Does your kid have a hard time paying attention, sitting still, and remembering things? Is it just a stage they are going through? Did the psychologist or psychiatrist diagnose your child with ADD, ADHD, autism or other disorders associated with brain fog? Is there anything you can try before medication to alleviate these symptoms and help your doctor make the correct diagnosis?
The short answer is YES, in many cases!
As I mentioned in my first post, when I was young I had a hard time focusing on anything besides TV and usually went from extremely hyper to tired, many times throughout the day. Also, I had a hard time memorizing anything. This combination of lack of focus and bad memory made it very difficult in school. By 5th grade, I had very little confidence and tried to make up for it by making my classmates laugh. Unfortunately, I was desperate and would try to be cool by acting out in school which ended up with me being suspended multiple times. My Dad still says that he spent more time in school that year than I did! Also, I spent an hour with a psychologist every other week for most of my elementary school years due to my lack of focus in school and behavior.
Basically, I felt like a dumb airhead and was hoping that I would be diagnosed with something that would justify my behavior, forgetfulness, and lack of focus. I thought that if that happened then my parents, teachers, and friends would say, “oh, that explains it and none of it is his fault!”. However, I was never diagnosed with ADHD.
Not being diagnosed with ADHD was one of the most fortuitous things that happened to me. I probably would have just accepted my diagnosis and never searched for more answers. Elementary school was brutal and the aforementioned symptoms never went away. Another problem that I had through those years was lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Back then stomach problems weren’t usually considered a symptom of behavioral, or attention deficit problems. I often wonder how much better I would have been if doctors had the information we do now about the tie between food sensitivities and several diseases and disorders. Where would I be now? Is this the reason that I fell 10 years behind my peers and didn’t finish college until the age of 31?
We are extremely lucky to live in a time where parents have so much information at their fingertips (sometimes too much…that’s another topic 🙂 ). I first heard the word gluten when I was 25! After doing some research and talking to a person with celiac disease I’ve been gluten free ever since and it has changed my life!! Please take the time to observe your child’s diet and take steps to eliminate possible food allergies or intolerances. Unfortunately, symptoms of intolerance are usually covert, i.e. your face doesn’t swell up like a balloon! Also, some tests that are used by physicians do not have a very high accuracy.
Elimination diets are great tools to narrow down what, if any, food is causing issues. People can do this themselves but it is suggested to solicit the guidance of an allergist. This page on the Raising Children Network site, sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Social Services among others has great information about recognizing food allergies and symptoms and steps to get help. Here is a snippet:
Elimination diet: this involves removing possible allergy-causing foods from your child’s diet, then reintroducing them again if the allergist thinks it’s safe to do so. Your allergist is looking to see whether your child’s symptoms flare up when the foods are put back into the diet.
Elimination diets are also the most common test for food intolerances.
Why should I consider the possibility that food allergies or intolerances are a major cause for my child’s hyper behavior, lack of attention, and forgetfulness? Please refer to this article by Courtney Hutchison and ABC News Medical Unit that discusses a study that,
In kids with ADHD, researchers found that putting them on a restrictive diet to eliminate possible, previously unknown food allergies or sensitivities decreased hyperactivity for 64 percent of kids.
What if my child is diagnosed with autism? Then please refer to this article by Amir Khan from Everyday Health in which he states:
Researchers from the University of California at Davis found that these stomach issues, which include constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods, may cause extreme pain and discomfort in autistic children, and cause them to act out, become irritable or become withdrawn.
The researchers looked at more than 1,000 children, 499 of whom are autistic, who were enrolled in an autism study between 2003 and 2011. They found that parents of the autistic children were six to eight times more likely to report gastrointestinal symptoms in their children, compared to the parents of non-autistic children, and equally as likely to report behavior issues.
Thanks again for reading and I hope this information has helped you. Please leave comments, questions, and any related stories of your own!