|: ADHD Medication Is Only Part of The Treatment
DEAR DR. PAUL: I have a 5 1/2 yr old son who was
diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
I want to know if there are any natural ways of helping him without
the methylphenidate. If you know of anything that might help him
"slow down" but not zombie him out I would really appreciate it.
PEDIATRICIAN DR. PAUL Answers: Your questions bring
up a few important points about ADHD treatment. I will assume
that the diagnosis has been made after a proper evaluation of
your child including a comprehensive medical assessment taking
into account parent and teacher observations/reports. Before I
specifically address the issue of methylphenidate (Ritalin) use,
let me list the three important components of ADHD treatment:
Teacher (academic) strategies in the classroom
Home behavioral modification strategies
The first two strategies on my list are essential components
of the treatment plan. If medication is given without these home
or school strategies in place, the treatment will indeed be ineffective.
In every day practice, some parents may agree to try, in co-operation
with the school, the first two strategies without any medication
use. If the results are good, medication may not be needed. However,
if despite this approach a child is still having difficulties
concentrating, socializing and/or is not achieving good grades,
medication therapy may be necessary.
In terms of your comment "zombie effect", I do not think that
this is true; Most children who are appropriately prescribed methylphenidate
do very well. Although calmer, and less wiggly, they usually are
not "zombied out", as you put it. On the contrary, the positive
effects on a child's self esteem are tremendous. As well, there
are what I call "left over" benefits of the medication. Let me
explain; Because an ADHD child can actually pay attention in class(when
taking medication), he or she will be better prepared to do the
homework assignments at home. Also, as a result of better school
performance, children with ADHD begin to be more at ease when
it comes to socializing with their peers and classmates. Off medication,
many children with ADHD are unable to socialize, as they are frustrated
by their in-attentiveness and by their poor school performance.
To answer your question about alternatives to methylphenidate;
There are a lot of so called natural remedies, including natural
products, homeopathic remedies, herbs, megavitamin therapy and
even eye exercises(optometric). However, none of these have been
proven to be effective in treating children with ADHD.
On a final note, another concern relates to the role of the diet
on ADHD. About 20 years ago there was a special "exclusion diet",
thought to be helpful in improving ADHD symptoms. However, subsequent
studies have shown this not to be true. Additionally, studies
have proven that sugar intake does not to make ADHD symptoms worse.
However, if a parent notices that his/her child's ADHD worsens
with sugar consumption, I think the logical thing to do is to
cut back on the sugar intake.
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designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to
replace the advice and care of your child's physician, nor is
it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If
you suspect that your child has a medical condition, always
consult a physician.
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