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The over-diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in children has become epidemic. This isn’t to say that the disorder doesn’t exist; anyone who has dealt with a true case of the disorder in either themselves or their child can vouch to the fact that it is real. The disturbing factors are the frequency with which it is diagnosed, the fact that schools are demanding that parents put their children on pharmaceuticals, and the incredibly dangerous side effects that can occur with the drugs commonly used in the treatment of ADD/ADHD.

There are many causes of attention deficit and hyperactivity in children, and if someone has suggested that your child has ADD/ADHD, it is worth considering the following factors.

  • How old is your child? Remember that it is normal for very young children to have a short attention span and lack the ability to sit still for long periods of time.
  • If your child is school aged, what are the schools expectations at different ages for being able to stay seated and on task? Does the school offer adequate opportunities for movement? With many schools doing away with recess and gym class, complaints about ADD/ADHD from teachers have risen.
  • Has your child had a recent trauma or major life change? The death of a loved one, the birth of a new sibling, parental divorce or separation due to business travel or military deployment, moving, and changing schools are all common causes for behavioral changes.
  • Has your child been tested for allergies and food sensitivities? In some children, these are the root cause of ADD/ADHD behaviors.

If you feel that your child does have ADD/ADHD symptoms, but you’re wary of medication side effects, there are many things you can do to help them, and not all options include pharmaceuticals. Here are a few things that many parents have found helpful to their children.

  • Dietary changes that eliminate allergens and sensitivities, and eliminating or reducing artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives.
  • Adequate physical activity. Remember that children have differing needs in this area, and your child may require more than others if they have ADHD.
  • Time outdoors. A recent study has shown that people with ADHD reap more benefits from exercising in a “green” environment than in a gym or indoor class.
  • Sleep hygiene. Your child may have a greater need for sleep rituals, elimination of electronic stimuli in the hour or two before bed, and set bedtimes and waking times in order to feel at their best.
  • A life coach. Life coaches are different than therapists, and those who work with kids with ADD/ADHD can provide fun activities to help kids learn how to calm themselves, stay organized, and manage behavior and relationships.

While medication has a time and a place, with so many severe and potentially deadly side effects, exploring alternatives is an issue worth considering. You and your child may be able to enjoy a healthier and happier existence without the risks.