ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurologic disorder in which a child displays developmentally inappropriate behavior, especially inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsiveness and is the leading childhood disorder of any kind in the world. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), in 2010, ADHD affected 1 in 10 kids with boys being affected 3-4 times as likely as girls. In 2010, the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) noted that ADHD is the most prevalent mental disorder amongst children and is the number one reason a child will be medicated. The diagnosis of ADHD has increased 7000% over the last decade and the production of medications for ADHD has increased approximately 2000% over the past 20 years. (1, 2)
Approximately 70% of children with ADHD also have at least one other diagnosis and most have been labeled as having at least 3 different diagnoses, including Tourette’s syndrome and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The effects of ADHD follow children into the teen years, and for 50-60%, into adulthood, and have effects on other aspects of their life; 32% drop out of high school compared to 15% of teens not diagnosed with ADHD. (3) There is a 300% increased risk of substance abuse and also a 300% risk of dementia for those who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD also affects the entire family and even the entire community. Parents who have a child with ADHD tend to have a 70-80% divorce rate (along with those who have autistic kids). In 2005, it was found that the average ADHD family spent $15,000 extra per year – just to maintain the problem. A child in Special Ed costs the community an extra $60-$80,000 per year per child. (4)
There are 3 different subtypes of ADHD. In order to be diagnosed, the must have significant problems both at home and at school. Some common signs and symptoms of the disorder include:
Type I ADHD - Inattention:
§ Failing to pay close attention to details or making careless mistakes when doing schoolwork or other activities
§ Trouble keeping attention focused during age-appropriate play or tasks
§ Appearing not to listen or hear when spoken to
§ Failing to follow instructions or finish age-appropriate tasks
§ Avoiding tasks that require a high amount of mental effort and organization, such as school projects
§ Frequently losing items required to facilitate tasks or activities, such as school supplies
§ Excessive distractibility/ Forgetfulness
Type II ADHD - Hyperactive and Impulsive:
§ Excessive fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat
§ Leaving seat often, even when inappropriate
§ Running or climbing at inappropriate times
§ Difficulty in quiet play
§ Frequently feeling restless
§ Excessive speech
§ Answering a question before the speaker has finished
§ Failing to await one’s turn
§ Interrupting the activities of others at inappropriate times
Type III ADHD – Combination of Type I and Type II
There are no standardized tests to determine a diagnosis of ADHD. The above behaviors must exist in 2 settings for 6 months before a diagnosis of ADHD can be considered and the behavior should be continual and excessive as it is normal for all children to occasionally experience inattention and hyperactivity. Ruling out ADHD should only become a consideration if the behavior is causing problems in the child’s everyday life. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has guidelines for the initiation of a diagnosis in 6-12 year olds who exhibit problems with school, behavior, their peers, and/or family members. A diagnosis is based on a check list of symptoms in the DSM 4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of the American Psychiatric Association. The checklist for diagnosis of ADHD is not based on scientific evidence; it was created by a group of doctors who subjectively decided what the criteria for ADHD should be.
From the mainstream perspective, treatment usually involves medication that is supposed to control behavior and increase attention span. Stimulants are the most common medication prescribed for ADHD, including Ritalin and Adderall. In 2007, the FDA directed the makers of all drugs approved for the treatment of ADHD to alert patients to the possible risks of heart attack and psychiatric symptoms associated with their medicines, as there had been reports of sudden death in patients with underlying heart defects. A review reported an increase risk of 1:1000 in developing drug related psychiatric disorders, such as hearing voices, paranoia, or mania, even in patients with no prior history of psychiatric problems.
Because of the risk of serious heart problems, in 2008, the American Heart Association recommended that children have an ECG, or electrocardiogram, before beginning any stimulant medication for ADHD. (5) Unfortunately, only about 15% of doctors perform an ECG before prescribing stimulant medication, citing a lack of knowledge on how to interpret the ECG as the reason for being non-compliant with the AHA recommendations. (6,7) Other side effects of stimulant medication include decreased appetite, weight loss, decreased growth, dry mouth, constipation, insomnia, and nervousness. Despite these medications being the mainstay of medical treatment for ADHD, they are only effective in reducing symptoms for less than 70% of kids they are prescribed for.
In general, mainstream medicine believes ADHD and other neurobehavioral disorders have a genetic component (8), are lifelong problems, and have no cure. Their focus is on medicating symptoms and managing the problem with different types of therapies.
When you ask medical professionals if they can describe what exactly is happening in the brain of kids with ADHD, most cannot give you an answer. Functional Neurologists, such as pediatric chiropractor Dr. Christine Anderson, however, not only understand the neurology underlying ADHD, but also other behavioral and learning disorders and have tools to bring brain function back into balance. Once the brain is functioning at an optimal level, the symptoms of ADHD will disappear.
Functional Disconnection Syndrome:
The basis of treatment for ADHD and other neurobehavioral disorders from a functional neurology standpoint is based on “Functional Disconnection Syndrome”, or FDS. (9,10) In Functional Disconnection Syndrome, there is a disconnect in communication between the 2 hemispheres of the brain. (11) There are no lesions in the brain; instead, there is a lack of development in one hemisphere of the brain which creates an unevenness of skills and problems relating to the hemisphere that is under performing. The job of the functional neurologist is to determine which hemisphere is deficient and at what level in the brain the deficiency is occurring. In children with ADHD, the right hemisphere is usually “weaker” than the left, leaving the left hemisphere to dominate the child’s behaviors. (12)
The right hemisphere is what normally puts the brakes on unwanted behaviors and actions. It also controls the large muscles of the body, self-awareness, nonverbal communication, empathy, getting the big picture, and spatial perception; this is why kids who have ADHD and other right brain deficit disorders, tend to be clumsy (13), have poor eye contact and social skills (14), be picky eaters, and have impulsive behaviors. (15, 16) Having a stronger left brain also means that they tend to have high IQs, and a high attention to detail. Children with ADHD also tend to be ambidextrous, which is also linked to learning difficulties. (17, 18)
To bring the brain into balance, pediatric chiropractor Dr. Anderson will focus on bringing the weaker hemisphere of your child’s brain up to the same level as their stronger hemisphere. This is done at her Hollywood Kid Chiropractic Family Wellness Center location by specifically stimulating the weaker hemisphere using sensorimotor stimuli which Dr. Anderson determines after a comprehensive neurological exam. She often gives exercises to perform at home in order to facilitate brain development between office visits. The brain is built by input from the muscles, joints, and senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, proprioception and the vestibular systems. Unless you build the brain from the bottom up, it will not be able to exert control from the top down!
Role of Chiropractic in Balancing the Brain and Nervous System:
Chiropractic adjustments play a crucial role in developing the brain and bringing balance to the deficient hemisphere. The vertebral joints send powerful messages to the brain during an adjustment. And in the upper neck there are large concentrations of receptors that send information directly to the brain. A deviation in posture is actually one of the first signs that there are brain imbalances. (19) It is the brain’s job to make sure that when we stand upright that we are balanced from side to side and front to back.
Dr. Christine Anderson, a pediatric chiropractor practicing in the heart of Hollywood, has completed the 175 hour certification course in Childhood Developmental Disorders taught by the Carrick Institute of Functional Neurology and has attained the distinction of FABCCD (Fellow of the American Board of Childhood Developmental Disorders). She understands the underlying neurologic cause of ADHD and has the skills to be able to determine where the disconnection is occurring in your child’s brain. Along with specific, gentle adjustments, Dr. Anderson will design a specific program of sensory motor exercises for your child to perform at home, along with nutritional advice and guidance in how to guide your child’s behavior as changes in their neurology take place. If the exercises are performed on a daily basis consistently, results generally can be seen within 12 weeks. (9)
A child is born with only 25% of its brain; the brain will grow to 90% of its adult size by 3 years of age. Because the nervous system and brain are developing so rapidly in young children, Dr. Anderson recommends your child having regular chiropractic and functional neurologic checkups from the time they are born, regardless of whether or not they have problems, as ADHD may lower the volume of the brain (20) and cause thinning of the cortex. (21) Dr. Anderson is Board Certified in Chiropractic Pediatrics and Pregnancy (DICCP) and has over 22 years’ experience in adjusting newborns, toddlers and children of all ages, including her three children. By checking and adjusting any vertebrae or cranial bones that are misaligned or restricted, she can remove any interference from the nervous system, which controls all the body’s processes and self-healing.
When your child comes in for regular visits, Dr. Anderson can understand what is normal for them and check to see if their brain is developing normally. This means that she can help take care of issues before they get to be big problems. This includes looking for red flags early on in infancy and as a toddler that might have your child labeled as ADHD later on in school; she can then give you some specific exercises to do at home which will aid in the maturation of your child’s brain, truly preventing problems, such as ADHD!
It is every parent’s wish that their children have a life filled with happiness and well-being! Let Dr. Christine Anderson help your family live a fulfilled life! Call the office today at 323-436-2735 to set appointments for your entire family!