ADHD Treatment: Strategy and Philosophy

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D.

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If your child or teen has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during the summer, or winter months, and if your child or teen is not a danger to himself or to someone else, we recommend that you try diet and nutritional interventions first and see if they work. Try our Eating Program/Diet and order the VAXA products “Attend" and “Extress". Use them for at least 60 days along with the Eating Program/Diet. It will take 30 to 45 days to really know whether or not this will be sufficient as an intervention. Give it time.

The Eating Program for ADHD is effective in about 25% of cases just by itself. The Attend is effective in 70% of cases by itself. When combined in a strategy using the Eating Program, the Attend, and other targeted nutraceutical medicines recommended in our specific treatment strategies, these percentages of successful treatment go even higher.

The only drawback to using an eating program and nutracteutical medicines is that they take 30 to 45 days to work well. During the summer months you will have the time to work with them, but when you are approaching the end of a school year, time becomes too precious. So, during March, April, May, and June, consider faster acting treatment options.

If you are looking for help during the Spring months, then you are probably just trying to salvage the school year for your child or teen. You have probably seen your child's performance get worse and worse as each month has passed, and now you are near panic. OK, here's what we recommend that you consider trying if you are in this position. . .

We recommend to most of our parents who are in this position that they go back to the physician and ask for a trial of medication. Bite the bullet and just do it. With a smart doctor, and at the right dosage, the medications can provide remarkable benefits in a very short period of time (15 to 20 minutes!). Use the medications until the end of the school year. Then try the Eating Program - Diet and the Attend and Extress products, or other non-medication interventions, during the summer months and see if you can cut the necessary dosage of medication in half, or eliminate the need for medication completely.  

Once the situation is “stable" by either the use of the Eating Program and Attend, or by the use of medications, then it is time to consider other options for treatment. And, yes, there are options that work pretty well. In fact, you can see how Attend compares with Ritalin and with EEG Biofeedback training.

Medication paired with counseling is the “medical model" approach to treatment. We do not recommend counseling as an intervention all by itself. It can be beneficial if used as an adjunct to one of the “big 3" interventions: medication, Attend, or EEG Biofeedback training.

Consider EEG Biofeedback Training. . .

EEG Biofeedback training works well for the majority of kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Like the Attend and Extress products, EEG Biofeedback or Neurofeedback training is another state-of-the-art alternative approach to treatment. But because it can take time to start working, we recommend that the situation be stable before beginning this treatment. Also, because it is the most expensive treatment option, at least in the short-term, we recommend that you try it only after you have tried the Attend and Extress products. Both work well, so try the least expensive option first.

For those who are in a hurry to begin EEG Biofeedback training, we would recommend that you consider using the “Attend" while you do the Biofeedback training. We believe that it can speed up the process, help you to achieve results faster, and reduce the overall cost of treatment.

You, the parents, should get into a good support group. CHADD is a good group and has chapters all across the country. CHADD is very medical model oriented, and therefore resistant to alternative treatments. But they have many very good things to offer. You, the parents, also need to get into a good parent training class. Find one in your community, or order resources.
Next, always evaluate your treatment progress. The mantra to repeat is simple, “If it works, don't mess with it, and if it doesn't work, do something else. " Repeat this over and over again. Be ruthless in your evaluation of the treatment. You are paying “experts" to help your child. If they are not getting results, find someone who can. It may not be their fault. They may be working very hard. Your kid might really be a difficult case. But I guarantee you that if you look hard enough you will find someone in your community who actually can help your child, difficult case or not. I can't tell you how many times families have come to see me after they have spent about $5,000 on treatment with a therapist who did not know a thing about working with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and therefore received zero benefit. It's your hard earned money and time, so spend it wisely.

If a medication is tried, but does not work at all, try a different dose. If it still doesn't work, try a different medication. If that doesn't work, try a different approach to treatment, such as the Attend and Extress.

If you try Attend, and use one of the specific treatment strategies that we recommend, and you see no benefit, simply return the bottles to the manufacturer and they will send your money back. It is the only treatment option with a money back guarantee.

If EEG Neurofeedback is tried, but by 25 sessions you don't have a measurable change (retesting on TOVA test, etc. ) then have a real “heart to heart" discussion with the therapist. Ask, “Is this going to work for my kid?" If you are not convinced that it will, try something else.  

If the counseling that you go to doesn't seem to be helping your child by the 6th or 7th session, have the “heart to heart" with the therapist, and ask exactly what they are doing. Why waste money on therapy sessions with a counselor who doesn't have any idea what he/she needs to accomplish, but charges $75-100 per hour anyway? Don't waste your money. If it's not working, find a therapist who will help you.

Always keep your life in perspective. There is more to life than your child's attention or behavior problems. At least once per month have a lunch out with your spouse. At least once every three months go away with your spouse alone somewhere for a day or two. Really. Do it. Keep your marriage strong. A strong marriage is still the best gift a parent can give to a child.

Finally, work on your relationship with God. If there is a God, then the most important issues in life involve Him. What does He want from you? What is He trying to teach you, or your child, through this trial? Can He be known, and does He want to know you? All of these are the really big questions. Take time to ponder them and keep everything else in perspective.

Douglas Cowan, Psy. D. , is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including , helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL. , is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of Incorporated.


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