I have been asked repeatedly if there are alternatives to medication, especially Ritalin. It's a “wrong” question because both yes and no answers would be bad advice.

Right up fthumb Jimmy Earl SizedSmront I want to state emphatically that I am not “pro” medication - or any other single therapy. I am very “pro” any combination of therapies that enable the ADDer to lead a contented and productive life, because there is no “magic bullet!”

I am very “pro” any combination of therapies that enable the ADDer to lead a contented and productive life. I say combination because there is no “magic bullet!”

We have been advocating a multi-disciplinary treatment regimen for over a decade. Our Living ADDventure® Treatment Wheel sets out what we believe are the basic 8 treatments to start with - together. See the diagram below.

In the case of “fixing” a disease, a condition, or a syndrome why would you want an alternative, surely you would want the best, for yourself and especially for your child?

Sometimes we are forced through circumstances beyond our control to seek alternatives - for example if we don’t have medical insurance and cannot afford the exorbitant prices of the best medication or treatment.

Let’s explore this vital but very difficult decision when it comes to what treatment is best for ADHD - I hope you will be surprised and reassured, even inspired, by the results.

Most importantly I want to ask why treatment for ADHD is equated with medication or an alternative?

Treatment WheelLiving ADDventure® Treatment WheelThere are very few conditions that are remedied by a single therapy or treatment. Even headaches and migraines require medication, a darkened room, standing on your head, and sleep. Rest is almost universally prescribed for illness, it affords the body the opportunity to repair it self.

I have worked with ADHD clients who retire to their beds for a few days each month - the pain during menses is so debilitating. Besides medication for the pain, the prescribed antidepressant is increased as well.

ADHD is a neurological condition, it occurs in the brain, and we are born with it. That’s where it should be treated, surely? Well yes, but that doesn’t enable a contented and productive life.

The problem is that medication, and it’s lesser alternatives such as fish oils and foodstuffs don’t enable the ADHD brain to somehow become like a “normal” or non-ADHD brain. They might get close, but never completely.

And then of course the effect wears off after few hours, and the ADHD brain becomes its old self again.

Despite some claims, there is nothing yet that “changes the brain permanently.” What we can do is take steps to learn the skills that we didn’t learn before the diagnosis and medication. Then we are able to develop skills that lessen - possibly even remove the disasters of involuntary distraction and impulsivity.

No medication, vitamin, food, or herb can ever enable you to suddenly make well thought out decisions using the right criteria. But they can enable you to learn those skills.

Having a loving and supportive family life helps enormously, but on it’s own, it’s just a loving and supportive family life, not a cure or fix for ADHD.

BallroomDancingExercise is good for everybody, it gets the blood flowing and aerates the brain and muscles. For ADHD - the hyperactive type especially, exercise enables better concentration and focus, but it needs to be done in amounts that almost prevent anything else getting done. For the inattentive presentation it can make the “activation-to-action” easier. On it’s own, it’s just exercise.

Sensory issues can negate the effects of even the most potent therapies. If you can’t bear the texture of a certain material on your skin, nothing will enable you to  concentrate on what you need to do.

But wearing clothes that have a pleasant texture will neither decrease or increase your ability to focus.

Omega 3 and 6 oils are never a satisfactory replacement for medication, they are simply not nearly as effective, but they do provide a boost on top of medication. Usually that is not cost effective though, as the amounts of oils required to provide a noticeable improvement are significant.

Treatment for ADHD is never standard, it must always be individualised for the each person and their current circumstances. Sometimes more medication is required, at other times less, Occupational therapy doesn’t last for a life time, exercise type and frequency can be adapted to lifestyle and age, the only constants are family love and support - that should always be at maximum levels.

Remember that love is a verb - it’s something that must be done, it is an act, just saying it is never good enough.

It should now be clear that a single therapy is definitely not an option.
The only alternatives should be the following:

    * Which medication and what dosage

    * Which Occupational Therapies

    * Which exercise and what frequency

    * Which foods and materials are substituted for those that cause distraction

 Below I have taken a short excerpt from our parenting course diagnostic module which explains some of the complexities of the condition. It does not take into account any of the co-occurring conditions. This is important as no one has just ADHD, at least two conditions are intertwined.

The Living ADDventure Treatment Wheel is dealt with in detail in Module 4 of the parenting training course.

This short article on the next page will help you to understand why there should not be alternative treatments. Click Next

Parenting Course Excerpt

ADHD is not something you develop or catch from someone else. You do inherit it from someone else in most cases.

Four out of five children with the condition have at least one parent with the condition.

The 18 diagnostic symptoms are divided into 2 groups of nine. For a child, you must have 6 symptoms in each group, while for an adult you must have 5 in each group.

But it gets a little more complicated - there are three broad categories of ADHD which occur along a continuum. There is ADHD, the hyperactive presentation, predominantly male, but not exclusively so.

TypesOfADHDTypes Of ADHD by Living ADDventure®On the other end of the continuum we find predominantly females with ADD, or the inattentive presentation. In between the two extremes we find the largest group, the combined presentation.

This group is both male and female, and present different level of hyperactivity and/or inattentiveness at different times.

The hyperactive presentation is often seen before the age of 7, while the inattentives only present at puberty, or around the age of 12.

With such a wide range of symptoms finding the right treatment is difficult. In any case, the range of medications to treat the condition is a limited one.

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Know The Jargon - ADHD Acronyms

Here are some of the common ADHD acronyms and what they mean

ADDer - a person who has ADHD or ADD

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder

SCT - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo - new name for ADD

ODD - Oppositional Defiance Disorder

CD - Conduct Disorder

OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Bi-polar - Bi-polar Disorder, used to be Manic-Depression

SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder

PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder

ACT -  Action Consequence Trigger - monitoring forms devised and supplied by Living ADDventure®