“I wish I had their energy!” This is a common refrain from adults watching kids romp around. While it’s true that most children are naturally energetic, it’s also true that for some of them, that abundance of energy reaches levels beyond the child’s control.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that includes symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty with attention. Although it affects people of all ages, children tend to be diagnosed more often than adults. Traditional treatment for ADHD usually involves medication to achieve short-term results, but there is little evidence that medication has long-term benefits. Additionally, many parents and medical professionals have concerns about the effects of powerful drugs on developing brains.
That’s why recent studies have explored alternative treatments to help children diagnosed with ADHD achieve long-term results, such as improved performance at school, improved peer and family relationships, and decreased stress and frustration. Here are some of the best non-medication treatments for ADHD based on those studies:
Exercise and Team Sports Can Help Treat ADHD
Physical activity boosts the brain’s level of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which affect focus and attention much in the way ADHD medications do, but without the side effects. Individual activities such as dance, gymnastics, and martial arts—sports that require close attention to body movements—are especially helpful to children with ADHD, as are team sports that encourage focus and perseverance.
Fresh Air and Nature for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
Studies have found strong evidence that playing outside for a half hour each day can improve concentration for kids with ADHD. Although any outdoor setting is great, green spaces and other “back to nature” settings—which are also excellent for inspiring imagination play—tend to have the best results.
Diet Management can Help ADHD in San Diego
When and what children eat can have a profound effect on ADHD management. Scheduling meals and snacks no more than three hours apart keeps blood sugar levels balanced, which minimizes irritability. Children should also have plenty of zinc, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, plus protein and carbohydrates in each snack or meal to support concentration and focus. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic has asserted that certain food colorings and preservatives can increase hyperactive behavior, so the following additives (listed on food ingredient lists) should be avoided whenever possible: sodium benzoate; Yellow No. 6; Yellow No. 10; Yellow No. 5; and Red No. 40.
Plenty of Sleep is Beneficial for Children with ADHD
Regular, quality sleep is beneficial for everyone, but children with ADHD often have sleep difficulties that only exacerbate attention and hyperactivity issues. To ensure children get enough restful sleep, physical activity in the evening should be limited and regular bedtimes should be set and enforced. If background noises are keeping the child up, a sound machine or a fan can help.
EEG Biofeedback Can Help Treat ADHD
Although still relatively new, electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback is a safe form of Neurotherapy that measures brain waves and allows children with ADHD to identify and correct their symptoms. During a biofeedback session, a child will play a special video game that includes a specific task to concentrate on, such as keeping a plane flying in the air. The plane will start to dive if the child is distracted, encouraging concentration and focus through new techniques taught over time.
Professional Treatment Options for ADHD
Even if avoiding medication is a goal, parents with ADHD-diagnosed children can still take advantage of professional help. ADHD responds best to a combination of treatments, including those listed above, and ADHD specialists can help parents develop effective treatment plans and strategies customized to individual children.
Functional Integrated Therapeutic Services San Diego can help
If you have a child who struggles with ADHD, Functional Integrated Therapeutic Services (FITS) can help. We offer occupational therapy, auditory interventions, health and wellness rhythms, school-based services, handwriting help, and other therapies to help children in San Diego reach their highest potential. We’re uniquely suited to help your child, and we have two convenient locations in Mira Mesa and Liberty Station. So contact FITS today!