My son is 5, and missed the cut off for kindergarten, so he doesn't start until this upcoming fall.
We've never had him tested, but we both feel that he has ADD in some form. He can't sit still for more than a minute at a time. We've timed him. He has to be moving in some way, wiggling, and usually making a sound at the same time, too.
As I write this, he's playing a video game, humming, singing to himself, making sounds deep in his throat, and bouncing up and down as he sits.
What I am looking for, basically, is what to do without him taking meds. I don't want him on meds of any sort, but I also realize we need to work on his paitence before he goes to Kindergarten.
My entire family is seriously taking bets on how long it will take before his kindergarten teacher tells us he should be on some sort of drugs for it.
I don't want to take him to the doctor for the same reason. Doctors are too reliant on using pills as a form of treatment for anything that isn't "normal".
We've cut his sugar in take dramatically in the past several months, but to be honest, he never usually had much sugar to begin with. All we really could cut was juices, and certain cereals. Also, we switched our snack habits. Instead of buying pre-made things for snacks, I make most of them now. His snack choices each day are usually the same- applesauce, cottage cheese, yogurt, sugar-free jello, or sugar-free pudding. This all made a noticable difference, which shocked us to some extent. Part of what shocked us, I think, is that almost as soon as we cut juice from his diet, he stopped wetting himself, and stopped having accidents all day. He went from having to wear a diaper when we leave the house, to only wearing a pullup at night.
He WAS potty trained by age 3, and for some reason, just after Christmas, he stopped using the bathroom without us forcibly setting him on the toilet. He'd not tell us if he had to go, and if we told him to, he'd go in the bathroom, stand around for a minute, then come out, and 5 minutes later, pee in his clothes.
Anyway, I digress... I'd like to know what other people have done successfully for their hyper children besides medications. I don't even know that what he has is any sort of add problem, but right now, I need something to help him.
It is obviously your decision not to medicate your child, but IF he has ADHD and IF he is severely affected, then you may be denying him the chance to have a decent education and social life by categorically refusing any sort of medication.
To start with, get him assessed. Trying out any kind of intervention such as natural remedies is pointless if you do not even know what is wrong with him!
If he does indeed have ADHD:
Do a search for ADHD natural on these boards, there are a large number of interventions you can try, but they do not work for everybody, and many children still display a large amount of severe inattention and/or hyperactivity even with all the possible non-medication interventions that parents can try.
Jacqui Jackson's book "Multicoloured Mayhem" tells of her family, of which all 4 boys have some form of autism. The second youngest has very (!) severe ADHD and is on the gluten free casein free diet alongside countless other dietary and therapeutic interventions and more recently medication (Concerta). She is very experienced with natural remedies but had to admit defeat when all the measures did not magically "cure" her son. (He is still on most of them due to dietary intolerances, but not all children with ADHD or autism have such intolerances or deficiencies in the first place)
25, female, AS with attentional dysfunction
I find my daughter reacts badly to not only sugar but certain dyes, especially red. My brother had the same problems - he's 19 now and a wonderful young man. Hopefully your son, and my daughter, will outgrow it. We are a homeschooling family. I had the same concerns about putting my daughter in school i.e. meds. But since we homeschool I am able to custom make her schedule, etc. which is working well. Would this be an option for you? Have you tried any homeopathic remedies? There are some especially for kids that contain herbs like chamomile that are supposed to be calming. Good luck.
First, let me say that I am not 100% against drug treatments. I just don't like that we are essentially altering their brain patterns at such a young age, when the brain is still developing.
If we don't have any success at all with small everyday things like eliminating dyes, or sugar, or breathing techniques, or what not, then we most certainly will look at small dose drugs. However, I don't like that the world as a whole has become so drug dependant in the last 10-15 years, and that most of these drugs don't have any long-term use studies on what they effect in the long run.
Sidnee, my husband when he was about 5 or 6, was put on a diet that eliminated all food dyes, and preservitives. His parents said it changed him around completly, however, he doesn't recall being the hyperactive kid they claim he was. He's never ben hyper active since I've known him, and he stopped that diet at age 8.
Home schooling would be an option if I could calm him down a bit, but even then, I think he needs the interaction with other people. He's had a fairly sheltered life as far as social interactions go. We've never lived anywhere that there were kids his age to play with, no preschool, no daycare, etc. He basically stays at home with me, every day, all day.
On the plus side, he IS more well behaved now, than he was even a year ago. A year ago, we couldn't turn our backs on him for more than 30 seconds, or he'd have food all over the floor in the kitchen from trying to get it out, or he'd be coloring on the walls, or trying to flush his sisters dolls, or... the list goes on and on. When he was 2, he figured out how to unlock the door to the house, open it, and open the screen door. He'd be out that door in a the time it took to go to the bathroom.
At one place we lived in, he figured out at 3 how to climb onto his dresser, unlock the window behind it, shimmy behind the dresser, push the screen out of his window, and take off running to the house down the road. It would take him all of 1 and a half minutes to do.
He at least listens better now, and understands when we say he needs to calm down. My husband started this breathing exercise with him, where he hugs him, and they press their forheads together, and breath in really slow, then out, then in, then out, for about 5 times. That can calm him down quite a bit.
-sighs- It's just very frustrating. I will start looking at the dye/persevitives diet, though, and see if that might help him.
"First, let me say that I am not 100% against drug treatments."
That is good - I am sure most parents who used ADHD drugs on their children do not do so to make things easiert for themselves, but to help the CHILD get the best out of life. Categorically denying medical treatment IMHO is detrimental to the child, especially in severe cases - however I agree that giving alternative treatments a try first is a good strategy. (He is too young for medication anyway, but IF he has it and IF it should a problem when he gets to start school, then it may help him there as well as in his social and home life)
"I just don't like that we are essentially altering their brain patterns at such a young age, when the brain is still developing."
ADHD medications do not restructure the brain, they rebalance the levels of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine, which are disturbed in people with "true" ADHD. (Food intolerances and dietary or metabolic deficiencies worsen this drastically)
"most of these drugs don't have any long-term use studies on what they effect in the long run."
ADHD drugs, in particular methyphenidate, are actually one of the longest-used and safest psychiatric medications around (the same cannot be said for antidepressants or Strattera for example, which often get prescribed ahead of stimulants, especially in adult ADHD).
Of course it can be dangerous if used wrongly, but swallowing a whole packet of Ritalin is no more stupid and no less dangerous than swallowing a whole packet of aspirin or paracetamol for example. Ritalin is just a lot harder to get a hold of.
25, female, AS with attentional dysfunction
The amino acid tyrosine is also a way to increase your dopamine levels naturally. I am no expert, so am not sure about a child taking tyrosine supplements. However, tyrosine is found naturally in high protein foods like beef, fish and eggs. A higher protein diet in general is beneficial to people with issues like ADD and depression. Also, fish oil and vitamin D are helpful. Fish oil tastes nasty though and I had a hard time getting my daughter to take it nor would she swallow the pills. Eliminating the bad omega-6 oils (soy, corn, vegetable - all hydrogenated oils) and using olive oil and butter instead also helps as omega-6 fats interfere with dopamine in the brain. We do need some omega-6 but can get all we need from nuts & seeds & beans. Also, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, chocolate and corn allergies may be problematic with chocolate, peanuts, eggs and corn being the worst for children. This info is from a book called "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross. It's done wonders for helping me treat my depression naturally.
I'm like you, I don't want to just assume medication is the only answer nor would I rule it out if I'd tried everything else.
Sounds like if your son has already made progress this may be something he will eventually outgrow. I'm not sure if ritalin, et al is habit forming? Maybe Redhead would know. I would hesitate to start a med that would be difficult to get my child off of if it turns out he does outgrow the behavior.
So many people misunderstand ADHD. Diet and food dyes are not going to change your son! IF he does have ADHD, then he has a deficiency of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine in the frontal region of the brain. Because of this, he must try and seek stimulation from his environmnent, which explains the hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. The only effective treatments known for ADHD is medication and behavior management techniques. Medication can really work wonders if you do decide to take that road. In the meantime, if you really feel he may have ADHD, get him assessed. You may want to wait until kindergarten starts and have his teacher journal some of his characteristics within the classroom. Yes, medication will not "fix" his symptoms, but it may make them less severe, and stimulants are nonaddictive.
I have to respectfully disagree. I have been successfully treating my serotonin deficiency with diet and natural supplements. All the neurotransmitters you mentioned are available naturally in the form of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Likewise, certain foods and allergies DO affect our body and how it functions. Our country is full of sick people who would be greatly helped if they would adjust their diets and lifestyles. This is just not a "traditional" approach (at least not in the past fifty years or so) and does not make tons of money for drs, insurance companies, or pharmaceutical companies so it is ignored. And that's too bad. Lots of people are taking medicine and suffering the side effects when they really don't have to.
That said, there are of course circumstances where medicine is helpful. It's just my opinion, and the way we chose to care for our family, to not make taking medicine our first response. I think Gillybean is on the right track by exploring ALL options in the best interest of her son and I was just giving my opinion based on the knowledge I have in hopes of offering some help.
So many people misunderstand ADHD. Diet and food dyes are not going to change your son!
Just to clear this up - I mentioned above that dietary interventions can help some kids.
However, I also mentioned that this is only the case in children who have dietary deficiencies, food intolerances and other issues that can be improved with such dietary interventions, and even in those cases, if true ADHD (which is complicated by food intolerances etc.) is present, dietary interventions won't *fix* anything. What they can do however is provide drastic and much-needed relief.
25, female, AS with attentional dysfunction
Have you tried any sort of homeopathy? I have an acquaintance who tried some homeopathic formulas & her son went from getting 1's daily for behavior in class to 5's almost overnight. The supplements she used contained L-Theanine which is a natural relaxant. Just a thought. I know how much she's struggled with this.
I just e-mailed her. She ordered from a website called www.lushnutrition.com. The product she ordered was called something like sea buddy's_____. She didn't have the bottle in front of her. I'm going to try it w/my nephew to see if it works as well for him.