Non-Medicinal Coping Skills for ADD & ADHD
By Gregg Prescott, M.S.
Posted April 5, 2009
There are non-medicinal options available for those who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The number of diagnosed cases of ADD and ADHD has risen meteorically in the last two decades. The most common prescriptions for those diagnosed with ADD and ADHD are amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin.
Many of the symptoms are normal for children as their bodies are experiencing hormonal changes while their minds are trying to assimilate to their identities. Some children have difficulty concentrating in school because they may find school boring and may be labeled as possible candidates for ADD/ADHD testing.
Children with ADD and ADHD commonly feel like they have a plethora of energy and need to find creative ways to expend this energy. In school, their energy may surface through fidgeting, tapping their pencils, daydreaming, humming to themselves or foot tapping.
In general, many people diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, have a difficult time focusing on anything they find mundane, such as school, rules and authority figures that cannot relate or understand them. There are many more undiagnosed cases of ADD and ADHD where people feel this same anomaly.
There are several coping skills children can try as an alternative to medications when trying to deal with this "disorder".
1. In school, a child can sit in front of the class, away from any windows.
2. The teacher can tap the child on the shoulder if he or she notices the child drifting away from the subject being taught.
3. If allowed in school, the student can chew gum which also helps people with ADD or ADHD maintain focus.
4. When studying, eliminate all distractions. Shut off the television, cell phone and stereo. Structure your time where you allow 15 minute breaks every hour and hold yourself accountable to exactly 15 minutes.
5. Meditate. Meditation allows the mind to decompress while focusing on breathing technique.
Be watchful of what you eat. High carbs and sugar will only feed the fire. Try to eat balanced meals.
Get organized. Buy a pocket organizer and use it every day. Buy some "post it" notes and place the notes on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator to remind you of important events.
Structure your sleeping habits. Try to go to bed around the same time each night and try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep The goal is to get your circadian rhythm working on a regular schedule.
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Sometimes, we take on more responsibilities than we can handle, which creates an overload for the child with ADD/ADHD.
Consider holistic remedies. There are many natural remedies to treat ADD/ADHD, such as omega 3 oils, multivitamins, St. John's Wort, etc. Please consult a holistic physician before trying any natural remedies.
Ironically, those with ADD and ADHD tend to think outside the box as their minds are constantly wandering. They're usually creative in the art and music field and have no problem maintaining focus when their minds are occupied on something they love to do. They will come up with ideas that are so outside-the-box that others will initially discredit their ideas because the ideas are too advanced and cannot be described articulately enough for others to understand the end results. They are often innocently forgetful and have a difficult time remembering anything past or present.
They often have a difficult time fitting into cliques and can relate to almost every clique, but many not want to be part of any of them. Some are described as "scattered," loners or wanderers who are trying to find others who are like them or people who can accept them for who they are without conforming to societal standards. Many feel confused as to why they have ADD or ADHD and cannot understand why other people have such an easy time remembering past or recent thoughts.