Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity and Disorder (which will be further referred to as ADHD in this article) is a chronic condition that includes a limited attention span, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. ADHD is the most diagnosed mental disorder in children. This condition develops in childhood and can continue to exist even in adulthood. People who have ADHD can have trouble in making friendships as well as difficulty at school and or at work.

Education is a fundamental human right for all as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the Basic Education Rights Handbook states that a child has a right to attend a mainstream school in their neighbourhood and they should be accommodated in their attempts to do so. This means that children living with this disorder can attend mainstream schools in and around their area but should the disorder affect the child’s success at school then the child can attend a school that will cater for their specific special needs.

This article will focus on ADHD elementary schools in and around Johannesburg. The focus is elementary schools because there is a higher number of children living with this condition more than there are adults. ADHD is incurable but education and training exists that can help improve the functionality of the child and reduce symptoms as well.

Atholhurst Intervention and Multi Education Centre was established and opened in Sandton in 1999. This school aims to provide a solid academic foundation coupled with strong self-esteem and sound social skills. Atholhurst Intervention and Multi Education Centre has two classes: The Intervention class and the Home schooling and focus class. The Intervention class caters for younger children who are in Pre-school and the Junior phase while the Home schooling and focus class mainly focuses on school facilitations for both primary and high school learners.

Japari school is a preparatory school for learners with unique learning styles and differences which was founded over 50 years ago. The school is for children who are in Grade R to Grade 7. The school was founded on the idea that all children deserve an educational environment that is suited for their needs. Japari’s main aim is to address the education of students who have not found success in traditional mainstream schools and whose learning is dependent on personal instruction and unique teaching methods. The school supports academic, sporting and cultural programme. The school is located bear the Johannesburg Zoo in Park View.

Bellavista school is a remedial school that was established in 1967. This school was established with the main purpose of delivering the curriculum to learners with barriers that prohibits them from participating in mainstream education systems. It is a co-educational school from Grades R to 7 (ages 5 to 14). This school is based in Rosebank in Johannesburg and has about 240 learners. Bellavista school aims to remediate difficulties in learning.

ADHD is an incurable condition but through intervention and treatments symptoms can be reduced and functionality increased.

Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) is the predominantly inattentive type of Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). However, the big difference between the two is that ADD entails the child not being able to keep his/her focus and ADHD entails a child who shows a surplus amount of movement. According to DSM- 5 (CDC, 2019), which is a manual that helps healthcare practitioners make a diagnosis, the following symptoms for ADD and ADHD needs to meet a certain criterion. The criteria entail that the symptoms were present before the age of 12, it interferes with the quality of the tasks may it be for social or school. The symptoms should also come across in 2 or more settings like at school and home or with friends and family. It is important to also ensure that there is no other disorder which explains the symptoms for ADD or ADHD, for example, mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders etc. (CDC, 2019).

An important aspect to note, with regards to ADD, the symptoms need to be present for at least a period of 6 months and the symptoms do not coincide with the developmental level of the child. The symptoms of ADD consist out of the child failing to look out for details in their school work or other activities. They struggle to keep concentration on activities plus it seems as if the child is not listening to you when you speak directly to him/her. An ADD child also struggles with completing tasks may it be due to losing his focus or getting distracted by something else as well as not wanting to perform a task because the task requires thought over a period like needing to complete homework. An ADD child has difficulties with organising his/her activities and he/she can lose necessities for completing the activities, for example, stationery, papers or even glasses. The child may also be forgetful about day-to-day activities (CDC, 2019).

An important aspect to note, about ADHD, is the symptoms need to be present for a period of at least 6 months and the symptoms should be in such a manner that it is disruptive and that the symptoms do not coincide the child’s developmental level. The symptoms of ADHD include the child not being able to remain seated, especially when it is needed. The child fidgets a lot with his hands or feet as well as he seems to be “on the go” the whole time and doesn’t rest. The child may find himself/herself in situations which is not applicable to him/her. An ADHD child can also talk excessively and he/she struggles to be patient with having to wait for their turn or will hastily answer before even hearing the whole question. This also can link with the child interrupting conversations or games as well as struggling to play quietly and enjoying leisure activities (CDC, 2019).

You can read more information about ADD or ADHD with the following links and .

ADHD Children

Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), is familiar among children, but it also affects adults. ADHD is seen more in boys than in girls (Parekh, 2017). ADHD in children can vary depending on their age. However, the core of the symptoms remains the same.

ADHD has three types namely, inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type and the combined type. The inattentive type entails the child struggles to pay attention, can be easily distracted but does not really show being hyperactive or impulsive. This is also referred to as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD). The hyperactive-impulsive type entails a child of being hyperactive and cannot sit still, he/she needs to be able to move and can be impulsive. The child does not show inattention. The Combined type entails a child who struggles with keeping his/her attention and being hyperactive and impulsive (Brown, n.d.).

ADHD children in Preschool till grade 2, the most prominent symptom is, the child struggles to following instructions, no matter the difficulty. The child moves a lot and struggles to take part in activities which requires silence. The ADHD child does not ask for permission; he/she will just act. The child works speedily and finds it difficult to slow down in order to complete an activity carefully plus he/she does not remember something that was just taught. The child may get upset over small things (Sarkis, n.d.).

ADHD children in grade 3 – 7 will try to find a way out of doing a task as long as he/she possibly can. The child will also do silly things in order to get attention and he/she will become agitated during outings when it is not particularly interesting enough for the child. The ADHD child will complete tasks as quickly as possible which leads to mistakes which could have been avoided. The child struggles to following directions and does not finish activities in the amount of time stipulated (Sarkis, n.d.).

ADHD children in teenagers may not be able to work according to priorities and can forget about taking notes on important factors. The teenager can struggle with making friends and can engage in situations without thinking. The ADHD teenager can get easily distracted which can link with the teenager having to ask for you to repeat what you have said or zones out when needing to listen or do a task (Sarkis, n.d.).

You can read more about ADHD at and .

Marne Swart

There is a strong link between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a dysfunction or delay in executive functions (Roth, 2004). Executive functions are a set of mental skills. These mental skills include working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control (Rosen, 2020). Dysfunctions in executive functioning can lead to misconceived rudeness as behaviours that come naturally to others are not abided to. Thus, people with ADHD are commonly misconceived as being rude.

Working memory allows an individual to retain new information briefly so that they are able to keep track of what they are doing (Rosen, 2020). Individuals with ADHD struggle to regulate the amount of information they are receiving (Mirsky et al, 1999; Zillmer et al, 2008). Furthermore, they struggle with orientating themselves and focusing on what is relevant. This results in an individual, with ADHD, being unable to focus on the task at hand for any length of time as well as being unable to follow through with tasks and conversations (Rosen, 2020).
By social standards, when a person loses concentration during a conversation they are showing disinterest which can be seen as a form of rudeness. However, an individual with ADHD cannot maintain this focus and thus, are not intentionally being rude. Working memory also assists with following through on a task (Rosen, 2020). Thus, someone who has ADHD and, therefore, a dysfunction in working memory may struggle to follow instructions. A lack of obedience can come across as disrespectful which can be regarded as another form of rudeness.

Cognitive flexibility allows us to approach new situations and problems with innovative and creative solutions (Rosen, 2020). If there is a dysfunction in this area, rigid thinking is prominent. Rigidity can come across as rude in many different social situations. An individual with ADHD may struggle to switch between tasks and activities as it requires disengaging from the current task and sorting through all the new information (Rosen, 2020). Children with ADHD may throw tantrums when they are required to change activities. Thus, instead of viewing the tantrum as a sign that the individual is feeling overwhelmed, the tantrums may be considered socially inappropriate after a certain age. Consequently, tantrums may be viewed as a form of rudeness. It also may be regarded as rude when children are unable to change the way they do things even when they are shown the correct way to do something. Furthermore, it can appear as if the child is deliberately ignoring the person’s advice and is being insolent. Someone with ADHD may also struggle to see another’s viewpoint and may insist that their own point of view is the only correct way of viewing a situation. This rigidity in thinking and lack of interest in another’s opinion can appear impolite or rude.

Inhibitory control is the ability to control one’s impulses (Logan, 1997). Controlling impulses is incredibly important for social interaction. Behaviours such as shouting out, saying the first thing that comes to mind and being tactless are all considered to be ill-mannered in social interactions. Dysfunctions in inhibitory control lead to misconceptions of rudeness. People with functioning inhibitory control are unable to understand what it is like to be powerless to control one’s impulses.

Hyperactivity includes being restless, extremely active and often entails an inability to concentrate (Goodwin, 2019). Social expectations require that in an important or formal situation, an individual must sit still and concentrate. Consequently, hyperactivity is often mistaken for rudeness as individuals who are hyperactive defy these social expectations as they are unable to sit still, unable to concentrate and are active during in appropriate times (Rosen, 2020).

Individuals who have ADHD often exhibit behaviour that is considered rude. However, when further examining the effects of ADHD, we can see that dysfunctions in the executive functioning domain gives rise to certain behaviours that are otherwise considered rude and socially unacceptable.

Shannon Mayo


Goodwin, S. (2019). What You Should Know About Hyperactivity. Retrieved from Health Line:

Logan, G. D. (1997). Impulsivity and Inhibitory Control. Psychological Science, 60–64.

Rosen, P. (2020). Retrieved from Understood:*1orr0zi*domain_userid*YW1wLTdZcEpwOElLaXM0TWx0d25yYTZIdFE.

Rosen, P. (2020). Working memory: what itis and how it works. Retrieved from Understood:*k7krcd*domain_userid*YW1wLTdZcEpwOElLaXM0TWx0d25yYTZIdFE.

Roth, R. &. (2004). Executive dysfunction in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: cognitive and neuroimaging findings. Retrieved from PubMed:

Where theory and childhood meet

Considering the cognitive implications that are associated with learning disabilities, with particular reference to ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) and the adverse effects that they have on children, it is crucial the scope that our ADHD curriculum for children needs to encompass focuses on particular areas that are of vital importance to the cognitive development of the child. Behavioural therapy conceptually includes implementations not only on the child but also workshop training for how parents can contribute the progress of their child as well as interventions within the classroom. This article will aim to discuss the ADHD curriculum that we administer to our kids along with its intricacies in an attempt to help parents establish a better understanding of how ABA implemented by CatchUpKids goes about assisting your children achieve at their best.

Functional, flexible and customised

Applied Behavioural Analysis is conceptually based around the effects of positive reinforcement in increasing the probability of desirable behaviour while minimizing and eventually phasing out undesired behaviours. This form of intervention involves a close analysis of the child’s behaviour in order top establish precursors and antecedents to problematic behaviour to understand the nature of the behaviour and ultimately how to go about teaching the child other ways to achieve the result without the problem behaviour.

Our curriculum holistically addresses executive functioning skills such as; emotional coping strategies, attention maintenance, activity planning, inhibition, problem solving skills, development of social skills and other deficits experienced by children living with learning disabilities. Primarily, this curriculum focuses on empowering children to be independent in achieving excellence in their respective academic spheres.

Other means of treating ADHD include central nervous system stimulants which increase the amounts of dopamine released in the brain they are contrasted by non-stimulant medications that increase the production of norepinephrine in the brain which assist in attention and memory. There are however side effects that present in children that take these alternatives such as regular headaches, sleeping pattern disturbances, weight loss and dehydration. From a therapeutic perspective would be psychotherapy which allows the child an avenue to open up about how they feel living with ADHD and the effects that it has on their lives, this has long term positive effects on the child’s success with ABA as they are aware of the positive changes it will have on their lives.

Why our curriculum is structured in this way

According to research conducted by the Centre for Autism Related Disorder, learning disabilities in children express themselves in unique ways particular to each child. It is due to this reason that we emphasise the importance of understanding the disposition of each child when administering ABA therapy, this allows us to create a custom intervention plan that meets the needs of the specific child in a holistic manner that encompasses all the spheres of the child’s daily life.

By Thembani Mantsena

As ADHD is a multi-faceted neurobehavioral disorder, involving up to seventeen different symptoms, the treatment of it needs to be too. As ADHD experts ourselves, we at Catch Up Kids understand that the vast scope of professionals working with the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of ADHD can be daunting and overwhelming. I hope that this article will help parents narrow down their search and find the best possible intervention for their child.

The Diagnosis

Typically, licensed medical physicians, such as psychiatrists, neurologists and paediatricians can diagnose ADHD. Psychologists, social workers and other licensed counsellors can also offer a diagnosis; however, only biomedical doctors are permitted to prescribe medication for this. When seeking out a professional to consider a diagnosis, it is important to consider the individual’s credentials as well as their knowledge and experience in the specific field of ADHD.

Whilst professionals in the biomedical field are essential to the diagnosis, they are not the sole actors available for the treatment of ADHD. There are many other professionals who can play a role in the treatment and management of ADHD, such as occupational therapists, behaviour therapists, nutritionists and speech and hearing therapists, I will elaborate on these below.

An Integrative Approach to Treatment

The treatment of ADHD is multi-layered as is the syndrome itself, which involves various types of deficits that may need intervention. This includes impulsivity, easy distractibility, hyperactivity, difficulty with sustaining attention, difficulty with planning and organization, amongst others.

Whilst this is a very brief overview of what ADHD can involve, it is important to remember that no two children are the same, thus their treatment cannot be identical either. This is why we, at Catch Up kids, pride ourselves in developing individual, personalized learning programs for every child that comes to us, in order to ensure the most effective intervention possible, catering to each individual’s needs.

When looking for an ADHD expert, a medical doctor may not suffice. We advocate for a holistic and integrative therapy intervention that includes various types of ADHD experts, in order to create the most effective treatment intervention plan possible for the individual to overcome the barriers placed upon them by ADHD.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) includes a range of different therapy modalities, such as Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy as well as a focus on social skills and executive functioning.

Taking Care of The Gut

Dating all the way back to the Ancient Greece, Hippocrates said: “All Disease Begins in the Gut.” We often recommend that the children that come to us consult with a nutritionist, one who preferably has specialized knowledge pertaining to the connection between gut health and ADHD. A healthy and balanced diet will definitely aid your child in overcoming the challenged placed before them by ADHD.

Biomedical Treatment

The most common treatment offered for ADHD is that of prescription medication, drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta are widely distributed as the sole treatment for ADHD. Whilst we accept that everything has its place, we opt for other therapy modalities before recommending the use of prescription medication. As mentioned above, no two children are the same, and thus treatment will differ from one individual to the next.

Educational and Behavioural Interventions

At Catch Up Kids, we make use of an educational approach to therapy called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA makes use of Occupational Therapy techniques to develop gross and fine motor skills in children with ADHD, as these are essential to academic success.

Speech Therapy is another therapy modality that we use at Catch Up Kids. Often, Speech Therapy is only associated with speech articulation, but as ADHD experts, we use speech therapy to improve both the receptive and expressive components of language in children with ADHD.

Other therapies used for the treatment of children with ADHD include: working on improving executive functioning skills such as organization and planning skills which are common deficits in children with ADHD. Applied Behaviour Analysis also includes a focus on emotional coping skills and social skills.

Our holistic and integrative approach to the treatment of ADHD is inclusive of a wide range of ADHD expert areas, all combined into one – through the use of Applied Behaviour Analysis.

In sum, both a biomedical, educational and behavioural intervention seems to be most effective in the management and treatment of ADHD, although each treatment program should be catered to the individual’s needs.

At Catch Up Kids ADHD Academy we offer specially tailored programs to suit your child’s needs. We help children who are academically challenged, struggling with learning and behavioural issues and who are having difficulty at school.  Your child will be surrounded by a team of qualified and experienced instructors who are dedicated and motivated to see them succeed. Each child does sessions one-on-one at the ADHD Academy and is given our undivided attention.

At the ADHD Academy we have many children who are faced with ADHD and all the challenges that this diagnosis comes with. ADHD is the most prevalent Psychiatric condition in children today and it affects 2-16% of school children. Children who struggle with ADHD struggle with a mountain of obstacles. Some of the widely known challenges are hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour and a poor attention span. One’s entire family is affected by the diagnosis of ADHD and it can be daunting to find the best solution for your child. We at Catch Up Kids ADHD Academy see them battle through these challenges daily and it is our passion and goal to persevere alongside your child and help them learn to manage these challenges independently.

Here is what we know: Children with ADHD show an insistent display of absentmindedness and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that hampers their performance or development. We know that they often find it difficult to focus attention on details, tasks at hand, activities and are easily distracted. Other difficulties that rise up against children with ADHD include not being able to sit still, blurting out answers and interrupting others to mention a few. All of this takes a toll on our children emotionally, and it is not hard to see how all of this would immensely affect our children in a school environment. At Catch Up Kids ADHD Academy we believe that it is important to equip them with the necessary tools that will set them up for success.

Each child is different at the ADHD Academy and is treated accordingly. We strive to meet each child’s unique needs with a custom Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) program. The ABA program is an Intervention based on Behavioural Psychology. It is used internationally as a treatment for ADHD through the implementation of behavioural changes. These changes aid in making some of the socially relevant symptoms less prominent, and by assisting them to manage their behaviour in order to perform comfortably and successfully in any setting. At the ADHD Academy we coach your child through emotional coping, planning and organizing skills, study skills, test taking skills and behaviour management. We work on their executive functioning which will help them with working memory, self-control, flexible thinking, and help them to develop their focus, listening skills, to deal with emotions and self-control.

At the ADHD Academy we work on overcoming these difficulties together with your child. Our hope is for your child to realize their full potential. ABA is an incredible tool utilized by the ADHD Academy to aid in this process and is known as one of the best available treatments for ADHD.

The ABA method as practiced at the ADHD Academy is based on basic operant conditioning techniques. These techniques focus on the reinforcement of desired or target behaviours and manipulation of consequences in order to decrease undesired behaviours. This is known as Differential Reinforcement. Each behaviour can be broken down into components. These components are then consecutively reinforced which ultimately forms the desired behaviour. This process is called Discrete Trial Training. We use a Shaping method to develop “sustained attention” as well as “vocal and non-vocal inhibition”. We also make use of self-management training. This is when we instil self-awareness and equip our children with the tools to help self-manage their challenging behaviours.

Our skilled team at Catch Up Kids ADHD Academy work together with you, the parent to create consistency for your child. This gives our children the best shot at success. As with any intervention, consistency is key. At the ADHD Academy we give your child skills to control and manage their symptoms that they will use throughout their lives. The emotional well-being of your child is very important to us here at the ADHD Academy. We teach them emotional coping methods to help them manage their “outbursts” and emotional turbulence as they grow up and mature. We are hands on with their school and learning material and believe that through hard work and determination our kids can learn to cope efficiently and flourish in their personal capacity as well as in their learning. Catch Up Kids ADHD Academy is a passionate team who will make your child their priority.

Jessica Pieterse

It is no secret that having a child diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be overwhelming and challenging. The truth is that you do not have to do it alone. A short and basic help guide to encourage you that your role can be effective in making the child’s life and yours much more rewarding while living with ADHD.

1.    POSITIVITY – Don’t doubt that your positive, calm and focused attitude will help your child to react to situations in the same manner. Our ADHD help guide encourages you to re-affirm your child that you believe in their attributes and their abilities

2.    STRUCTURE – Our ADHD Help guide strongly advises that structure enables a child to predict patterns and therefore making it easier for them to engage in tasks and what is expected of them. Follow an easy routine by setting a time (Clocks & Timers) and a place for everything. This will be evident in the points to follow in the help guide.

3.    ACTIVITY – To keep a child with ADHD busy idle time may worsen their symptoms, but their schedule should not be so condensed that they feel overwhelmed. Ensure that activities range in the demand in places on the child. Unfortunately, this help guide encourages you not to use television or computer/video games as time-fillers can increase symptoms. Sport, art class, or music and at home, simple activities like helping you cook, playing board games, or drawing.

4.    SLEEP – More activity, as explained above in the ADHD help guide, and less the energy at the end of the day will lead a child with ADHD to sleep better. Due to their overstimulation, they can experience trouble falling asleep. Low activity, quality time, relaxation sounds can increase the chances of better night sleep for a child with ADHD.

5.    CONSISTENCY – Rules, systems, rewards and consequences have to remain constant and have to be followed through with every instance for a child with ADHD. Make the rules visual where the child can easily see as well as their process to a reward and wat the reward entails. Always praise good behaviour as further explained in the help guide.

6.    REWARD – Rewards have to be child-specific and according to your child’s preference. Rather than using rewards such as food or toys, consider rewards that involve social praise, privileges, or desired activities that will improve and encourage the self-worth child with ADHD.

7.    CONSEQUENCE – It is important that your child knows what the consequence will be of certain misbehaviour before it takes place. It is your role to ensure that environments and conditions that can lead to such undesired behaviour are avoided as far as possible and teach and help your child to an alternative reaction to these situations.

8.    DIET – Diet is not the cause of ADHD but it plays a vital role in the state of a child diagnosed with ADHD mental functions. Fresh and healthy foods and regular meal times incorporated in their schedule can help to combat the symptoms of ADHD. Our help guide also suggests making Vitamin-and-mineral supplements an additive to their daily routine.

9.    PERFECTION-LESS – A child with ADHD won’t do everything perfectly as you expect, but they will try. Don’t get mad at the one thing they didn’t do, and look past the 10 other things they have accomplished that day. Let the small things go.

Also remember to look after yourself as well, seek help and support. You do not have to do it alone. A child even with ADHD will look to at the end of the day for help and support, therefore make sure that you are also considering your holistic health in the midst of the battle with ADHD.

Let’s talk about what can be done to assist children with ADHD treatment. Evidence in our favour suggests the ability to outgrow ADHD while others indicate a more permanent and persistent nature from childhood into adulthood. Curing or managing ADHD, however, follows the same path. As each case is unique, the degree and extent of symptoms may vary, hence, each case needs to be treated uniquely. As ADHD is multifaceted and multidimensional, an integrative or holistic approach is recommended in the treatment of ADHD. In other words, treatment needs to be tackled from a biological and psychosocial perspective (Barlow & Durand, 2005).

The biological treatment which focuses on drug therapy is aimed at treating the three overarching symptoms of ADHD which include attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity (Barlow & Durand, 2005).

Laura E. Berk (2013) highlights that with carefully monitored doses with one’s trusted doctor, drug therapy can have a significant impact on managing and treating ADHD symptoms. The author further suggests that stimulant medication enhances brain activity resulting in reduced self- stimulating behaviour and distractibility (Berk, 2013). It must be noted that stimulants have some known side effects, thus a risk vs benefit analysis is advocated in this case.

In terms of psychosocial treatment or behavioural intervention, the focus is on improving scholastic performance, teaching or enhancing social skills, and minimising the effects of destructive and disruptive behaviour (Barlow & Durand, 2005). At the Star Academy, a behavioural technique called ABA therapy (applied behavioural analysis) is used to manage ADHD. ABA therapy is an empirical, pragmatic and evidence-based therapy that develops the desired behaviour and teaches children via associations to develop new skills. Techniques used by an ABA instructor to help guide ADHD treatment include and is not limited to:

  • Utilizing reinforcement and reward systems to bolster preferred behaviour
  • Techniques for improving social behaviour
  • Goals setting which facilitates sustaining attention
  • Behaviour management so that the child can learn to self-regulate

There is strong evidence to support the consistent implementation of ABA principles from the therapy room, social relationships and other social environments in order to acquire the desired results.

It is also further proposed that ABA instruction is most effective in treatment when prescribed in the early years of life and for longer periods of time. The Star Academy provides an opportunity for the implementation of ABA instruction through school facilitation and parent training. The Star Academy can effectively help contribute to the treatment of ADHD and add in making a valuable contribution to a child living with and fighting ADHD in their everyday life.

By Ashleigh Van Der Westhuizen


Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2005). Abnormal Psychology: An integrative approach (Fourth Edition). United States of America: Thomson Wadsworth.

Berk, L. E. (2013). Child Development (Ninth Edition). Boston, USA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Shaffer, D. R. (2002). Developmental psychology childhood and adolescence (Sixth edition). United States of America: Wadsworth: Thomson Learning.

Eleven percent of children (20% of all boys) are diagnosed with ADHD. Most are on ADHD medication. Parents are told that ADHD is chronic and lifelong. And, they are told that drugs are the “best chance” to get kids on track. Did you know that side effects include psychosis and death?

When a child receives a diagnosis of ADHD, it’s hard for parents to deal with the emotional repercussions. In addition, it is hard to sort out the mass of information. However, there is one message that will be coming through loud and clear from doctors, teachers, psychiatrists, and practitioners — and that’s:

“You should get him on ADHD medication immediately!”

To use ADHD medication or not, that’s the big question

An ADHD diagnosis is particularly prone to this knee-jerk response from professionals who are so convinced these children have a genetic disorder that they have called off the search for a better understanding of the underlying conditions. Sadly, our society has become conditioned to trust the physicians and jump to a pill for the ‘quick fix.’

Of course, conventional medicine is a powerful tool, and certainly the best place to start if you have a broken leg or a heart attack. However, it falls short against a more nuanced disorder like ADHD. Parents will be told that ADHD is complex in nature, possibly a result of genetic, psychological, and other unknown factors. In general, however, allopathic doctors do not address the wide range of physical symptoms often shared by kids with this disorder, such as:

  • allergies and asthma

  • chronic illness

  • gastrointestinal distress

  • food sensitivities

  • yeast overgrowth

  • leaky gut syndrome

  • malnutrition and obesity

  • hypoglycemia

  • adrenal fatigue

  • hormone imbalances

  • sleep disturbances

  • skin conditions, including eczema

  • Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder (PANS and PANDAS)

As a psychotherapist who has worked for over a decade in mainstream medicine, I empathize with parents seeking a quick fix with ADHD medication. However, I feel it is important for parents to look deeper to search for underlying causes. In addition, to consider the results that parents are seeing with holistic approaches and dietary changes.

What you won’t hear from a conventional doctor

Your child is probably suffering from genetic mutations and a nutritional deficiency combined with a food sensitivity.

Genetically modified foods, food dyes and preservatives, and chemicals are having an adverse reaction on your child’s attention, focus, and sleep.

For every medication, there is a natural plant or remedy that can achieve the same result without side effects.

Our emotions are largely governed by our intestinal system. There is more serotonin in our bowels than in our brains.

Bear in mind

Every child is unique. A well thought out integrative treatment plan needs to be tailored to each child’s specific immunologic, digestive, and metabolic conditions. So, find physicians and practitioners who will listen to you and conduct a thorough investigation. You will most likely need a team or different practitioners.

Changes can take time. Move slowly but steadily with dietary changes and protocols.

Treatment can be expensive. You are not letting your child down if you can’t afford the most expensive therapies. Check with special needs associations about the Department of Education services, government subsidies, financial aid, and therapists who provide sliding scales. You may also have to make lifestyle changes.

Focus on love, patience, and hard work. Know that the most important therapy takes place at home.

Trust your gut! You know your child best. Your intuition is the best guide.

Important first steps

1. Look for a qualified naturopath or integrative MD in your area who specializes in ADHD and related disorders. Google Naturopathic (ND), Defeat Autism Now (DAN), Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS) physician, Functional Medicine, or Integrative Medical Doctor (MD) practitioners in your area

2. Do your research. Have a list of questions for your selected doctor. Ask for a complete metabolic workup including blood, urine and fecal testing. Also request a food sensitivity test (IgG) or ALCAT, Organic Acids Test to determine nutritional deficiencies.

3. Read the books and scientific journal articles most of your doctors aren’t reading.

4. Continue with mainstream therapies like OT and PT, behavioral plans, and psychotherapy. Also investigate other modalities such as acupuncture, craniosacral, brain balance therapies, and so on. Biomedical treatment enhances the effects of other therapies.

Our children deserve a healing-oriented approach. One that, considers the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. In fact, the best results come from tailor-made therapies, both conventional and alternative. Good medicine should be based on good science, be inquiry-driven, and be open to new paradigms.

Therefore, we need a system that promotes prevention of illness as well as a healthier treatment of disease.  So, I urge parents to consider natural, effective interventions whenever possible.

To learn more about how to treat our children without mind altering chemicals, read my award winning book Healing without Hurting. Investigate the 101 ways to treat ADHD, Apraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders Naturally and Effectively Without Harmful Medications.

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Lion’s mane mushrooms, also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake, are large, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow.

They have both culinary and medical uses in Asian countries like China, India, Japan and Korea.

Lion’s mane mushrooms can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried or steeped as a tea. Their extracts often used in over-the-counter health supplements.

Many describe their flavor as “seafood-like,” often comparing it to crab or lobster.

Lion’s mane mushrooms contain bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart and gut.

Here are 9 health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms and their extracts.

1. Could Protect Against Dementia

The brain’s ability to grow and form new connections typically declines with age, which may explain why mental functioning gets worse in many older adults.

Studies have found that lion’s mane mushrooms contain two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines.

Additionally, animal studies have found that lion’s mane may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss.

In fact, lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts have been shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice, as well as prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

While no studies have analyzed whether lion’s mane mushroom is beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease in humans, it appears to boost mental functioning.

A study in older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that consuming 3 grams of powdered lion’s mane mushroom daily for four months significantly improved mental functioning, but these benefits disappeared when supplementation stopped.

The ability of lion’s mane mushroom to promote nerve growth and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s-related damage may explain some of its beneficial effects on brain health.

However, it’s important to note that most of the research has been conducted in animals or in test tubes. Therefore, more human studies are needed.

2. Helps Relieve Mild Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Up to one-third of people living in developed countries experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

While there are many causes of anxiety and depression, chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor.

New animal research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice.

Other animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses.

Researchers believe that improved functioning of the hippocampus may explain the reductions in anxious and depressive behaviors in mice given these extracts.

While these animal studies are promising, there is very little research in humans.

One small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety.

3. May Speed Recovery from Nervous System Injuries

The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and other nerves that travel throughout the body. These components work together to send and transmit signals that control almost every bodily function.

Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can be devastating. They often cause paralysis or loss of mental functions and can take a long time to heal.

However, research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract may help speed recovery from these types of injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells.

In fact, lion’s mane mushroom extract has been shown to reduce recovery time by 23–41% when given to rats with nervous system injuries.

Lion’s mane extract may also help reduce the severity of brain damage after a stroke.

In one study, high doses of lion’s mane mushroom extract given to rats immediately after a stroke helped decrease inflammation and reduce the size of stroke-related brain injury by 44%.

While these results are promising, no studies have been conducted in humans to determine if lion’s mane would have the same therapeutic effect on nervous system injuries.

4. Protects Against Ulcers in the Digestive Tract

Ulcers are capable of forming anywhere along the digestive tract, including the stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

Stomach ulcers are often caused by two major factors: overgrowth of a bacteria called H. pyloriand damage to the mucous layer of the stomach that’s often due to long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Lion’s mane extract may protect against the development of stomach ulcers by inhibiting the growth of H. pylori and protecting the stomach lining from damage.

Several studies have found that lion’s mane extract can prevent the growth of H. pylori in a test tube, but no studies have tested whether they have the same effects inside the stomach.

Additionally, an animal study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective at preventing alcohol-induced stomach ulcers than traditional acid-lowering drugs — and without any negative side effects.

Lion’s mane extract can also reduce inflammation and prevent tissue damage in other areas of the intestines. In fact, they may help treat inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

One study in people with ulcerative colitis found that taking a mushroom supplement containing 14% lion’s mane extract significantly reduced symptoms and improved quality of life after three weeks.

However, when the same study was repeated in patients with Crohn’s disease, the benefits were no better than a placebo.

It’s important to note that the herbal supplement used in these studies included several types of mushrooms, so it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about the effects of lion’s mane specifically.

Overall, research suggests that lion’s mane extract may help inhibit the development of ulcers, but more human research is needed.

5. Reduces Heart Disease Risk

Major risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high triglycerides, large amounts of oxidized cholesterol and an increased tendency to get blood clots.

Research shows that lion’s mane extract can influence some of these factors and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Studies in rats and mice have found that lion’s mane mushroom extract improves fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels.

One study in rats fed a high-fat diet and given daily doses of lion’s mane extract observed 27% lower triglyceride levels and 42% less weight gain after 28 days.

Since obesity and high triglycerides are both considered risk factors for heart disease, this is one way that lion’s mane mushrooms contribute to heart health.

Test-tube studies have also found that lion’s mane extract can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Oxidized cholesterol molecules tend to attach to the walls of arteries, causing them to harden and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, reducing oxidation is beneficial for heart health.

What’s more, lion’s mane mushrooms contain a compound called hericenone B, which can decrease the rate of blood clotting and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Lion’s mane mushrooms appear to benefit the heart and blood vessels in multiple ways, but human studies are needed to support this.

6. Helps Manage Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body loses the ability to control blood sugar levels. As a result, levels are consistently elevated.

Chronically high blood sugar levels eventually cause complications like kidney disease, nerve damage in the hands and feet and vision loss.

Lion’s mane mushroom may be beneficial for diabetes management by improving blood sugar control and reducing some of these side effects.

Several animal studies have shown that lion’s mane can cause significantly lower blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic mice, even at daily dosages as low as 2.7 mg per pound (6 mg per kg) of body weight.

One way that lion’s mane lowers blood sugars is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine.

When this enzyme is blocked, the body is unable to digest and absorb carbs as effectively, which results in lower blood sugar levels.

In addition to lowering blood sugars, lion’s mane extract may reduce diabetic nerve pain in the hands and feet.

In mice with diabetic nerve damage, six weeks of daily lion’s mushroom extract significantly reduced pain, lowered blood sugar levels and even increased antioxidant levels.

Lion’s mane mushroom shows potential as a therapeutic supplement for diabetes, but more research is needed to determine exactly how it might be used in humans.

7. May Help Fight Cancer

Cancer occurs when DNA becomes damaged and causes cells to divide and replicate out of control.

Some research suggests that lion’s mane mushroom has cancer-fighting abilities, thanks to several of its unique compounds.

In fact, when lion’s mane extract is mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, they cause the cancer cells to die at a faster rate. This has been demonstrated with several types of cancer cells, including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells.

However, at least one study has failed to replicate these results, so more studies are needed.

In addition to killing cancer cells, lion’s mane extract has also been shown to slow the spread of cancer.

One study in mice with colon cancer found that taking lion’s mane extract reduced the spread of cancer to the lungs by 69%.

Another study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective than traditional cancer medications at slowing tumor growth in mice, in addition to having fewer side effects.

However, the anti-cancer effects of lion’s mane mushroom have never been tested in humans, so more research is needed.

8. Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be at the root of many modern illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of these illnesses.

In fact, one study examining the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species found that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants.

Several animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in rodents and may be especially useful in the management of inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage and stroke.

Lion’s mane mushrooms may also help reduce some of the health risks associated with obesity, as they have been shown to decrease the amount of inflammation released by fat tissue.

More studies are needed to determine the potential health benefits in humans, but the results from lab and animal studies are promising.

9. Boosts the Immune System

A strong immune system protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.

On the other hand, a weak immune system puts the body at a higher risk of developing infectious diseases.

Animal research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose.

These effects may partly be due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that stimulate the immune system.

One study even found that supplementing with lion’s mane extract daily nearly quadrupled the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria.

The immune-boosting effects of lion’s mane mushrooms are very promising, but this area of research is still developing.

Safety and Side Effects

No human studies have examined the side effects of lion’s mane mushroom or its extract, but they appear to be very safe.

No adverse effects have been seen in rats, even at doses as high as 2.3 grams per pound (5 grams per kg) of body weight per day for one month or lower dosages for three months.

However, anyone who is allergic or sensitive to mushrooms should avoid lion’s mane, since it is a species of mushroom.

There have been documented cases of people experiencing difficulty breathing or skin rashes after exposure to lion’s mane mushrooms, likely related to allergies.

The Bottom Line

Lion’s mane mushroom and its extract have been shown to have a variety of health benefits.

Research has found that lion’s mane may protect against dementia, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression and help repair nerve damage.

It also has strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting abilities and been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, ulcers and diabetes in animals.

While the current research is promising, more human studies are needed to develop practical health applications for lion’s mane mushroom.

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