ADHD Treatment Alternatives:
Cognitive Flexibility and Educational Success
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder poses a significant impediment to learning. Traditionally, ADHD treatment for children emphasized the use of medications such as psychostimulants and antidepressants coupled with behavioral modification therapy. However, there are non-chemical ADHD treatment alternatives that have proven extremely effective for improving learning capacities and cognitive flexibility in children with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a common brain disorder that is often diagnosed in childhood, continues through adolescence and into adulthood. Children with ADHD face substantial struggles in the classroom; without clear and effective cognitive interventions, children with ADHD face life-long occupational and learning challenges. ADHD manifests as an inability to focus and control behavior, dreaminess and difficulty listening, non-stop talking, over-activity and an inability to organize and complete tasks. There must be specific accommodations made for students with ADHD in the classroom to maximize educational success. Cognitive neuroscience has demonstrated that fruitful activities for ADHD students are ones that train the brain to improve cognitive functioning.
What Causes ADHD?
While there has been no definitive proof of what factors cause ADHD in all cases, some current research proposes that the consumption of artificial food colors, sweeteners and additives as well as alcohol and tobacco by the mother during pregnancy may potentially contribute to ADHD in children. As ADHD tends to run in families, there may also be an underlying genetic component. Several things can be mistaken for ADHD in children including poor nutrition, stress and sleep deprivation.
Non-Chemical Alternatives for ADHD Treatment:
Cognitive Flexibility Exercises
One highly successful strategy for helping kids with ADHD in the classroom is using brain training to improve executive function and memory. Apps designed to appeal to kids through play can also improve their logical thinking skills and attention span. For instance, ACTIVATE™ Education combines computer games and physical activities to strengthen the brain’s natural memory and processing systems. Brain training has the added bonus of significantly improving the intellectual skills all children benefit from throughout life while also boosting confidence and academic proficiency. ACTIVATE™ Education works as a success strategy for children with ADHD by measuring and improving core cognitive capacities such as sustained attention, working memory and cognitive processing speed. Also, teachers receive real time data about students’ performance and progress, allowing a more effective approach to ADHD curriculum design.
Diet and Supplements:
Potentials for ADHD Treatment
Dietary changes, such as eliminating artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives and sweeteners, increasing the amount of protein and limiting sugar intake, have been shown to help with ADHD, particularly when coupled with cognitive flexibility training. For instance, because neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine regulate alertness and sleep, increased dietary protein can promote alertness without the sugar rush that carbohydrates induce. Supplements containing zinc and omega-3 fatty acids have shown promise for alleviating the symptoms of several cognitive disorders including ADHD, autism, depression and schizophrenia.
ADHD is a difficult issue for the children affected and poses significant challenges for educators. However, there are non-chemical interventions that not only alleviate ADHD in children, but also improve overall long-term critical cognitive capacities. Cognitive neuroscience has established that brain training is a strategy that works in the classroom for children affected by ADHD.
Note: If your child is receiving services in connection with a diagnosis of ADHD or another cognitive disorder, we recommend you consult with your physician to make ACTIVATE™ part of a comprehensive treatment plan.