Mar 9, 2013

What Our Fans Have to Say - Coping with ADD without the meds

The Question - A reader wants to know:
My 8 year old son was recently diagnosed with ADD. His MD and I have decided not to put him on medication as his teacher suggested. I was wondering if anyone else has gone through this and what can I do to help him focus without medicating him.

The Answers - 
  • Nicole: Limit screen time (tv computer video games) to an hour or less per day
  • Nicole: Do homework in smaller chunks of time
  • Melissa: Change his diet, might have allergies to certain food that make him act that way... My daughter bounces off the walls from dairy, and I was the same way as a child. Good luck!
  • Amelia: There are some concentration exercises you can do with him. And play therapy can help.
  • Jennifer: I have listened to other parents who didn't won't to medicate their child and and they changed there child's diets. That could be a good start to research certain foods that could trigger his ADD
  • Nicole: Limit sugars caffeine and processed foods
  • Daiga: Spend lots of time outside with nature.
  • Jessica: Check out
  • Racheal: I grew up dealing with ADD. My parents never medicated me but got me an awesome tutor to help me learn to deal with it. There are aspects of it that never go away but things you mature out of as well. I feel that had I been medicated it would have been harder to know what was improvement due to my hard work and what was meds. That being said I wish I had looked into meds when I was in college. Biochem would have been so much easier if I could have better focused and retained what I was reading.
  • Christine:I found a great article on this. (If I find it I will link it) My daughter isn't quite diagnosed, but from what I read, she almost certainly has a mild case. We did things at home like using timers on my phone to segment out getting ready in steps. (She has a hard time doing more than one thing at a time, and if you tell her she needs to do one thing while she's not done with another, watch out!) Her teacher is quite amazing, she has a balance board and other stuff that she can give her to do while she works to keep her mind focused. She has a strip taped to her desk with each school segment in pictures velcroed to them, and she takes them off and puts them into an envelope so she can keep her day straight I've also started giving her Focus Factor for kids vitamins and Omega 3 supplements. It's been about three months, and the affect is slight but favorable. (these are not stimulants, they are vitamin/mineral supplements) We are also working towards eliminating all artificial sweeteners from her diet. (Not as easy as I thought) I wish you the best. We are just delving in, and will be watching this post for tips.
  • Gail: Look up Chiropractic & Nutrition Wellness Center (find it on FB or White Pages) with Dr. Johnson. He works miracles without prescriptions. You won't be sorry!
  • Valentina: Don't forget to focus on nutrition. Many people out there do not realize how what we eat impacts our brains... staying away from artificial colors in candies, high fructose corn syrup and anything that can spike insulin levels including too much bread. The wheat of the today and not the same as the ancient wheat of many years ago. Gluten is also a huge culprit for many ailments these days too. I get brain fog when I eat foods with gluten. Lots of fruits and veggies, less grains and good quality food like hormone/antibiotic free meats and dairy. Read the food label. Good luck!
  • Lindsay: Sleep apnea also mimics add and adhd! Make sure you look into that! If in fact your child has add contact your local health departments community health to see what services are available to your child. If you live in Macomb County you can call our Community Mental Health Access Center 586.948.0222!
  • Michele: caffeine *helps* ADHD in children. Caffeine is a stimulant, which seems like it would give the opposite effect, but it over stimulates them and calms them down. That's why doctors prescribe stimulant medications for children with ADHD. My mom used to give my brother a cup of coffee (with cream) in the morning, and it would give him a calming effect before school. It might be worth a try. Ask your son's doctor if it might be beneficial.
  • Ryan-Melissa: There are kids "focus" supplements you can get. I've seen them at Whole Foods and Better Health.
  • Metro Detroit Mommy: I personally think that ADD is over diagnosed. If your child does not really have ADD then medication won't help and you will have to work with him on modifying their behavior. I think play therapy is great. And all the ideas are great things to consider:)
  • Lindsay:  Make sure to google search Michigan Family to Family Health Information and Education Center which will bring you to website which has a wealth of inexpensive training and resources for parents and professionals alike!
  • Steffanie: I highly recommend She's based in Ann Arbor.
  • Christine: Very briefly did Aderall and took him off very quickly too. Read several of Dr. Levine's books on learning disabilities and basically helped him to learn his strengths and how to use them to overcome his weaknesses in terms of learning. Did make sure he used every support available to him through the schools and still does in college.
  • Holly: Might look into essential oils too!
  • Shannon: Alternative health care on Grosse Pointe can help you with diet and supplements. is great.
  • Jessie: Diet. I've heard a LOT about dyes, preservatives and processes foods making add worse. All the stuff kraft, nestle and the other big box brands don't want your doctor to tell you
  • Tina: We took out red #40 from our sons diet and and he made complete turn around! We took it out of Everything including soaps, meds, etc. it's a sneaky dye (some WHITE cake frosting are included) you must read the labels! I would definitely try diet before medication.
  • Danielle: From a teacher's perspective, providing structure, consistency, and routine and helping with organization will be important for your child to be successful. The expectations at school are different than at home, so giving your child strategies to use at school is key. Communication with your child's teacher is important. If your child's teacher is concerned, it is likely because he or she is seeing your child in a different environment and wants them to be successful- just like you do! Medication is a personal (and parental) choice though and not always the answer. Good luck!
  • Heather: besides changing his diet I have also heard that having a strip of velcro under his desk to keep him busy and sitting on a cushion filled with air. I forget what they are called but I found one before in a exersice store. They half circles and made of plastic.
  • Shannon: I agree with Heather, but as a teacher, I also know we have no right to suggest your child go on medication. I will suggest "working with your child's doctor", but I have never said medication was what a child needs. In my experience, medication worked miracles with some and others just needed more structure. I've also had parents who tried medication with the mindset they could stop it if they didn't like how it changed their child. Good luck!
  • Shannon: I meant agree with Danielle (as a teacher)...but I have heard the same as Heather:-)
  • Darla: With my son i tried to change his diet. My son is 23 now, but years ago i bought a book that said make sure you take away anything with the red dyes and all the other preservatives!! Good luck!!;)
  • Laura: I am a therapist and treat ADHD. Consistency, structure, routine, longer transitions, and changes in the environment can be very helpful.
  • Katie: stay away from red and yellow dyes. They can cause more problems.

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer: