Therefore, the consideration for a child’s diet, I believe, is one of the more important factors to consider, especially in this time of fast food, processed food and all of the artificial additives. In addition to diet, other studies have been done showing outdoor exercise benefits in the reduction of ADHD behavior in children, thus supporting ‘Recess not Ritalin.’ (Molland, 2012). Perhaps some children are just not designed to sit still and listen for long periods of time, at least not without having the needed physical exertion, which is perhaps a missing component in modern day America. In Germany, family counseling in the form of “parent-training strategies” is put into use before doctors pull out their prescription pads, and in Brazil exercise is emphasized before drug treatment (Lowry, 2011). There’s also much discussion about the impact of television and electronics on children. There are several studies that have been done that show results for the impact of television contributing to ADHD, and then some that say the complete opposite. ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder and the developing brains of infants and children are very sensitive. So perhaps even though it is not a cause, there may be a correlation in the rise of electronic devices and television to the rise in ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that exposure to technology be limited; the younger age of the child the more limited the exposure (Lillienfeld and Arkowitz, 2013).
But remember Fidgety Phillip? Certainly there was no television back in 1845, and certainly Phillip should have had the exercise he needed and a more wholesome diet to boot. Perhaps we’ll never know the details of Phillip’s life which may have contributed to his fidgety-ness. We don’t know the fate of Phillip, either. There are many individuals who have ADHD and “are not successful despite having ADHD, but because of it” (Archer, 2014). Perhaps Fidgety Phillip became a successful businessman in the end, having at one time been just a boy being a boy, made to fit into a world of ‘normalcy’…oops here we go again.
So, what can we learn from all this? There is no one particular cause of ADHD. In some circles, ADHD is seen as a naturally occurring phenomenon in some children who simply don’t fit into what is considered mainstream life—at least mainstream life here in the States. However, other countries do not have the corner on ADHD explanation or treatment either. Though in all honesty, I think we can learn from how they address it as more of a behavioral issue, with consideration to diet and exercise and without jumping straight into medicating. Is medication necessary sometimes? Some will say yes. That decision is between you, your doctor, and your child. Nonetheless, we need to take in to consideration all of the factors that go along with the diagnosis. Ask yourselves: What is my child eating, how much outside exercise is he or she getting (including the most-important-non-structured-creative-fun-outside-play sort of exercise), is technology interfering with quality social time with family and friends, am I parenting in a loving, consistently structured atmosphere, am I helping my child establish age-appropriate coping skills and problem solving techniques?
And this may be the hardest question to ask: Can ADHD be seen as a strength?
Can having a child with ADHD be something that you, as a parent, can grow to manage? Perhaps with help and time, you can grow together with your child in trying to understand and work through things to best suit your family’s needs and your child’s uniqueness. Focus on positively impacting a young human to have exponential potential. Remember, the only ‘normal’ in life, is the setting on the dryer.
Sources: (Alderman, 2010), (Archer, 2014), (Deans, 2010), (Deans, 2011) (Lillienfeld and Arkowitz, 2013), (Lowry, 2011), (Molland, 2012), (Wedge, 2012)