Parents: pull the pills

What would you say if I told you there might be a simple, drug-free way to treat your child’s ADHD symptoms?

You’d be sceptical, of course.

Chances are you’re sick to death of the controversy and confusion surrounding your child’s ADHD. Even experts can’t agree on whether your child’s behaviour is actually a disease, not to mention how to treat it.

At present, treatment for ADHD, even for young children, comes in the form of prescription drugs, daily. These drugs –Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine and friends – are potent, brain-modifying stimulants meant to suppress your child’s ‘problematic’ behaviour. Parents and lobbyist groups have been concerned about the effects of these medications on children for years now, particularly with claims abounding that our kids are being wrongly diagnosed and over-medicated for symptoms they can’t control.

The endless cycle of ‘Jane misbehaves- Jane takes medication’ has got parents and some professionals worried, especially as many children continue to show symptoms of ADHD even while taking their medication.

For many, tired of conflicting doctor’s opinions and media hype about medication, the time has come to look elsewhere for ADHD treatment.

So what can you do?

Sleep may be the answer. Not yours, though (sorry), but your child’s.

Of course, sleep helps a lot of things – recent medical research has brought to light links to plenty of health benefits from sleeping well. But a new study has found that changing the sleep behaviours of children with ADHD drastically altered children’ and parents’ quality of life – think better sleep, reduced ADHD symptoms, improved daily functioning and, yes, improved parental mental health.

improve their child’s sleep – for example practicing good sleep hygiene, which involves set bed time and routines, keeping the bedroom media-free and avoiding caffeine consumption. These practices, along with other tips and tricks for managing common sleep problems, truly changed these families’ lives.These are the benefits families reported after participating in a section of the Sleeping Sound With ADHD study. The study used a behavioural ‘intervention’ which essentially meant that experts sat down with parents of kids with ADHD and developed a plan for addressing their child’s sleep problems. This included information and techniques to best

Too good to be true? Perhaps, though the effects speak for themselves – even six months after the intervention was put into place, families were still reporting the benefits of improved sleep.

ADHD is a difficult condition to live with. Right now, there is not enough information given to parents about their options in treating children: but we cannot rely on Ritalin twice daily to solve the complex problems of ADHD. Yes, the drugs might work for you, but what else are they doing to your child? What is the medication cycle doing to your family?

There are other options out there. It’s time to escape the choke-hold of daily medication and seek new and better treatments – and sleep behaviour therapy could be one of them.

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