing something wrong, and indeed I was. As a result, we implemented reward systems and device time restrictions. That brought some change at home, but not much progress at school.

When my younger son turned 5 and started school, he also began to shown signs of ADHD. By the time he was 6, he was in the Vice Principal's office at least once a week. We finally broke down and had them tested, at the insistence of the school. They were both diagnosed with ADHD in 2015.

Initially, we chose to take a natural approach because we were opposed to giving our children the drugs we are supposed to be protecting them from. Now I  know that Adderall isn't the same substance as the street drug referred to as "meth", but it doesn't help that the capsule is labeled "M. Amphet. Salts". We had done all the research, and understood why and how it helped kids with ADHD, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to give the boys stimulants.

By this time I felt totally alone. None of my friends really understood what it was like to live with MY children. I'm sure a few of them even questioned my parenting skills, but so had I. The diagnosis brought me peace of mind. Finally, I knew that my boys were just a little bit different than most, and I could stop beating myself up about having so much trouble parenting them. If ADHD has touched your life, I'm sure you can understand the feeling I'm describing.

Shortly after the diagnosis, I began studying Ayurveda. I'd had some crazy food allergies in the past and I suspected that my boys might have some as well that were contributing to their behavior. As a result, we changed our diet completely by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, and wheat. We also started using an essential oil called Jeddy's Blend, and giving them SmartyPants Vitamins and Focus Chewables. This time there was a dramatic improvement. My youngest son was now only "visiting" the Vice Principal's office once a month.

As much progress as we had made, things still weren't perfect. The following year, my oldest son started showing signs of depression because his self confidence had been eroded, and he asked if he could try the medicine I'd told him about. It broke my heart. I couldn't sit by and watch that happen to him, so we eventually chose to put him on the lowest dose of Adderall possible. It worked for a little while, but eventually became ineffective. His doctor gave him a higher dose, but it caused insomnia, so we chose to stop giving it to him. My younger son was also put on Adderall, but again, it caused insomnia and an emotional crash at the end of the day, so we chose to stop his medication as well. 

So, although we may continue to look for a medication that could help, we will never stop applying the valuable natural solutions that we found to improve their behavior by 75 percent. It feels like we are light years beyond where we started. We still have our days when the routine is interrupted and those old thoughts come back, but all I have to do is remember how far we've come and how much I love my boys. 💙

Where to Start If Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADD/ADHD

Start with what you know. So many of us know HOW to be healthy, but we continue to make unhealthy choices day after day. I know how difficult it is to make these choices, especially if your child is not on board, but their health is in your hands. Your child's doctor cannot make these changes for you. The best they can do is tell you what needs to be done and prescribe medication. Unfortunately, unless you child is seeing a naturopathic doctor they may or may not recommend all of the things below, so I will list them for you: 

1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep (9-11 hours a night)
 
2. Make sure your child eats a healthy diet (Mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean meat)
 
3. Remove inflammatory foods from your child's diet (Processed foods, sugar, wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, and canola oil)
 
4. Make sure that your child gets enough exercise (30-45 minutes a day)
 

Of all the changes we made, including medication, numbers 2 and 3 above made the most significant difference in my boys' behavior. These are all things that you know how to do, but might not even be doing for yourself. Now is the time to make healthy choices for the whole family, not just your child. I'm a firm believer that parents should lead by example. Now that I've reminded you of what you already know, let's take a look at what you may not know. 

Learn What You May Not Know About ADD/ADHD

Become familiar with Dr. Amen, by visiting his website or reading one of his many books called "Healing ADD". He is a world renowned doctor that has dedicated his life to helping people heal their brains. On his website you will find a type test that will help determine what type of ADD your child has.

According to Dr. Amen there are seven types of ADD: Classic, Inattentive, Over-focused, Temporal Lobe, Limbic, Ring of Fire, and Anxious. Dr. Amen recommends a general protocol and natural stimulating supplements for all types and specific stimulating supplements for some of the types. Take his type test to find out what type your child is and then read his book to determine which supplements are recommended for that specific type. Only the general protocol and supplements for all types are listed below.

Dr. Amen's Recommended Protocol for All Types: 

  1. Take a 100% multivitamin and mineral supplement every day 

  2. High quality fish oil (2-6,000 mg for adults 1-2,000 mg for children) 

  3. Eliminate caffeine

  4. Exercise daily for 30 to 45 minutes 

  5. Limit device time to 30 minutes per day 

  6. Choose higher protein, lower carbs (except for the over-focused type)

  7. NO YELLING! 

  8. Test for learning disabilities 

  9. Never give up seeking help 

Natural stimulating supplements (SS) for all types:  

  1. Rhodiola 

  2. Green Tea 

  3. Ginseng 

  4. L-tyrosine (amino acid) 

  5. Zinc 

  6. Grapeseed or pine bark

Remember to check with your doctor(s) before giving your child any of the above supplements to ensure they will not interfere with their other medications. I am not a medical doctor, so I cannot recommend any of the above supplements. I can only tell you my experience. 
  
Based on the information above from Dr. Amen and the specific supplements listed for each type in his book, we chose to give our boys SmartyPants Vitamins (with high quality fish oil) and Focus Chewables to get them the vitamins and supplements that they needed. The Focus Chewables contain L-tyrosine, grape seed extract, and Griffonia, also known as 5-HTP. Griffonia is one of the specific supplements that was listed for my youngest son's ADD type. These two products have worked quite well for us for many years.
  

Remove Toxic Heavy Metals

There is plenty of research available today that suggests toxic heavy metals are at least partially to blame for ADHD. They can destroy the neurotransmitters in your child's brain and cause many symptoms, including ADHD. Check out this blog post on heavy metal deposits in the brain by Anthony William.
  
He recommends five foods to eat every day that will help remove the heavy metals from your child's brain: cilantro, wild blueberries, Hawaiian SpirulinaBarley Grass Juice Extract powder, and Atlantic dulse. He even has a Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie recipe on his website that incorporates these foods into an easy to make smoothie. My kids and I love the way it tastes!
 
His book called "Life Changing Foods" is absolutely amazing and is chock full of information on the healing properties of a huge list of fruits and vegetables. I think it's actually my favorite food book of all time and I highly recommend it. There is an easy to use appendix where you can look up a particular symptom such as "depression", to find every page it's referenced on, and foods that can alleviate that symptom. I've found it incredibly helpful.  
 

Remove Sugar

You've probably been told a million times to keep the sugar out of your child's diet if they have ADHD, but knowing you should is way easier than doing this successfully. The sugar cravings can be intense, so your child will go looking for anything sweet they can find. If you haven't changed the food for the whole family, and there is a "snack" cupboard, this can be a disaster. Especially if you keep a lot of snack bars that are loaded with sugar. 
 
First, let me assure you that removing sugar from your child's diet is possible and it can make a huge difference in their behavior. This is probably the best thing I've ever done for my boys' health. I no longer buy sweets for the house, period. The best my kids will find (and they do go looking) is dried dates, but they refuse to eat them because they look "weird". Good, more for me. 
 
There are two things you need to know when trying to remove sugar from your child's diet: 
 
1. Sugar cravings will subside after 2 weeks with no sugar (You can do anything for 2 weeks, right!?)
 
2. Sugar cravings are caused by your body's need for glucose and can be satisfied with a piece of fruit
 
Anthony William is a big proponent of removing sugar from your diet for various reasons, and wrote this incredibly helpful blog post about how to beat a sugar addiction. Everyone needs this information, not just children with ADHD. Sugar is slowly poisoning the entire human race. Sorry for being so dramatic, but I feel strongly about this. I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and sugar is the main culprit.
For more help on removing sugar from you or your child's diet, read my blog post called "Much Ado About Sugar". 
  

Questions?

Our incredible journey with ADHD is what led me here to you, right now. In order to stay sane over the last six years I've had to learn an incredible amount of self care skills. The purpose of What You Seek Is Within is to share those skills with others moms who are also on this journey, so that I can help to lessen their struggle. The best way to help your child with ADHD, is to take amazing care of yourself, truly. 
 
The most helpful skill I learned, that I didn't have time to cover here, is meditation. It can work wonders for both you and your child. I will be covering this topic, in depth, in a future blog post, so make sure you're signed up for my email newsletter, so that you will be notified when it is available. 
 
Now that you know what you need to know about ADHD, you're probably going to want to make some changes to your child's sleeping, eating, or exercise habits. I know I provided a ton of information and it's a bit overwhelming, but I didn't want to leave anything out. Please feel free to email me at info@WhatYouSeekIsWithin.com with any questions. I'd be happy to help you in any way I know how.
 
In peace and happiness, 

   
P.S. If you liked this blog post, please use the social media buttons below to share it with others who might find it helpful.
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Note: I'm not a medical doctor, so I cannot offer medical advice, but I can definitely help to coach you through this transition if it is what you truly want. I'm always looking for more ways to help you be the mindful mama you intend to be. 


Does Your Child Have ADD/ADHD?

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