Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Over-Medicating Kids With ADHD

My ex-husband sent me a link to a snippet from the Today show with Matt Lauer where they discussed the issue of over-medicating kids with ADHD. Take a look: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/3677250#46251298

The choice to medicate is intensely personal and I don't fault anyone one way or another. Preston spent a little less than a year on medications that seemed to really help but also induced side effects that created additional problems. As for ADHD, I think it is a disorder that is both psychologial and psychiatric. Families living with this disorder could tell best.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thirteen Practical Ways to Exercise Your Brain and Do Something For You

Well, either he is manic, it was the full moon, he senses my own weakness as I'm pre-menstral or it is fall-out after having spent the previous weekend with his dad and just the difference between two households. OR, I totally jinxed myself by actually posting how well he had been doing. Any way you spin it, the tables turned and he morphed into his angry, volcanic self half way through the week last week. I won't 'un-say' that his supplements are working, because they are. And on that note - he was AMAZING today! No eruptions and we got through math homework AND a book report AND making a Valentine's box! Whoa! I just have to figure out what is at the bottom of these major turn-arounds after doing so well. With that being said, I also really struggled last week and I've got to get my head back in the game. So, the random book I've been picking up as I sit in my office and wait for my computer to actually catch-up to what I am asking it to do, is Dr. Daniel Amen's Making a Good Brain Great. One thing that I realized is that I really spend my whole day (with the exception of planning out my meals and taking 30 minutes to exercise) catering to my family and their needs. No wonder I feel exhausted! Honestly, I think it is almost impossible to not question your abilities as a parent when your child struggles so intensely as well.

So, I need to do some things for myself. It is after all the only element I have control of. *Roll my eyes only because it is frustratingly true.* Dr. Amen lists "thirteen practical ways to exercise your brain (116-121)" and it includes investing some time in yourself. I am setting my own goals in conjunction with the following suggestions:

1) Dedicate yourself to new learning. Put fifteen minutes in your day into learning something new. 
2) Take a class about something new and interesting. He lists examples of square-dancing, chess, tai chi, sculpture.
3) Cross-train at work. Learn someone else's job.
4) Improve your skills at things you already do.
5) Limit television for kids and adults.
6) Limit video games.
7) Join a reading group that keeps you accountable to new learning.
8) Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice make perfect. The brain does not interpret what you feed into it; it simply translates it. Essentially, if you practice something bad, you will learn to do it poorly. In other words, practice makes permanent.
9) Break the routine of your life to stimulate new parts of your brain.
10) Compare how similar things work.
11) Visit new and different places.
12) Cultivate smart friends.
13) Treat learning problems to help kids and adults stay in school.

And Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Candy, Lithium and an Extraordinary Life

No sooner do I wonder when the next full moon is and low and behold it is upon us! Preston has had mounds of excess energy in the last couple of days but has channeled it well. He had a moment of 'craziness' to which I asked him where it was coming from and the big confession... wait for it... wait for it... drum roll... SMARTIES at school. Honestly, why is there so much candy at school - all the time? So many teachers know of the rigors of kids with ADHD and that colors irk their little brains, yet, candy flows like a waterfall. And holidays, birthday's, special 'awards' all come with candy! How in the world would I start a campaign to ban colored candy from our schools? Seriously. Anyway, that's all for my big rant. He's calm again. Maybe I need to think more about what over-stimulated him in that moment instead of banning candy from school. The former seems a little more realistic and take-onable.

The original thinking behind my post tonight (which wasn't SMARTIES - but OI!) was actually regarding lithium. I honestly don't know much about it other than what Dr. John Gray mentions in his podcast (which I have now posted on the ADHD page for easy access). Lithium is a natural mind and mood enhancer. Sugar depletes lithium in the brain and guess what we burn alot of when we are stressed? Yep, sugar, and there goes our lithium stores. Dr. Gray recommends lithium orotate for kiddos with ADHD because of its mind and mood enhancing properties. He also recommends it for women as we tend to burn through our stores quicker than men. I don't know about you, but I start off my day (mostly) with a decent amount of energy and positive projections for the day which decreases as the day wears on. Funny that right around when Preston gets home from school my energy reserves are starting to dip - the exact time when I need it the most - queue dramatic music: for homework! Trying to do homework with Preston can be like trying to catch a greased pig. Hence, I've started taking a lithium orotate right before he gets home from school and honestly I think its magic. My mom came by to help this afternoon and I slipped her one too (not like a Mickey, I handed the pill to her and she took it un-coerced) and I could tell a noticeable difference in her. I talked to her not to long ago and she was asking me where to get it because she felt a difference too.

The Lithium Orotate, GSE and Vitamin B I order from VRP Research Products, http://www.vrp.com/. As for any profound thoughts (which I am always looking for because I rely on them when the going gets tough, which is everyday) consider that "God gave us these children to make Christians out of us." I laughed because sometimes the way I handle Preston is not Christ-like, therefore it ain't workin'! But it was a good thought in that kids, especially with challenges, are very humbling and stretch us to our limits. And only when we are stretched, do we become stronger and grow. Trying to work with Preston has meant trying multiple forms of discipline, treatments, and some soul-searching on my part. I also randomly pulled John O'Hurley's book Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, You Have To Do It from my shelf and opened it up to a random page and read the following:

"You have two choices in life: You can have an ordinary life, or you can have an extraordinary life. That's it. An extraordinary life has nothing to do with money or power, but it has everything to do with the power of your choices. In an environment of opportunity, we are responsible for both the direction and the quality of the results of our lives."

I read just a little further and this really struck me as he was writing this to his son:

"Will, I wish you many parents in your life, mentors who will join me in giving you examples of excellence. It is so much easier to be a champion when you are surrounded by them. Sadly, it is much more difficult for people to succeed when they are encircled by the ordinary. "(77,78)

We are definitely not encircled by the ordinary. I wish you all success in choosing an extraordinary life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Celebrating A Good Week and Holding Out Hope For This Week

When is the next full moon? Have you heard that people go crazy during full moons? After I heard that I just happened to notice that Preston had a rough, rough week when it was a full moon. It was a rough week for me too not just because of Preston but because it was a full moon. Bizarre. There isn't a full moon until the 21st. I'm holding my breath that we don't get all crazy again! And I guess since the past won't change I won't feel the need to knock on wood when I say that Preston had an AMAZING week. Amazing people!

He went with his dad on Friday and I called him that night because I missed him. I missed him! And he was so totally adorable on the phone. He was focused and conversational and loving. I ate it up. He said that they had been watching blue something and I asked him what in the world that was and he said, "I have no idea!" And then he told me that he watched me walk away after I dropped him off and thought, "Oh that's so sad!" I told him I waved as I drove by and thought, "Oh that's so sad!" He laughed and told me that he would have waved if he saw me. I have to bask in these moments because they are so few and far between.

He did his homework every night and actually got it all turned in. He was sweet and pleasant and only a handful of quick outbursts that were diffused quickly when I didn't react. I think not-reacting along with dangling carrots (or in his case my world famous grilled cheese sandwiches or pancakes) has been the key this week. I got a game of Memory set up before he got home from school and we had our one on one game and then I made us milk shakes out of our homemade coconut ice cram and Newman O's. I put some home made almond flour chocolate chip cookies in my ice cream and it tasted like cookie dough amazingness! I told him that I wanted to have a little milk shake date because "you are you and I love you. And you had an amazing week this week!" Thurdsay night I even snapped a picture of him reading - he just sat down and read and was as happy as clam. I got out the camera because those moments are also few and far between. And I can't figure out how to get my photos off my new camera's dang memory card. I even took a picture of our milkshakes because it tasted so fabulous. Argggghhh. I'll figure it out and get it on here sooner or later.

He came home happy last night and we started off the morning on the right foot until he got over-involved teasing Bentley with his little hexbugs. I told him I could hang on to the bugs until he left for school if they were distracting him. Of course he protested but then kept playing with them so he 'erupted' and started demanding I put them back 'right now!' I calmly told him I would need to hang on to them for a little longer with that attitude and then he started hitting me, blowing raspberries at me and the like. Then we went upstairs and he had calmed down within seconds getting to ready to head out the door. I'm getting good at not reacting but now I've got to figure out how to help him diffuse himself before he erupts. The trick on my part is to know what is going to send him over the edge. Should have known taking the bugs would have done it. But regardless, what else do I do when it's time to leave to catch the bus, he's in his underwear and playing with bugs? Hmmm.....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Change Their Diet and Their Behavior - Just Diet Isn't Enough

Okay folks, the following address http://www.naturalnews.com/034660_ADHD_diet_symptoms.html, links to an article regarding ADHD and diet. As we know, this is the exact route I am going with Preston so I support it fully. However, I do have some qualms with it - the biggest one being that diet alone doesn't change severe ADHD. Some people commented that they changed their kids' diet and the issue went away. If it is is severe enough, it unfortunately isn't that easy. Ohhhh how I wish it was! As far as the article goes, these are my two points:

1) I get a little worked up when people question the validity of this disorder. As is the case with everything in life, unless you have experienced it, you really don't understand it. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not validate the diagnosis of ADHD in other kids myself; I always figured it was mostly due to poor parenting. After struggling with my son so vehemently for several years with his inability to regulate his emotions and focus, constant tantrums, and defiant nature this diagnosis along with Oppositional Defiant Disorder diagnosis provided some relief - we know what the issue is. But, as the article points out, little is still known about the disorder. I do agree that it is a 'disorder' and they know it is due mostly to lack of development in the frontal lobe which is in charge of focus, discipline, executive functioning skills, and the ability to think long-term and cause and effect.

Medication can help and did help my little Preston for a year along with regular therapy and behavior modification through specific parenting techniques.But, when it came time to up his dosage to keep it effective, I had to pull the plug. Not to mention the lack of sleep and appetite and how his ADHD symptoms worsened when he came off the medication in the early evening. It was at that time that I came across a podcast (the link to which is on a former post) with Dr. John Gray regarding very specific supplements to support the brain - particularly with ADHD. Having nothing to lose that is where I am at at this moment. ADHD is a disorder. When someone says, "My kid is so ADHD," that is what aggravates me a little. It's not just that they are 'inattentive' at times. It is a condition that has very serious affects on the whole family. Preston's disorder has made it a challenge to keep our family going. And we're a blended family! Oi! Already riddled with unique challenges!

2) Diet does make a difference but is definitely not THE solution depending on the severity of the disorder. The title of the article suggests dropping the meds and the therapy. Fine to the meds but I'm ALL FOR therapy.  In addition to diet, I'm playing with specific supplementation and we'll have to see what happens before I can comment on that. On the first go around prior to medication I altered his diet and it really didn't do anything. Healthy fats seemed to help a little (tuna omega and flaxseed oils). The biggest difference I see in him is when he has eaten foods with artificial colors in them. I have heard that red and yellow dyes are the worst culprits but they all creep me out and his reaction is so severe I'd just kick them all to the curb. Partially hydrogenated oils are a big one interfering with messages sent to and from the brain. Sugar of course winds kids up which 'hyperactive' kids don't need any more of and the 'down' that follows the sugar spike only adds to an already irritable oppositionally defiant kiddo. Yes, foods that we eat do influence behavior and removing specific ones does help.

I wouldn't change anything I am doing already in regards to diet - eliminating most of the junk and supporting him with supplements and as good a foods he will eat is the most I can do on the dietary front. Behavior modification, individualized learning plans at school and not engaging when he is looking to pick a fight are other tactics that have to be employed when on the front lines of this battle.