November 12, 2008,
A. asks from Plano, TX on November 12, 2008
4 Yr Old Son Not Able to Focus
Our son attends Pearson Early Childhood School in Plano and his teacher is concerned with his inability to focus and inappropriate play at school. She says she can only engage him for a maximum of 4 minutes and she's concerned for when he will go to kindergarten. She thinks I need to have him assessed by a Psychologist for ADD but we just don't believe that a 4 year old can or should be diagnosed. I want to work with him at home on improving his attention. So, I guess I'm asking for advice on what we can do or if we should have him see a professional and if anyone has suggestions on things we can do at home to help. Thanks!
B.B. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
Rather than change his diet, change his body's reaction to the foods. My children both had food sensitivities that made it hard for them to concentrate, sit still, and/or behave, and after going through NAET treatments, are not only doing great in school, they haven't been sick in almost 5 years! Go to www.NAET.com to find an acupuncturist in your area, or you can call the guy I used, Dr. Steve Homoky, at Coit & Spring Creek in Plano. ###-###-####. He doesn't use needles on kids, and is really good with them. I personally used to be lactose intolerant for 14 years, and can now eat dairy with no problems at all. It's really been a Godsend for our family! Good luck!
J.S. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
you might want to look into a diet change for him. I have heard a gluten free/casein free diet similar to one prescribed for kids with autism also works for ADD/ADHD.
I, personally, lean towards your opinion that 4 years old is too young to be labeled as ADD/ADHD b/c all 4 year olds have it! Maybe you can find a support group or a nature path doctor that could help you find natural ways to help your son focus a little bit better. Good luck!
S. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
As a speech-language pathologist, I work with many children whom are addressing their attention spands. A quick tip that I have found very helpful (and many parents have been thrilled with) is the "one more" method. Put simply, when you engage in activities your child likes ( favorite book, game, song, etc.) - when you see he is ready to move on, say "one more" - and add something simple like one more page in a book (this works well with books that have a few words on each page), one more turn to roll the ball, etc. One more of whatever you and your child were playing at that moment. At first you will likely be only adding about five seconds - but after a month, that could add up to almost a half a minute. Remember, to target expanding attention spands to an age appropriate amount of time. Hopefully, you too will find success by working with small chunks of time at an activity your child loves.
J.C. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
I agree that diet could be a factor. The same exact thing happened with my child. His teacher wanted him to be tested for ADD when he was four and I was reluctant like you and didn't want to have him labeled so early in his life.
I put him on some good vitamins and from research I've done Pycnogenol(pine bark extract) helps a lot too. The product my son takes now is Might-A-Mins® Spectrum Isotonix® MultiVitamin and OPC-3 from Market America. It makes a yummy fizzy drink mixed with water and my kids drink it down no problem. Plus being a liquid, the vitamins are 95% absorbed.
They just came out with Might-A-Mins® Spectrum Isotonix® OPC-3 for kids and several other products they developed specifically for kids with spectrum disorders like autism and ADD/ADHD.
My son is now six and a couple weeks ago I had forgotten to give him his vitamins for a couple days in a row and his teacher approached me after school commenting on how disruptive my son had been at school that day. So for me, that was confirmation enough to know that the vitamins are working.
His teacher and I spoke about the diet thing and she doesn't think that he should be tested or has a problem now (as long as he's taking the vitamins). She has been very impressed with how focused he's become on his work.
Just in case you're interested, I've included a link to where you can find out more about the vitamins. They sell them in a 90-day supply, which is the best deal (I spend about $40/child per month) which is worth it to me because it's certainly better than going the prescription drug route). If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail. By all means, there are many products out there that can benefit him, just do the research and try some things until you see improvement.
Best wishes to you and your son.
R. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
Hi, my son went to Beaty ECS :) I'm an occupational therapist and have several kids on my caseload who are younger than 7 (which is the official age for an ADHD/ADD diagnosis according to the DSM) who exhibit symptoms similar to your child. It's been my experience that these kiddos respond very well to a sensory integration approach with occupational therapy to help them organize and focus. However, I would say there's not a one-size fits all treatment, and so a combination of treatments might be the best approach. Also, I'm not sure how young they start kids, but Learning Rx has a GREAT program to teach kids to increase their cognitive processing skills which leads to better attention due to faster processing speed and training to tune out the distractions. Listening therapy is another therapy utilized for kids who have a problem with focusing. Many occupational therapist and speech therapists have training in the program or similar program. There is also the Tomatis Center, though it's pretty costly. Another alternative treatment is Cranialsacral therapy which helps kids who are hyperkinethic calm down their autonomic nervous system which leads to better focus.... So, there are just so many options, many of them alternative medicine types which may appeal to avoid the medication route. There are also herbal supplements like fish oil, french maritime bark, flaxseed oil, etc that supposedly help with attention as well. The hardest part, of course, is figuring out which combination is right for your child. Good luck!
A.M. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
enroll him in martial arts! that improves attentions span/listening skills!
they do little drills/games with the kids that are like this - you could do this at home:
Ship game: You shout out commands, quickly, to your child. He has to pay close attention to the fast commands. one wall is called the "bow"; other wall is called the "stern". "freeze" means to stop in mid-action; "man overboard" - drop to the ground and kick your legs and move arms (like swimming); "shark" means to be still and cover your head with hands pointed upward like a shark fin.
So you start by yelling out 'bow' and he runs to that wall. or 'Stern' and he runs to the other wall -- as quickly as he can run.... then just start throwing out random commands - 'freeze'. 'bow.' 'bow.' 'man overboard'. 'shark.' etc. the kids love this game!!
another one is just having his be still, no movement at all... hands at his side...being quiet for a minute... if he moves or laughs.... say, "whoops... no moving... now we're starting all over again." And start the timer again. make it fun ... and be still with him... have a timer. this helps them see they can have control over their body.
We go to USA Martial Arts at Spring Creek/Coit! We love it there! Try a class for free! They have lots of kids that have ADD and speech delay issues. So this is nothing new to them. They welcome these kids with open arms! Tell them A. Marshall sent you!!
A. answers from Dallas on November 12, 2008
HI, there! My son (who is 7 now) also had troubles such as this in preschool and his preschool teacher asked us to watch his breakfast foods. That was when we really started looking at ingredients in our foods. Store-bought cereals and even yogurt has a LOT of carbs! It was an eye-opener. He continued to have focus and impulsivity issues in Kindergarten so we went organic, no HFCS, no transfats, no artificial additives (food coloring, flavoring, etc.). It's easier than you would think.
We also took him to a pediatric neurologist at the end of Kindergarten who said, yes -he's ADHD but that ADHD is a symptom of many different things. He did not recommend medication until much later and only if he starts to have learning issues or behavior issues. He gave us this article for his teachers to use in school: http://www.oneaddplace.com/articles/adstud.htm
In our experience, 1st grade is much better then Kindergarten. The focus and impulsivity issues are still there, they're just a bit less of a problem this year.
Basically, the teachers and we (his parents) just have techniques to use while we keep in mind that he just may not hear what you said because his mind is elsewhere and he may not have retained the instructions you gave him.
Based on your son's specific diagnosis, he will probably outgrow much of this.