In 2006 the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) put a black box warning on Ritalin, a common stimulant drug prescribed to kids for ADHD. Seems that stimulant drugs were the cause of serious heart problems in 135 children, 81 of whom died.
Others said the numbers were considerably smaller. And to be fair, some of the children had previous heart problems, many of which had gone undiagnosed.
The numbers don’t matter. The death of one child remains a serious concern. As many as 2 million kids a month take these drugs. Some estimate 2.5 million children are on stimulant drugs. That’s a lot of children taking drugs. Startling statistics to put it mildly.
Then in 2008, the American Heart Association said that kids be given a standard heart test, an EKG(electrocardiogram), if their doctors think they should take a stimulant drug for ADHD. It’s not a law, only a suggestion and some think it’s an over-reaction. As a parent and grandparent, I’d certainly follow the EKG suggestion…even if insurance didn’t pay.
Now before I go any further with this story, please do not take a child off their ADD medication or suggest to a parent that such should be done. If you want to look into lowering a dosage or stopping a child’s medications, you must talk to a doctor.
What does this story mean in terms of ADD behavior at home and in the classroom? I predict that anxious parents and doctors are going to take kids off their meds without bothering with an EKG.
What are we going do with 2 million hyperactive kids!
For years, we haven’t had to take responsibility for helping these kids or keeping ourselves from going crazy trying to keep some kind of order in the classroom and at home. The drugs did it for us. Now we may be on our own.
Here are ten brain-based learning suggestions to help you and your kids cope with ADD:
1. Stop eating sugar including drinking fruit juice. Cut down on bread and pasta, esp. that made with white, processed flour.
2. Limit TV and video games, especially TV and games that have lots of flashing lights.
3. Help them get organized. Keep a schedule and be consistent.
4. Stop telling them to sit still. Their ability to do so is limited. Furthermore, movement is essential to learning. It’s a major brain-based learning strategy!
5. Practice deep breathing. Kids can even be taught a simple form of meditation which is nothing more than watching one’s breath. Even getting more oxygen to the brain is a brain-based learning technique.
6. Cross right ankle over left and then give yourself a hug by crossing arms across the body, left over right. Reduces the stress in the central nervous system. Try it yourself.
7. Get plenty of sleep. Put kids to bed earlier.
8. Exercise, play, run, skip, insist on recess, esp. “free” recess where kids choose what to do versus a structured game.
9. Do Brain Gym® (See http://www.braingymclasses.com) Not a few kids have gone off their meds or at least had doses reduced by doing Brain Gym. Another very effective brain-based learning strategy.
10. Eat more foods with Omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, sardines,tuna flaxseed, flaxseed oil. Take fish-oil supplements. (Find tuna without mercury. Check your health food store.) Omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of dopamine just as Ritalin and other stimulant drugs do. Brain-based learning includes what we feed our brains and how that food affects the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Choose two or three strategies from this list of brain-based learning strategies and see what happens! I’m guessing you’ll see an improvement! Less ADD behavior.