Seeking Natural Approach to ADHD

Updated on March 18, 2008
S.G. asks from Rumney, NH
29 answers

I have an 8 year old son who has been labled ADHD. He certainly has most of the sypmtoms, however; I have been researching the possibilities of allergies, diet, vitamins and suppliments. My son is a bright student, his teachers say if he can get the grades he does now, once his behaviors are under control, he should be an exeptional student. We are very lucky his teachers are behind us in our research, as it certainly is slow going. We are opposed to medicating him until we have exhausted all other forms of treatment. The information we have found in regards to medications is alarming. Our son needs to be a kid, not a lump. He does have a very hard time focusing and sitting still. His teachers seem to think he physically can't. We have him taking his multi vites, and grape seed extract daily. These seem to take the edge off, but hasn't been able to make significant changes. Also, one of his teachers heard that coffee, sometimes has a reverse effect on hyperactivity. We have been giving him a cup of coffee in the AM, his teacher have also noted a slight calming effect. We are new in our research, and could use any advice from like minded people. His current physician claims "hogwash" in regards to the natural approach.

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So What Happened?

I am completely overwhelmed at the responses I have recieved already! All of you are offering such wonderful suggestions! I have replied to some of you already. I will get back to you each individually as time permits. I look forward to implimenting some of your advice, and getting back to you with results! I wish I had found you all sooner! While his teachers are supportive, there is only so much time before they decide, something has to be done! I can certainly understand that too. I only have one to manage, they have a whole classroom!

Thanks again ladies! You're all WONDERFULL!

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S.P.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
I am from Ashland, NH. I used to work with a woman who's son is grown now, but he was labeled ADD/ADHD when he was a kid. She refused to medicate him. The boy was informed about his condition and what the Dr's wanted to do, so his parents talked to him about it. He agreed along with his parents to not medicate and to work thru it. This was a long time ago, probably 9 years now. But I still remember her telling me about it. She said something about allergies too. Anyway, it wasn't easy, but now that boy is a very intelligent, grown adult and you would never know that he used to be labeled that. Wish I could tell you more about what she did, but it was a long time ago.
S.

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K.F.

answers from Boston on

i dated a guy who had a son who they said had adhd and he doesn't believe in medicating either. (neither do i) i'm one hundred percent try all holistic first. they did the coffee thing too did seem to help.. good luck >:D< :D

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J.P.

answers from Barnstable on

hey S. i live in massachusetts and i also have a 8 yr old girl who has a.d.d she is such a great kid..anyhow she is on strattera a non-stimulant drug and its the only medicine that has worked for her all the other medications (stimulants) made her not act like herself..she has improved tenfold and i feel better about it not being a stimulant. the reason im writing you is because i came across a magazine for parents of add and adhd children at borders book store it is called additude it is awsome to give suggestions on all kinds of approaches and it almost always has a section on helping out moms in dealing with the schools and educating teachers as well. also another thing that helped me was getting my daughter evaluated through the school its called an individual education plan (i.e.p) and they found all of her weakness and stregths and made a educ.plan just for her. its in the no child left behind act. law. if you have any questions my email is [email protected]____.com hope this helped ;)
jess

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A.S.

answers from Providence on

A website that i turned to for info is ritalindeath.com, it was made by a couple whose son died while on ritalin. they offer many links and also a message board. i believe they recommend the block center who also has a web site that offers alternatives to medications. i'm happy to hear that the school is working with you and your son, i found this web site to be helpful in strategies for teachers teaching adhd children www.dbpeds.org go into learning>behavioral disorders>attention disorders the article was called Attention Deficits:What teachers should know. here's a list of other sites to browse:
www.nfgcc.org --for gifted/creative children who are easily bored
www.blockcenter.com --info on what MAY appear to be adhd
http://adhdparentssupportgroup.homestead.com/50conditions...
www.rense.com "Miracle in a Wisconsin High School" thru diet.
www.adhdfraud.com
www.christianpatriot.com/hatch.htm -this is a copy of the Hatch Amendment info of students rights at public schools
www.fightforkids.com/bills_resolutions.htm -info. on state and federal bills against child labeling and drugging.
I wish you the best and hope you find the info your looking for!

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L.N.

answers from Portland on

I have a friend, Jessica Sargent, is a consultant for the Shaklee company. She has been doing it for about 3 years now but her mother in law has done it for at least 20 years. Shaklee has been doing all natural product for over 50 years. They have everything from diet pills to laundry detergent. I asked if Shaklee had anything that may help. She has told me yes and she has testimonials. The website is Shaklee.com, on the top of the page will be a toolbar that says health information when you click on it then on the left side will say health conditions when you click on that it brings up common health coditions alphabetically and ADHD is right there under A. It lists what research has suggested causes ADHD and then on the right you can click for treatment options. Believe me there is a long list of things that may help. I hope this works for you.

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M.P.

answers from Boston on

Hi S., I work with a group of stay at home moms and dads. About a year ago, national TV news indicated scientist and doctors are now believing many of the cleaning products we use are causing many medical conditions. Several parents on our team are using non-toxic products in our homes. I was amazed to find that a nationally known disinfectant has a pesticide in it. It hard watching the commercial on TV saying to clean kids toys, high chairs, play areas with products that are toxic. When I first started with this group, I had heard on the Oprah show about a family here in NH who had moved into a new home and everyone became sick. The new carpet was making them ill. If you can get the safer products in your home, get your child on a good vitamin source, you will probably see a big change in him.

Here is a product experience from one of our moms. If you haven't found the help you need, contact me at: http://livetotalwellness.com/mykid.

'Here's the experience'
My Son Jacob Virtue Personal Story.

I was introduced to the Wellness Company and all their products in February 2003. My son Jacob age 9 yrs was suffering from ADD/ADHD and I was very keen to try the children vitamins range of products. I started him on the Children Chewable and the ProVex.

After just 4 weeks I could notice a change in his behavior, and the teachers at school also could notice a big change in him. The only thing that I change in his daily routine in that time was to give him the children chewable vitamins and the ProVex tablets. I had found something that worked and was helping him every day with his schoolwork and his behaviour at home.

Then in May 2003 I were unable to get my regular supply of the children chewable Vitamins for some 4 weeks and in that time, Jacob behavior had returned to what he was like prior to me starting him on taking the vitamin range in February. I have now been able to obtain my monthly supply of these wonderful children’s chewable vitamins from the Wellness Company.

I am very thankful for the introduction to the Company. I will continue to give him these products because I see it as important nutrition and “Brain Food” for him and it will help him grow into a healthy young man in the future.

Life is much better now.

Thanks to everyone involved

Joy

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H.P.

answers from Boston on

I have lots of amazing info about supplements and effects on adhd. I have a 10 year o;d who has adhd and have worked with neuropsychologist who take a natural approach to treatment.. Please contact me for very pertinent info

H. P
Gilford N.H.
[email protected]____.com

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N.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.!
I live in the Upper Valley area of NH and I am also an elementary school teacher. I want to respond to something you said about his teachers only having so much time before something has to be done. Although you don't want to lose educational time, it isn't about the teacher having to deal with your child and a classroom of children. It is about what is best for your child. Although it is nice of you to be sensitive to what the teacher is going through, please don't let that be a factor in what you decide to do with your child. If the teacher can't handle the situation (and I know you didn't say this was the case at this point!), she needs to advocate harder for your child!

It drives me crazy when I get a student with ADD or ADHD and his/her parent felt pressured to go the medication route! There are just so many other things to explore first! My own daughter just may have ADHD. Her teacher thinks so, her doctor will only explore the option if I give her the go ahead. She takes a child's multi-vitamin, OPCs (antioxidants), B12 and omega3. I would highly suggest using isotonic vitamins.

Good luck and keep getting more information until you find what works best for your child!!

N.

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E.J.

answers from Boston on

My son is now 23 he was diagnosed with ADHD back when the only thing they ever did was drug them I tried that route for all of a month my son lost weight and was more or less a "LUMP" I took him off the meds and found if before school I took him jogging he burned off some of his energy and was better able to sit and pay attention. We then convinced the school to allow him to run a lap around the school after lunch it helped a great deal. For some reason coffee works too but caffeine can be just as addictive as drugs. When he got into middle and high school he joined the track team. He graduated High Honors and in college majoring in child education he still runs every morning. And he still has ADHD but can control it. Good Luck

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B.G.

answers from Lewiston on

Hi S.,
You have a good response here, but I would like to ASK a few questions...
1)WHO 'labeled' your child? Was it the school or a doctor, or a child psychologist?
2) WHY is your doctor not supportive of your efforts to go natural?
3)Has the school proposed an Indevidual Education Plan?
4)Does the child have frequent breaks between tasks?

My son was diagnosed as Hyper-Kinetic while he was still a toddler. He IS physically unable to sit or stand still. He was never still for a moment, even while sleeping! Henry is now a Senior, an honor student and an Eagle Scout. Part of his IEP was for him to MOVE. His first grade teacher instituted a Move More program; The whole class got up and stretched, jumped around, did a lap around the room -whatever- at least once EVERY HOUR. It worked so well that all the teachers started doing it up to the fifth grade.

I wish you luck with your child!

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P.H.

answers from Bangor on

Hi,S.!

You are right to want to find natural treatments for ADHD...if it really is ADHD in fact...so many kids are being misdiagnosed when it could be a host of other issues. My dd is 5 and she is on the autism spectrum (although not autistic and undiagnosed), she has sensory integration dysfunction, leaky gut syndrome, learning disabilities, speech delay and I think, mood disorder. Anyway, we have been treating her biomedically for over a year and she's made tremendous progress. Have you looked into food allergy testing? Not the allergy that you are thinking, but as in leaky gut syndrome. Alot of kids w/hyperactivity are actually reacting to a food that they have eaten and it's causing them to have an "opiate-like" high. If you subscribe to the group on the website www.gfcfdiet.com, you will get lots of answers to your questions about natural treatments for ADHD (although most of the people on this list have kids on the autism spectrum, it still applied to kids w/ADHD too - the new thinking is that ADHD is actually on the end of the spectrum)
My first recommendation would be to switch pediatricians to find one that is willing to take a look at treating this condition biomedically. If you research for DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctors in your area (they will also treat kids w/ADHD) you will be taking a step in the right direction. Or atleast find one who is familiar with biomedical treatments (i.e. probiotics, EFA's, enzymes, vitamin/mineral supplements, etc).
Good luck and please feel free to email me if you have more questions about this.
P.

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M.M.

answers from Boston on

I too have a child that pediatritions and doctors want to label as ADD. I dont believe in it either. It takes a lot of patience. I have put my son in Karate, and it has helped tremendously. He loves it, it occupies his mind, and he has something to set as a goal for himself, so I guess my advice is to really sit down and find out if he has a goal. I am also a stay at home mother, now my son is 4, but he tells me what goals he has. Im sure your 8 year old has something he wants to achieve or become. A baseball player, an astronaut, whatever. If its not a sport, ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, and dig up some books and activities on it and see if you can occupy his mind. That seems to be what works with my son. He has a lot of energy, so he still needs exercise and exhaustion but he is very intelligent, he has to stimulate his mind more than his body. I dont believe in ADD or ADHD. i think it is an excuse for parents who dont want to put time into helping thier children so I also refuse to accept what doctors "label" children as. They are kids and are supposed to be active. In my opinion they should be doing more research on the children that sit like bumps on a log without medication.

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K.T.

answers from Boston on

Glad to see all of your support!!! I pray it all helps for you & your son! Take care! K. :)

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J.B.

answers from Lewiston on

I am certainly not an ADHD expert, this is only my opinion. As a behavioral science student in college I learned that it is often misdiagnosed and/or over-medicated. Who diagnosed your son? You may want to get a second opinion. Could there be another cause for your son's distraction? I found these websites, which I hope will be of some help to you...

http://www.homeschoolmath.net/teaching/add-adhd-diet.php

http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/ritalin.htm

http://www.4-adhd.com/adhd-articles.html

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J.C.

answers from Boston on

I would say coffee is maybe a good idea-- I know most of the treatments are mild stimulants like caffeine-- also read driven from distraction and the second one about dealing with distraction by the same author.

keep up the good effort-- i'm sure it's worth it.

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C.D.

answers from Boston on

I am the mother of a VERY spirited 4 year old who has NOT been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. He sees an OT for his mild sensory disorder. He is a bundle of energy but does have the ability to sit and complete a task. His sensory although creates a very active, constantly moving child. It's almost like his brain is moving faster than his body - which is always trying to keep up! In any case, I was referred to a pediatric chiropractor who has been adjusting him for almost a year now. He recommended givng my son omega-3 (non-mecury etc, etc) and within 2 months we noticed marked improvement in his behavior and hitting at school. I'm not saying this is the answer to your prayers - it's just something that saved our family tremendously when we had given up on almost everything!

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S.W.

answers from Lewiston on

Hi S.,

I have a son who is 4yrs old...We have the same problem here..Theses are some of the things we do to help with the problem...

Stay away from red dies in juice..
We talk to him for a few days telling him where we are going and that there may be a lot of people..We find that this helps so as he is not overloaded with things..
We look for signs from him this helps us on keeping him incontrol of himself...When we see that he is showing signs that he is having a hard time to control his out brakes we ask if thing are to much to soon,we offer to take him outside to get some fresh air,or just walk around with him this seems to work for the most part...I would have him tested from Child Development Services..We found that even though he shows the signs of ADHD in fact it was an inner nervous system issues.. I would have your son test by these people..Now that we have had him tested we step back and look for the signs from him and do our best to help him witch Really Works..I hope this has helped you a bit..

P.S. He is not on any meds at all we don't think that he should be..

CHECK WITH CHILD DEVELOPMENT SERVICES TO TEST HIM i THINK YOU FIND THAT THEY WILL BE OF GREAT HELP AND THEY TEST EVERTHING NEVER SAYING THAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS MEDS TO HLEP HIM..THEY SHOW WAYS TO HELP YOU SEE THE SIGNS OF DIFFERENT THINGS GOING ON WITH YOUR LITTLE GUY AND HOW TO HELP HIM HELP HIMSELF..

You may e-mail me if you like [email protected]____.com or you may e-mail me here on MAMASOURCE

S. :)

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B.M.

answers from Boston on

Have you taken him to see a homeopathic doctor? There is one in Norwell, MA who I have heard is excellent at treating ADHD. Her name is Barbara Coffey. That is probably too far for you to travel but maybe there is one in your area. Good luck!

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T.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,

I'm new to mamasource (couple days). I saw your note and thought I'd add my two cents with regard to my son Collin.

Collin will be 7 in May. From 9 months on he's been (to say the least) hard. I knew there was SOMETHING wrong with him and it took until this past summer to get a diagnosis of ADHD from Childrens Hospital in Boston. He also has devenlopmental problems. He's very tiny for 6 years old and he only weighs 37 pounds (my third son who's 21 months weights 25 pounds).

I live in Marlboro, MA and the special services and school system has been wonderful for me and Collin. He started with early intervention at 2.5 and from then on he has gotten services (OT and Speach). Progress has been extremely slow, but at least there is progress.

As I said we finally got a diagnosis from Childrens Hospital this past summer. They suggested NO meds at this time, but my husband and I (and our Pedi was in agreement)thought we'd TRY some meds. Collin's behavior was getting more out of controll and of course he couldn't sit still for a second.

We started with 10mg of Adderall at the beginning of September, but that didn't seem to do anything. We then switched to 10 mg of Metadate. We started to see some calming and improvement in behavior (he's ourbursts and tantrams were lessening just a bit). We then upped the dose to 20mg. That's as far as we've gotten. With side affects of insomnia and weightloss, I was too afraid to go any higher. We also saw major changes.

The first person to see the major change was his bus driver. Before he would have to sit up front because he'd hit other kids or jump around in his seat. By the third day he could sit calmly and was allowed to sit where ever he wanted. This was HUGE. The bus driver and I both cried. His sped teachers saw calming changes. He was able to write his name for the first time (In first grade) and draw a pictures, where he couldn't before. He was able to talk and let others know what his feelings were what he wanted.

I just wanted to say that meds aren't all that bad. We didn't want to go that route either, but we finally decided to just try and it's worked out (for now). I hope we don't have to keep him on it forever, but right now it's day to day.

We have other things we're dealing with now. He hyper focuses on his fingers. Bites and chews his nails and skin around. There is a bandaid on almost every finger.

I just wanted to email you what's going on with me and my little boy.

Did you try the coffee?

I'm a stay at home mom in Marlboro Ma. I have a business of transfering home movies to DVD's. I love doing it and it keeps me connected with other families.

Please excuse typo's, grammer and spelling errors...not my strong suit.

T.

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A.R.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,I think you are doing the right thing!!! I am completely against putting kids on drugs, and I feel drs are way to fast in px them. I however am not in the situation of having a child with adhd, so I can't say I know how hard it is to deal with. I commend you and your husband for standing your ground, and giving your child a fighting chance without getting him hooked on drugs. The reason I feel so strongly about this is because, I myself went through Post Partum Depression after the birth of my daughter, and was given the anti anxiety med paxil, I was told that it was safe and non habit forming. However that was false!! It took me two years to get off of it, and I had to go on another drug to do so. The same applies to Ritalin. I know many children who were px it at a young age, and as adults have to be on some type of med to get through the day. The biggest problem with all of these drugs is that no one not even the drs can say for sure how they are going to effect each individual, nor can a dr. actually diagnose 100% adhd or depression. Their is absolutely no blood test or xray that confirms it. It is one big guessing game, and they are wrong to jump to meds for a first approach. Your childs brain is still developing, and no one knows what kind of effect putting a chemical into it will have. I am just so completely disgusted with the whole medication thing!! I understand that some people truelly live by them, and can't live w/out them, however, they should know that these are very very serious medications, and that they can and most likely will effect the natural chemical in their brains!! I do not know the seriousness of your sons problems, but I hope that you and your husband can find another way, maybe through thearapy, or constant support. I know the easier way is to medicate him, but that is why you are such an outstanding mother, because you will work with him to try and help him. I am sorry if I went on and on, but I feel so strongly about this topic, and I wish you all the best!!

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J.D.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.! have you heard of the hunter school? I bet you have... anyhow, they are a residential school in Rumney for kids with ADHD. They implement many holistic approaches to treating their kids, including certain diet and activities. You should check them out and see what kind of resources or advice they may hacve for you. They might be able to recomend a physician who is supportive or other people in your area that share your views. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!
:)
J.

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R.S.

answers from Providence on

You might want to look into homeopathy or acupuncture. I've used both for myself (migranes) & for my son's asthma. I've found them both to be very helpful. It's great that you're looking into the best way to help your son without sedating him. Good luck.

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K.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,

My nephew was "labeled" with ADHD as well, but it turns out that was not what he had. I would say to first find a new pediatrician, preferably one that specializes in ADHD and other childhood sensory disorders, and also one that supports your desire for natural remedies.

Second, I would ask your school, if you haven't already, to do a full evaluation on your son. We found out through a school and pediatric evaluation that my nephew actually has a sensory disorder that sometimes manifests itself like ADHD.

If your teachers are supportive, which it sounds like they are, there are several things you can try to help your son focus. My nephew has a stress ball that he is allowed to squeeze while taking tests and during other periods where quiet is needed in the class room. This allows him to be active in some way (which his body NEEDS), but it is less distracting to the other students.

You may also want to look up the book "Sense-ational Kids" (may be spelled differently). Your son may have a sensory disorder and not ADHD.

Good luck!
K.

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C.H.

answers from Providence on

Sounds like you're trying hard to do the best for your kid :) I am experienced in the "hogwash" I would reccomend diet, but even better would be to find a classical homeopath in the area. The initial visit may be a bit costly, but most will accomadate to make their services accesible. Most homeopaths will also be able to give good advice about diet/lifestyle changes etc. My ped is also a homeopath, so I do practice what I preach and have found results through homeopathy.

I would google "homeopath in nh" and see what I found. Also - check out http://www.homeopathic.org/ The National Center for Homeopathy

I'd be glad to answer any other quest...keep up the hard work :)

C.

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C.G.

answers from Boston on

I know lots of other moms who use the caffeine route in the morning, unfortunately most of them go with soda, not coffee--kudos to you for getting him to drink coffee instead!

Not all kids react that way to medication, but I agree that we overmedicate too easily in this society and it has its consequences.

Two books I recommend that might help:
*the Schwarzbein Principle
*the specific carbohydrate diet by elaine gottschall--NOT a "diet" book as in weight loss but using foods to control illnesses--it is specific to crohn's and colitis BUT also works on reflux, and seems to have an effect on autism and adhd.

These two books have helped me understand food, artificial food, and medicine's effects on the body. My oldest is not ADHD but he does get out of control with too much sugar--tends to lose his temper easily, get too excited, and make poor decisions-- and these books helped me learn to recognize triggers in food. I can't say you will for sure find them helpful, but consider getting them from the library and reading to see if soemthing fits.
-C.

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R.E.

answers from Boston on

I can totally undersatand where you are coming from. Like you I also have a child who was diganosed ADHA as well as ODD at the young age of seven. He was so hard to handle and many days I wasn't sure I could go another round with him. His father and I tried everything before finally trying out the meds his doctor suggested. It took several more months and several different meds before we fianlly found the one that he needed. It was like night and day. I finally felt like I had my child back. He wasn't a lump or unable to function, actually quite opposite. He was finally able to sit still, focus and he is now having the best year ever. He is now in grade three and is so proud of himself that he is able to focus and keep up with his peers. You said you were giving your son coffee, however I don't know if you are aware that giving him that can stunt his growth. For some ppl trying the natural way works, but for so many more finding the right med can really be benifical to not only the parents and teachers, but for the child. Good luck and I hope that you can find the balance you and your child needs.

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F.G.

answers from Boston on

Another source of information to look into is feingold.org. They actually publish newsletters and a book of food listings that they have contacted the various companies as to what is in their food. Feingold mainly concentrates on artificial stuff and salicilates. I really can't add much more to that. Everyone else seems to have covered everything else I can think of. Homeopathics are a great alternative to a lot of the medicines out there since most of them have artificial stuff in them. Actually, my kids refuse to take any of the tylenols and such out there since they don't like how they make them feel. Hope this helps!!

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A.S.

answers from Providence on

Hi S., I am having the same problem with my fourteen year old son. They just love to throw those labels around, I refuse to medicate as well. I know too many negative side affects to take the chance. I have found a really good website blockcenter.com, it's really informative and I learned alot about food allergies and reactions. I also recieved some good advice from sylvan learning center, we couldn't afford to send him but they gave us advice anyway. They said my son was a tactile learner, meaning he had to move around or doodle to pay attention. There's more to it than that and also worth looking into. Best of luck and I definately understand don't give up on the research!

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S.L.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,

Never listen to anyone but your gut when it comes to your kids. The reason for my message is twofold. First, I have a soon to be 16 year old who was "diagnosed" with ADD in the first grade. For six years, I tried prescribed meds, therapists, nutritionists, diet, vitamins, etc. Everything was extremely costly and even though sometimes I could see a bit of improvement, the side effects were terrible. One drug made him an insomniac, one med made him stop eating, one even made him gain 20 pounds in one month! I am sick sitting here thinking of everything I put him through. All in all, there was nothing that worked for any extended period, and my son paid the price. Eventually, at 13 years of age, and years of trying one thing after another, he refused to take any more meds. And - that was it. I was actually releived. I am happy to say that even though he still has a short fuse that causes issues, and even though his room is and will always be a complete disaster zone, he is growing into a fine productive young man. He is an honors student getting all A's and B's, he just got his Black Belt in karate, and he holds down a part time job. There is hope!!! Now I sit back and wonder if ADD is nothing but nerves and maturity? No one will ever really know because the whole order is subjective. So have hope. It is a tough, tough road to travel. So if you want to try things other than meds, kudos to you! Now, I also wanted to share a product that I have heard a testimonial for helping with ADD. It is a complete vitamin/mineral supplement. I can't say for sure if it will help, all I know is that it has helped so many people with health issues it may be worth a try. So S., if you want any info on the supplement, send me a message and I can get you more info.

S. Loveridge

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