Close-up of a young girl (6-8) with her hand on her face

Close-up of a young girl (6-8) with her hand on her face

Your child has been diagnosed with ADHD and you’re hesitant about giving your child prescription drugs. There are about 13 million people in America alone who suffer from what is identified as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD is prevalent among African-Americans and can have devastating long-term effects.

As a community, Blacks are often reluctant to accept mental health conditions as part of their DNA, coupled with their lack of trust in the medical industry. Blacks are likely to reject any form of treatment available, especially medication.

Historically, there are reasons for the mistrust. The main reason is the documentation of misdiagnoses within our school systems. If your child is experiencing ADHD-related symptoms, it is critical to seek out a health care professional who can test for a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

The stigma associated with any kind of mental health illness among Blacks creates avoidance — the decision to ignore and do nothing.  This most often is detrimental for your child.  Perhaps you may want to change your perspective and think of your child as different, special or even gifted. However, if left untreated, the symptoms ofADHD can lead to a lifetime of underachievement in the most intelligent child. Consistent forgetfulness, a lack of organization, attention, and problems with relationships are often devastating, and get worse over time. Anxiety and depression resulting from consistent criticism and under-performance in school or work is probable

Making sure your child is treated for ADHD is necessary; otherwise, these symptoms have the potential to isolate and make one feel alone, ashamed, and destined for failure. Worse, the untreated effects of these emotional symptoms, coupled with theADHD symptoms, often leads to additional mental disorders and even criminal behaviors.

If you choose the non-medication treatment for ADHD, there are several options, all of which require planning and consistency. Whether a child or an adult with ADHD, their families will have to accept and prepare for the level of commitment required for successful results.

Here are some alternative, non-medication options:

  • Physical exercise has a calming effect lasting hours afterward because it increases the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Consistent exercise can improve attention and lower hyperactivity and impulsivity. For instance, teachers report that children are much calmer after periods of recess. Similarly, activities that include complex movements such as martial arts, skateboarding and tennis actually challenge and train the brain to increase its ability to focus.
  • Mental exercise challenges the attention span to become longer. Trained professionals use these exercises in clinical and education settings to promote learning, attention and emotional health.
  • Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) is a behavioral treatment that attaches sensors to the brain area and monitors the person’s brainwaves as they focus on a particular task. This process determines which methods help their brain, enabling the child or adult to control their level of focus more.   Individuals experience progress having fewer ADHDsymptoms and less need for medication.
  • Mindfulness is the practice of meditation and yoga for increasing concentration as well as the ability to self-regulate. Teachers and clinicians have applied this practice, yielding good results. Mindfulness practices start with the goal of focusing on attention, which can actually help increase an individual’s awareness, behaviors and emotions. Finally, mindfulness can help individuals with ADHD be more aware of their patterns and abilities to choose their actions, rather than be controlled by them.
  • Behavioral therapy is a method of treatment conducted by a licensed therapist who actually specializes in ADHD and who first assesses the non-productive habits of an individual withADHD. The therapist then teaches the individual new skills to modify such behaviors. It also examines the behavior of parents and teachers to identify their inappropriate handling of children and adolescents with ADHD, then teaches them alternative ways to support them.
  • Coaching is a non-clinical method of treatment for children and adults with ADHD. Coaching is goal-driven to help individuals identify and meet goals within a target time frame.  Coaching provides the client with a support system outside of their family to help them function better in terms of planning, organization, and time management. Coaches may be therapists or psychologists; however, most are not. Be sure you know their limitations regarding the emotional issues one may be experiencing with their ADHD.
  • Diet, nutrition, and sleep can affect the intensity of ADHDsymptoms. Proper sleep is very important for those withADHD because they struggle to maintain focus. ADHDcoaches can help with your diet or refer you to a dietician who can identify foods to avoid increasing ADHD symptoms.

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