Inattention, forgetfulness and distractibility
1. Failing to pay close attention to details or making careless mistakes when doing schoolwork or other activities
2. Trouble keeping attention focused during play or tasks
3. Appearing not to listen when spoken to
4. Failing to follow instructions or finish tasks
5. Avoiding tasks that require a high amount of mental effort and organization, such as school projects
6. Frequently losing items required to facilitate tasks or activities, such as school supplies
7. Excessive distractibility
Hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour
1. Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat
2. Leaving seat often, even when inappropriate
3. Running or climbing at inappropriate times
4. Difficulty in quiet play
5. Frequently feeling restless
6. Excessive speech
7. Answering a question before the speaker has finished
8. Failing to await one's turn
9. Interrupting the activities of others at inappropriate times
When a child is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, parents often feel helpless and confused about the best choice of treatment. To compound the issue even more, the caretaker is often exhausted by managing the child's behavioural issues, which can be all-consuming in the household.
Approaches to treating ADD/ADHD include:
1. Drug therapy with stimulant medications (like Ritalin), antipsychotics or antidepressants. A relatively new nonstimulant medication called Strattera is also available.
2. Socialization therapy
3. Cognitive behaviour therapy
4. Educational intervention
5. Natural approaches
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Natural approaches to ADD/ADHD
As research grows, natural and dietary approaches to dealing with or managing ADD are emerging. Some preventive and proactive natural treatments include:
1. Breastfeed babies
Children who are breast-fed for six months or longer seem to be less likely to develop ADD. One theory is due to the higher amount of omega-3 fat in breast milk.
2. Identify food allergies
It is not uncommon for a child's behaviour to be affected by food allergies. The most common food allergies are dairy, wheat, citrus, eggs, chocolate and soy.
3. Supplement with high-quality fish oil
Fish oil contains an essential fat called omega-3 essential fat. Research shows that children who suffer from ADD/ADHD are often deficient in omega-3 and its derivative, DHA.
4. Reduce TV time
Research has shown that for every hour of television children between the ages of one and three watch, their risk for developing ADD by the age of seven increases by 10 per cent.
5. Supplement with magnesium
Studies have shown that children diagnosed with ADHD have lower levels of magnesium. When supplemented with magnesium, hyperactivity behavior was significantly reduced.
6. Reduce refined flour and sugars in the diet
An overconsumption of white flour and sugar products (for instance cakes, cookies, pop) can trigger restlessness and hyperactivity in children.
The cause of ADD is unknown; possible causes include genetics, a dopamine deficiency or a different brain structure. Parents must not blame themselves or consider the diagnosis to be linked to a disciplining issue. When the behaviour is persistent, disruptive to the peace of the household or other children in the home, or lasts for longer than six months, help should be sought.
Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of national bestseller The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2006) and of Winning the Food Fight (Wiley, 2003). For more information, visit www.drjoey.com.
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