Who is affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)? Is medication necessary? What causes ADHD?What can be done in the way of Prevention? What natural steps can help children overcome ADHD,
and by extension adults with ADHD?
Who is Affected with ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that effects both children and many adults as well. ADHD is more common with boys than with girls. Between 4-8% of children in the United States are effected by symptoms associated with ADHD, around 2.5 million, as an average. ADHD is international as well, with similar or even greater rates of ADHD with children. in many other diverse countries.
|One on one attention in school and at home is of much help to many children with ADHD symptoms.
All green links on this page are off-site links from sponsors and funds are used to support the non-profit activities of the AYCNP
Drugs for ADHD
ADHD, Preschool and Kindergarten
ADHD, social rejection, peer relationships, hostility and aggression. How ADHD treatment, medication, effects. 2008 Clinical study.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with ADHD are:
- inability to concentrate
- inability to focus
- not being able to sit still
|Left-with ADHD, right-without ADHD.
Psychiatric Labeling and ADHD---Does a person "have" ADHD? Or does ADHD define him or her: "My son is ADHD? Or, does a person demonstrate symptoms which are then labeled "ADHD"?
Not all agree with the psychiatric labeling
system in diagnosing mental health disorders. Symptoms of ADHD and many other mental health disorders are often times reversible through lifestyle changes and positive adjustments, the learning of new skills and coping tools.
Three types of ADHD which have been defined are:
ADHD without impulsivity
ADHD can exist with or without impulsivity. ADHD without impulsivity has been referred to by some as ADHD-IA, or Inattentive type. (Nigg. J., 2006).
Many symptoms associated with ADHD are also associated with
. Also the parent and educator should understand that the psychiatric labeling
system whereby a child or adult is labeled with a mental health disorder, is often subjective, rather than scientific. This is common in the field of psychiatry, more so than any other branch of medicine. Additionally, parents and educators should be aware that professional opinions vary as to the best treatment options.
Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed
reaffirms a recent study by Zimmerman, associate professor of psychiatry at Rhode Island University.
Sociodynamics and ADHD
Children from single parent families and who are from poorer economic brackets are more likely to be labeled and thus more likely to be put on medication. There are a number of reasons for this.
Sometimes, a divorce or death, can leave the absence of a parent.
This can be traumatic and destabilizing for a child. Also, it can leave a void the quality of care for the child, as the single parent may have to enter the work force. Some babysitters might be prone to use the television as a babysitting tool, and this can further add to a child's attentional problems, in addition to emotional needs from nurturing adults. Some single parents might find it difficult to give a child or children the attention and love that each child needs, as he or she has to may take on the role of both the father and mother, many times working full-time in addition to caring for the family. This can leave the single-parent with less energy than she might need, making it difficult to provide for the emotional needs of the child in the way that she (or he) might want to. This aspect of socio-dynamics can result in a child not being stable in the classroom, not being able to pay attention in class.
For some children, misbehavior might be a learned behavior, as a way of getting the attention that he or she craves. One child in public school said that his behavior (bad behavior) was an attempt to gain attention. He had no father, his mother was "out of the picture" and he lived with his grandparents. Too often, these children end up on medication, when in reality, they have unfulfilled emotional needs.
Many single parents face difficult challenges. If a school system puts pressure on that parent for his or her child to take medication, it can further add to the pressure and decision making process for that parent, rather than making it less complicated, and further add to the single parents burden, rather than relieving him or her of that burden.
Also to be noted is that parents from middle and upper income brackets tend to be more educated and are more prone to "fight" for what they feel are the "rights" of their child, to get a second opinion, or to disagree with school administration. Less educated persons, immigrants who might not speak English or be limited in English, will often times be more likely to go along with a diagnosis or treatment plan, or some might feel intimidated by their lack of education.
Single mothers also are more likely to accept whatever guidance is given from authority figures. This might account for the higher percentages of children in these brackets who are on medication for ADHD.
ADHD and Diet
By adjusting lifestyle such as improving diet, and adding regular, enjoyable exercise to one's routine, this can be of value in overcoming symptoms of ADHD.
Attention to good nutrition, including reducing sugar intake in the diet,
regular outdoor activities, good prenatal care for pregnant mothers, can benefit a child's further ability to concentrate in class. Pregnant mothers should regular visit her doctor for prenatal care and guidance. Any illegal drugs, and to the extent possible, prescription drugs should be avoided during pregnancy.
High-sugar breakfasts are common in school. One child said that the Pop-Tart breakfast with juice that is commonly served in her public school makes her "dizzy".
Sugar frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, high sugar muffins, are typical public school breakfasts in some districts. Partly because of the low-quality breakfast served, some a substantial number of children skip breakfast. This puts a child at a lower advantage in terms of ability to concentrate in school, as well as long-term good health, and can contribute to a higher rate of diabetes as well.
Both in school and at home, proper nutrition is of importance and can positively affect mood, attention span and impulsivity.
ADHD and Media: Television, video games and movies
It is generally believed that there is a connection between ADHD and excessive television
, video games
, the media. A 1994 study indicated that for every additional hour of television viewed as young children, there was a corresponding likelihood of diagnosis of ADHD symptoms. (Christakis, D. A., MD, MPH; Zimmerman, F. J., PhD; DiGiuseppe, D. L., MSc; McCarty, C. A., PhD., 2004).
Children's minds can become overstimulated from hours watching television
, playing stimulating, aggressive or violent video games
, watching action, violent or horror movies
. Some children are exposed to pornography
or soft-porn regularly. Some teachers have observed this even from as young as kindergarten. This can lead some children to develop the inability to concentrate and to develop symptoms of mental illness in various forms. Children who have been sexually abused
have also been mistakenly treated for ADHD. (Olfman, S., 2008). Medication would not be the appropriate treatment in the case of child abuse
. Therapy and loving support is needed
for such children.
Hours unsupervised on the Internet, also invariably exposes children and teens to over-stimulating music videos, concerts, and sexual imagery on a regular basis. This can lead to a child becoming destabilized and to display symptoms associated with ADHD or other mental health disorders. Many girls have a tendency to internalize, become depressed or display symptoms of ADHD-IA (Inattentive type) and the media can also contribute to this, both too many hours, and when content is not appropriate for children.
Boys tend to become less able to focus, impulsive, and display many of the symptoms of ADHD and some girls may display some of the similar symptoms. In addition to cutting way back on media time, If children's television time
can be diverted into other positive recreational forms, it can be helpful. Some children play 2-6 hours of video games daily. An hour a day on the media is plenty for any child.
Media Violence and Content
effects children's mental health. There are some very violent horror movies that many children regularly watch on television and in the movies. This will effect many children emotionally as well as their impulsivity and attention span, their ability to concentrate in school. Parents need to be aware of this, and also to be aware of what their children are watching when they are not at home.
For some sensitive children, exposure to "dark" influences, magic or forms of spiritism or occultism is evident in many popular books, and movies, as well as television programs, and this can contribute to difficulties in a child's ability to concentrate or a teen to focus or to concentrate on school work. (this has been observed with some children in grade schools. Personal teacher's diary, 2006-2008, Newark, Paterson, NJ).
Misdiagnosis and Sleep Disorders
have also been misdiagnosed for ADHD. Many children having trouble sleeping can be helped without medication.
Taking the television, computer and video games out of the child or teens bedroom has helped some. Not drinking or eating shortly before bedtime, not drinking anything with caffeine such as soda, coffee or tea, has helped some also. Being careful not to watch any stimulating television at least 2 hours before bedtime, taking a relaxing bath, and getting adequate exercise daily, all can be of help.
Homes need to be neat, clean and orderly. A child needs to feel safe and secure. There has to be a measure of privacy for a child to be able to sleep, and a measure of quietness in the night. Adjustments can be made in this area in some homes which can be of benefit to the child.
Music, ADHD and Mental Health
For teenagers, and some children, music is a most powerful influence. Helping a teenager to be balanced in the amount of time as well as the type of music he or she listens to can be of help for some. One 12 year old girl who was diagnosed with ADHD had formerly been diagnosed with mild Asperger Syndrome and bipolar disorder as well, when diagnosed by the public school psychiatric team. She ended up spending a short time in a psychiatric clinic where it was determined that she did not have Asperger or bipolar disorder, but they felt she did have ADHD.
She had been taking Seroquel for bipolar disorder
, which, of course, wouldn't be appropriate treatment for ADHD. Interestingly, there were many factors involved in the girl's condition, but one was that she had an ipod, as most girls do, and she listened to it 4-5 hours a day. The music she listened to was intense at times, emotional at times, pop, rock and hip-hop. This is in addition to other media influences and many hours on the Internet. The time on the Internet made her visibly agitated and unfocused, often spent with music videos. The social isolation
that the media created for this girl also can be a contributing factor. See Music and Major Depression in Children
Was the 4-5 hours a day of intense music, both outside and in school during breaks in class and recess, a contributing factor to her lack of ability to concentrate? It might be one possible contributing factor among many.
For these problems there are solutions, and some solutions were encouraged with this 12 year old, many of which worked out a positive response. It is possible, with further attention to a number of lifestyle issues raised, that the majority of the symptoms associated with ADHD, that this girl displayed, can, most probably, be brought into remission, within a relatively short period of time. Mentoring
, tutoring, art, as well as some restrictions on the time spent with music, are some of the things that have been, and hopefully, in the future, will be of benefit.
ADHD treatment, positive therapy and practical suggestions
Introduction from Attention Research Update, David Rabiner, Ph.D., Duke University -
Regarding medication, not all children benefit from taking it, some experience intolerable side effects, and many continue to struggle even when medication provides some benefit. Behavior therapy can be difficult for parents and teachers to consistently implement, and often helps but does not eliminate a child's behavioral problems. Furthermore, neither treatment yields positive changes that persist when the treatment is discontinued. Finally, despite numerous studies documenting the short- and intermediate term benefits of these treatments, evidence of their impact on children's long-term success is less evident.
"Regarding medication, not all children benefit from taking it, some experience intolerable side effects, and many continue to struggle even when medication provides some benefit." David Rabiner, Ph.D., Attention Research Update
ADHD Treatment and Working Memory Training
"One relatively recent development in the realm of ADHD treatments is working memory training. Working memory (WM) refers to the ability to hold and manipulate information in mind for subsequent use and is critically important for a variety of learning activities. For example, when a child is asked questions about a story he has read, working memory allows the child to retain and review the story information in mind to answer the questions. In doing mental math, working memory is used to hold the digits in mind and manipulate them, e.g., add or subtract, to generate the answer."
From July 2012, Attention Research Update
- (off-site link)
Rabiner provides unbiased analysis of treatments for ADHD on Attention Research Update, that neither supports nor negates the use of medication. He analyzes various treatment options in light of available scientific evidence and the newest clinical studies on the specific topic of ADHD.
Drug Treatment compared to Natural Treatment / Cure for ADHD
The most common form of treatment for ADHD is drug treatment
. This has been the case, only since around the 1970s. Prior to 1970 in the early 1960s, the use of medication in the treatment of ADHD was not common. Up to 10% of children in some states are on psychotropic medications(Nigg, J., 2006). Clinical psychologist Susan Ashley states that up to 80% of those who are diagnosed with ADHD will be prescribed stimulant drugs
at some point in their life for the disorder.
However, there are many other forms of intervention that can help (the medications most commonly used are stimulant medicines.) Not everyone agrees with the psychiatric labeling
system that classifies children as ADHD and there are different ways of looking at mental health problems, especially with children. (Eide, B., Eide, F., 2006). According to research by ADHD expert researcher David Rabiner, Ph.D., from Duke University, about 90% of children who go on drug treatment for ADHD will experience serious side effects. The serious side effects gradually dissipate so that only around 50% will experience serious side effects within 6 months, and only 10% within two years.
Rabiner concludes that that positive affect of medication for ADHD is generally temporary, and that withing 2 years, most of the positive affect of the drug will no longer be effective.
Additionally ADHD research
indicates that a significant percentage of children will experience personality change as a result of stimulant medications, resulting in hostility and/or aggression, as well as pronounced difficulty with interpersonal relationships.
Positive Non-pharmaceutical Ways of Dealing with ADHD
Natural remedies without medication or supplements
A review of 46 studies by William Pelham, Jr., Ph.D., and Gregory Fabiano, Ph.D., both of the State University of New York at Buffalo, found that two psycho-social treatments are "well established" for treating ADHD in children and adolescents:
- Behavioral parent-training.
- Behavioral classroom management.
The authors also found a third type of well-established behavioral intervention called the Summer Treatment Program (STP). These camps include gives children more hours of attention than typical psychotherapy as well as focusing on aiding children to gain skills in positive peer relationships.
These treatment options do not necessitate the use of medication.
See: NIMH Website
(Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth. April 15, 2008.
Positive Attitude and
ADHD Positive Teaching, school and teaching ideas.
Ideas for the Classroom
to teach children with ADHD symptoms, and difficult children
School is often where the stimulus for testing that leads to a diagnosis of ADHD is first initiated in children.
Boys with ADHD outnumber girls at least 2 to 1
Up to 10% of children in some states are diagnosed with ADHD.
(Nigg, J., 2006)
Children with ADHD need positive, interactive educational instruction in school. The teaching style of the teacher makes a difference. They need attentive teachers, preferably, in smaller classroom settings. They often need one on one assistance. (Rief, S.)
The National Resource Center for CHADD gives this encouragement in an article entitled, "Science Update: Positive Outlook and College Success: A recent study by researchers at the Landmark College (Putney, VT) found the 'explanatory style' of college students with ADHD and/or LD (Learning Disabilities) may have an effect on their grades."
Students who have positive explanatory skills, that is they interpret what they see or read in a positive way, with the same disabilities, do better in their grades than those who have a negative attitude or interpretation. When a student has the attitude "I can do this: this problem will be fixed if I keep trying," they are much more likely to learn and succeed in education.
This is an attitude that must be encouraged by parents at home, "You can succeed, You can finish, You can overcome this," and by teachers, if there are in a teacher's eyes 20 negative points in a day for a student and one positive, focus on the one positive.
If a teacher tells a student every day, "you are misbehaved, you are no good, you never do anything in here, what's wrong with you," child or teenager can start to think, "why bother trying," and take that attitude along with them for the rest of their life. Often times, a child, teenager and even an adult with ADHD needs someone to believe in them and who focuses on their positive traits to help them to develop self-esteem and a positive self-image.
Arts therapy: Art & Self Esteem
Art has proven to be effective therapy
for children with ADHD symptoms. The concentration required helps to exercise the mind of children (as opposed to the rapid-fire imagery of television, action movies, cartoons, superheroes, and television commercials.)
ART helps ADHD
Daniella Barroqueiro, Ed.D., is a college professor, who has herself struggled with ADHD. Her examples shows just how successful someone can be who has symptoms of ADHD, but also, we can learn from one of her coping strategies; that is: ART
She says that the only place she feels really comfortable is in the art room, and that her ADHD symptoms are helped a great deal through art.
The full article can be read here.
Barroqueiro, D. Ed.D., (2006). The Art of Embracing ADHD
For children or youths with ADHD, healthier self-esteem may need to be developed. Children at school might not treat a child with special needs kindly and the awareness that something is not right can lead to self-stigmatization. One girl said that learning to play the piano during that time period filled many vacant hours and helped to bolster her damaged self-esteem. Also, the mother of this same girl stated that she needed to be accepting and learn to express approval, unconditional love to her girl, so as to build her up. (Timmes, A. 2005).
Diet & Exercise
Diet is said to be a contributing factor in 5-10% of cases of ADHD for those who are predisposed to it. (Personal Communication with CHADD, 2006). Make sure a child is having a good lunch and breakfast. Cutting down on sugar, soda, sweets, can be of some help. A good, healthy, and balanced diet is of value. (Mcnuff, J., 2005).
Studies indicate that time spent outdoors,
, and exercise, can greatly reduce ADHD symptoms in children and teens.
Green Therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD
A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
: Evidence From a National Study, (September 2004) Frances E. Kuo, PhD and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD
American Journal of Public Health.
Frances E. Kuo is with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Andrea Faber Taylor is with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kul and Taylor studied the affect of "green" or natural settings on symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms across diverse subpopulations of children.
Parents nationwide rated the aftereffects of 49 common after-school and weekend activities on children’s symptoms. Aftereffects were compared for activities conducted in green outdoor settings versus those conducted in both built outdoor and indoor settings.
In this national, nonprobability sample, green outdoor activities reduced symptoms significantly more than did activities conducted in other settings, even when activities were matched across settings. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses.
The study concluded that "green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics."
All Natural ADHD Treatment: Prescribe Green
Support for Parents
Parental training is of value for many parents and necessary. (on-site link) Parenting a Child with ADHD. National Resource Center on ADHD. CHADD. Off-site link.
Tutoring, Coaching, Mentoring
Positive areas of assistance in helping children with ADHD include mentoring, tutoring and possibly coaching. ADHD Coaching provides excellent support for adults and teens.
One reading coach who has worked with hundreds of students over the years with both learning disabilities and ADHD says that in even the children that she has tutored with the most severe ADHD symptoms, with support from professionals and from dedicated parents, those whom she has worked with have been able to be successful in school without the need for medication to help them to focus.
One student with severe ADHD symptoms went on to successfully complete college, with support from others for his special needs and without medication. Many other similar experiences have been reported. (Personal communication with J. McNuff, reading coach, Paterson, NJ, 2005).
Clinical Study - Why ADHD is overdiagnosed
Coaching, Tutoring and
Support in the form of tutoring, coaching or professional therapy can all be of help for children, very often negating the need for medications. A
professional ADHD coach
can be of much help for children, as can tutors. The local library may have tutoring programs, or you can contact one of these organizations about coaching (Off-site links):
ADD Coach Academy
ADHD Coaches Organization
International Coach Federation - ICF
Nurtured Heart Approach Coaches List
ADHD CoachingNurtured Heart Approach
, Marc Norris - Quebec, English, French - Skpe U.S. and internationally
Pathways to Success
- AD/HD and LIFE COACHING
Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Child, Adult - References:
1. Christakis, D. A., MD, MPH; Zimmerman, F. J., PhD; DiGiuseppe, D. L., MSc; McCarty, C. A., PhD., 2004. Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children. PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 4 April 2004, pp. 708-713.
2. Eide, Brock; Fernette Eide, (2006). The Mislabeled Child. New York: Hyperion.
3. FDA. (2005, September 30). FDA Issues Public health Advisory on Strattera (Atmoxetine) for Attention Deficit Disorder. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
4. FDA. FDA Alert: Liver Injury Risk and Market Withdrawal. Off-site link. (2005, October). Alert for Healthcare Professionals: Pemoline Tablets and Chewable Tables (marketed as Cylert). U.S Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. From FDA database. http://www.fda.gov/Cder/drug/InfoSheets/HCP/pemolineHCP.htm
5. Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth, (April 15, 2008). Science Update. NIMH.
6. Kuo, Frances E. PhD, Taylor, Andrea F., (Sep 2004). A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study. American Journal of Public Health. 1580-1586 Vol 94, No. 9
7. Monastra, Vincent J. (May 31, 2005). Overcoming the barriers to effective treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A neuro-educational approach. Science Direct.
8. Nigg, Joel, Ph.D., 2006. What Causes ADHD? New York: Guilford.
9. Ratey, J. An Update on Medications used in the Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). From ADDA database: http://www.add.org/articles/updatemed.html (Retrieved 2006).
10. Rief, Sandra, F. (1993). How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.
11. Rabiner, D., (2006). Medication Treatment for ADHD. Attention Research Update.
Rabiner, D., (10/08/06). Interview. Sharper Brains
12. Gardener, A. (July 19, 2005). Ritalin and Cancer. HealthDay Reporter. Off-site link
(May need to refresh the page after first attempt at this link
13. Rabiner, D. (July, 2012). Encouraging New Findings for Working Memory Training
. Attention Research Update. (off-site link)
14. Richardson, W. (2005). ADHD and Stimulant Medication Abuse. Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).
15. Ritalin and Depression.
(March 8, 2007). Off-site link
16. Study finds early Ritalin exposure may have long term effects.
(2004, December 20). Mental Health Weekly. Wiley Periodicals Inc.
17. Vastag, B. "Pay Attention: Ritalin Acts Much Like Cocaine." Journal of the American Medical Association: Medical News and Perspectives.
Some of the best scientific information on ADHD can be found at the...
Attention Research Update
- (Off-site link)
David Rabiner, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Duke University, NC. Newsletter and site: http://www.helpforadd.com/index.htm
Pages Related to Help for ADHD
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- How art helps children and adults with ADHD
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ADHD Self Help
Howard Gardner Intelligence
Schema Helps in Teaching Children with ADHD
- AYCNP ADHD Blog (off-site)