A Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing ADHD
Updated: May 19
October is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) awareness month. In recognition of this neurological disorder that affects 11% of children, Heather Goodwin, MA, HHP, is gifting our clients and friends with two of her favorite handouts she shares with parents and schools. These handouts are full of research-based tools and tips that have been proven to help the individual with ADHD thrive in both the school and home settings. Enjoy and feel free to share!
1. Exercise and Purposeful Movement: exercise increases the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) AND increases levels of two key brain chemicals — dopamine and norepinephrine — that help with focus.
2. Meditation and Mindfulness Practice: Meditation is the process of paying attention to paying attention. Numerous studies indicate that we can literally rewire our brains by practicing mindfulness and that it’s very effective for increasing focus in individuals with ADHD. Check out our Present Time Kids (PTK) program. www.presenttimekids.com
3. Breath Work also trains your brain to focus on focusing; deep abdominal breathing also helps send positive and calming messages from the abdominal area to the brain via the vagus nerve.
4. Biofeedback: Biofeedback technology acts as a mirror for individuals to see the power they have, real-time to change their physiology for the better. Training on biofeedback allows the individual to replicate and transfer the focus and physiological coherence achieved on the computer into everyday life. One powerful biofeedback system is the EmWave Heartmath program. (can obtain this therapy at Heights of Health)
5. Brain Training Games to increase working memory and focus. At home use: CogMed and Brain HQ ($$); Free apps: Fit Brains, Luminosity
6. Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation: The Alpha-Stim device (can obtain this therapy at Heights of Health)
7. Interactive Metronome based interventions: Brain Beat Program (can obtain this intervention at Heights of Health)
8. Building the gut-brain connection; 90-95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Increase good bacteria by taking probiotics.
9. Eat less processed foods, more whole foods. Avoid foods in boxes and cans and increase “real” foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and organic proteins
10. Eliminate or cut back on gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods and any food dyes/artificial coloring. In particular: Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) – this causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Red #40 (Allura Red) – this is the most- widely used and consumed dye and has been shown to trigger hyperactivity in children.
11. Avoid Sodium Benzoate (a common food additive/preservative that has been found to trigger ADHD symptoms). Sodium Benzoate can be found in soft drinks and other carbonated beverages, fruit juices, jams, salad dressings, condiments, pickles and even liquid supplements
12. Avoid fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water. Fluoride is a known neurotoxin and has been linked to symptoms of ADHD.
13. Body integration exercises to increase focus and proprioception (body awareness): The Cross Crawl and The Elephant (it Figure 8) exercises. https://www.livestrong.com/article/121468-brain-gym- exercises-classroom/
14. Supplements: increase Omega 3 Fatty acids, probiotics, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, amino acids (particularly L-Glutamine, L-Theanine, Tyrosine and DMAE) 15. Specific ADHD supplement combinations: Attentive Child, Adrenamax (primarily for focus and attention; obtain from Heights of Health), GABA Calm (for focus and anxiety), Relax Max (anxiety and cognition; obtain from Heights of Health), Nurture &Clarity 16. Increase hydration; drink 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces of pure, filtered water.
©Heather M. Goodwin, MA, HHP Heights of Health Holistic Therapy Services