I have taught HS for 20 years and have only had 1 student that used an alternative successfully. I have had many more whose parents claimed to be using "alternatives" or allowing their children not to take meds because they didn't like the way they made them feel and the children were disasters in the classroom. The one successful one had a mother that was with him all the time, monitored him vigilantly and sat in my room if necessary to keep him from disturbing others. Meds or no meds, ADHD children need a strong behavior modification plan and my school did not have the resources to put an aid in to constantly monitor their behavior. Consequently, they ended up in detention and in/out of school suspension more than other students. I am not promedication, but I do have to wonder if the child had a dibilitating, life threatening disease would the parents allow the child to decide whether to take their meds or not? Many of my unmedicated students have ended up in jail or dead after they left high school and it breaks my heart.
8 of the 12 girls in my daughters Daisy Girl Scout Troop were medicated for ADHD. We opted to use a fish oil/modified Fiengold diet regimen for my daughter. The Feingold portion helped with the behavioral problems, which were mostly attributable to food dyes, preservatives, and corn syrup. The "modified" part was the elimination of 2 specific allergins (wheat and cow dairy products) which helped with overall functioning since her guts were not tied in knots all day long and she could have regular bowel movements, and the elimination of partially hydrogenated oils to reduce Omega 6 increased concentration. When she went through a vegetarian phase she was more focussed still. The fish oil mitigated (though not completely) her CAPD (Fish oil is really a cocktail of Vitamin E/Evening Primrose Oil/Fish Oil) and enhanced her oral functioning. Fiengold helped the most with concentration and focus, but we've added a strong behavioral modification component in past years to limit her distractibility. Her visual and auditory language processing is impaired as is her short term working memory. Nothing seems to help the visual processing except rote - but that may be because of the memory component.
No one ever believes the ADHD diagnosis because she behaves so well. But give her a peanut and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk and she tests below kindergarten level and can't stay seated in a chair to take the test! (We've done this to testers who insist she doesn't need the dietary restrictions in her IEP or qualify for ADHD accommodations for testing, etc. Boy do they become believers in a hurry!) Primarily her issue is distractibility and focus - but even there we've found much of that is not a lack of focus as much as it is a lack of understanding of the language being used around her. She can often give appropriate responses or parrot or paraphrase without actually understanding what the original words meant. This was particularly true when she was younger.
She sleeps well at night, the dosage has stayed the same as she has aged. The only change in her blood work is a slightly higher red blood cell count. We've tried more, it made no difference after a certain point. Less, she backslides symptomatically.
The original combination was a suggestion of a young Australian woman we met at a youth hostel when my daughter was 6. She had similar problems and told us what worked for her and her classmates. (ADHD runs 40-70% in public schools there) She suggested some accommodations which had worked for her. Not everything she suggested helped my daughter, but enough to get us started on an "alternative" pathway we have not once regretted in 10 years.
There is also a book of classroom techniques for helping children relax and increase concentration. BEING IN CONTROL by Jason Alster MSc with Amazon.com
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