/>I received an e-mail today requesting I write something on Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The medical community, with great intentions comes up with labels to explain things that they do not have a great understanding of. For example, there is a disorder (and I use that term loosely), called Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is what doctors may tell you you have when they cannot identify the exact cause of cramps and a variety of other symptoms causing discomfort in the gastro-intestinal tract. My sister was told she had IBS. In a nutshell, coming from a doctor that mean your bowels are sensitive and we don’t know why. My sister, a few years later was properly diagnosed with Celiac disease which is a severe allergy to wheat gluten. So severe that the tiny hairs that line the intestinal wall (Villi) are not able to do their very important job of absorbing nutrients into the blood system. If you have Celiac disease the wheat actually burns the villi. Once identified the disease is easily managed by eliminating wheat from ones diet and full health is restored. My point is – what doctors confidently called ‘IBS’ was actually Celiac disease.
ADHD, in my opinion, is doctors attempt to label what they cannot explain. There can be several factors. First place to check is with the diet. There are several food allergies that impact mental clarity and deplete concentration – ADHD is the lack of ability to focus nad with the products offer in the supermarket we label ‘food’ it’s no surprise. I would suggest children and adults eliminate caffeine for extended periods of time and see if there is any improvement, many people have caffeine intolerance or reaction. This includes chocolate. Begin with the diet. Diets in high preservatives will not support optimal brain function, most packages food are so low in nutritional value fasting may be healthier (I am not suggesting that, but if you could not buy it 75 years ago at a market eliminate it).
ADHD is often treated with drugs to help stimulate chemicals in the brain. Though this is one option to get an improved result it is the same idea as taking a pain killer for back pain or a diet pill with your twinkie it does not address the issue at the source.
In North America the attention span of children and adults has declined significantly with technology. People look for things to stimulate them and expect a quick fix. We see a lot less reading and activities that naturally engage the frontal lobe and creates feel good chemicals that help us concentrate. ADHD is a sign of the times. In Buddhism this is called simply – Monkey Mind. There can also be emotional factors for ADHD – it is much more likely to be found in families with emotional challenges and struggles than in an environment of great stability and routine. From childhood if you are never taught to complete things, sit still and remain at the dinner table until everyone is finished their meal, or be responsible for say small chores daily I would propose is the type of behavior that promotes what they call ADHD. Teaching a child (or adult) to discipline themselves with small tasks is productive behavior in developing concentration.
ADHD is what I would label simply overactive brain patterns. Given the chief function of the body is to transport the brain around I would say begin with diet. Eliminate fast food, things the body does not process naturally. Really… no nitrated sandwich meats or cheese what so ever, no caffeine, any sugars should be natural. Switch to all fruits and veggies, chicken and fish (not breaded and no pop!). Get tested for food allergies and sign up for Tae Kwon Doe, Yoga or Tai Chi. I guarantee this will make the difference between having to have you child deal with the stigma of medication for the rest of their life or not. At least try these things prior to medications.
Also, encourage your child (or yourself) to stick with things, even if it means you are near to tears doing so going past the part where your brain wants to move on to the next item of immediate gratification is where the breakthrough will be. Once the brain has a few references of times it operated fully concentrate, or continued to bring the attention back to the task until complete – the brain can now access this as ‘evidence’ it can follow through. Repetitious brain patters are much like a muscle the first few times it is painful or may shake from shock, after several workouts that muscle is stronger. Your brain patterns and habits are the same.
As a parent be cautious what you subscribe to, even if it comes from an ‘expert’. If you start labeling a child, and they hear it – and you are making excuses for them, this easily becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that ultimately lowers the child’s expectations of themselves and what’s possible.