It Turns out ADHD is real. Now What?

Written By: Nicole McGuffin

Yes, it has been established and even proven. ADHD is real. Armed with this information, what do you do if you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with this?

First, get evaluated! Understanding if symptoms of inability to focus, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity are caused by ADHD, a thyroid disorder, low muscle tone or a nutritional deficiency is the first place to start. Once you have this under your belt, there are steps you can take that will help.

Now What?

Yes, it has been established and even proven. ADHD is real. Armed with this information, what do you do if you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with this?

First, get evaluated! Understanding if symptoms of inability to focus, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity are caused by ADHD, a thyroid disorder, low muscle tone or a nutritional deficiency is the first place to start. Once you have this under your belt, there are steps you can take that will help.

  • Nutrition: While science does not support the hypothesis that ADHD is caused by nutritional deficiencies, there is considerable evidence that nutrition impacts our ability to pay attention. The brain’s ability to perform essential tasks is very dependent on the bioavailability of neurotransmitters. Eat breakfast! Have protein! Research shows the importance of having simple and complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein at breakfast and lunch.                                 
  • Supplements: Medical conditions that create inattention include anemia, hypoglycemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and deficiencies of iron, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. If you suspect deficiencies, get screened for these and supplement as needed.                                                                                                                                                      
  • Sleep: Infants require 16-18 hours, children require 10 hours, teenagers need about 9 hours and adults benefit from 7-8 hours. Numerous studies show how important getting enough sleep is for our ability to pay attention.                        
  • Exercise: Participation in regular moderate to vigorous physical activity helps individuals maintain alertness, concentration, and other cognitive abilities. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).                                           
  • Social Skills: Commonly reported in kids diagnosed with ADHD are deficits interacting socially including maintaining eye contact, difficulty remaining on topic, difficulty recognizing interest level, difficulty expressing needs and resolving anger, impaired emotional control, and impaired ability to respond to teasing. Also impacted could be self-care (hygiene, diet, sleep) and organizational skills. Working with your child on these areas or working with a behavioral therapist can be beneficial.                                                                                                                                     
  • Memory: Kids diagnosed with ADHD can demonstrate deficiencies in memory including difficulty recalling digits, syllables, words, sentences and paragraphs after they were presented. Pharmaceutical agents do not impact memory but EEG biofeedback can.                                                                                                                                           
  • Language Processing. When a language processing issue is present, an evaluation for a coexisting central auditory processing disorder may be helpful.   Referral to a speech-language pathologist may be beneficial.                                 
  • Motor Coordination. Seeing an Occupational Therapist can help impaired fine or gross motor skills.                            
  • School: Getting though the school day can often be difficult for kids struggling with ADHD. Establish a program of academic support and accommodation through a 504 plan or IEP plan. Accommodations such as sitting near the teacher, given extra time to complete tasks, test modifications, assistance with organization or developing a classroom behavior management system can be very helpful.                                                                                                
  • Neurofeedback: Based off of several randomized clinical trials, as well as multiple controlled group studies using comparison with a bona fide treatment, Neurofeedback Therapy (NFT) is considered an effective treatment for ADHD by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2011 it was named #1 best support for ADHD. In addition, it was concluded that “NFT meets AACAP criteria for clinical guidelines” by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). It has been found to show improvement on measures of attention and behavioral control in a series of case studies. (DuPaul, Guevremont, & Barkley, 1992; Evans, Ferre, Ford, & Green, 1995; Gordon, Thomason, Cooper, & Ivers, 1991)