We are honored to provide this guest post by Sarah Williams. As with all articles on TheSnapMom.com, this advice is no substitute for diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional. We hope you are encouraged by her personal journey through this diagnosis and can find value in the steps that have helped her family.
Treating ADHD Naturally
by Sarah Williams
I am sharing my story because my journey as a parent has been a rough one, and my hope is that by sharing with you what has helped our family in dealing with our gifted/ADHD child it can be helpful to yours.
Our oldest son who is sweet, smart, analytical, creative, thoughtful, caring, black & white, and an oh-so-ever outside the box kinda thinker was officially labeled “gifted” in 1st grade after scoring high on the IQ test and other evaluations. He displayed high intelligence as well as impulsive behavior, highly emotional & hyperactive behavior. AT this point, I had never considered that there were any links to ADHD… until his behavior escalated at school and home. He was more and more difficult to manage and finally he got suspended from a charter school permanently. I took him to a professional who we had been seeing earlier & was very helpful when he would have behavior problems at school, etc. She suggested that he had ADHD and maybe possibly other disorders. At her office I filled out an ADHD questionnaire and she did a separate questionnaire with him. She told me that I alone scored him Very High on the ADHD scale and recommended that I take him to a pediatrician for a full evaluation. She suggested that, from her experience, the best thing for him would most likely be to put him on meds to get his behavior stabilized.
What is ADHD?
“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. However, it does not only affect children – people of all ages can suffer from ADHD. Psychiatrists say ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. An individual with ADHD finds it much more difficult to focus on something without being distracted. He has greater difficulty in controlling what he is doing or saying and is less able to control how much physical activity is appropriate for a particular situation compared to somebody without ADHD. In other words, a person with ADHD is much more impulsive and restless.” (Source)
- “Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD”
- “The average age of ADHD diagnosis was 7 years of age, but children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD were diagnosed earlier.”
- “Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.” (Source)
At this point I was SO overwhelmed and devastated by the news and his behavior. I felt like such a failure as a mom, especially after talking to the school principal who made my child sound like a monster! To say that I was an emotional wreck was an understatement. This had consumed my every waking moment; it was all I could think about. I remember calling a friend and just breaking down crying because I felt so hopeless. Of course she could not help because she had no idea how. I finally decided that I would do everything in my power to see my child get well, and if at all possible to avoid being medicated.
After much research I stumbled upon 2 helpful books, “Dr. Bob’s Guide to Stop ADHD in 18 days” By Robert DeMaria & “Parenting Gifted Kids” by James R. Delisle. Here are the changes we made in our family after reading them:
- Dairy (milk derived products) and substituted with almond milk
- Sugar (as much as possible)
- Cut back on processed foods
- Food dyes
- If i can’t understand the ingredients, I try to avoid purchasing it
- Store bought juice and any sweet drinks ( we drink water mostly, almond milk and juice our own juice)
Cut back on video games/screen time. We just started a “button system”. I issue x amount of buttons a week (each button= 30 min screen time of choice ). After they are out of buttons, no more screen time that week. They choose when to use them as long as their chores and homework are completed. This forces them to get creative with their play time, as well as exercise self-control as to when to use their buttons.
- 1 tab of vitamin B complex everyday (this helps with the nervous system)
- 1 teaspoon of Flaxseed oil everyday
- 1 children’s DHA
- 1 family night a week. It is important to have designated quality time and help kids pick what they want that night (our kids look forward to this every week, and this is the night we let our guard down and allow something sweet and yummy… which can also back fire!)
- Exposure to outdoors as much as possible; same goes for play time.
- He found a current challenging hobby “Rainbow Loom” making bracelets and challenging himself in this area
- A cleaner diet; eating more fruits, veggies and good protein
- I also gave him a sketch book which he can draw and channel his thoughts and frustration onto
- last, but not least – lots of prayer!
We also changed schools and he loves his new teacher. He is now in a high achieving class with a few other gifted kids in the class. I called his school to schedule a meeting to create a plan for helping him accomplish his academic goals (like the professional suggested). As we met with his teacher and a group of counselors, his teacher stated that she was not sure what I was doing at home because he is “a completely different kid” than when he first started school a few months before. She reminded me of one of his worst days at this new school, which was a long list of offenses by the hour, literally. I told her of the changes we implemented at home and she was surprised that it created such a change and so was the whole board of the people sitting in that conference room. You have no idea how much that encouraged me to persevere this hard task and continue to be the advocate for my child. Honestly, I was not certain that this was going to work. Especially because most people told me that they rarely saw any improvement with natural treatments for this. It is very important for both parents to be on board and avoid buying food that is not allowed for your child. We make some exceptions such as the milk we buy for our coffee in smaller amounts. Truthfully, if I did not have my husband on board, I probably would not have been able to win this battle.
It was not easy prohibiting the foods our kid craves most; he was not a happy camper to say the least. He also complained that all the kids in school get to eat pop tarts and fruit rollups in their lunches and he just has “healthy stuff.” I try to be creative in mixing things & experimenting with alternative choices. Which is why I love The Snap Mom – it provides me with great resources and ideas. I had to gently explain to him how this is helping him and his behavior.
I do not have it all figured out and my child did not turn into a “perfect angel” because of our changes, BUT we have seen a drastic change in his behavior from what he was like before. He is calmer, less hyperactive and has cut back on impulsive behavior. It’s still a journey and I am always learning to do what I can to help. Joining a sport or music is next on our list. I hope my experience can bring hope to some of you moms who are struggling in this area. I want to give you all a hug and truly say I know your pain!! The hard truth is if you don’t step up and be an advocate for your child, no one else will. I have seen results that were reaped because I remained consistent. Take heart, you can do this too!
Also check out->Sensory Processing Disorder: Child Overloaded