Tag Archives: Hyperactivity

Consider A Medication Vacation For Your Child

Summer’s here and the time is right for taking a vacation.

Whether it be a (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word) stay cation at home or a vacation somewhere less-than exotic, most of us look forward to a few days off work so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what about your ADHD child? Most school-age ADHD children take some form of medication to help them alleviate the symptoms of distraction or hyperactivity. These medications allow those taking them to sit still and think straight for long enough that they can actually learn something  in the classroom and during homework.

ADHD medication, whether it be stimulant-based or otherwise, is designed to do one thing: alter behavior. The medication is supposed to allow the child to behave in a more situationally correct manner and it achieves this by suppressing natural behaviors.

Taken out of context, that probably sounds like a horrible idea. It’s only when we begin considering that the natural behaviors are counter productive and disruptive both socially and academically that we understand changing the natural order is, in this case, a good thing.

However, change does not come without a cost. Consider the child who doesn’t take her medication one morning. More often than not, she will come home from school in a foul mood, cross and angry with the world. This is because her brain no longer has its expected pharmaceutical buffer supporting her cognitive processes.

It’s jagged and jarring and can make life difficult for both the ADHD child and anyone around him.

And yet, here I am suggesting that you might want to consider taking your child off her medications during the summer. While I might still be considered an idiot by some, I’m on the right track with this idea.

I will say, as a sort of fair warning, the pediatrician our young dudes still see does not believe in medication vacation for summer as a matter of course. However, there are certain circumstances under which she will give her go ahead.

You might consider a medication vacation as a way of assessing whether your child can do without medication for good. Because children are growing, the effect medication has on them will change over time. It could be that your child would do better on a different medication or no medication at all.

The only way to figure that out is to stop the current medication. ADHD isn’t something you age out of. However, some folks with the disorder can find ways to circumvent the disorder so they won’t need the medication.

A lot of that has to do with maturity. When younger, most kids don’t have the mental discipline necessary to do what needs to be done to help them overcome the hardships imposed by ADHD.

You might also want to consider a medication vacation if your child has been suffering from side effects, such as a loss of appetite. Within days, you’ll discover that most kids will begin eating more once they no longer are taking their medication. This could help them catch up on their necessary weight gain.

If you do give your little dudette a medication vacation, understand that it’s not on a whim. It’s a good idea to assess the success or failure of the vacation as summer winds to a close.

It could be that impulse-control issues without medication made it a difficult time. Or you might notice that your child is exhibiting more defiance when off the medications. Regardless, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child, your partner and the child’s doctor to discuss what you learned during the vacation.

This information can be invaluable as you begin to plan for the school year ahead.

The main thing I want you dudes to take away from this is that you should never stand pat when it comes to your child’s health and welfare. They’re growing and changing all the time, which means your approach must be constantly evaluated to see if it can be changed or should stay the same.

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Digestive Dangers Dog Dogs

There’s a reason human food is called that.

You’re supposed to feed human food to, well, humans. Same thing with dog food. Although, I did grow up with a girl who enjoyed nothing more than snacking on a dog biscuit, but I think that was more along the lines of a cry for attention than an actual appreciation for the crispy taste.

A recent article in the Huffington Post went on about twelve human foods that can harm dogs. And I’m not talking about dropping a huge wheel of Cheddar cheese on your dog’s head. Don’t do that, either. No, these are foods that are dangerous if digested.

In yesterday’s post, I went over the first part of the article, which included foods like chocolate, milk, cheese (see?), avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, garlic and onions.

This go round, I start with something I’ve been doing to Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, with a distressing regularity.

The humans in our family love apples. Their favorite is the Honey Crisp varietal, which is pretty expensive. Because of the cost, I’ve encouraged the young dudes not to share their cut-up apples with the dog, no matter how much he begs. However, they and I have a tendency to give in to those puppy-dog eyes and drop the dog the apple’s core.

Turns out, that’s not such a smart thing to do. Apparently, apple cores (as well as the cores of plums, peaches, pears and apricots) contain cyanogenic glycocides, which you might know better as cyanide. Yeah, the poison. It’s not enough to drop you in your tracks if you eat just one, but it can build up and dogs weigh less than a human, so it builds up quicker.

Another no-no is feeding the dog active bread yeast or dough. If a dog ate active yeast dough, it can ferment in his stomach producing toxic alcohol or could expand in the digestive system, producing dangerous levels of gas and rupture the stomach or intestine.

One of the reasons we’re told not to give a dog chocolate is that chocolate contains caffeine, which is bad for them. (Us, too, but no way am I giving up my Diet Coke.) So it should go without saying that you shouldn’t actually let your dog drink the leftover half-caff, skinny latte. Or any coffee. Or Coke. Or Monster or other energy drink.

Caffeine overstresses the dog’s nervous system, leading to vomiting, hyperactivity, heart palpitations and even death.Bacon, yes, bacon, is bad for dogs. The poor dears.

Finally, most surprisingly, and most horribly, the food we’re not supposed to share with our doggie friends is. . . wait for it. . . not yet. . . bacon.

Yes, bacon.

I’ll pause here while we contemplate the appalling wasteland of the future without bacon. All right, enough. It’s not like we’re being told no more bacon, just don’t give it to Spyke.

Bacon, like most foods high in fat, can cause a dog’s pancreas to become inflamed (called pancreatitis) and stop working. Once that happens, the dog’s digestion gets all wacky and derails nutrient absorption.

All in all, that’s a pretty heavy and extensive list of human foods that are explicitly not for dogs.

Just to be safe, and prevent a lot of table-side begging, maybe we should just not feed Spot any human food at all.

Well, other than broccoli. Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, loves his broccoli and those greens are good for everybody.

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A Universe Of Worlds, Each Separate And Alone

To look at a child with severe autism from the outside, is to see a child fully immersed in a world that can be shared by no one else. It is a world of one, a universe of one. No matter how many people surround and love the child, there can be no response.

Across a gulf of infinite space, the child’s mind drifts alone, unconnected, unreachable.

Or is it?

According to Dr. Robert Melillo, founder of the  Brain Balance Achievement Centers, an internationally recognized expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and author of the recent book,  Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders–and What Parents Can Do Now, it is completely possible to cross that gulf and bring connections to that child’s isolated mind.

“There’s nothing preventing change. There’s nothing damaging his brain (if he has an ASD). So, why can’t he get better?”

I sat down with Dr. Melillo recently and asked him about this. Well, I sat down at my desk and he was at his desk and we were both talking on the phone. But we were sitting down. It counts.

Before we get any further, let’s define a few things. It’ll make for a slightly easier discussion later on. Autism isn’t a binary disorder. That is, it’s not a question of you either have it or you don’t. Unlike pregnancy, you can have a little bit of autism. That’s the reason for the Autism Spectrum Disorder bit up above.

Think of it as a sliding scale. On one end, you’ve got your completely neurotypical individual who performs within the norms on all tests. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got a person with very severe autism, a person who might exhibit symptoms like complete withdrawal, rocking back and forth, head banging on walls, everything most laymen think about when they consider autism.

Those are the outliers, though, dudes. Most of the people on the spectrum (which is what it’s called these days) are somewhere in the middle. Think of it as a classic bell-shaped curve with neurotypical on one end and completely withdrawn autism on the other.  Included on the spectrum are disorders such as Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Asperger’s Syndrome and others.

So, you see, saying someone has autism just doesn’t work. For a diagnosis to do any good, you’ve got to do a lot more testing and find out where on the spectrum that patient is, what kind of symptoms present and the rest. It is, as you might guess, a delicate task that involves a lot of work. And, to make it even more difficult, we don’t know what causes ASDs. We think there’s a genetic disposition and, probably, environmental triggers, but we don’t know.

Despite the difficulty in correctly placing people with ASD on the spectrum, we’ve seen an amazingly steep growth curve in the number of diagnosed cases in just the last decade.

“People think that autism’s cause is purely genetic,” Melillo said, asking how, if the cause is genetic are we suddenly experiencing such an upsurge in cases? “There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. But look at the prevalence of autism. We’ve gone from one in 10,000 to one in 50, as of last week.”

Now, when something like this shows up in such huge numbers, my first thought is that it’s not an actual increase in cases, but, rather, doctors simply are doing a better job of recognizing and diagnosing the disorder. Melillo, though, said that just doesn’t cover what he’s been seeing.

Melillo said that is one of the reasons he wrote his first book. “People are completely unaware that you can prevent it.”

We’ll talk more about that one tomorrow.

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