Here’s everything you need to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thomas E. Brown, PhD, discusses ADHD diagnosis, ADHD symptoms, available ADHD treatment options, and ADHD medication.
Here’s everything you need to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thomas E. Brown, PhD, discusses ADHD diagnosis, ADHD symptoms, available ADHD treatment options, and ADHD medication.
For many, life now revolves around working from home, home-schooling our children, or coping with the monotony of being at home all day and the pressures and anxiety that can bring. Read our COVID-19 Guide for ADHD Adults here.
For some of us, we also have the added challenge of being required to self-isolate within our own homes, either alone or away from our families to protect them from contracting the virus. Read the HSE guides as to when you should self-isolate here and how to self-isolate here.
So if you are waiting on a test result or if you have received that dreaded positive result but are finding it tough to stay away from everyone, here at ADHD Ireland we wanted to help adults with ADHD to cope with a few tips to help you keep safe and motivated during this difficult time.
The uncertainty of the situation at the moment, and the fear of what a positive test result can mean for you and your family, can cause undue anxiety and stress – particularly for adults with ADHD, 40% of whom also have comorbid anxiety disorder. It’s important to avoid getting overwhelmed by the situation and to allow yourself to keep control of what you read, hear or see, particularly on social media when you are feeling isolated. Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is the advice from the HSE. You can read up-to-date factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here .
According to the HSE, self-isolation – or we prefer “physical-isolation” means staying indoors and completely avoiding any physical contact with other people. You need to do this if you have symptoms of coronavirus or a confirmed diagnosis. This is to stop other people from getting it. The advice from the HSE is very clear; you need to stay physically away from others (even within your own home, where possible). It’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or supplies. Make sure you’re not in the same room as them, when they do. For more information on how to stay safe and healthy, please refer to the HSE website here.
The key to alleviating anxiety around this new situation, is to try and structure your day. If you are feeling well:
The physical benefits of daily exercise are well documented, but did you know that exercise boosts your mind and mood as well? Physical activity releases proteins that improve brain function and this is particularly good for those with ADHD. It also promotes more restful, restorative sleep. Exercise isn’t just good for your body; it alleviates anxiety and depression, too. If you are self-isolating due to the risk of exposure to Covid-19 but feeling well yourself, a brisk 15/20-minute walk or a good stretch in the back garden will help make you feel more alert and more focused. There are also lots of apps that can be downloaded free of charge and will give you simple, easy to do at home exercises or why not try the Operation Transformation basic exercises to get you started?
We are all in danger of feeling guilty for not working and studying as usual, and for allowing ourselves to sit down and watch day-time TV! Well, since we are all in this together, why not just… relax! This isn’t going to last forever, and we need to remember that our number one job is to stay safe and protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. Take a break. Particularly if you are self-isolating within a home that you share with family. Don’t worry about stepping away from the hustle and bustle of family life. This is the best choice to protect your family. Stay in a separate room, just sit back and allow yourself to indulge in your favourite TV show or a good book. Enjoy a cuppa and just relax and take care of your health. This time will pass and we will be back to our busy lives before we know it!
You want to be a good citizen and follow the guidelines of social distancing, especially if self-isolating, but you are starting to find the isolation really difficult? We are social beings and we need human contact to keep us going. There are so many ways with modern technology that you can reach out to friends and family and keep in touch. FaceTime, WhatsApp video calls and Skype are all really great for putting you face to face with those you love and miss, but don’t forget a simple phone call or even send a letter! We are all in this together, so let’s get each other through it, even if it is from a distance.
As adults with ADHD, it can be challenging for us to sit still, stay home and self-isolate. Instead of thinking of this as being “trapped”, why not take some time out of the day to read a book or try meditation. Allow our minds some calmness and quiet. Usually we find ourselves too busy to settle down and read or to try something new like meditation which has proven benefits for those with ADHD. Did you know that meditation actually helps with mental health and strengthening immunity? It is also ideal if you are spending time alone because it is most effective in a quiet, empty space. Download a good app, such as the Headspace app, set a time each day to do it, and get started!
If you are self-isolating but feeling well and finding the hours dragging while you are alone, this is the perfect time to busy yourself with something new. Is there a hobby you’ve always fancied trying but never had the time? Or do you have a stash of materials in your attic/garage that you’ve had for years and won’t throw away because you plan to get to it “someday”? Well now is your chance. Take this time to enjoy spending time doing something new or learning a new skill, which will give you a great sense of satisfaction. It is one of the upsides of this very tragic circumstance; we have been given something we all claim not to have enough of: time.
Endorsed by the ADHD in Adults National Clinical Programme.
31st March 2020
Trying to teach a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a different job than parenting them. You will become more acutely aware of their shortcomings in terms of attention and focus, and you might find that you become frustrated trying to get through that list that their teacher provided while keeping yourself from pulling out your hair!
At ADHD Ireland, we want you to know that you are not alone and that we are hearing from parents all over Ireland with the same challenges and struggles every day.
We have put together a simple guide to coping with this new “normal” for parents and we hope that it will help you find the right balance for your family:
Being outside our usual routine unsettles all of us, even more so a child with ADHD. Both adults and children may be happier with a rough schedule day to day. Use a piece of paper or whiteboard and post it somewhere that everyone can see it. If you can build it with your children, that’s even better because then they will feel involved and that their input is valued.
But don’t forget, it is about balance between school work and free time. Don’t try to do it all.
Getting up and dressed at around the same time every day and going to bed at the usual time is the best way to keep your children in their normal healthy routine. There can be a tendency to relax the rules around bedtime and switching off TV and devices at night during holiday times, but you need to remember that technically, this isn’t a holiday! Most parents are going to be juggling work at home as well as home schooling and entertaining their children, so it is best to try and treat this time as if you are in school-mode and stick to the usual routine.
The bombardment of news and doom and gloom can take its toll on all of us, but it can especially impact children who are exposed to it throughout the day. Children are very intuitive and they pick up on our anxieties and fears. If we are overly obsessing about the corona virus, you can be sure your children and picking up on that too. This can cause anxiety in children – quite often children with ADHD can tend to hyper-focus more on a topic than neurotypical children – meaning that it can end up affecting their sleep and their overall wellbeing. Explain COVID-19 and the purpose of being homebound in an age-appropriate and positive manner to children. Explain that it is temporary and things will be back to normal very soon. Create an open and positive environment where children feel they can ask questions or express their concerns.
The instruction to stay homebound does mean that your children are probably starting to miss their close friends and their wider family members such as grandparents or cousins. To keep them connected to their wider family circle and their friends, arrange Skype or FaceTime calls and even encourage younger children to write letters to their friends and if they live close by, drop the letter into their post box – what a nice surprise!
While digital devices serve a valuable purpose for us all now during this time of social distancing, it is important to avoid over-exposure to screens for your children. If your children are young teenagers, there is a risk that they will be on social media and might find that there is too much information there on corona virus for them to fathom. For younger children, too much screen time can cause them to become agitated, edgy and wound-up. Open-ended limits on screen time can lead to arguing, so it is best to set the time limit in advance so that everyone knows where they stand.
Daily exercise will make your children happier, even if they complain—and probably make you happier too. It is widely proven that exercise is beneficial to mental health and can be a real advantage to those with ADHD, releasing much needed dopamine which aids focus and concentration. It also releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemical in the brain thereby lifting spirits and boosting one’s mood at this challenging time. A great tip for getting your kids moving is the Operation Transformation 10 at 10 exercises which can easily be done either inside or outdoors, weather allowing. You can access the easy to follow videos here https://rtejr.rte.ie/10at10/
Remember every parent in the country is in exactly the same shoes as you and very few of us are teachers! Take it easy on yourself and don’t stress yourself trying to keep up with the syllabus that your child’s educators were working through. It is okay to just get by now with a minimal amount of academia for your child. He or she will not fall behind their peers – remember we are all in the same boat! Let it be enough that you just appreciate this gift of time that you have been given with your little ones and just roll with it. Enjoy the time together. Teach your child how to bake, sew, dance or draw a giraffe. There isn’t an exam at the end of this for parents. See it as a positive opportunity to enjoy some precious time with your children.
For more information on COVID-19 corona virus log onto https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
If you have ADHD and suddenly find yourself working from home or temporarily out of work due to business closures, what can you do to fill your day and keep yourself occupied?
Here are some tips for maintaining focus, setting boundaries, avoiding unproductive hyperfocus, and getting the most out of your day.
Sticking to your usual getting up and going to bed time will help your body keep in a routine. Getting dressed – even putting on your shoes – can help switch your mind into work-mode and can help you to feel more productive with your day.
Even though you are not going out to work every day now, you should still take your medication every day because ADHD medication works best when taken consistently.
The science is clear: Exercise promotes focus in the ADHD brain. Make sure to get out and get some fresh air and exercise every day. Your normal commute may involve walking some of the way, or even going out to get a sandwich at lunchtime. Take advantage of working from home by getting a walk at lunchtime or going out to the back garden.
If you’re working from home now, set up a dedicated space for your work station – whether it’s at the kitchen table or in your bedroom – whatever works for you. This will help you to focus and not get distracted by other things when you are in “work mode”. You may find yourself floundering with a lack of structure and colleagues. Try scheduling a regular call with your supervisor or someone working with you on a project daily to help keep your work focus intact.
Try to avoid getting caught up in household jobs while you are supposed to be focusing on your work. You need to grab a pen, walk into the kitchen, and suddenly a snack sounds good and those dishes need washed and what’s that stuff on the counter… and you’ve been in the kitchen now for an hour instead of working.
It can really help the flow of your day if you add some structure to it. Map out in advance what times you are going to take breaks and try and stick to those times. It will help you to stay focused and avoid distractions.
Adults with ADHD don’t generally see time, but you can feel it. You might get hyperfocused on something you are working on and then work through your usual lunch break. Your body will start to tell you it’s hungry and you won’t be productive any more. Set timers on your phone, if that helps and stop at dedicated times to give your body the break it needs, or to give your workflow the switch up it needs from one project to another.
Hyperfocus is a common — but confusing — symptom of ADHD. It is the ability to zero in intensely on an interesting project or activity for hours at a time. Be alert for it because it can cause you to lose hours of your day if you get caught up with one specific thing.
Don’t forget to have boundaries between work and personal time, it can be easy for things to get blurred when working from home. So, if you normally leave work at 5.30, turn your laptop off at that time instead.
Our mental health can suffer if we don’t keep our social interactions up throughout the day. It is very important to chat to people and keep yourself socially connected to society. If you share your home with family or housemates then you have some people to chat to and share social interactions with, but if you live alone and are starting to feel isolated from this social distancing, make time to Skype, FaceTime or simply phone a friend!
Most importantly, try not to get too obsessive about the news and social media surrounding COVID-19 coronavirus. It can become all-consuming, meaning that it is easy to get sucked in and spend too much time listening to discussion around it and reading up about it – some of which you see might even not be true! This can build up and cause anxiety and fear which will not help your ADHD.
For more information please visit www.adhdireland.ie or
Endorsed by the ADHD in Adults National Clinical Programme.
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear.
Look out for one, some or all of the main symptoms:
Other symptoms are fatigue, headaches, sore throat, aches and pains.
If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.
This is only a guide but close contact can mean:
If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and you do not have symptoms, you need to restrict your movements. You only need to phone your GP if you have symptoms of coronavirus. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.
You could get the virus if you:
As it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms.
The virus may only survive a few hours if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on a surface. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated.
Drink plenty of water. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help with symptoms such as pain or fever. Paracetamol is usually recommended as the first-line treatment for most people. Before taking any medication you should read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. You should also follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.
If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise treatment based on your symptoms.
Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus or any viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.
Supportive treatments, like oxygen therapy, can be given while your own body fights the virus. Life support can be used in extreme cases.
To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) it’s important to think about how the virus is spread.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.
Some of the things you can do
To help slow the spread of coronavirus:
Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to follow this advice too.
You should wash your hands:
Updated 17th March 2020
Good time management requires you to make long-term goals and look into the future to figure out who you are, and who you want to be. Unfortunately, none of those things come easily to those with ADHD. Learn why ADHD makes planning for retirement (or even planning your next meal) difficult, and what you can do to overcome your natural present-focused mentality.
The second hand on your internal clock fell off. The minute hand ticks too softly. And the hour hand sticks from time to time. As a result, planning more than a week (even a day) in advance sometimes feels hopeless, and pointless. Some tasks drag on forever while others suck you in to a time warp. And deadlines almost never arrive without drama, stress, and extensions.
Like so many other skills, time management exists on a spectrum. At one end is Tim Ferriss with his “4-Hour Workweek;” at the other end are those of us with ADHD.
Good time management boils down to this: Effectively using the present moment to bring about a better future. Most worthwhile goals and projects require sustained effort over time in exchange for a positive long-term impact on our lives. The secret to smart time management is learning to manage behaviors and choices in the present moment with long-term goals and ambitions always in mind.
When your internal clock is almost never synced with reality, this is difficult. That’s where these external tools and motivational strategies come in. Read on to learn why ADHD makes time management difficult, and what people with ADHD can do to overcome their inherent challenges and create a better future.
According to Russell Barkley, Ph.D., time management is “the ultimate — yet nearly invisible — disability afflicting those with ADHD.” Why? The ADHD brain is inherently unable to anticipate and plan for the future, which typically manifests in two ways: people with ADHD often have a very short “time horizon,” and they engage in what’s called “temporal discounting.”
To understand a time horizon, imagine you’re standing on the edge of the sea and you can’t see a ship that’s many miles in the distance — at least not at first. But as the ship approaches the shore, it eventually crosses the horizon and enters your field of vision then details of the ship come into focus. A person with strong vision sees the ship earlier than does someone with poor vision — in other words, their “horizon” is much longer.
Similarly, a time horizon measures how close in time an event must be for a person to “see” it and feel motivated to take action. Students with a long time horizon may start working on a project the day it’s assigned and work steadily toward its approaching deadline. Those with a short time horizon, on the other hand, might not “feel” the deadline approaching until it’s nearly upon them. In extreme cases, some students don’t see a thing until the deadline has already passed.
Time horizons are correlated to age. Young children see just a day or two into the future, while adults are capable of looking ahead several weeks, months, or years at a time. People with ADHD, however, often have abnormally short time horizons — a phenomenon Barkley calls “future myopia.” It’s difficult for them to plan for the future because they don’t see the future as clearly as do their peers.
Another phenomenon that disrupts our ability to plan for the future is “temporal discounting.” This is an economics term that reflects this truth: the further into the future a reward or punishment is, the less attention we pay to it in the present moment. If you were offered $100 to shovel a snowy driveway, you might jump at the chance if payment were immediate. But if payment was delayed 3 months, the reward suddenly becomes a lot less attractive — making it much less likely that you’ll agree to do all that shoveling today.
Because everyone — not just those with ADHD — feels the present more strongly, it’s difficult to do challenging things now that won’t have an immediate positive impact. Temporal discounting explains why slimming down, for example, is hard for a lot of people; it’s difficult to find the motivation to eat right and exercise when the positive effects take time to appear.
People with ADHD engage in more temporal discounting than do those without ADHD — which means they tend to choose the option with more immediate payoff. Becoming fit and healthy might be more satisfying in the long run, but watching TV and eating ice cream is much more satisfying now — the reward in the moment takes precedence over the punishment or negative effect that comes later.
How can people with ADHD counteract this today-focused mentality? Here are a few strategies:
1. Externalise time. When your internal clock is unreliable, you need to lean heavily on external ones. Old-fashioned analog clocks — not digital clocks — are useful for this purpose; the moving hands physically represent the passage of time; the numbers of a digital clock can be too abstract. Another great tool is the Time Timer; it shows the remaining time as an ever-shrinking red slice on the clock’s face.
Some individuals externalise time by setting up systems that remind them of it constantly. That might mean setting alarms, utilising phone reminders, or scheduling to-do list items directly into a calendar. Designating specific times for specific regular tasks also helps to ensure they get done regularly.
2. Maximise motivation. To harness (and maintain) motivation before it’s too late, visualise a future where time is managed well, and compare it to an alternative reality. For example, a college student with a paper due Friday should ask how it will feel to pull an all-nighter at the library while all of his friends go out to parties.
To practice visualisation effectively, first acknowledge the common lies we tell ourselves to justify poor time management. Examples include: “I have plenty of time,” “I don’t really have to do that now,” or “I work best under pressure.” Confronting those lies, examining them, and admitting when they’re untrue, is critical to developing better time management over the long-term.
3. Eliminate distractions. A hallmark symptom of ADHD is distractibility, which can override even the strongest time management strategies. Since it’s easier to avoid distraction than it is to recover from it, set up your work environment to eliminate distractions and manage the temptation to get off task. This means different things to different people, but some commonly used techniques include: blocking tempting websites on your computer (using online tools like SelfControl or Freedom), putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, or facing your desk toward the wall so you’re not tempted to look out the window.
4. Don’t catastrophise. Sometimes people put off tasks or long-term goals because they imagine the endeavour is bigger, more complicated, and more difficult than it is in reality. But waiting until the last minute because the project seems too hard — or avoiding it altogether because it involves too much risk — tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; the longer you procrastinate or avoid something, the more difficult (or unlikely) the project or goal becomes.
People who catastrophise tasks in their minds can benefit by simply forcing themselves to get started. Challenge yourself to complete just five minutes of a scary project before taking a break. If you still don’t feel productive after five minutes, it’s okay to stop. But in most cases, those five minutes of work will make it clear that the project wasn’t as difficult as you imagined. Plus, five minutes of work now means five fewer minutes of work later.
5. Identify feelings. Often, people put off doing a task because it makes them uncomfortable, but they’re not actually sure why. In some cases, the project seems boring or pointless, so apathy is to blame. Others might worry about failure — causing them to procrastinate as a way of putting off the anxiety they feel. Apathy and anxiety require different solutions, and it’s impossible to know which solution to try until you identify the root cause of your procrastination.
No single time-management strategy will work 100 percent of the time. It’s important to identify a collection of strategies that each works some of the time, mixing and match them to adapt to new goals and challenges as they arise.
7th February 2020
For more Time Management tools, click here
Following our attendance today at a consultation with the Department of Education on the new SNA model, here is an update of our understanding of the new model:
For any further information please reference the Department of Education website.
Disorganised daydreamers. Social butterflies. Space cadets. These are all awful labels applied wrongfully and thoughtlessly to girls with ADHD. Learn the signs and symptoms of attention deficit in girls, and save your daughter a lifetime of shame.
ADHD symptoms in girls can be hard to decipher, which is why the condition is often overlooked and underreported by teachers. The following behaviours, occurring frequently and in various combinations, may indicate ADHD.
1. Daydreaming quietly in class
2. Looking out the window while twirling her hair
3. Picking at her cuticles often
4. Feeling anxious and sad (but not meeting the criteria of any diagnosable disorder)
5. Talking incessantly or hyperactively
6. Appearing to be silly, a show-off, or boy-crazy
7. Seeming to fade into the background; acting shy and inattentive
8. Having trouble maintaining friendships
9. Putting in extra effort to hyperfocus in order to compensate for inattentiveness (and feeling anxious and self-critical as a result)
From ADDitude Magazine, www.additudemag.com for more information.
Updated on January 17, 2020
Does an ADHD diet work? Yes, following an ADHD nutrition plan rich in protein and vitamins can help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But only if you avoid sugar, artificial flavours, and common allergens as well. Here’s what to eat and what to avoid.
The bad news: Deficiencies in certain types of foods can worsen symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. The good news: An ADHD diet that boasts adequate levels of the right foods actually optimizes brain function.
Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity and impulsivity.
“Because the body makes brain-awakening neurotransmitters when you eat protein, start your day with a breakfast that includes it,” says Laura Stevens, M.S., a nutritionist at Purdue University and author of 12 Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child. “Don’t stop there. Look for ways to slip in lean protein during the day, as well.”
Faye Berger Mitchell, a registered dietician from Bethesda, Maryland, has a nine-year-old daughter who received an ADHD diagnosis two years ago. While her daughter takes stimulants to control her ADHD symptoms, Mitchell concluded that a pill is not enough. She finds that when her daughter eats a well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein, her behaviour tends to be more consistently under control.
Ned Hallowell, M.D., founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City, advises all of his patients with ADHD to think about their plates when preparing a meal. Half of the plate, he recommends, should be filled with fruits or vegetables, one-fourth with a protein, and one-fourth with carbohydrates.
Hallowell also advocates eating several servings of whole grains, which are rich in fibre, each day to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and then plummeting.
“Many diets are deficient in key vitamins, minerals, and fats that may improve attention and alertness,” says Richard Brown, M.D., author of How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care. He suggests that children and adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD be tested for nutritional deficiencies.
“Supplements and diet can correct nutrient shortfalls that exacerbate ADHD symptoms,” adds Brown.
Zinc regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine and may make methylphenidate more effective by improving the brain’s response to dopamine. Low levels of this mineral correlate with inattention. Iron is also necessary for making dopamine. One small study1 showed ferritin levels (a measure of iron stores) to be low in 84 percent of children with ADHD compared to 18 percent of the control group. Low iron levels correlate with cognitive deficits and severe ADHD. Like zinc, magnesium is used to make neurotransmitters involved in attention and concentration, and it has a calming effect on the brain.
All three minerals are found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, soy, and fortified cereals. While diet is the safest way to increase all three mineral levels, a multivitamin/multimineral with iron will ensure that you or your child gets the daily reference value (DRV) of these minerals.
Studies suggest that giving children who have low levels of B vitamins a supplement improved some IQ scores (by 16 points) and reduced aggression and antisocial behaviour. “Vitamin B-6 seems to increase the brain’s levels of dopamine, which improves alertness,” says Brown.
If your child is a picky eater, or if he eats lots of take-out food, chips, and soda, he probably isn’t getting the daily recommended value of vitamins and minerals. A daily multivitamin/multimineral will ensure that he does, no matter how finicky he is.
Omega-3s are believed to be important in brain and nerve cell function. A new study2, conducted at Göteborg University, in Sweden, concluded that daily doses of omega-3s — found in cold-water, fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, and salmon — reduced ADHD symptoms by 50 percent. Dr. Sven Ostlund followed a group of ADHD children aged 8-18 who took fish oil daily. Within six months, there was a noticeable decrease in ADHD symptoms in 25 percent of the children.
Another study3 showed that omega-3s tend to break down more readily in the bodies of patients with ADHD than in those without the condition. “People with ADHD who have low blood levels of omega-3s will show the biggest improvement in mental focus and cognitive function,” says Brown. “Sometimes the change is dramatic.”
John Ratey, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recommends that you choose a supplement that contains more EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) than DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
“Herbs may improve blood flow to the brain, increasing alertness while reducing aggressive behaviour,” Brown says. Talk with your doctor, before starting an herb regimen.
“These herbs are cognitive activators,” says Brown. They act like stimulants, without the side effects of ADHD medication. Typically, adults and children who take ginkgo and ginseng improve on ADHD rating scales, and are less impulsive and distractible. Asian ginseng may overstimulate younger children. If this happens, switch to American ginseng.
Several studies suggest that some kids who have ADHD are “turned on” by copious amounts of sugar. One study5 concluded that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became. A study6 conducted at Yale University indicates that high-sugar diets increase inattention in some kids.
Some common items to avoid include fruit “drinks” or “cocktails,” both of which are higher in sugar than 100 percent fruit juice. Read food labels carefully, looking for the following ingredients (code words for sugar): high-fructose corn sweetener, dehydrated cane juice; dextrin; dextrose; maltodextrin; sucrose; molasses; and malt syrup.
Studies published in The Lancet7, Pediatrics8, and The Journal of Pediatrics9 suggest that some children with ADHD are adversely affected by food additives. A recent study10 indicates that artificial food coloring and flavours, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, make some kids without ADHD hyperactive.
Avoid colourful cereals, like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. Cheerios are better, and lower in sugar. Substitute 100 percent fruit juice for soft drinks and fruit punches, most of which are artificially coloured and flavoured. If your child wants a treat, offer him something which is free of dyes and low in sugar.
According to studies, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy cause some children to lose focus and become more hyperactive. Vincent Monastra, Ph.D., author of Parenting Children with ADHD, suggests that all children be screened for food allergies before being prescribed medication for ADHD. Talk with your doctor about testing for allergies.
Log onto www.ADDitudemag.com for more articles on ADHD.
We know that school for many children with ADHD brings a lot of challenges. Here are some tips on how to build a morning and afternoon routine to help your child keep on track and get them off to the best possible start!
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