Parents Can Take Control
As a parent you have choices. If your child’ s teacher is implying that she thinks your child has ADHD and suggests you take her to a doctor for testing, know that you have options. The teacher is not a doctor. ADHD is considered a psychiatric disorder which
falls into the realm of medicine. The usual treatment for ADHD is a prescription drug. Not just any prescription drug, but a Class II controlled substance that is highly addictive and can cause serious and life threatening consequences.
The ADHD Label
Do not take this lightly. Acquiring an ADHD diagnosis should be taken very seriously. The teacher does not know the side effects of these drugs. She did not go to medical school. She may just want your child to be quiet in class and pay attention. Somewhere along the line she has learned that kids who can’ t focus or behave are ADHD and need a drug. This could not be further from the truth. Even if you take you child to a doctor on your teacher’s recommendation, the doctor may not take the time to do a complete
and thorough medical and educational evaluation of your child. The doctor may just take the teacher’ s word on it and diagnose your child with ADHD and prescribe one of those controlled substances. Just because the doctor does that, it doesn’ t mean that is what your child needs.
The Problem with ADHD Testing
Another scenario is for the school personnel to ask to test your child. Just because the school wants to do the testing doesn’ t mean you have to go along with it. You do not have to sign the papers at your child’ s school allowing them to “ test” your child. If the school wants to test a child for learning disabilities, that would be beneficial. But parents can limit testing to only that. You do not have to sign whatever the school asks for, giving them the opportunity to evaluate your child any way they wish. Some parents officially inform the school personnel that they do not allow the school to test their child psychologically.
Understand that any “ testing” for ADHD is completely subjective and is only based on a check list of symptoms. It is not a real objective test.
Testing the Teachers
Some of the parents of my patients have told the teacher that their child was prescribed the drugs and let the teacher think the child is taking them even though they are not. Ninety percent of the time, the teacher has reported that the child is doing so much better on the medication. It appears this is a placebo for the teacher. If the teacher thinks the child is better when the child is not on drugs yet the teacher thinks she is, then why bother giving the child the drugs and risking the potential life threatening side effects?
Find the Underlying Causes of the ADHD Symptoms
Parents can select a medical professional that understands the relationship between allergies, heavy metals, nutrition, sugar and learning problems. If you cannot find such a professional in your area, here are some things you can try yourself to help improve your child’ s attention and behavior without drugs.
1. Remove sugar from your child’ s diet. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, sugar can affect the behavior of normal children. Low blood sugar can occur as a response to eating sugar or from not eating enough protein. Low blood sugar can cause behavior problems and inattention. Make sure the teacher is not giving out candy as rewards. Make sure your child cannot purchase candy and sodas at school. Remove the sugary cereals and make sure your child eats protein for breakfast. Proteins include meats, cheese, nuts, seeds and eggs. When choosing breads, pasta and cereal products, be sure to select whole grain products. Give your child a protein snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. This can be a handful of nuts or nut butter on a whole grain bread or cracker.
2. Do not allow the school personnel to label your child as ADHD. School personnel do not have the qualifications to do a thorough medical evaluation. Many states have passed resolutions recommending teachers and other school personnel recognize that they do not have the training and knowledge to recommend drugs. Some states have recommended that school personnel recommend only proven, safe methods such as vision testing, phonics, allergy testing, nutrition and other proven techniques. Find out what your state’ s guidelines are by contacting the state board of education.
3. Give your child vitamins and minerals. Most children’ s diets are lacking in fruits and vegetables. Few people eat a diet that is adequate in the vitamins and minerals. Nutrients are needed for all of our biochemical processes. If we do not have them available our body and mind cannot work properly. Certain nutrients have been found to directly affect behavior, attention and learning.
Magnesium deficiency in children caused fidgeting and learning difficulties.
Vitamin B6 was found to work better than Ritalin in one study of hyperactive
Niacin was found to help hyperactivity, poor school performance and
social relationships, Zinc deficiencies caused hyperactivity.
Essential fatty acid deficiency was found in boys with more temper tantrums and sleep problems.
DMAE, a neurotransmitter precursor, has been used for years to improve
behaviors and concentration.
Vitamin B12 has been used to improve memory loss and moodiness.
4. Treat allergies. According to the medical journal, The Annals of Allergy, children with allergies are less successful in school in all areas than children who do not have allergies. The study concluded that allergies do cause learning impairment that can be so severe that the writers recommended that student be excused from test taking during their allergy season. The antioxidant, Quercetin has shown to be helpful in treating inhalant allergies.
5. Consider food sensitivities. Food sensitivity reactions can affect how we think, feel and act. The most likely food sensitivity is the foods the child likes the best.
6. Have your child evaluated for learning disabilities or learning differences. There are many different individuals that can test your child for learning problems. I recommend that my patients be evaluated for learning problems only–no psychiatric disorders. Too often I have found that when the tester does not find a specific learning problem, the child then receives an ADHD label. Often the child is very smart and is able to compensate for the learning problem. If the tester does not evaluate the child for learning style, the problem may be missed. Many children that have been labeled ADHD simply have a different learning style than is being used in the classroom. The child then has difficulty paying attention and may act out. This does not mean the child has ADHD. Learning differences and learning disabilities can be treated. The learning problem should be corrected, not covered with psychiatric drugs.
7 . Make sure your doctor has considered medical conditions such as thyroid problems and anemia. These conditions can interfere with a child’ s ability to learn and focus. Heavy metal toxicity can cause problems with learning. Everyone is aware of the seriousness of lead poisoning, but mercury toxicity can be serious as well. Mercury is a neurotoxin. That means it is toxic to the nervous system. Many children’ s vaccinations contain mercury and aluminum. Aluminum has been associated with neurological problems also. The best test for heavy metal toxicity is a urinary or fecal challenge test, giving some type of chelating agent to help grab the metals and pull them out. A blood test for heavy metals is rarely positive.
8. Be your child’ s advocate. I always tell parents to look for the good in the child. Rather that pointing out problems your child has or has had in the past, point out to the teacher the things your child can do well. If the teacher thinks your child is smart and can do well in school, then the teacher may see only a smart child who does well in school. Often our expectations are what we see and what we get.
If children are given a complete physical exam, lab tests, allergy testing and evaluated for learning problems, I believe most doctors, teachers and parents would find as I have that ADHD is always a misdiagnosis.
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