ADD & ADHD; Do You Really Need to Drug Kids?

ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are more common with children today than ever before. I can see the trend increasing and will probably continue to get worse. We will probably see additional acronyms with more letters describing something that is a response to the environment rather than a disorder.

I personally see ADD and ADHD equivalent in many ways to the teenagers of the 60s when the Beatles were playing. The adults of the then “wise society” said horrible stuff about kids who listened to the trash kind of music the Beatles played. They called for prohibiting that kind of music, etc. Yet look at the Beatles generation today: totally normal, high functioning grandmas and grandpas with love and care who had great lives and jobs and many stories to tell. I happen to be in that generation.

So let’s get to ADD and ADHD. I brought the comparison to how adults reacted to youth listening to the Beatles while falling apart from joy and screaming by scaring adults to wits to that of adults today being scared to wits of kids with ADD and ADHD. It is interesting to note that few people ask why we have children with ADD and ADHD the first place. The obvious choice is to jump in and get rid of it like the music of the Beatles albums. Unfortunately this time the situation is different and the problem now is the adult society to which this is the response of the youth (perhaps getting the heads of those adults who criticize these disorders examined is more in order).

I know, I am heading up the current on the wrong side of the wind. I always do and always will do because common wisdom is common and it is often wrong.

Let’s visit an aboriginal group, or the nomads of Tibet, or the Eskimos, and count the number of ADD or ADHD kids. This will be a very easy job; no calculator needed. The number will be zero. Now get to a city that is buzzing with life, cars, TVs, movies, video games, computers, smart phones, tablets in small, medium, large so you can have one wherever you go. Add thousands of TV and radio channels with news and activity all day and all night. Add stores that are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Add lights that are always on. Also add into this epidural painless birth that stall and need to be induced that give contraction too fast for the baby to recover and rest between being squeezed out of the mom and now you have kids with damage from birth and an environment full of sensory over-stimulation 24/7. What is a kid to do to follow it all?

Before I suggest what to do without drugs,  let me also tell you about the drugs they usually give: psychotics to dampen the brain’s activity.

You need to know that the human brain does not mature fully until the age of 35 for men and 32 for women. The last part to fully mature is the most important for making good decisions–hence it is the last to mature. Interrupt this maturation cycle by dampening brain activity and this maturation may never occur. A child’s brain all though his/her growth generates activities in new areas in the brain as the brain has the clock turning on to initiate certain hormonal actions. For example, the terrible 2’s are the age between 2-4. This coincides with the time the child’s brain starts to generate the myelin sheath around the axons of the neurons. Without myelin sheath there is not enough electricity (the sheath is like electrical insulation to keep the voltage going in one direction without leakage) and messages are not yet meaningful. Telling a 2-4 year old who is going through the terrible 2’s to stop being so silly or screaming or holding his breath until he turns purple and faints is about as useful as telling the same to a worm. Telling a 6-year old about consequences of his actions are as good as telling the 2-year old to do calculus.

Kids are  not mini adults with the brain of an adult only smaller. A human child is a child in brain as well and not a mini adult. A child’s brain is just as incomplete as his teeth, as his sexual maturity, as his ignorance of the world. All of these are part of the brain’s lack of ability and not that the child wants to be ignorant.

Some kids are more sensitive to information overload than others; they are the ADD and ADHD kids. Many people (adults too!) are sensitive to information overload–in fact most of us are. The difference is that as adults, many of the things our brains are able to ignore because our brain is developed. A child’s brain is not yet developed and so it will pay attention to all things and will get overloaded faster than adults do.

What can you do if you have a child who has such sensory overload? The symptoms are given everywhere, here taken from Wikipedia:

“An individual with inattention may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions

An individual with hyperactivity may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, doing homework, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities

These hyperactivity symptoms tend to go away with age and turn into “inner restlessness” in teens and adults with ADHD.

An individual with impulsivity may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities”

Note the highlighted area also suggested in Wikipedia: these symptoms go away and turn into inner restlessness as the kids get older and become adults. Restlessness in adults does not equate with ADHD anymore, only with kids. Those who remain restless suddenly find themselves labeled with a new category of autism spectrum disorder and it is a spectrum since with cleverness one can put just about everyone into this spectrum. Most of us have some level of inner restlessness and fall somewhere in the zone of this autism spectrum that we now call a disorder.

Again, if you visit an aboriginal tribe, or the nomads of Tibet, or any culture that is not deep into noise, light, and motions stimulus 24 hours a day and you will not find any of this disorders or spectrum. These come with our society today as a result of who we are and what we have become.

What can you do with a child who was labeled with ADD or ADHD?

First, remove the label… it is silly. Second: activate the child to get rid of the built up stress that the over stimulation causes: heavy physical activity that gets rid of built up adrenaline, such as running, hiking, mountain climbing, etc. Do not give the child anything sweet (be it sugar or sugar substitutes!)–if you do, make sure it is on a weekend and let him bounce off the walls. That is what he is supposed to do so encourage him to do that! For breakfast give the child heavy meal: bacon and eggs will do great! If they are overactive in school, enroll them in a before-school running or swimming. Then in school the child will have no energy to be hyper and will more likely be able to focus with the proper foods as well. After school get him to exercise and play before his homework! That way he will be ready for homework as per his chemistry. Make sure he has no sugar (no juices, no sodas, no cupcakes, no candies, no desserts) after dinner. It is hard to tell a kid to eat a carrot if he craves sweets but not impossible. I have a 10-year old granddaughter. I know.

Comments are welcome!

Angela

About Be Healthy

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist who evaluates changes in behavior, chronic pain, decision-making, as a result of hormonal variations in the brain. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention and treatment without the use of medicines. As a migraineur, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic mutations of insulin and glucose transporters, and voltage gated sodium and calcium channel mutations. Such mutations cause major shifts in a migraine brain, unlike that of a non-migraine brain. A non-migraineur can handle electrolyte changes on autopilot. A migraineur must always be on manual guard for such changes to maintain electrolyte homeostasis. The book Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: How To Treat and Prevent Migraines Without Medicines - An Insider's View explains why we have migraines, how to prevent them and how to stay migraine (and medicine) free for life. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and new research and findings, she is now finishing the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraines, incorporating all there is to know at the moment and also some hypotheses. It includes an academic research section with suggestions for further research. The book is full of citations to authenticate the statements she makes to be followed up by those interested and to spark further research interest. While working on the 2nd edition of the book she also published academic articles: "Migraine Cause and Treatment" Mental Health in family Medicine, November 23, 2015, open access "Functional Prodrome in Migraines" Journal of Neurological Disorders, January 22, 2016, open access "Are Statistics Misleading Sodium Reduction Benefits?", Journal of Medical Diagnostic Method, February 3, 2016, open access “A Comment on Severe Headache or Migraine History Is Inversely Correlated With Dietary Sodium Intake: NHANES 1999-2004” Angela A Stanton PhD, 19 July 2016 DOI: 10.1111/head.12861 not open access, subscription is required to read it. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in NeuroEconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers. For relaxation Dr. Stanton paints and photographs. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook
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6 Responses to ADD & ADHD; Do You Really Need to Drug Kids?

  1. Tana Kay Marriott says:

    I completely disagree with you! I am a 48 year old female who was diagnosed at the age of 31 with both ADD and ADHD. Yes, that is possible. I did not eat many sweets growing up but instead LOVED and ATE fresh, NOT canned or frozen, vegetables and fruits! I didn’t eat a lot of red meat but at some. I prefer chicken and fish, but eat the occasional red meat. I was very active before, during, and after school! I loved school and did well in school with the exception of history! Yes, I got distracted easily and could NOT sit still to save my life! Math, science, and art were my best subjects. I faired well in English most of the time but struggled with reading because I kept reading the same lines over and over again.

    As an adult, I have learned to adjust my lifestyle around this disorder. I do things intentionally the same way so as to NOT forget. I put things in the same place every time so as to NOT lose things! I allow myself plenty of time to get ready for appointments so as to keep myself from being late! I set alarms on my phone as reminders for important things so I don’t forget because I know I WILL forget!

    I have structured myself because my mother couldn’t do it for me when I was a kid! I was NOT very manageable when I was younger, not for the lack of trying on her part! Believe me, she tried exhaustively! I think I wore her out! I was a very active child and teen! As an adult, I am less so! I am actually somewhat of an introvert now! I play the extrovert well when the need arises!

    I must go back to work as my lunch break is over. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey TanaKay, You actually are not disagreeing with me at all but adding your experience to it as an adult. You were diagnosed with ADD & ADHD at age 31–by that time you were mature. I must ask if you have taken an IQ test before? Forget about Mensa and language specific IQ tests. Take the one specific to spacial thinking and mathematical logic.

      The reason why I am asking you to do this is that what you describe with your life is what I was all through my life. I was actually a prodigy child who was not recognized as such–even though I won national geometry competition at age 10, programmed next to my father my country’s first gigantic computer when I was 10 (in Algol), and was a national bridge champ until age 16 (the boys became more important then.)

      I was a high school dropout because I could not learn Russian (mandatory in my country at that time) and also flunked grammar even though I aced all math and similar tests. I also thought I was a mental case until one day I wanted to prove to my kids that they were smart and could finish school with ease because of their good IQ. They forced me to take the IQ test with them. It was then that I found out that I had a genius IQ.

      I bet you do too.

      It is not that we have ADD or ADHD but that we are different. We must be different. I am very similar to you in arriving to appointments early; setting my appointments on my calendars in 3 places to beep me at different times so I don’t forget and keep my stuff in the same place all the time so that I need not look for them.

      But ask me to solve any big scientific problem that others have not been able to (like migraines as you know, which is now–after my book has been published for almost a year–is being proven by science) or explain the hardest math to you in simple language or learn any new field of science or language and chances are I am done in 3 months (I learned English to fluent level in 3 months). I also finished a 10-year doctorate in 3 years; I took 23 units in junior college in math and astronomy in one semester to catch up in addition to a full time job and 2 kids and a very supportive hubby.

      Being ADD or ADHD is a label of a person with different abilities that the society does not look upon as important because they do not understand. You can see this in many fields of sciences where the scientist or the philosopher has figured things out that we are just now starting to realize were correct but they were hung or killed for it. Being labeled as ADD or ADHD is being hung for a talent that the world is not ready for. It is not a disease; it is a disruptive thinking that can replace the world with new knowledge by the minute.

      Like

  2. Heide says:

    My stepson was diagnosed with ADHD and given drugs to take on school days only. But I was seeing a young teenager that never did physical activity. He was in his room all day playing X-
    Box games or playing on the computer. I think physical activity would have helped him a lot.
    He had trouble sleeping at night too. Kids need to get outside and move to work off the energy.
    Even when I was training horses I would get them out to run and play and blow off steam so they
    could concentrate on the lessons. Discipline is also lacking these days and contributes to outbursts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree Heide! I wish they would not give brain drugs to kids whose brain is still developing. His brain will not be able to develop well. Games act as stimulants and so create adrenaline that causes restlessness and lack of sleep. The best thing would be physical activity and lack of electrical toys but I know that today that is impossible for most parents to choose to enforce–lack of money and lack of understanding as well as sometimes just plain laziness on the part of the parents. Way too much sweet stuff and fast foods and constant motion all around the kids will create this “disease” which really is an adaptation of the brain to the new lifestyle and really not a disease at all.

      Like

  3. Roald Michel says:

    Maybe what nowadays is called ADD and ADHD is simply the next step of humanity living in a world like ours, and will force society to adapt to this new personality. So, for instance, instead of trying to make these people fit into the classroom again, the way of teaching should take its next step too and get ready for making the necessary changes to fit this new personality. Know what I’m saying? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Roald! We have to adjust to the “new norm” if we cannot turn the clock of time back to be slower and less intense in information overload–not the mention the amount of knowledge one must have today to navigate life successfully! It is an enormous task and the kids need to be ADD and ADHD to find their way! I suppose we could call this “Darwinian evolution a la 21st Century!” 😀

      Like

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