Question: I have a 14 year old son that I will be having tested for Attention Deficit Disorder. While I really want confirmation of this diagnosis I’m not sure I want to jump right in with pharmaceutical treatment – I have heard that weight loss and sleeplessness are side effects. Do you know of alternative treatments? There is a lot of confusing information about ADD out there.

Larry’s Response:
You must be aware, first,  that as soon as your son is identified with a diagnosis, his only legitimate options for treatment will include drugs. In addition, there will be pressure to use the drugs to take care of any situation that a teacher or other person of authority might think is related to hes diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, it is almost impossible to remove it from his records. Before going on, I have a short story to share.

Not too long ago a woman talked to her pharmacist about a similar topic. Her son was six years old and the teachers, school nurse, and doctor were convinced of a diagnosis for ADD or ADHD.The child had behavior problems that fit the diagnostic pattern. The mother asked her pharmacist and was recommended to an eye doctor who specialized in children. The doctor discovered that the little boy had a vision problem that could be corrected with glasses, not drugs. It seems he was easy to distract because he couldn’t see what was going on in front of the room. Once his vision was corrected, his behavior improved dramatically. Today, the family is working to expunge the wrong diagnosis from the child’s record. It is time consuming and costly. Chances are that the child will be identified with the diagnosis for a long time even when he doesn’t have the problem.

You are correct in thinking about side effects. All drugs are potentially harmful. Loss of sleep is a problem – but minor compared to many of the other symptoms that can be associated with ADD drugs. The most common drugs used are chemically related to the most potent stimulants (speed). There are many treatments that don’t involve drugs. Drugs always seem to put a damper on the child’s personality. Teachers like this because the child is quiet and cooperative. But, he can lose interest in the world and creativity can be impaired.

The most obvious approach is to consider food allergy testing. Start with looking around the house for things that might trigger problems., Look at laundry detergent, fabric softeners, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, and so on. Behavior problems can often be directly associated with food allergies. Begin by maintaining a detailed diary. Report on what is eaten, when, how much – and note the level of problems. You can locate much help in this area on the internet. Search for “food allergies adhd”. I received over 800, 000 pages in return. Read the top 5 to 10 pages. The link between allergies and ADD/ADHD is very strong. Improved diet helps all us, not just those with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD.

Do everything in your power to help your child without reverting to drugs. The first step is to avoid a diagnosis as long as possible. Next, discover what things trigger his behavior problems – and remove them.

What were your child’s triggers? What did you do to fix them?