If you search “therapy for ADHD” on the internet, you will likely get links to thousands of different therapies. It can be a daunting task to find something legitimate or, even more, something safe and effective.
There are some widely known treatments that have proven to work. These include medications, behavior therapy, supplements, and diet changes.
Medication. One of the most controversial treatments is medication. To medicate or not to medicate is a common topic among message boards, social media, and support groups. There is still a stigma attached to medication for a child with ADHD. We made the decision to medicate our children when they were younger (they are teenagers now). Personally, I can say that I wish we would have tried it sooner.
There are two types of medications: stimulants and non-stimulants. They work in different ways, and different medications work for different children. I’m neither a doctor nor a pharmacist, so I won’t get into that, but I can say it often is a period of trial and error to find a medication that works. Managing side effects can be frustrating as well.
Behavior therapy. Behavior therapy is a common treatment for ADHD. It can be done by a psychologist, behavior specialist, therapist, or teacher. Behavior therapy teaches modifications to ADHD-caused behaviors. It can include social skills, emotional regulation, schedule structure, and ways to increase focus and attention. Behavior therapy also can be done at home and often is used in conjunction with the school and home together. Behavior therapy is not a short-term process; it is long term with goals, and it's monitored for progress. Behavior therapy is also sometimes combined with medication.
Supplements. There are many supplements that are believed to be helpful in managing day-to-day issues from ADHD. Before starting any, please consult with your doctor. Several studies have been done to prove effectiveness of zinc, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), and ginseng. Melatonin can help with sleep issues associated with ADHD. As always, consult your doctor before starting any of these, either with or without prescription medication.
Diet changes. ADHD is not caused by sugar, contrary to that old wives’ tale. However, there is some evidence from several clinical studies that removing certain foods or adding others can help manage ADHD symptoms. Lean proteins, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates can help. Some studies show that eliminating food dyes, dairy, and simple carbohydrates can alleviate some ADHD symptoms.
Personally, we have tried just about all of these treatments. Some worked well (melatonin is amazing), and some didn’t work at all (food dyes and dairy don’t aggravate ADHD in our kids). Cognitive behavior therapy changed my son’s life so much I could call it miraculous.
Just like most everything associated with ADHD, nothing is quick or easy. What works for your neighbor’s child won’t necessarily work for your child. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And again, please make sure to run everything by your physician or pharmacist before starting any new treatment.
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