By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP, Crosswalk.com
3 Methods to Tackle ADHD
Question: My 14-year-old grandson has been diagnosed with ADHD. His biggest problem is how easily he becomes overwhelmed. How can I make focusing and learning easier for him?
Answer: After gathering more information from this supportive grandmother, we devised a step-by-step plan to help her grandson learn and focus easily.
Although it is not possible to entirely eliminate ADD/ADHD behaviors, in the field of special education and nutrition, we have found that there are many ways to make learning and attention easier for a child who is suffering from symptoms of hyperactivity/attention disorder or memory issues. Over many years, and after working with thousands of families, we have found targeted nutrition, midline therapy, and right-brain teaching methods to aid children, teens, and adults in focusing and retaining information more easily.
1. Targeted Nutrition for the Nervous System
The first question asked was, "Is your grandson a carbovore?" What is a "carbovore"? It is a word that we frequently use to describe a child who craves carbs and seeks them out. In our twenty-five years of consulting with families, the answer invariably is "yes." All children and teens like sweets and carbs, but kiddos whose nervous systems are in disequilibrium crave these foods.
We know that the gut is the second brain. It has been found that 95 percent of the calming focusing neurotransmitter is manufactured in the bowel. Carbohydrates (not broccoli and cucumbers, but soda, chips, pancakes, noodles, cookies, bread, etc.) upset the insulin reactions and the creation of these essential neurotransmitters. Without going into the lengthy science behind these observations, we can get to the "bottom line, " find ways to avoid these "focusing inhibitors," and watch the behavior change. There are two steps to this process: number one is diet change, and number two is targeted nutritional supplements that will help to re-balance the gut microbiome.
Since the brain is over 60 percent fat, we need fats to efficiently "feed" the brain. We have learned the tremendous impact of specific fats on the brain when working with children with epilepsy. When fats and protein are carefully regulated, and carbs are taken in at a minimum, seizures are markedly reduced or even eliminated. Recently, psychiatrists and family doctors have found that other nervous system disorders, like ADHD, PTSD, and depression, also respond to this change in diet. According to the latest research, these issues our children face are very much a product of our metabolism. This is not new research; it is just now being applied to more situations - with great success! Moms everywhere find that when they switch to a more ketogenic way of eating (higher fat and protein, lower carbohydrates), their child's focusing is better, memory is keener, and depressive or disruptive behavior is improved.
Targeted Nutritional Supplements
There are often physical reasons for a child's attention and behavior issues. Dr. Walker says that in his clinical practice, he has found that "children act how they feel ... look for the physical cause first." You can read more about these in Dr. Sydney Walker III's book, The Hyperactivity Hoax.
We regularly recommend to the families we work with to seek a local nutritionist or their integrative physicians to determine if yeast overgrowth (candida) may be playing a role in their child's lack of focus or poor memory. Many educational resources are available for parents to learn more about the chemical and physical causes of ADD/ADHD at home.
To better understand the nutritional interventions I recommend in my educational resource, The Biology of Behavior Nutritional Program, please review the citations I have listed at the end of this article. As always, check with your child's healthcare professional before starting supplements or making dietary changes.
2. Midline Therapy: Coordinated Movement Regulates Emotion
Dr. Daniel Amen, MD, psychiatrist and director of the Amen Clinics, says, "Doing a daily exercise that requires 'crossing the body' coordination boosts the mood by activating the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and attention."
Nurses, teachers, occupational therapists, and parents have all found midline therapy to produce dramatic results in regulating the nervous system. This brain/body exercise creates pathways for focus, memory, and mood. While it was originally created to eliminate dysgraphia, we have continuously experienced and received feedback on the greater impact of the powerful Writing Eight Exercise with regulating emotion.
In my 7–8th-grade classroom, I witnessed nervous system regulation in my students after we did the writing eight exercise to address their symptoms of dysgraphia. Eventually, I began every class with this exercise (regardless of whether they showed signs of dysgraphia) to calm everyone down and lift any "brain fog." We continue to hear similar experiences from hundreds of teachers who use this midline exercise in their classrooms each school year. To learn more about this easy fifteen-minute midline exercise, read my article "Smart Kids Who Hate to Write" on my website.
3. Right Brain Teaching: Healing Teaching
One of the fastest ways to boost a child's confidence and genuinely feel smart is to teach them how to use their powerful photographic memory. In my article "Stress-Free Learning," published in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Fall 2022 Issue, you can read more about how we use "Healing Teaching" to help kids and teens easily retain the information they are learning in subjects like spelling, math, and reading.
Right-brain teaching allows us to learn a concept as a "whole," meaning that we are embedding the data with visual memory hooks, using both the right- and left-brain hemispheres simultaneously. This helps a child bypass any learning glitches they may be experiencing and instantly store the information they are learning in their right, long-term memory. This instant success teaching method works so well as we address the more correctional pieces of ADD/ADHD with midline therapy and nutritional intervention.
When We See Results
In our experience and feedback received from the many families and teachers we've worked with, we expect to see a difference in a child or teen's focusing ability quickly when these three steps are implemented. In most cases, we see an improvement in focusing within four weeks of implementing a targeted nutritional program, twelve weeks after beginning the Writing Eight Exercise, and immediately after using right-brain teaching. We can make the biggest impact if all three of these interventions are implemented for the whole school year.
Books we recommend studying to learn more about targeted nutrition for ADD/ADHD:
- Brain Energy, by Christopher Palmer, MD, Psychiatrist
- Superimmunity for Kids, by Dr. Leo Galland
- Help for the Hyperactive Child, by Dr. William Crook
- Brain Maker, by David Perlmutter, MD
Copyright 2023, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
Dianne Craft has a master’s degree in learning disabilities and is a certified natural health professional. Her programs, The Brain Integration Therapy Program, The Right Brain Phonics Reading Program, Craft Right Brain Student Readers, and Biology of Behavior Nutritional Program, help families make learning easier for their children. Visit her website for many articles on children and learning, and to download her Free Daily Lesson Plans for the Struggling Reader, Speller, and Writer. diannecraft.org