L.P. asks from Houston, TX on August 26, 2008
Diet Modification for Possible ADD? 6 Year Old
I have suspicions that my child may be ADD. She takes an extremely long time to do homework (not too uncommon for a 6 year old), however she shows this behaviour in class as well. She seems to have a difficult time transistioning from one activity to another. She is a perfectionist, does a lot of erasing if she doesn't have her writing just the way she likes it. She is a daydreamer. She also takes a long time to eat, a long time to wake up too. She seems to need a lot of sleep, and can be very grumpy in the morning. Can be very sensitive and emotional at times. She has been tested and has a high IQ also. She is in an advanced program at school (not a gifted program, but accelerated) She is usually the one that everyone else is waiting on. Both my husband and I also have these tendencies to be perfectionist and take a long time to do things. So my question is this....
I believe that nutrition as well as environment plays a huge part in this. Environment meaning how much TV and computer she participates in. Does anyone have experience in this situation, and have you found any particular diet modification, or particular activities, or books/websites to have good information on this? I would like to try some natural methods first, then if no success I would get her tested and see about medication if this behaviour escalates.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thanks to all your responses, they were all noteworthy. I loved all the suggestions, and seeing how others could relate. Cherie's husband was particularly enlightening. I agree on not being quick to label her, and to keep things on the positive. I have spoken with the school and the psychologist is very helpful with information. He agreed to observe her in class to get a "baseline" for her behaviour, and then observe in another month. There is some flexibility in the school to move her into a more advanced class, so maybe that will transpire. My goal is to appreciate who she is and help her learn strategies and coping skills. Also my husband is working with her on her homework now, and I think he will have better success with her. Thanks again.
J.M. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
It's great that you are noticing these things in your daughter. It shows you are keenly aware and in tune with her. 1st and 2nd grade are such busy times and things can easily slip under the rug only to turn into huge problems.
Before you begin modifying her diet (as long as it's not just full of junk food or something)or buying into any non-scientific and colloquial strategies, I would (humbly) suggest you 1st sit down with her teacher create an individualized educational plan (iep) and ask that she be evaluated thru the school. She could just be bored with the way they are teaching her or maybe it's just her personality to be a little dreamy, or it could signify something more serious. (They are LEGALLY bound to help you - so it's best to work thru those resources first)
In addition to giving you more information about her status with ADD it is good to note that a large number of children with ADD and ADHD have co-existing conditions.
Certainly, if this is the case, changing things ONLY in relation to the ADD will not be effective and may only make the coexisting condition worse.
There are lots of thing that can be done to support kids who are not necessarily diagnosed with ADD that are great strategies no matter what. Helping kids learn to focus and be more organized is ALWAYS beneficial! When I was student teaching, there were several kids with issues related to focusing and finishing tasks. One was ADD the others were not, but I used various similar strategies (like allowing them to go into the library or reading resource room to work on something when they needed it to be quite in order to focus, giving them things to fiddle with to help them with their "nervous" energy so they could stay "on topic" during class discussions etc).
The BEST place to research ADD/ADHD is the American Psychological Association.
Here are some other worthy sites though:
***Children and Adults With Attention Deficit Disorder
A good resource for all kinds of information plus they have a practitioner guide if you are looking for people in your area with this expertise
A nice guide to overall understanding:
P.H. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
I am an elementary school teacher as well as a mother of 2. I firmly believe in the importance of a healthy lifestyle and think parents should do everything they can to promote their children's health before turning to medications.
Kids your daughter's age still need 11 hours of sleep... in our house, that means getting to bed at 7:30, which is not easy!
Kids also need 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day. Most kids are unfortunately not getting enough exercise at school.
Definitely you should look at her diet. She could have an allergy or a sensitivity. How about sugar or food coloring? Is she getting enough good carbs like fruits, veggies and whole grains, which will give her ENERGY?! Or maybe she has a vitamin or mineral deficiency? Or essential fatty acid deficiency?
I know medications can help some kids, but they also have side effects.
There are other things you can do at home to help your daughter increase her focus. Try setting a timer for homework and chores. Even if she can't finish her homework before the timer goes off, practice sustaining attention for a small amount of time. Maybe start with 5 minutes at a time and work up from there. Then work on it more later. You can also make checklists for her of everything that needs to be done. (Homework, cleaning up, bathing, brushing teeth, etc.) This can help with transitions...always knowing what's coming next and how much time is left can be very helpful to some kiddos. Maybe you can incorporate incentives for staying on-task and getting work done?
Here's one of my favorite websites:
Click on "Lecture Handouts" on the lefthand side, then choose "biology of learning."
Good luck to you and your daughter, :)
M.S. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
I agree with the advice to talk with her teacher. Her behavour sounds pretty normal for a first grader, particularly one who may be gifted. However, there's nothing wrong with making some positive modifications in her diet. Ok, so I got this from a Haagen Daaz container, but....I try to buy products that only have ingredients that would be found in a well stocked pantry (not my pantry - because, really, who keeps cream or tumeric on hand all the time?). In other words, I need to be able to understand the ingredient list and it needs to be real food. I also try to avoid high fructose corn syrup. These two things will elimante 80+ percent of junk food. I do notice behavior differences in my kids when they've had more junk food than normal. My oldest is also very sensitive to blood sugar levels (no, he's not diabetic - we've tested) and so we really try to give him fiber, protein, and fat in every meal (carbs seem to be easy to get into him) to keep his blood sugar level. I'd also take away the TV/computer for a couple of weeks just to see. My kids do ok w/ a 1/2 hour or so of screen time, but more than that and they are CRANKY, so it can have an effect. Good luck!
C.L. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
So, besides being "C.'s husband" I'm also known as Chuck. :)
This is a subject of great personal interest for me especially since I was undiagnosed until age 30.
In my own situation with my son who was diagnose with ADD, I had to take up his part a few times when it meant resisting his teachers.
Let your kids know you're on their side (when they're in the right of course).
L.W. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
My 8 year old daughter has ADHD and my 6 year old son probably has ADD. I've done a lot of research over the years and tried many things to avoid using medication. The best place to turn to is the Feingold Diet, also called the ADHD diet. www.feingold.org Basically you remove food that has artificial chemicals/additives/colorings along with a few foods that contain salicylates. ADHD children seem to be lacking an enzyme to break them down as efficiently as the rest of us. There are two stages to the diet with the first one being the most restrictive. Once you start to see improvements in your daughter then you add foods back in gradually to see which ones cause her to revert back.
Thru this diet our whole family avoids most processed foods and if we eat them, we choose ones that have the least amount of additives. We also found that going gluten-free, dairy-free has helped tremendously.
You are a great mom for looking for alternatives before medications. Good luck! Your daughter is very lucky!
D.K. answers from Denver on August 29, 2008
HUGE KUDOS to Cheri's husband who responded! I totally 100% agree with him! I also agree with the timer thing! That will really find out what her weak spots in completing things are and what her ability is to get things done. If she has no motivation to do it faster, then why bother. Some kids just dawdle.
Kids get labeled ADD or ADHD at the drop of a hat these days.
Gifted children are bored easily and often drift off out of boredom and nothing more then that. Challenges are their best suit and if it takes more time, then be proud she is very thorough. Too often the classrooms are geared to rushing kids from one subject to the next without forethought that some kids take longer then others to complete their work.
My daughter is 7, she is sweet, happy and very smart.
However, she is easily distracted on things, she gets bored doing repitious work at school. She dawdles and doesn't complete her work in a timely manner most of the time. When she is into a subject though I can see she flourishes. She can do in a very timely manner, she if she is interested can get something done in a flash, I have seen her do it. It all has to do with her interest level. My daughter in in bed by 8:15 every night, she wakes at 7:00am, she is grumpy every morning.
SOME PEOPLE are just not morning people. More grown ups I know are grumps until they wake up and have their coffee.
My daughter her moods completely depend on if she is hungry, slept well and has a geniune interest in what she is doing.
I make sure all those are covered.
She eats healthy but allowed junk as a treat. I do not believe in taking everything yummy out of a child's diet as that leads to binging later on and over eating when opportunties arise to eat it. Moderation in everything.
As for computers, my daughter has no interest really at all.
Her TV time is about 1 hour a day, by her choice not me laying down some specific law or rule. She chooses to do creative play, pretend to be a teacher, go off on her own to draw.
My daughter is very emotional at times, especially lacking sleep or if she is hungry. The drama and fits sometimes are so much I almost lose it. I have found being calm, letting her calm down and get it all out then talking to her and helping her realize if it was a fixable problem or something that wasn't worth getting that upset over. She thrives off of positive reenforcement and really is one to want to please.
However she is her harshest critic. If she doesn't do something well she is hard on herself.
All of this has a point, your daughter sounds like a very typical 6 year old girl, that is exceptional bright. Do not label it or think of meds or even a severe change in her daily diet or routine. That can upset the balance more then anything.
Instead relish in her creativity, learn to what her weakness are and work with her. You said yourself that you are a perfectionist, THEN ALLOW HER TO SEE YOU FAIL and handle it good. If she sees you are okay with not doing perfect she will then head that direction.
I would talk to the school, keep in contact via email with the teacher with weekly updates, focus on the positives your daughter has and encourage her to just try and never worry about failing.
Kids have a lot of pressure on them these days. A child that is exceptionally bright just can wander if not challenged. Find an club or group like science club, gymnastics, art classes that after school she can thrive in outside of her academics at school.
Don't label her at all, I think ADHD is a crock in a lot of cases (NOT ALL CASES) and I think that we put our own pressures and expectations on young kids without even knowing it. They do mimic what they grow up with, so maybe modifying yourself and your own personal expecations will help her more then anything!
L.J. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
Have you considered chiropractic? Interference in her spine caused by misalignment could be cause her some problems. If you don't have a good chiropractor, here is mine. Dr. Joseph Arvay ###-###-####.
Just give the a call and ask them your questions. I think they will be able to help. God Bless!!