Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finally...a Plan! (Part One)

Since I published this post just a few hours ago, I have already remembered a few things I forgot to include. I will add those in Part Two.

Well if you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that my oldest son, Thatcher, has ADHD as well as other developmental issues. If you have never read his story you can read it here at my other blog. It has been a long journey for us - as it is anytime you have a child with unique needs.

At the age of three our pediatrician told us that we would need to put him on medication some day; he was that busy! We never thought we would go that route, but things change. At the age of five Thatcher was unhappy because he was too often in trouble and had no friends, and I was in tears many days. We decided it was time to try prescription meds. With the first prescription we tried we had horrible side effects - within an hour of Thatcher taking his medicine he would get an upset stomach and terrible headaches.

The second medication we tried yielded enough results that we stayed on it for almost a year. Unfortunately as time went on, there were side effects with it as well. Thatch is already a kid who has little interest in food. He is one of those "eat to live" not "live to eat" type people (very unlike his mom!). On the medication every meal became a battle. He never wanted to eat. Also as time went on, he increasingly experienced what his pediatrician called rebounding; once his meds wore off each day he was more hyperactive than he ever was without meds. At about 4:00 each day he would begin to bounce off the walls - almost literally - and from then until bedtime was insane. For a year now we have been off any prescription medication and maintaining.

As a side note: Let me say here I am a little nervous about sharing so openly about our journey as this is an extremely "hot" topic. If you are tempted, please do not leave any comments on my blog about your opinion of prescription meds. I am not inviting opinions and anyone who choses to tell me how terrible I am for putting my child on "drugs" will have their comments immediately deleted. I am not anti-meds at all and I know for some families it is a valid option - and very well may be for us at some point in the future as well. I am just one mommy trying to do the best for my child. I am processing my thoughts here hoping to possibly encourage someone else along their journey because it's good to know you are not alone! Read this recent post from the WTM boards (Thank you momof7!) before you make any judgments on those going the medicine route and remember that until you have walked in someone's shoes...

Ahhhh, I feel better for getting that out. Thank you for indulging me!

Back to the topic....we need to do more to help Thatcher than we are currently doing. As he gets older the gap is widening between where he is socially/emotionally and other boys his age. Everyone expects some amount of chaos from three and four and even five year old boys! But as he gets older and other boys are able to sit for some length of time (granted boys are active no matter what - just speaking in relative terms. Lol!) Thatch still cannot. He is nowhere close and his impulse control is very lacking. I have spent the last two weeks intensively researching a plan and so here it is:

First we have started Thatcher on daily fish oil supplements. We have started him on Nordic Naturals Children's DHA but we are about to order OmegaBrite KIDZ or MorEPA Junior. They have higher ratios of EPA to DHA which is thought to be more effective in the treatment of impulsivity.

After observing his progress for six weeks we will begin a dairy free diet as well. Even if we see huge results with the supplements we will still go this route - although I reserve the right to change my mind at any time :). It is believed that the proteins in milk (which are made up on long amino acid chains) are very difficult for some bodies to digest and end up acting like natural stimulants in the intestinal tract. It takes about a month to get all dairy out of a body.

After a month we may possibly try a gluten-free (gluten is the protein in wheat and many other grains) diet as well. This one makes me really nervous as it would be the biggest life change for us. Removing dairy would be huge but not so much as removing wheat. I am the person who will skip a meal just to be able to munch on a loaf of fresh-from-the-oven french bread while I shop at our local grocery store! The gluten-free diet usually yields even more results for ADHDers than dairy-free but it takes three to six months to remove all gluten from the body vs. only a month to remove dairy. This path seems the easiest for me to implement as well. If we go gluten-free it will be closer to summer when our school load is lightening giving me more time to learn to cook in a completely new way.

My prayer is that this works for Thatcher. If there is truly an organic cause for his ADHD and we can treat it by removing items from his diet it will be completely worth all the work it will entail. On the other hand, if his ADHD is a true brain-chemical issue and we see no difference (or just minimal difference) then we will be back at the table considering what medications may help our little boy.


judahmo said...

Hi Jennefer-
I came across your blog looking for a photo of the model nile activity from SOTW and I've been reading it regularly. Thanks so much for all of your helpful homeschooling advice. I have one 6 y.o. son who I am homeschooling.

I wanted to thank you for sharing your story and encourage you to continue to seek what is best for your family. It is clear to me that you think through very deliberately the things that you choose to do and by that, you are being faithful to responsibility God has given you no matter which plan you choose.

As with anything, you'll never please all the people out there, but your son will know that you are doing what is best for him no matter what you do.


susie said...

It sounds like you have a plan. If you are interested in lesser priced fish oil, please let me know. I researched fish oil highly and found that they are made by just a couple of companies. Almost all fish oil today has NO contaminants. We also found that we needed a lot of fish oil, which was dependant upon body size. My nutritionist was very helpful with this.

FWIW, when I take more EPA than DHA, I my ADD tendencies exacerbate and I feel very bi-polar. Watch out for this.

This is not intended as criticism. I hear a real plan in your voice, tinged with some trepidation. You're doing great. While dairy does take some time to get out of the body, you may not see real results for 6 months. Or, you might see it the same day! It all just depends.

Gluten is actually quite simple, once you get a plan. You're good at plans. You can do this! You might want to check out Lisa Lewis' cookbooks from your library. I have one of them in my own cookbook library and her recipes are most certainly tried and true. :)

Please know that you're in my prayers and thoughts.

susie in tx

Jennefer said...


Thanks so much for the advice and support. I truly appreciate it. I would love to learn more from others who have btdt. It is so difficult to wade through the internet waters which can be *so* murky!

Please feel free to email me when you get a chance. I would love to chat!

Thank you again,

Alisa said...

If you need any GFCF ideas, just let me know! My website is all dairy-free (obviously) but if you decide to take the gluten-free route as well, all recipes and product reviews are noted if they are gluten-free too. I eat mostly gluten-free myself, and once you get used to the diet, you will probably prefer. Good luck with the diet changes, I hope it works!

my5wolfcubs said...

I have not btdt, but I just wanted say I think you're doing a great job -- observing, researching, planning, implementing! :)

Anonymous said...

Hugs! I have an adhd of luck on your navigation to see which route works.

And Jen, while our family personally does not to meds, we certainly would NEVER judge another who did! It's not an easy decision either way...

God bless!

Jennefer said...

Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement! I know that the overwhelming majority of people out there do in fact reserve judgment; unfortunately it is the very vocal minority that I am on guard against.

I truly appreciate your kind words...and the kindness of many who have left sweet comments and privately emailed me as well.


Snicker said...

Dear Jennefer,

You won't get any criticism from me.
Many years ago, when my daughter was driving me crazy, if someone had told me there was a pill and it would help her behave, I would have knocked them over in my rush to get to the drug store. But that was 1975 and things were very different.
I searched for some way to understand why my daughter behaved so well some of the time and so badly other times. By that time, I had stopped blaming myself!
We happened upon some information that led us to answers for both my daughter's ADHD and my husband's horrible migraines. Both of them were reacting to some of the petroleum-based food additives that are being used in greater and greater amounts. After my husband and my daughter responded dramatically to some simple diet changes I became a volunteer with the non-profit Feingold Association. (

I edit a newsletter called Pure Facts, and have written a book titled "Why Can't My Child Behave?" (You can read all of part one on the above web site.) One section of the book is about "Moms who use Ritalin Love Their Kids Too."
Also I have just written a newsletter article about why it is NOT a good idea to go for a gluten-free and/or dairy-free diet so early in the game. I would be glad to send you a copy of it if you like. It's printed on paper so I would need a postal mailing address.
Another good site to go to is -- there's a brief introductory slide show that will quickly explain why the first thing to look at is getting rid of some of the worst of the synthetic chemicals in our food.
Jane Hersey
National Director
Feingold Association of the US

P.S. Would you please ask your husband to answer a question I have long pondered:
On which day did God create Froot Loops?

Jennefer said...


Wow! The internet is an amazing place. I was shocked to find you had left a msg on my blog. How in the world did you find me? :)

I have done much reading on the Feingold diet and dh and I have decided this would be our next step if gf/cf didn't yield the results we are after. I would happily accept any support you were willing to offer and would love to read your article. Would you be willing to email me at

Thank you very much for taking the time to reach out to me. I am so very appreciative!