Monday, August 5, 2013

Dealing with ADD at home

It is very tiring and difficult to deal with children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, particularly for single parents.  It is therefore necessary to implement practical steps to make parenting these children a little easier and to help the children to self-regulate.
According to Helena Bester, ADD/ADHD can be defined as a neurochemical imbalance in certain areas of the brain. It is a hereditary disorder that should be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. The major symptoms of ADD/ADHD are inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Some characteristics of people with ADD/ADHD are the following:
·       Careless
·       Wandering attention
·       Does not complete tasks
·       Shows poor organising abilities
·       Loses things
·       Is easily distracted
·       Forgetful
·       Fidgety
·       Physically active
·       Restless
·       Talkative
·       Does not wait his/her turn
·       Interrupts others

It is important to note that just because one displays some of these characteristics in their behaviour, does not mean that they have ADD/ADHD.  It is thus important for parents not to make a self-diagnosis in this regard. 
Some practical ways of dealing with these behaviours are:
·       Always ensure your child has a routine to follow – most children respond well to routines and this applies particularly to children with ADD/ADHD.  You can draw up a timetable chart consisting of your child’s daily activities so that he/she knows what time to do each activity.  This includes even simple tasks like when to bath or brush their teeth.  You can remind your child about ten minutes before the time of a particular task to prepare him/her for it and to ensure that he/she doesn’t forget to carry out the particular activity or task.  
·       Set clear rules and boundaries – a rules chart can be drawn up but the rules should be short and easy to understand.  The rules should also focus on problem areas.  You can involve your child, where necessary, when drawing up these rules.  You shouldn’t expect them to follow too many rules though. 
·       If you feel your child is displaying hyperactivity, you may use calming sensory stimuli, for example, breathing exercises, finding a quiet space, slow rocking, or make a tent with cushions where he/she can be comfortable and quiet.
·       Always reward positive behaviour – don’t criticize your child only criticize his/her action.  For example, if a child breaks a vase, don’t criticize your child for doing this; rather ask him/her to explain what happened.  You don’t want to assign blame which could lower your child’s self-esteem.  A good idea is to keep a star chart or token board to reward good behaviour as this will encourage your child to strive to improve his/her behaviour. 
·       Try to avoid frustrating situations or situations that tend to increase the ADD/ADHD behaviours and don’t expose your child to sensory overload like noisy places.
·       When giving instructions to children with ADD/ADHD, always ensure the instruction are clear and concise.  A long instruction with many words will not be understood nor implemented.  Your child may be a poor listener thus clear communication is important.  Also, avoid metaphorical language, imagery, sarcasm or innuendos.
·       It is essential to pay positive attention to your child and spend quality time with him/her.  A parent should spend at least 20 minutes per day of “alone time” – just you and your child with no other children around and no interruptions or distractions.  For example, the two of you could play a game together.  Rather interact with your child than question him/her about his/her day.

Everyone understands that parents need space and strength to cope with children who don’t adhere to what is considered “normal behaviour”. A parent should understand themselves and know when they may need time alone.  There will be times when you will need to call upon family or friends to assist, especially as there may be times when you need to spend quality time with another child or other children in the family. You cannot only devote your time and energy to your child that has ADD/ADHD as it can be a detriment to any other children you may have. 
Parents need to learn to manage misbehaviour in a constructive manner without diminishing your child’s self-esteem.  It is not easy to parent a child with ADD/ADHD but if you meet the challenges head on and learn how best to deal with these challenges, you can enjoy special times with your child, appreciate him/her, and assist him/her to achieve to the best of his/her ability in all spheres of his/her life.
Below are suggested books for further reading on this topic:
Bester, H. (2006). Facts, theories and therapies: How to cope with AD/HD: A South African guide for parents, teachers & therapist. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau.
Picton, H. (2005). Hyperactivity and ADD caring and coping. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.
Barklet, R.A. (2005). Take charge of ADHD: The complete authoritative guide for parents. Australia: Hinkler Books.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

ADD Myths busted - Ritalin is not a long-term solution

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is one of the commonly prescribed drugs used to treat ADD or ADHD. When it is effective, it is very useful as the child/adult appears to be able to concentrate better and the hyperactive child is able to calm down.

Often the solution is thought to be to medicate children and even adults that display symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Even though Ritalin has been used since 1957 to treat children and adults, Ritalin still includes the warning statement; Long term effects of this medication have not been tested (Center for Substance Abuse Research, CESAR, 2009). In truth the effects of Ritalin have only been tested on children and adults for the last decade. 
The new technology of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI), has been used to monitor the effects of Ritalin on children.
Looking at an FMRI scan it is obvious that not only is Ritalin stimulating the necessary part of the brain of the ADHD child, it is stimulating the entire brain unnecessarily. In the child who does not have ADHD the scan shows that Ritalin actually slows the brain activity. The increased activity in the frontal lobes of the child suspected of having ADHD is three times as much as the child who does not have the disorder.
Only medicating children or even adults without addressing the cause of their symptoms which may be due to neurophysiology, diet, home, school, or work environment the desired effects may only last in the short term. The most effective treatment for ADD/ADHD is a combination of dietary intervention, medication, the necessary supplementation, neurofeedback training and therapy and/or counselling to learn coping skills and adaptive behaviours.   

*NEVER stop taking Ritalin or other drugs without first consulting your doctor. 

Contact us for more information on ADD and ADHD
011 888 9334

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The qEEG. Your first choice - Lauren Claassen

My daughter Lauren is currently completing her masters degree in psycology. She joined The ADD Lab a year or so ago and is now balancing her life as a student with her life here at the practice. She has had countless successes  and having found a passion for the qEEG, I thought it would only be fitting for her to write this month's article. Enjoy the read - Mitzi Claassen
For the last couple of months we’ve been looking at some of the reasons why the diagnoses of developmental dis.orders (such as ADD/ADHAD, autism, epilepsy and dyslexia) are on the rise. In March we looked at the impact and importance of sleep. And in April we looked at the dismal state of our children’s nutrition and the effect it is having on their brains. This month, I’m going to look at another reason why these diagnoses are on the rise, the diag.nosis itself.

 -Lauren Claassen-
It is estimated that 1 in every 6 children are diagnosed with some kind of developmental diso.rder or difficulty.The amount is staggering. And it’s what got me thinking about a trend we’ve been seeing in the practice for a very long time. We get so many emails every month from parents who have done just about everything under the son to address their child’s problem. Let me take you through a typical email.
“My son/daughter has been diagnosed with X. We’ve tried A to W. Nothing is working and my medical aid is running out! Please help.”
Here is the crucial part; “My son/daughter has been diagnosed with X”. Despite the fact that these developmental issues originate in the brain, most of them are diagnosed on the bases of observable behavior. It’s like treating a patient with a heart problem, by looking at his symptoms. And not doing an ECG or chest x-ray to look at the heart. So in order for us to treat a disor.der that originates in the brain, should we not be looking at the brain directly?
The qEEG(Quantitative electroencephalogram) is what helps us do exactly that - look at the brain directly. So that we can not only diagnose the developmental disor.der correctly, but most importantly, treat it correctly.
Let’s take a closer look at the process:
The qEEG records the activity in the brain through the help a cap which we place on the client’s head. While the client performs tasks (vis.ion, attention, language and audition), the brain activity is recorded in real-time. It allows us to watch the brain as it performs certain functions, which in turn helps us dete.ct even the slightest abnormality. Once the qEEG is complete, the data is submitted and compared to what we call a normative database, which has beendeveloped by the ‘Brain Resource Company’.

It includes subjects of different races, genders, ages and cultures. By analyzing the client’s data and comparing it to this database we are able to see if any irregularity in brainwave activity exists. Once the comparison has been made, the data collected is converted into a colour map of the brain which identifies which areas of the brain were efficiently engaged during specific tasks and which weren’t, allowing us triangulate exactly where in the brain the irregular/abnormal activity is. Giving the client a neurological diagn.osis which isn’t merely based on behavior observed.
By using the qEEG to diagnose developmental problems, we can treat the origin of the problem in the brain itself. And this is what allows us to develop a customized programme for every client. This programme may include Neurotherapy, Cellfield, Solisten, or any other therapy. What is important is that you know we are treating and monitoring a problem based on a diagn.osis we made by looking at the source of it.

The ADD Lab
011 888 9334

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nutrigenetic specialist, Dr Hein Badenhorst looks at nutrition, supplementation and your child's brain.

Dr Badenhorst and The ADD Lab have been collaborating for a while now. Our ADD and Nutrition workshops have been a runaway success. And I'm glad to say that more and more parents are beginning to understand the consequences of feeding their children bad food. So Dr Badenhorst was the obvious pick for our April piece. Enjoy! - Mitzi

Never in history has the very old saying of Hippocrates – “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food” – been truer than in the year 2011, where the over prescription of psychotropic drugs is a worldwide phenomenon.
Probably one of the most significant conclusions from research finished in 2010 is that nutrition and lifestyle factors can actually override some genetic disorders. What does this mean for kids and parents influenced by ADD and ADHD?
The message basically boils down to the fact that by purely optimizing lifestyle factors like hydration, nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress reduction and eliminating negative environmental factors like pollutants, food additives and colourants, and correcting deficiencies via supplementation, we can ‘treat’ some disorders like ADD/ADHD, by overriding or “switching off’ the genetic factors responsible for having these conditions.
This is wonderful news for parents struggling with conflicting emotions regarding different treatment options, especially the conventional ‘drug route’. Please do not misunderstand my point. The conventional pharmaceutical way of treatment is still and will still in future be necessary for selected individuals needing and qualifying for the use of these drugs. But the simple corretion of certain lifestyle aspects will offer options to millions of kids worldwide unnecessarily using these drugs, that previously had no other treatment options.
The departure point of this journey is first of all a full clinical evaluation. Following a proper evaluation the first line of treatment should be correcting all factors found in the evaluation. In the vast majority of cases numerous lifestyle factors are found that first need to be corrected before drug treatment is considered.
A very basic overview of these factors includes:
·         Correcting acid – base imbalances by optimizing the bodies pH level
·         Optimizing the hydration status with good quality healthy water
·         Optimizing blood sugar and insulin levels by correcting the intake of the right sugars and complex carbohydrates
·         Reducing inflammation – body and brain – with an anti inflammatory diet consisting of alkaline foods and the correct oils
·         Optimizing the Omega 3 – Omega 6 ratio by adding the right oils and fats and eliminating the bad fats consumed
·         Eliminating allergens – both food and environmental
·         Eliminating food colorants, preservatives and food flavorants
·         Detoxify the body especially if  heavy metal poisoning is biochemically diagnosed
·         Correct protein intake making sure all potential amino acids deficiencies are corrected
·         Optimizing colon health with the correct hydration, fibre and always give an appropriate probiotic at least twice daily on an empty stomach
·         Negative stress should be reduced with appropriate therapy not forgetting regular exercise and relaxation
·         Underlying psychological and relationship issues identified should be professionally addressed before drug therapy is considered
Basic supplementation should at least include the following:
·         Well balanced organic multi-vitamin
·         Additional B-vitamins - providing additional folic acid(especially important when homocysteine levels are raised)
·         Lecithin preferably combined with additional Vit E (“ Lecithin is practically a wonder drug as far as cognitive impairment is concerned” Dr D.S. Khalsa – Brain Longevity)
·         Omega – 3 Complex to provide optimal levels of EPA and DHA
·         Additional Calcium, Magnesium and Vit D3 – especially when indicated by low blood levels.
·         Additional antioxidants – specially when fruit and vegetable intake is low and oxidative stress is detected in the urine sampling
A few essential facts to consider when opting for supplementation are the following:
·         Always use organic whole plant concentrates and avoid synthetic supplements
·         Make sure the product has a NAPPI code and is at least recognized by the regulatory bodies
·         Ensure that the Omega – 3 oils being used is certified to be free of any heavy metal, pesticides, herbicides and organophosphates as these substances tend to concentrate in oils
By applying these very basic principles, having a proper assessment and using these health guideless,  including the correct nutrition and dietary supplementation, most of these neurodevelopmental issues and disorders can be corrected without the use of potentially dangerous drug therapy.
We are indeed what we eat! - Dr Hein Badenhorst
Contact The ADD Lab:
(011) 888 9334

Friday, April 8, 2011

Are certain foods triggering ADD symptoms in your child?

As parents we play a crucial role in the management of our children’s ADD/ADHD symptoms. And in order to do this successfully we have to be able to firstly identify the symptoms and secondly we have to be able to manage them correctly. We manage these symptoms by looking at a few different influencers like sleep, nutrition, exercise, supplementation, the list goes on. If we can optimize these influencers, we can minimize the symptoms of ADD.
“Trigger foods” have shown to increase the negative characteristics of ADD. Thus the correct nutrition is vital in controlling the effects of ADD.

Let’s have a closer look at what good nutrition looks like.

A balanced diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Additionally, a healthy diet is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
Consequently, when looking at ADD specifically, colored foods, sweets, candies, sugary cereals and energy drinks should be excluded. I’m reminded of a time when my daughters used to watch the cartoon The Gummi Bears. The Gummi Bears had a secret potion called Gummiberry Juice. It was a bright purple liquid that used to send them bouncing off the walls whenever the bears consumed it. This is what happens in the ADD brain when it’s loaded with sugars, colourants and other trigger ingredients.
Trigger foods commonly include sugar which is the main culprit of altering blood sugar levels and is considered by most experts to stimulate hyperactive behaviors.
The common forms of hidden sugar in foods:
  • white or cane sugars
  • high fructose corn syrups
  • sucrose
  • dextros
  • fructose
Caffeine is also labeled as a trigger food. Since caffeine is a stimulant and most children with ADD/ADHD are already over-stimulated, eliminating it from their diets makes good sense.
As a parent you can consult nutritionists who will be able to compile nutrition plans that will aid in battling the effects of ADD/ADHD. ADD nutrition plans have produced positive results in a number of children. Many parents and teachers report mild to significant improvements in the behaviors of an ADD child who is no longer consuming "trigger foods" on a regular basis.

Recommended ADHD Diet and Nutrition Plans

When compiling diet plans for children with ADD/ADHD you have to consider working towards the maintenance of a stable blood sugar level. Foods that will allow for such stability are high protein options such as eggs, lean meats, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There are also a lot of gluten-free options available to substitute breads and snacks. Organic foods, which are additive-free, are commonly included in ADD nutrition plans as well. In addition to ensuring that wholesome foods are widely accessible in the home, parents can also provide ADD children with supplements such as omega-3 fatty acid. Multi-vitamins should also be given on a regular basis.

What can parents do to ensure a balanced, nutritious diet?
  • Make sure to provide your child with many nutritious snacks during the day as to prevent children from becoming hungry in between meals. A child who is hungry is more likely to experience difficulty in maintaining concentration levels.
  • Make sure that your child doesn’t skip meals or snacks during the day. This might cause children to become moody as blood sugar levels decrease, resulting in less energy and difficulty to concentrate.
  • Make sure to include a wide variety of food groups in a child’s meal. Different food groups are burnt by the body at different rates, this allows for stable blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid adding unnecessary sugars to your child’s diet.This causes the blood sugar levesl to increase rapidly causing bursts of energy, only for the blood sugar levels to decrease again often leaving children with feelings of fatigue and the inability to concentrate.
  • Make sure to exclude food additives such as colourings or preservatives.
  • Before indiscriminately eliminating multiple foods, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with a physician and/or nutritionist.
The key thing to remember is that any change, whether it be a sleeping routine, nutrition or regular exercise, should be applied holistically. If your child eats a balanced diet during the week they should do so too over the weekends. It’s almost like growing a tree that only receives care, nurturance and water during the week and not over weekends. A healthy, holistic approach to nutrition will help you manage the effects of ADD.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nutritional cooking expert Matthew Ballenden on ADD, nutrition and your child.

Matthew Ballenden is a good friend of The ADD Lab. So when it came time to choose a featured author for the month of March, I jumped at the chance to ask him to do a piece on ADD and nutrition. He owns a marvellous fresh foods store in Greenside called Fresh Earth and as you’ll soon see, he is absolutely passionate about health and nutrition. Enjoy the read - Mitzi

It baffles me why proper nutrition is not taught in schools and I am astounded at how little the average person knows about the nutritional value of the food they regularly put into their mouth. I am convinced that today’s understanding of nutrition comes from clever marketing and the side of a cereal box which of course only supplies one with the bare minimum facts and half-truths. Surely we are setting ourselves up for nutritional failure? And in fact we are already seeing the signs, more heart disease than ever, more ADD diagnosis than ever, and more obesity than ever.

How can this be? There has never been a more intelligent species on this earth (that I know of) and yet we are slowly poisoning ourselves with over processed, de-natured, genetically modified, over flavoured, dead food. Over the years we have lost touch with the importance and the roll food plays in who we are physically and spiritually and unless we reconnect we will continue to create a perfect plate form for dis – ease and illness to flourish.

It starts with our children, lead of course by balanced parents and it does not have to be complicated or over ‘scientifified’ in fact it is so simple that most newcomers to healthy eating find it hard to accept. Three principals:

1.    Keep all food as close to nature as possible. This is food that has not been through any manufacturing or processing, unless in your home kitchen.
2.    Stay away from denatured foods, these are foods that have be tampered with so severely so that they can last on a shelf for one year without it going off. Your body finds these foods very difficult to digest and often does not recognise some of the ingredients and thus triggers an immune response.
3.    We are designed to eat predominately raw plant based foods with very little cooked foods; our body thrives on food that has all its natural nutrients, minerals, enzymes and life force intact.

The nutritional challenge we face today is that food coming off farms and grocery stores have nearly 30% less nutritious than 50 years ago. This is mainly due to over farming, bad farming practises, over processing and soil that is depleted of its minerals and other nutrients. Chickens and cattle are fed foods that are also without the required nutrients. Ideally they should be roaming the fields and eating all sorts of grasses and insects but nowadays they are locked up and fed food to speed up their growth. This is against the laws of nature and we are feeling the effects throughout society.

Our body uses the food we eat it to recreate itself every day and in fact over about seven months our body would have recreated its liver at least once, cells are dying and cells are being created all the time and your body uses the food you put in your mouth to recreate itself. This is why it is of absolute paramount importance to be conscious about what one puts into your mouth. Eating is not solely for pleasure and flavour but most importantly to nourish our body for it to perform the functions it needs to like immune defence, concentration, brain function etc. It’s a ‘no brainer’ - You are what you eat.

Prioritising good nutritional habits are essential to healthy children and families. Parents who don’t have time to cook or pack appropriate lunch boxed have their priorities mixed up. What can be more important than investing in your family’s health and future health? Having a sick child in the family ends up costing more money and time than it would have taken to shop properly and cook proper food. There is no shortcut! Eating healthily is a lifestyle that has huge benefits and ultimately leads to greater benefits.

The key to a great lunch box for all children and ADD children is preparation. Make sure that weekly or monthly you have shopped properly and you have all the right ingredients on hand in the morning. Lunch boxes should contain a low GI sandwich, no white bread. It has to be low GI so it is digested slowly and thus converted to blood glucose slowly. Gluten free bread is also an option but make sure it is low GI. On the sandwich can be goat’s cheddar with marmite or chutney. Add fruit, even if it is unpreserved dried fruit like dried mangoes. I always add a handful of raw cashew and almond nuts to the box; they must be raw and have no salt added. Nuts are full of protein and essential fatty acids which are great for concentration and stabilising blood sugar. Once a week I will add organic yoghurt to the lunch box, flavoured yoghurts have added refined sugar which is what we are trying to stay away from. To drink – its water and nothing else. Juice is a treat for when we go out to a party or dinner.

Most natural foods can, believe it or not, be purchased at your local supermarket; the retailers are stocking more and more natural and organic foods. It really about reading labels and sticking to the principles I have mentioned.

Changing your family’s bad habits is the biggest challenge, once you have given in to junk and fizzy cool drinks it is difficult to change. But it is definitely possible, it starts with the parents. Parents lead by example so if your children are not allowed fizzy cool drinks then the parents also don’t have fizzy cool drinks. Make it a family affair where everyone buys into the change. Start slowly, identify the worst habits and slowly change them (three a month). If you go too radical all you will succeed in doing is creating resistance to change. Swop the coke with a healthier fruit juice that everyone likes and slowly work your way through the fridge and pantry. Your changes need to be do-able and sustainable; this is a life style change not a ‘health fad’. Educate your children why you are making the changes, read up on what coke does to your body and teach your children. Be persistent and have endurance, it’s worth it. One of the best foundations you can give your child is a solid understanding of what food is and how it plays out in our body; they will then teach their children and so on. Hopefully we will then reverse the slow poisoning of our families.

Food is pivotal to our existence both socially and physically. There is room for almost anything and I am believer in balance with awareness being fundamental to eating properly. If you are aware of what you are eating you can take responsibility for your health, ignorance is potentially dangerous when it comes to food. Don’t trust large produces; make sure you understand what every ingredient is on the label and how it metabolises in our bodies. Have fun making food; don’t make healthy eating a negative boring and bland experience. Your attitude towards your food will manifest in the food, make sure you love what you are doing and enjoying the journey - Matthew Ballenden