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.