What is ADD?
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is when an adult or child has high levels of activity, is impulsive and lacks the ability to concentrate.
ADD affects adults just as much as it does children. For the purpose of this article we are going to refer the article to children and how the condition affects children, but it should be run in parallel for the same condition in adults.
In some cases hyperactivity and being impulsive are the main problems. However, most cases the primary problem is the inability to concentrate on an activity for too long. Through numerous studies, ADD has proven to be more common in boys rather than girls, and it seems to run in the family.
About 1.7% of the UK population is known to suffer from ADD.
How does ADD come about?
The causes of ADD are not fully understood. It is not because you are a bad parent as most people believe. There are hints that genetics, problems during pregnancy, environmental factors and stress may play a huge part in causing the condition. We believe that most of these hereditary factors, there is nothing you can do anything about. However family stress, for example is one you can. For the ones that you cannot do anything about, you just have to manage. This is really not difficult.
Helping your child with ADD
Routine – establish a routine that your child can easily follow and with clear and simple instructions.
Rules make your child follow simple rules and boundaries. A good example, if your childs bedtime is 7pm, make sure you set two alarms, one at 6.30 pm so you can create the preparation for bed and make sure you make it fun, but at the same time calming. The second alarm is obviously the climb into bed signal. The human mind works subconsciously, and something like this will work well. If you believe in mind games, then this is it!
Quiet Activities organise games, puzzles and challenges that slowly (NB!) increase your childs concentration. Make sure your environment is quiet and free from any distractions.
Conversely, find plenty of physical activities to let your child burn off energy. Now this may sound contradictory. BUT, life is about balance and blending the two in their activities helps create that balance.
Try it and you will know.
One third of children with ADD in the UK are clinically depressed.
Doctors are very quick to prescribe stimulants such as Ritalin, which carries considerable side effects. Ritalin has caused on average 3 to 4 deaths a year in the UK alone.
Nutritional therapy (good diet and supplements)
Some foods have been proven to be associated with a risk of mood and behaviour disturbances. By avoiding caffeine, sugar and food additives is a good start. (additives artificial flavourings, colouring and preservatives) . All this in commonly known as food intolerance. Children that have a food intolerance, normally have dark rings or bags under the eyes. When their behaviour is uncontrollable, face and ears will turn red. While many foods can cause an unwanted reaction, there are a few culprits that are common in scientific findings. They are wheat, dairy products, chocolate, citrus fruits and eggs. Amazingly enough, children will often crave the foods that cause their problems or rather are sensitive to.
Control blood sugar levels
Low levels of blood sugar(hypoglycemia) are a common feature in children with ADD. Depriving the brain tissue of its primary fuel can affect ones moods significantly. Low levels of blood sugar cause the body to release the hormone adrenalin this causes the child to be anxious and aggressive at the same time. If children do not eat healthy foods at regular intervals their bodies will crave sugary foods leading to the bad behaviour.
Omega3 essential fatty acids
It is evident that children with ADD lack nutrients. They are very likely to lack essential fatty acids(EFA). This is one fat that is healthy for your system.
Deficiency in EFA has the following symptoms: dry and flaky skin, excessive urination and frequent thirst. To get the brain to function properly EFAs play an important role.
The most important are two omega3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA. Oily fish are known to carry these two essential fatty acids, however it is not possible to eat enough oily fish due to various constraints. We would probably need to eat fish 10 times a day to achieve the daily requirement. It is therefore best to take a high concentrate fish oil. The optimum requirement is 1000mg per day. It is important not to take it all at once, but rather 3 times per day. It is harmless and hugely beneficial.
If one identical twin has ADD the chances are excellent that the 2nd twin has it too.
The following may help to prevent ADD
- Although after the fact, drinking alcohol during pregnancy is prohibited.
- Concentrate on your childs diet, keeping caffeine, sugar and additives to an absolute minimum.
- Prevent family stress mainly caused by arguments, conflicts, etc.
- Keep to a minimum the amount of time your children spend on technology devices like playing computer games and watching T.V.
- Its crucial your children have enough exercise and outdoor play.
What are the symptoms of ADD?
Symptoms of ADD are often noticed after a child starts school or between the ages of 3 and 7 years old.
- Non-stop physical activity
- Impulsive behaviour
- Limited attention span
- Difficulty paying attention in class
- Struggles to follow basic instruction
- Tendency to talk constantly and interrupt others
- Finds it difficult to understand the concept of waiting and taking turns
- Learning difficulties
- Children are very jumpy and easily startled
- Aggression and irritability
Why might my child have ADD?
- Genetic factors
- Hypoxia – inadequate oxygen feeding the brain in the womb or at birth
- Alcohol during pregnancy
- Food sensitivity and poor nutrition
- Low levels of blood sugar
- Family stress
- Exposure in their environment especially to metals like lead, mercury and manganese.