Has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affected your life, or the life of someone you love? If so, you're gonna want to read this. Go grab some tea and get comfy, because this is gonna be a long one...
Our Journey With ADHD
What did I do to deserve this!? This is the thought that used to go through my mind 6 years ago when my oldest son started exhibiting signs of ADHD. Being a parent was supposed to be a magical experience, wasn't it? This was not magical! It took all my strength to get through the day with my boys. I struggled with depression and no longer enjoyed spending time with them. I also had extreme feelings of guilt because I "just knew" I wasn't supposed to feel that way.
For years I suspected that my oldest son had ADHD, but I avoided having him tested because I didn't want him labeled. Instead I read tons of books on parenting and took parenting classes because I was sure that I was doing something wrong, and indeed I was. As a result, we implemented reward systems and device time restrictions. That brought some change at home, but not much progress at school.
When my younger son turned 5 and started school, he also began to shown signs of ADHD. By the time he was 6, he was in the Vice Principal's office at least once a week. We finally broke down and had them tested, at the insistence of the school. They were both diagnosed with ADHD in 2015.
Initially, we chose to take a natural approach because we were opposed to giving our children the drugs we are supposed to be protecting them from. Now I know that Adderall isn't the same substance as the street drug referred to as "meth", but it doesn't help that the capsule is labeled "M. Amphet. Salts". We had done all the research, and understood why and how it helped kids with ADHD, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to give the boys stimulants.
By this time I felt totally alone. None of my friends really understood what it was like to live with MY children. I'm sure a few of them even questioned my parenting skills, but so had I. The diagnosis brought me peace of mind. Finally, I knew that my boys were just a little bit different than most, and I could stop beating myself up about having so much trouble parenting them. If ADHD has touched your life, I'm sure you can understand the feeling I'm describing.
Shortly after the diagnosis, I began studying Ayurveda. I'd had some crazy food allergies in the past and I suspected that my boys might have some as well that were contributing to their behavior. As a result, we changed our diet completely by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, and wheat. We also started using an essential oil called Jeddy's Blend, and giving them SmartyPants Vitamins and Focus Chewables. This time there was a dramatic improvement. My youngest son was now only "visiting" the Vice Principal's office once a month.
As much progress as we had made, things still weren't perfect. The following year, my oldest son started showing signs of depression because his self confidence had been eroded, and he asked if he could try the medicine I'd told him about. It broke my heart. I couldn't sit by and watch that happen to him, so we eventually chose to put him on the lowest dose of Adderall possible. It worked for a little while, but eventually became ineffective. His doctor gave him a higher dose, but it caused insomnia, so we chose to stop giving it to him. My younger son was also put on Adderall, but again, it caused insomnia and an emotional crash at the end of the day, so we chose to stop his medication as well.
So, although we may continue to look for a medication that could help, we will never stop applying the valuable natural solutions that we found to improve their behavior by 75 percent. It feels like we are light years beyond where we started. We still have our days when the routine is interrupted and those old thoughts come back, but all I have to do is remember how far we've come and how much I love my boys. 💙
Where to Start If Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADD/ADHD
Start with what you know. So many of us know HOW to be healthy, but we continue to make unhealthy choices day after day. I know how difficult it is to make these choices, especially if your child is not on board, but their health is in your hands. Your child's doctor cannot make these changes for you. The best they can do is tell you what needs to be done and prescribe medication. Unfortunately, unless you child is seeing a naturopathic doctor they may or may not recommend all of the things below, so I will list them for you:
Of all the changes we made, including medication, numbers 2 and 3 above made the most significant difference in my boys' behavior. These are all things that you know how to do, but might not even be doing for yourself. Now is the time to make healthy choices for the whole family, not just your child. I'm a firm believer that parents should lead by example. Now that I've reminded you of what you already know, let's take a look at what you may not know.
Learn What You May Not Know About ADD/ADHD
Become familiar with Dr. Amen, by visiting his website or reading one of his many books called "Healing ADD". He is a world renowned doctor that has dedicated his life to helping people heal their brains. On his website you will find a type test that will help determine what type of ADD your child has.
According to Dr. Amen there are seven types of ADD: Classic, Inattentive, Over-focused, Temporal Lobe, Limbic, Ring of Fire, and Anxious. Dr. Amen recommends a general protocol and natural stimulating supplements for all types and specific stimulating supplements for some of the types. Take his type test to find out what type your child is and then read his book to determine which supplements are recommended for that specific type. Only the general protocol and supplements for all types are listed below.
Dr. Amen's Recommended Protocol for All Types:
Take a 100% multivitamin and mineral supplement every day
High quality fish oil (2-6,000 mg for adults 1-2,000 mg for children)
Exercise daily for 30 to 45 minutes
Limit device time to 30 minutes per day
Choose higher protein, lower carbs (except for the over-focused type)
Test for learning disabilities
Never give up seeking help
Natural stimulating supplements (SS) for all types:
L-tyrosine (amino acid)
Grapeseed or pine bark