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Alternatives to medication for ADHD

(30 Posts)
lancsphys Tue 29-Dec-15 17:30:18

My son, aged nine, was diagnosed with ADHD by a paediatrician last week. She offered ritalin-type medication. When I asked if there were any alternatives, she baldly said no. But the NHS website seems to suggest that there are various therapeutic options. Does anybody have any experience of this, or has anybody been in a similar situation/have any advice?

Cookingwine Tue 29-Dec-15 22:41:55

A friend of mine has a DS now 15 who is on a SSRI for anxiety and this seems to help him a lot. I hope other people will be able to help you more!

Cookingwine Tue 29-Dec-15 22:42:59

I should have specified that this DS has a mixed diagnostic of ADHD and ASD.

CantSee4Looking Tue 29-Dec-15 22:53:05

Yes I have experience.
Low sugar/carb to stop the blood sugar swings
Artificial colours removed from diet
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and one other preservative that is on the tip of my tongue
Social stories and role play therapy - although prevision on the NHS seems no existant these days so you might need to look into this aspect with a child psycologist
Routine and stable environment
Teaching all social norms rather than expecting observation lead learning
An exclusion diet can help as some have other triggers that increase the hyperactivity effect - grapes/raisins, oranges, blueberries are a few.

This combination worked on dsis who used to spend her whole school day hid underneath a table and who never slept more than about 2hrs a stretch until she was about 6. You would never know she had severe ADHD and they wanted her on Ritalin as a child. Also one of the most well adjusted individual I have met. BUT at nine you will find that it will kick off when you turn around and change the diet as taking out artificial colours and stablising blood sugar will be a huge unpleasent shock. Could be worth a try but there is an organisation that you can contact but not sure of the contact details

CantSee4Looking Tue 29-Dec-15 22:54:00

Also the one word of advice I have is fight, keep fighting. Sometimes if you fight enough there is a way that becomes an option. 2nd opinion?

BackforGood Wed 30-Dec-15 00:01:21

I was going to say similar to Can'tSee - there's lots of things that can help your ds, but, IME, it will be down to you as a parent and not something you can 'get' on the NHS.

noramum Wed 30-Dec-15 11:04:50

DD is only borderline ADHD but we thorough benefited from a parenting course called "New Forest Parenting Program" which is specific for parents with ADHD children, lots also were ASD.

It teaches good strategies, doesn't claim that one fits all and we also found talking to the other parents and exchanging strategies were benefits as well.

It was offered via our council's parenting scheme.

Sorry, I can't help with medication but I second about routines, role play and stable environment. We also involved the school, luckily they have a SEN section anyway so lots of good resources and teacher knowledge available already. it also helps to speak openly about it to any out of school club/hobby.

mrz Wed 30-Dec-15 11:26:56

We found diet worked as effectively as medication for my ADHD/ASD son but I would strongly advice not going it alone and always consult your GP. My son was under a specialist paediatrician (at time conducting research) and hospital dietician.

MM5 Wed 30-Dec-15 16:28:02

Has he been tested for allergies? (You can do it from home without the need for the GP.)

I know of a two different families that had this done and found out their child had intolerances to wheat p, colourings and dairy and some other things. They took theses things out if the diet and the behaviour dramatically improved within a week or two.

These were children who were literally bouncing off the walls! Seriously, don't ignore the food allergies. The reactions are real, just not hives as you would know them.

I know that they used this place.....

But, there are others.

lancsphys Wed 30-Dec-15 17:31:31

Wow thanks everybody. Do you think it would be worth paying for counselling/therapy if necessary? Fortunately we have grandparents who would probably oblige.
In terms of diet, he is coeliac (diagnosed at around 18m) and is also sensitive to multiple other foods, eg citrus, cashews, peanuts, pairs, coconut... He had multiple rounds of antibiotics for ear infections at age <1, which makes me wonder if there is some sort of gut disbiosys implicated. Have been considering the GAPS diet, has anybody done that?
I was a bit annoyed with the paed actually, she was like "You MUST get him into the grammar school, he'll never cope anywhere else." Well thanks, do you mind just coming round and sorting that out for me???

lancsphys Wed 30-Dec-15 17:32:27

ha ha PEARS! Being sensitive to pairs would be awks.

mrz Wed 30-Dec-15 17:35:20

My son was put on an exclusion diet so for a month ate rice, chicken and broccoli and drank water. After a month other foods were gradually introduced to see which caused a reaction (not an allergy). In his case wheat, soya, corn, cows milk products, citrus and sugar were main culprits.

irvine101 Wed 30-Dec-15 18:29:59

Sorry to hijack, but mrz, what is the reaction like?
We doubt about my ds having asd/adhd, but only seen pead when he was 2 years old for it, and it was inconclusive.
But since then, condition seems to have improved, and didn't seems to make teachers concerned about it. So, we left it, but it's always there for us at home.
He has multiple food allergies, so avoids most of things you mention, but not all, and has a lot of sugary stuff. He is actually acting quite nicely at school, but not so much at home, and if the diet can change that, it would be really great.
I feel sorry for him not to be able to have normal food, so I let him have things he can, but started to think he may have too much sugar everyday.

opioneers Wed 30-Dec-15 18:38:16

There's some research that suggests that fish oils can help with ADHD. Also - and I think this is less well backed up - magnesium/zinc.

But I agree that definitely removing all food additives will make a big difference.

opioneers Wed 30-Dec-15 18:41:03

There is also Robin Pauc at the Tinsley House Clinic who specialises in this kind of intervention for dyslexia/dyspraxia/ADHD, and if you search Tinsley House you'll find various threads on here. He's not everyone's cup of tea, and it doesn;t work for everyone, but take a look at the website and see if it might suit you.

cece Wed 30-Dec-15 18:41:35

My son takes ADHD medication. Don't just dismiss it out of hand. We have found it has made a massive difference. We have also done parenting classes - 123 Magic. A combination of things seems to be what is most successful.

CantSee4Looking Wed 30-Dec-15 18:46:00

I think the issue is that a lot of people are concerned about the side effects of adhd medication. Plus I have heard some pretty horrific stories from takers of the medicine when they have become adults. Imo it is always worth trying the natural route first and saving the medicine route as a last resort. BUT the natural route is neither easy nor quick and requires a lot of time and emotional energy. It really depends what you are looking for.

irvine101 Wed 30-Dec-15 18:51:37

If my ds has adhd/asd, I would like to know so I can help. But he seems to cope ok at school, but sometimes have meltdown at home, and it's really hard.
Reading this thread made me think that what we have been doing for his allergy actually helped with his behaviours as well(avoiding certain food, giving him fish oils.), so it's less obvious. All his past teacher I questioned said they weren't concerned, but not exactly true at home. I don't know what path to take? If I talk to GP( I did), they say don't worry.

maketheworldgoaway Wed 30-Dec-15 18:53:44

What are your concerns about medication?. ADHD is a neurological disorder - a disorder of the brain.

It is absolutely your decision whether or not to medicate your child but stimulant medication is the front-line treatment for ADHD.

Methylphenidate (the base of Ritalin and other stimulant medications for ADHD) is a hugely researched MH drug with enormous amounts of double blind trails. (Essentially because lots of people incuding some Pschiatrists and many general Dr's don't believe in it). It is a very effective treatment but isn't for everyone and some people won't get on with it or experience intolerable side effects but the same could be said for any drug.

You can't 'treat' ADHD with therapy. What it can do is help the person understand the way their brain works and therefore alleviate some anxiety or self-blame. And it could potentially help to develop some mechanisms to better manage the disorder but it won't reduce symptoms - just perhaps help someone better manage them. I'm not sure how this would work in a child though.

Disclaimer - My professional specialism is ADHD in adults, not children. And I have several family members with ADHD who take medication to good effect. One child and several adults.

mrz Wed 30-Dec-15 19:14:14

Son took Ritalin for almost 5 years it helped him focus in school but he hated how it made him feel which is why we explored alternatives.

CantSee4Looking Wed 30-Dec-15 19:27:51

Are you prepared to list the possible side effects that are on the medicine information brochure? Maketheworld I would also disagree with your definition of treat, but then imo the medicine route is covering rather than treating.

My gp thought suicide attempt was a perfectly reasonable side affect for a medicine he gave me. And was confused that I disagreed. To be clear though it as a AD NOT ritalin. Risk vs benefit are considered very differently by different people.

dontstopmenow Wed 30-Dec-15 19:47:54

My son has also been diagnosed with adhd. He takes methylphenidate on school days and this has had a hugely positive effect on his ability to concentrate and learn and also form relationships with other children in school. We don't use the medication on holidays when he is just with family.

mrz Wed 30-Dec-15 19:56:15

Common side effects

Loss of appitite
Slowing if growth
Stomach ache

Less common

Suicidal thoughts
Heart attacks
Hearing things

mrz Wed 30-Dec-15 20:00:23

maketheworldgoaway Wed 30-Dec-15 20:18:05

Can't see - I made it clear that it is the decision of the parent in this case or the decision of the adult who has ADHD.

I also said the medication won't suit everyone and some people will have intolerable side effects.

Why would I list all the possible side effects that are listed on the brochure?.

And when we're dealing with a disorder like ADHD there is no 'cure'. It is a disorder of the brain. 'Treatment' is alleviating symptoms, it's not like depression or psychosis where symptoms being treated can result in a remission.

It is a neurological disorder which is static or resolving - approximately 6/10 children with the diagnosis in childhood will not have clinically significant symptoms at 18. But that's because some children 'grow out of it' not that medication has 'treated it or cured it' it's that maturation of the brain has naturally resolved symptoms.

For those people who continue to have symptoms post 18 of course it can't be 'cured' so the medication is 'covering' the disorder. It 'covers' and alleviates symptoms so the individual can get on with life.

That's what it does. It 'treats' the symptoms and for lots of people it does that very effectively. But it can't 'cure' ADHD. There is no known cure for a neurological disorder so yes, treatment 'covers' symptoms but that IS treating ADHD.

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