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  • How To Treat ADHD Naturally


    A Developmental Approach

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is being diagnosed with increasing frequency in both children and adults. Many of these individuals were previously labeled hyperactive or minimally brain damaged. It is estimated that over one million people presently have this disorder.


    The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical (Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies three types of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and combined. Six of nine symptoms of inattention, and six of nine of hyperactivity and impulsivity are necessary for diagnosis.


    In each case, the symptoms must be present for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level. In addition, some symptoms must be present prior to age seven, and in two or more settings (e.g. at school, work and home). There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social academic or occupational functioning, and the impairment cannot be caused by other disorders such as anxiety, psychosis or a pervasive developmental disorder.


    Even though it is generally assumed that people diagnosed as having ADHD evidence a common set of characteristics emanating from a common etiology, little agreement is found among researchers regarding these symptoms. Some symptoms seen in children diagnosed as having attention deficits include:


    • Making careless mistakes in schoolwork
    • Difficulty sustaining attention to tasks
    • Not listening to what is being said
    • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    • Losing and misplacing belongings
    • Fidgeting and squirming in seat
    • Talking excessively
    • Interrupting or intruding on others
    • Difficulty playing quietly


    These symptoms are also seen in both children and adults with learning-related visual problems, sensory integration dysfunction as well as with undiagnosed allergies or sensitivities to something they eat, drink or breathe. The chart that follows illustrates this graphically.


    Physicians often recommend that ADHD be treated symptomatically with stimulant medication, special education and counseling. Although these approaches sometimes yield positive benefits, they may mask the problems rather than get to their underlying causes.


    In addition, many common drugs for ADD, which have the same Class 2 classification as cocaine and morphine, can have some negative side effects that relate to appetite, sleep and growth. Placing a normal student who has difficulty paying attention in a special class and counseling could undermine rather than boost his self-esteem.


    A sensible, multi-disciplinary, developmental approach treats underlying causes rather than the symptoms which are secondary.


    TREATMENT OF ALLERGIES to pollen, molds, dust, foods and/or chemicals by eliminating or neutralizing them has also been shown to alleviate the identical symptoms, and without side effects.


    VISION THERAPY improves skills that allow a person to pay attention. These skill areas include visual tracking, fixation, focus change, binocular fusion and visualization. When all of these are well developed, children and adults can sustain attention, read and write without careless errors, give meaning to what they hear and see, and rely less on movement to stay alert.


    OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY for children with sensory integration dysfunction enhances their ability to process lower level senses related to alertness, understanding movement, body position and touch. This allows them to pay more attention to the higher level senses of hearing and vision.


    The public needs to understand that some behavioral optometrists, physicians, educators, mental health professionals, occupational therapists and allergists are all addressing the same symptoms and behaviors. The difference is that medication, special education and counseling can mask these symptoms and behaviors, while vision therapy, occupational therapy and the treatment of allergies may alleviate the underlying causes and thus eliminate the symptoms long-term.


    When making a choice about treatment for attention deficits:


    • Consult a behavioral optometrist for a developmental vision evaluation
    • Have a child evaluated by an occupational therapist with expertise in sensory processing problems
    • Consult an allergist regarding possible reactions to foods or airborne particles


    Take a look at our slant board that improves reading abilities in children of all ages and even adults.



    American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-lV), 1994.


    Ayres, A. Jean, Sensory Integration and the Child, Western Psychological Services, 1979.


    Crook, William G., Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard-to-Raise Child, Professional Books, 1987.


    Gesell, Arnold, and Ilg., Frances L., Infant and Child of the Culture of Today, Harper) 1943.


    Goodman, Gay, Poillion, M. J., The Journal of Special Education, "ADD: Acronym for Any Dysfunction or Difficulty," Vol 26, No. 1, l992, pp. 37-56.


    Kavner, Richard S., Your Child `s Vision, Simon and Schuster, 1985.


    Rapp, Doris J., Is This Your Child?, Morrow, 1991.


    Schmidt, M.A., Smith, L.H., Sehnert, K.W., Beyond Antibiotics: Healthier Options for Families, North Atlantic Rooks, 1994.


    Smith, Lendon, Foods for Healthy Kids, Berkeley Books, 1981.



    Vision Therapy

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc. (OEP Foundation)

    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3-L

    Santa Ana, CA 92705-5510

    (949) 250-8070


    College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)

    215 West Garfield Road Suite 200

    Aurora, OH 44202

    (330) 995-0718, (888) 995-0719, FAX (330) 995-0719


    Occupational Therapy


    Sensory Integration International

    1602 Cabrillo Avenue

    Torrance, CA 90501

    (310) 320-9986


    American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

    4720 Montgomery Lane

    P.O. Box 31220

    Bethesda, MD 20824-1220

    (301) 652-2682


  • Fluorescent Lighting Can Trigger ADD/HD and Dyslexia

    Fluorescent lighting may do more harm than good. Long term clinical studies by the Irlen Institute and independent sources have found that reading difficulties aswell as academic underachievement may be related to fluorescent lighting. For example, a 2006 study by Capital E found that students in schools that had natural lighting instead of fluorescent lighting had 10 to 21 percent higher learning rates and test scores. Fluorescent lighting may cause pain and suffering for 12-14 percent of the world's population, triggering headaches, migraines, and other physical symptoms.

    According to U.S. Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), the long-term visual and perceptual effects of fluorescent lighting on Irlen Syndrome should be considered when drafting fluorescent lighting legislation.

    "Energy efficiency should be balanced with consumer protection and protecting the public health," she said “The long term effects of fluorescent lighting should be well studied and understood before Congress mandates that consumers use fluorescent lighting in their homes and businesses."

    Tens of thousands of people have sought help from the Irlen Institute because of difficulties with fluorescent lighting. These people are already at a distinct disadvantage because of the fluorescent lighting in their schools and workplaces. They stress and tire quickly. For many, reading ability quickly deteriorates and productivity suffers in the classroom and on the job. If forced to replace burned out incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones, these people may experience the same issues adversely affecting their lives at home, too.

    The following are just a few of the individuals who have been helped by the Irlen Method and no longer have problems directly resulting from fluorescent lights. But they are the lucky ones. Millions of other individuals are struggling to perform in a fluorescent lighting environment. We need to spread the word so that these individuals have a choice and are not forced to struggle in their homes, schools, and workplaces.

    • Sarah is 17 years old and in 11th grade, but not attending school. She was diagnosed with severe dyslexia and reading problems in second grade. She gets headaches daily when in school and migraines about twice a month. She was physically exhausted when she would come home and sleep for hours and was experiencing extreme anxiety. Her psychiatrist determined her problems were triggered by fluorescent lighting, placed her on Prozac, and recommended that she leave school. The negative affects of the fluorescent lighting have seriously affected her motivation, attention, and performance.
    • Bryce is 12 years old and in the sixth grade. He was getting poor grades in school, was unable to finish tests, could not finish his work in class, or focus. He was diagnosed with ADD and placed on medication, which was not helpful. Once it was determined that fluorescent lighting triggered poor attention and concentration, the problems were resolved using specially filtered lenses.
    • Tanisha is a third grader with reading problems who falls asleep in class under fluorescent lights. She also gets headaches when trying to read under fluorescent lights, because the words and numbers move around on the page.
    • Mariel is 29 years old and would always fall asleep in class even though she had enough sleep. For her, fluorescent lights are too bright, bothersome, and irritating. She is unable to concentrate and wants to turn them off. Fluorescent lights make her dizzy, tired, irritated, nervous, and anxious.

    The Irlen Institute has seen thousands of individuals like these who struggle trying to read and perform under fluorescent lighting. Individuals have been mislabeled with LD, ADD/HD, reading problems, and dyslexia—all as a result of having to perform under fluorescent lights.

    This is a little known problem that affects millions. Faced with a worldwide movement to ban incandescent bulbs, it is critical for all of us to be more informed and to raise the awareness of others. Energy efficiency should be balanced with consumer protection and protecting the public heath. I encourage you to share this information with others and visit the International Irlen website. Then take action by making your concerns known to your schools, employers, and legislators at the local, state, and national levels.

    By Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT, Executive Director, Irlen Institute International

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