Alternative to medication?

Carrie - posted on 12/16/2008 ( 20 moms have responded )

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Hello! My 6-year was diagnosed with ADHD not long ago and is becoming steadily worse and worse. I've been scrolling through the posts and have noticed that many parents turn to medications as a last resort because not else worked. What other things did you try before the meds? Is there anyone out there who did have success with these alternatives (ie. therapy, etc.)? I''m so reluctant to turn to meds but I know that we need outside help of some sort for our son.

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Donna - posted on 02/15/2009

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Hi Carrie,

I hope all these posts are helping you to see that you are not alone in all this. I too went thru a similar situation with my son and husband. When my son was diagnosed with ADHD, I think both my husband and I went into shock, denial, and grief. Even tho we live in the 21st century, there is still a stigma attached to a mental disease. I can say this because of the reactions I have gotten both from my husband, and from the rest of my family--especially the ones who probably have ADHD themselves! So I feel your pain, and recognize it in all the posts here. The best advice I can give to you is to educate yourself, read, join support groups, and try stuff to see what works for Your child. Nothing is written in stone, nothing is final. Never swallow a doctor's advice without a keen eye on your child. Have confidence in your own instincts as to what works -- and what doesn't. Be proactive. Find a doctor that listens to you. And God-Bless, it does get better!

Stephanie - posted on 02/15/2009

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Research the following:



weighted vest (got mine from www.otvest.com); Defeat Autism Now certified physician (DAN doctor - they also work with ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (check out the book "Out of Sync Child).



Good luck!

Brandee - posted on 01/05/2009

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My husband and I are so very against the medications and reading these posts has made me feel better about my choice not to medicate.  We had to get him diagnosed to get his IEP at school but we told both the school and doctor that we do not want meds at all.  They assured us there are many things they can do to help him "first".  They all imply that if they don't he should be.  I don't think we will even if they say he needs it.  My cousin has had so many adverse effects on his development due to those meds. 



His IEP is working extremely well and he's doing better in school.  I recently was up at the school and his teacher from last year told me that she's been keeping tabs on him and hears of his improvements.  We are seeing improvements at home with his homework as well.



I must admit, I don't think my son has an extreme case of ADHD so maybe that's why it's working at school with just the IEP.  He tends to act up with things/activities that he is not confident about doing.  When he is confident, we have no problems.  We have just learned to work with him and "deal" with it when he does act up.  He has trouble going to sleep some nights but we just bear through it.  It has helped to only allow him to drink water after about 7 in the evening.   We also shut the house down. By that I mean that we turn off all the lights in the house but in our bedroom.  He knows that it is time to calm down when we all do that - it is the going to bed ritual.  Some nights if I stay in the living room by myself, he comes in there and tells me I need to be in my room.  So he likes that routine and it helps him relax even when he's struggling with it.  He will fidgit in bed for a while and sometimes he gets up 5,000 times, but I just reinforce going to bed and sleeping. I say the same thing over and over and eventually he tires out.  I would rather give myself some stress and deal with the problem than give him meds that will knock him out.  I just can't bring myself to do it.  We use this same sort of system with other things that keep him active.  It has been a hard road and has taken trial and error, but we've found things that work.  We just punt when it doesn't work.



I'm sorry I got wordy and maybe even off topic.  But I am going to fight as hard as I can against medication.

Dawn - posted on 01/03/2009

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My son is now 13. He was diagnosed officially at the age of 7- one month after his birthday. We suspected he had ADD so we held him back an extra year in 4 year pre-k. The pediatrician said to wait until he was 6 to see if he was just slow to social development. We tried behavior modification, limited his refined foods and sugar intake, kept him in sports and other extracurricular activities to help him to release pent up energy. By the Christmas break of his first grade year when he turned 7 he was below grade level in reading and math and the teacher felt he would not be able to keep up with the class if it continued. We saw the pediatrician over the holiday break and he was started in Adderall. By Valentine's Day that year he was above grade level in reading and math and was testing out as highly advanced on the IQ tests. He is now at a 12 grade plus 2 semesters level on placement testing-- equivalent to the end of a college sophmore year-- and he is only in 7th grade. The meds, careful diet and continued sports and other extracurricular activites continue and the combination has helped to keep his med doses very low. Now that he has grown from 4ft 9" and 76 pounds to 5'6" and nearly 100 pounds ( in the past 9 months) we have to reassess his meds and the doses, but I am hopeful we will be able to keep them to a minimum.

Jill - posted on 01/03/2009

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Carrie,

I am posting a reply I posted on another thread. As a teacher, I struggled for 3 years to put my daughter on meds. My husband had the same attitude as yours, and we still struggle with whether or not we are excusing Kelsey's behavior because of her disorder. The thing that finally got him to let me try medication was when the doctor told us to try it, and if we didn't see positive results, we could always take her off of it. The results were so amazing that we never took her off of it. Sometimes you may have to experiment with types and dosages. I personally only make her take it for school, but that is a personal preference. I did try punishment, herbal remedies, behavior modificatio techniques, etc., before meds, but none of them helped her enough. As you will read below, I also suffer with ADHD, and I can tell you first hand what a difference the medications make for me. I totally understand my daughter's struggles, and while we try to help her understand that having ADHD causes her to struggle with school and focusing on her work, she still has to take responsibility for her actions. Please take the time to read the rest of this post, as it has my insight as a teacher and how this disorder affects children if it goes untreated.



Hi! I'm Jill, and I also have ADHD. (Gosh, it sounds like and AA meeting. :) I am a teacher, and I also did very well in school, so when I told my mom I thought I was ADHD, she thought I was crazy, saying, "But you always did so well in school." This only goes to prove how little people truly understand about this disorder. My daughter (age 15 now) was diagnosed at age 7, although I suspected it in kindergarten. She did so well in school that I didn't think she needed meds. As she got older, she began to get in trouble for talking and was starting to struggle socially. After she was on meds (which worked miraculously) I suspected my husband might be ADD. I asked the doctor for a form used to diagnose adults, and what do you know??? It should have had my name on it. I started on medicine right away. I take 20 mg. of Metadate CR once a day, although I think I could sometimes use it at night as well. We later had my husband diagnosed with ADD, but he doesn't take meds unless he really needs to get a project for school done. (He is also a teacher.)



I have read studies that show that children with untreated ADHD often end up being depressed and have a low self-esteem because they rarely feel successful by conventional standards. Many end up self medicating with drugs and/or alchohol to make themselves feel better. Most medications for ADHD are stimulants and cause some of the same feelings of well-being that can be caused by more dangerous, addictive, illegal substances, so I strongly believe that children should get the medication they need early on. I get so frustrated with parents who won't consider trying medication for their children, because they can have so much more success in school and socially if they are treated. As a teacher, a parent of an ADHD child, and one who suffers from it herself, I can spot it a mile away. Even in a child as young as 5, (I teach kindergarten) the behaviors stand out and are very noticeable early on, in comparison to their peers. I know that some children cope without medicine, but I definitely think that if you are suspecting you or your child is ADHD, look into the medicine, give it a try, and see how it works. The earlier you can make your child feel successful in life, the better.

Lisa - posted on 01/03/2009

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In much of my reading about ADHD, I have found out that children with ADHD often have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, or the inability to cope with the stimulus that surround them each day. Find a good book or website about SID and see if your son fits some of the symptoms. We turned to an Occupational Therapist who knew a lot about sensory problems, and she worked with him to help him focus and adapt to his surroundings and find coping mechanisms. It has helped us gain a lot of perspective into our son's reactions to things, and we work with his teacher to educate her. Now, he is also on Adderall XR to control the impulsivity he was experiencing because it was becoming dangerous to himself and others, but there is a good portion of the day where the medicine has worn off and he is able to use the tools he has learned to cope with any issues that come up for him. Good luck!

Kelly - posted on 01/03/2009

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My son is 9 and has been on meds for 2 years, since he was diagnosed. It was a hard decision to make, but he knows what a non-med day feels like. He also receives BHRS services (Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Services). He has a TSS (Theraputic Support Staff) that goes to school with him and provides him with additional directions and prompts to help him attend. At first I was weary about these services, b/c of what other children would say, but his classmates have been accepting. He is also about to receive a hearing aid. Hand in there! The best thing you can do for your son and family is to get the support he needs!

Angela - posted on 01/02/2009

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There are several things to try. Best suggestion I have is to get Jenny McCarthy's lastest book. It gives lots of info on 'alternative' remedies. In addition to watching their diet you can go 'chemical-free'. My daughters are both on ADHD meds, but I notcied a difference by just switching a few things in my house so they are around less chemicals. We went to a dye-free fabric softner, switched to as many Green Works products as we coudl, I even bought a steam mop for our floors. Some of these are more expensive, but I do think that they've helped some.



I will tell you from personal experience I went through some of the same things that your husband and son's father did. I tried denial first. "There's nothing wrong, she'll grow out of it". But once I went to a doctor who specialized in ADHD my mind changed. I wanted the best life for my daughter as possible. Cori was diagnosed first and hers is the worst. Dusty could get by without meds probably, but she drifts alot and her meds just help her keep focused. My ex-husband used to tell me there was nothing wrong with Cori either, but once she was medicated he noticed the difference. Ask BOTH of them to go to an informative meeting with a doctor who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. Sometimes it's all about getting the right information to change your mind.

Liselle - posted on 01/02/2009

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Hi Carrie, I have an eight year old daughter who was diagnossed with ADHD and some signs of ODD 2 years ago. My husband has a son from a previous marriage with ADD, we have seen the struggles of medacation. Don't get me wrong, we did see the benifits, but with our daughter, we have chosen to go down a different path. We did try diet modification and it did work to some degree, but it was hard to completley rule out all additives, preservitives and colours. Our daughter also started to feel miserable when she couldn't join in with party food or eat at friends houses. In June 08 I came across a natural alternative. My daughter has this once a day and it helps her regain some controll over her temper and her impulsiveness. Brooke also doesn't cry for no apparent reason! We also have used a fish oil called iQ with good results, but this is the best thing we have come across. We still use time-out for her to reflect if she has done something wrong, but the time spent here is becoming less. If down the track we have further problem, we might look at medication, but at the moment we choose not to go down that path. please feel free to email me and I can tell you more about what we use.

Mandy - posted on 01/02/2009

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I have a daughter with ADHD, but I also teach school so I see alot of this. Probably one of the most common things that people will try before using medication is diet changes, such as limiting sugar. I know there are some other changes you can make in diet, too, but I'm not sure what. You might ask your doctor about that. Some parents also try therapy, but that seems to work best with older children who realize that they have a problem and can be taught how to control it themselves. With my own child, we are using Adderall. Her problems didn't seem to be food-related, because it was a constant thing. I have been pleased with the results of it, and we haven't had to deal with a lot of side effects. I know every child is different, though. I hope this helps some.

Mary - posted on 01/02/2009

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I have 2 with AD/HD and only 1 is using medication.



We waited 3 1/2 years before starting medication for my oldest (diagnosed at 2 1/2, medications started when she was 6, she's now 13) and tried many alternative therapies. We've tried gluten-free and the Feingold diets (neither of which really helped), behavior modification therapy (which we still use with her, in conjunction with medication), alternative medicine (which we had mixed reactions with), etc. I truly did not want to go the medication route but it was the only thing that really helped. We are lucky that the doctor who first suggested medication was a big believer in holistic medicine and recommended so many things before resorting to medication. My daughter is on a very low dose - for her age - of Adderall XR (which has worked wonders.) We still use a lot of behavior modification (your pediatrician should be able to recommend a good therapist, who can help you find what modifications work best for your child.)



Now, with my 12 year old, all the behavior modifications made a world of difference! She's learned ways to refocus herself and her impulsivity, from being a negative to a positive.



At the very least, I suggest trying alternative methods before medications. They might work for your child.

Jennifer - posted on 12/31/2008

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My son has been taking meds for almost two years now. He is on his third different one. He is now 8 yrs old and weighs 42 1/2 lbs. They curve his appetite so bad. I recently have been doing some research and recently found a website worth looking into. It is: www.3stepsADD.com. It talks about how getting the right amount of vitamins into your body that the adhd one is lacking, will help the symptoms! I am seriously thinking about it. Hope this helps!

Sarah - posted on 12/30/2008

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WE HAVE HAD SUCCESS WITH A COMBINATION OF BEHAVIOR THERAPY AND STRICT DIETARY RESTRICTIONS...HIGH PROTIEN ..HE TAKES OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENTS EVERY MORNING....LOW CARB....NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS ESPECIALLY RED... AND MINIMAL ARTIFICIAL COLORS...NOW THIS WAS NOT EASY HE IS AN 8 YEAR OLD BOY WHO THINKS THAT IT IS UNFAIR THAT HIS FRIENDS CAN EAT WHATEVER THEY WANT BUT I JUST EXPLAINED TO HIM THAT HIS BODY FEEDS HIS BRAIN AND HE ALSO PLAYS SOCCER AND BASEBALL SO HE UNDERSTANDS THAT ATHELETES MUST EAT HEALTHY...PLEASE THINK TWICE ABOUT STIMULANTS..THE SIDE EFFECTS FAR OUTWEIGH THE BENEFITS

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I felt the same way when we found out our son (now 8, then 5/6) was ADHD. I finally looked at it like Susan was saying....if he was "ill" you'd give him the meds to make him better.
The final push for us was when he was at school (kinder) and put a staple in the light socket. No amount of redirection or praise of good behavior could help with that impulsivity when he wasn't with us. It has worked WONDERS and I'm so glad we did it. He is such a petite kid anyway so I worried about the lb loss. He has loss of appetite at first but now he's fine. He will go in spurts too.
Good luck! I know this is a hard decision and time. Please feel free to email if you want/need to talk/vent/etc.

Ashleigh - posted on 12/28/2008

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Oh gosh, I feel for you, as I have been there for years... When my son was as young as 3, my husband and his parents said exactly the same, he's just a normal, boysterous little guy with a huge imagination, and needs discipline. Well I have never met people as strict as my husband and his family, and let me tell you, I am very soft, but went ahead with what my husband said, and did the punishing and disciplining all the time, and all it did was cause my child more pain, and threaten havoc on our family. It nearly ruined us, and when he also found out my son was ADHD, he refused to believe there was such a thing, as did his family, and we had so many confrontations, but I worked even harder to find out all the information I could, I visited paediatricians, and gathered as much info I could, and sat them down and told them, this is my child, and he needs help and support. Things were getting so bad at home. This is a very real thing, and kids with ADHD have certain parts of their brain that struggle with nonadrenaline, and as much as we try to sort it on our own by discipline, and punishing, it's doing more damage. And the worst thing is, they don't know themselves why they keep getting into trouble because of their impulsiveness to do naughty things. Shame, you are in a very sticky situation, I've been there before, and it's not easy, but speak to your paediatrician about all your worries. I had everything explained so thourough to me, and it made perfect sense. My son still has his wonderful, imaginative mind, but he can now sort through his feelings, and think before getting himself into trouble. I am ADHD, and on Concerta, and wish I had had the opportunity to help me earlier on in my childhood. Good luck Carrie, and pray, pray, pray! God helps me focus and stay patient.

Carrie - posted on 12/28/2008

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Thank you all for your suggestions. Admittedly it's not what I wanted to hear and I still don't know what to do. I hear what you are all saying but then I have my son's father and my husband both completely against medication and refusing to even talk about the possibility. My son's father even refuses to admit that ADHD is even a problem and there's nothing wrong with his "normal, active, imaginative" boy (his words). My husband seems to think that by even labelling my son ADHD gives him an excuse to act like he does and thus we should focus on punishment as the means to teach him how to act. I think they are setting my son to fail and the dam is about to blow up in all our faces. I have an emergency appointment with our pediatrician next week (it usually take 4 months to get in) which hopefully will give us some clarity and focus.

Ashleigh - posted on 12/28/2008

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Carrie, we were pretty much the same as you when we were told our 6 year old son has ADHD. My husband was so against medications, that we told our doc she had to find another way, as we weren't use medicines. We tried regulating his diet, but it is extrememly difficult, as we had to watch him 24/7, as if he had so much as a sweet, the effects are there for 24hrs, and this is extremely hard to control with him being at school, and playing at friends, etc. We were told there are different levels of ADHD, some more extreme, and some very slight, which can be controlled through diet, however, we sent our son to school without the meds, and I can tell you by the end of the first term, he was falling so far behind, and having huge problems with his peers. Fighting, and getting into trouble. We recieved so many letters from the teachers, we had to make a decision for our sons sake to put him on the meds. He was so tearful all the time, and struggled to keep friends before and since then, he has only been on the meds a few months, but I can tell you, we have seen a huge difference in him, he is happier and more easily able to keep up with his class. We are, however, still trying to find the exact medication that is right for him, so this is not an easy process. It's a life long thing, and the more information I recieved from people, doctors, etc, I began to realise that we are helping my son more with the meds than if he was not on them. My advise, I have not looked back, but I would get as much information as you can before starting, it will set your mind at ease. Good luck, the road ahead is tough, but I feel happier when my son is, and he can feel it, so that in itself makes it all worthwhile. Our kids need happy moms!

Jessica - posted on 12/16/2008

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Diet and exercise, lots of redirection, and counciling were things we tried prior to meds. The problem was that the impusivity was still putting her in danger so I reluctantly started her on meds and we have been pleased. I just couldn't take the suffering and frustration any more and neither could she.

Stacie - posted on 12/16/2008

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I know of many people who have found success in moderating diets. I hear alot of dyes in foods and things trigger ADHD as well as sugar.My 14-year old daughter has ADHD and has taken meds since she was five and now my four-year-old son is showing signs of it as well. It runs in my family, so it is to be expected. I feel I want to try to resist meds as long as possible for him, however my daughter really likes hers and asks for it when she runs out, it really helps her and has had few side effects.She takes adderall, but I know that they have come up with a new one that is effedra free.If you really don't want to use meds, you could try the diet modification, there are books on it, but if that doesn't work, I would agree with the lady in the post above me, if it helps them live a happier life, there is nothing wrong with it, I know of many disfunctional people with ADHD that, if they would just take their meds would be fine. Good luck!

Susan - posted on 12/16/2008

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This doesn`t answer your question, but this is how we made our decision about the medicine. If he had any medical problem that could be treated with medicine, naturally we wouldn`t hesitate. So with ADHD he,(our son-age 6) is in school and has to be able to focus,in order to do well with his education, as well as socially.And it wouldn`t have happened off the meds.We just pray for God to work this out for our son`s good since he knows the end result.It`s a real personal decision,but we couldn`t bear for him to go thru school always being concidered the bad boy, in trouble and not getting his work done, etc.So it`s what we did For him not To him. Be Blessed.

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