Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Internet Special Education Resources
Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory

The latest and (not-so) greatest on ADD and ADHD plus
Treatments to Help Decrease the Effects of ADD/ADHD in your Child's Life

By Wendy Burt-Thomas, for LearningRx
Scientists now know that many factors can play a role in the development of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. From food dyes and second-hand smoke to toxic chemicals and genetics, both internal and external influences may affect the severity of symptoms. Regardless of the cause, there are a variety of treatments to help decrease the effects of ADD/ADHD in your child's life. Here are just a few to consider:

Food dyes

On June 3, 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging it to ban eight artificial food dyes. According to CSPPI, the following eight dyes are believed to increase hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children:

  • Yellow 5 and 6
  • Red 3 and 40
  • Blue 1, 2 and 3
  • Orange B

It's not a new theory. Since the 1970s, numerous studies from around the world proved that some children's behavior "worsened" with the consumption of the dyes. In fact, the British government is already pressuring food companies to use safer colorings thanks to the latest studies. But dyes aren't the only consideration when worrying about outside causes of ADD and ADHD. Two recent British studies found that the preservative sodium benzoate may be to blame.

Test: Omit food products with artificial food dyes from your child's diet. Look for organic products or those that list only naturally colored ingredients (such as cereal colored with beet or carrot coloring). Whole, non-processed foods are generally a better choice for anyone.

Solution: If your child seems more focused, less hyperactive or generally less anxious, talk to a Registered Dietician about better food options. When in doubt, look for foods that are labeled as organic or made with no preservatives.

Heavy metal toxicity
High levels of toxic chemicals like lead, copper and aluminum can be found in many ADHD children. Though the cause can't always be traced, some theorize that possible avenues could include tainted water, drinking from aluminum cans, and food prepared in aluminum cookware. Increased cadmium intake as found in children who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, may increase ADHD symptoms.

Test: A hair analysis can screen for toxic metals.

Solution: Consult with a holistic doctor or nutritionist who specializes in nutritional balancing and hair mineral analysis. They should be able to provide you with products to help detoxify your child's body and supplement with important vitamins and minerals that may be too low. If your child is still being exposed to second-hand smoke, you may need to set new rules in your home or extended environment.

Genetics If you or a close relative have ADD or ADHD, chances are your child has it too. In fact, children whose father's had the disorder have a 30 percent chance of having it.

Test: While PET brain scans can measure the size of the brain (People with ADD/ADHD have 3 4 percent smaller brains than the rest of the general population.) and for low activity in the front-subcortical system (People with ADD/ADHD actually have less activity in this region because it controls impulses and attention), they can be costly and generally aren't covered by insurance for ADD/ADHD consultations. A less expensive (sometimes free) and more accurate assessment can be done with a professional cognitive skills assessment. The tests measure the strength and weaknesses of underlying cognitive skills, including things like auditory and visual processing, memory, processing speed, comprehension, attention, and logic and reasoning.

Solution: If a professional cognitive skills assessment reveals weak brain skills in one or more areas, you may want to consider cognitive skills training. While some parents choose to put their children on Ritalin, medication should only be used as a last resort. "Over 50 percent of our ADHD students will discontinue medication while in training," explains Tanya Mitchell, Director of Training for LearningRx, a national brain training franchise. "A child with ADD/ADHD will almost always have weak attention skills, but it often goes hand in hand with other weak skills. In most cases, cognitive skills training can strengthen weak cognitive skills drastically as much as three to five age levels."

Although many scientists theorize that there's an ADD/ADHD gene, no proof has been found. Until then, look for solutions to decrease the symptoms of ADD/ADHD in your child's daily life. Even small modifications can make a big difference.

Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her third book, "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters" (landing articles, agents and book deals) and often writes for LearningRx, the brain-training company, with learning centers all over the United States.
You can find out more about Ms. Burt Thomas at her web site: or by contacting her at: .

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.
Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Return to ISER Home