I’m extremely passionate about this subject because I work with many children who exhibit symptoms of ADD/ADHD, and secondly, there is SO MUCH info to report. Therefore I’ll keep it brief and do my best to lead you to do your own independent research and study.
The latest statistics report that there are close to 7 million children receiving special education services in the United States. That’s 7,000,000!!! I realize that figure encompasses a large number of varying exceptionalities. However, as of May 2015 the Centers For Disease Control has reported that 1 in 10 children are being diagnosed with ADHD. Symptoms of the “disease” include: squirming or fidgeting, difficulty getting along with others, talking too much, daydreaming a lot, often forgetting or losing things, taking unnecessary risks, making careless mistakes, and having a hard time resisting temptation.
With all but 20 minutes of recess (if kids are fortunate enough to have even that…) per day and with the rigorous standards currently in place and expected to be met, it’s no wonder our kids are reacting the way they are. I would be doing the exact same thing if I had to sit at a desk for most of the day and endure the “learning” of the standards via the current structure in most of our public schools today. With little to no recess time, most special classes such as Art, Music and PE dramatically reduced or in some cases non-existent… what’s a kid who learns best via movement (Kinesthetic) to do? What about our creative right-brained kids who have brilliant visual-spatial abilities but who struggle with the left-brained; sequential, part to whole process for learning in school? We’re quick to diagnose them, put them on medication and then they must suffer confusing short and long term side effects such as:
- Sleep problems
- Decreased appetite
- Delayed growth
- Headaches and stomachaches
- Rebound (irritability when the medication wears off)
- Moodiness and irritability
To only name a few…
Reduced confidence and lack of self-esteem are the most serious in my opinion because if left unaddressed they can negatively affect a child for the rest of their life!
On top of all previously mentioned potential causes for ADHD-like symptoms, we must include, emotional, mental and social issues including POVERTY which is not being well-addressed in our country. Lack of exercise and too much TV and video game time is another contributor, and let’s not forget about how good nutrition factors in.
There are literally mountains of information available on the connection between ADHD and nutrition so I won’t go into a lot of detail other than to say, nutrition matters! The amounts of sugar, chemicals, dyes, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides (just to name a few) added to our food sources (processed as well as whole foods) have an enormous effect on little bodies… We can be more aware and teach our kids to make better choices when they aren’t with us. This summer I’ve encountered several situations where kids came to me for their sessions just after consuming large quantities of sugar. One little girl proudly announced to me that she had just been to the donut shop where she’d eaten two big, yummy donuts! I didn’t say much about it other than, “Oh, wow…” and let it go. But about 15 minutes into our session she was caving and fast. I asked her how she was feeling and she said, “Not so good… my tummy hurts and my head is buzzing.” We talked about what sugar can do to our brains and afterward we made a deal to which she readily agreed that she would have no sugar before our sessions. I laugh when I tell this story because it’s funny that the kids notice the detrimental effects of sugar on their own bodies and express their new knowledge in such humorous ways but what’s NOT funny is the impact that the sugar has on them physically. Upon her drop-off at the next session this little girl’s mother proudly announced that her daughter refused ANY sugar that morning and afternoon so that she could be sugar-free for our session! How adorable was that! But more importantly, it’s extremely POWERFUL for that child and she will now be armed and ready to make better choices in her future. I could share several more similar stories but the picture is pretty clear. Nutrition matters!
In the next post we’ll address some effective ways to address the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.