ADD Counseling Granger IN
By Timothy Culbert, M.D.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children can be quite challenging for the entire family: Kids who have it have a hard time concentrating, and their kinetic energy tends to exhaust everyone around them. The conventional approach to treatment relies primarily on stimulant drugs like Ritalin, but at our integrative clinic we try to use gentler therapies whenever appropriate.
Before starting down any treatment path, though, it’s crucial to have your child thoroughly assessed. (The best place to do this is at a child development center that’s part of a children’s hospital or academic medical center.) Lots of kids who are thought to have an attention disorder actually turn out to be suffering from depression, anxiety, or a learning disability; when these problems are treated, the symptoms that looked like attention problems often clear up.
An assessment will also pinpoint the particular subtype of attention disorder a child has, so you can tailor treatment accordingly. In the hyperactive form of ADHD, impulsive and hyperactive behavior are the biggest symptoms. Another form, marked by an inability to focus, often doesn’t emerge until adolescence. Most children, however, suffer from a combined version of the disorder, which usually shows up between the ages of seven and 11.
Here are some of the questions we’re most frequently asked about attention disorders.
Q: My eight-year-old son has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Is there any chance that changing his diet will make a difference?
A: There have been quite a few “gold standard” studies supporting the idea that for certain kids, dietary changes can be a big help.
One type of diet (known as oligo- antigenic) is fairly radical; it eliminates ingredients that are thought to provoke allergies, including dairy, gluten, refined sugars, dyes, preservatives, and additives. A theory as to why this might make a difference has to do with a phenomenon called leaky gut syndrome. Normally, the intestinal lining serves as a good filtering system for proteins like those that trigger allergies. But in some people, the gut seems to have a sort of “leak” that allows these proteins to get into the bloodstream. At that point the immune system reacts, and this can contribute to behavioral problems.
The pure form of this diet is very restrictive and can be difficult to stick to. It allows only two types of meat (lamb and turkey), two types of starches (rice and potatoes), two types of vegetables (cabbage and carrots), and two fruits (apples and bananas).
A more practical approach might be to test potentially troublesome foods one at a time. Eliminate dairy, say, for three weeks to see if any significant changes occur. For most people, this approach is pretty doable, and there’s very little downside to trying it.
As a general guideline, I’d also suggest giving the child unprocessed and organic foods, to avoid contributing any a...