BY LAURA J. STEVENS, M.S.
Laura Stevens gives readers a primer on ADHD diagnosis, causes, and treatment before stating the thesis of her book: ADHD medications are only “Band-Aids” that do nothing to fix the underlying causes of the disorder. The causes may be lifestyle issues, argues Stevens, and she devotes a chapter to each, concluding with recommendations for action.
Her points could be called the cutting edge of ADHD treatment. Some of them are accepted, such as ADHD children reacting to food dye; some are new, like ADHD children’s reactions to fragrances in laundry detergent. Parents may find themselves agreeing with Stevens, or at least considering ways to manage their child’s behavior that they never thought possible.
Stevens cites lots of research. However, there isn’t enough research to support some of her claims. We don’t have enough studies on multivitamins in ADHD children, and there are no firm conclusions about artificial sweeteners. In these cases, Stevens delves into other research, using comparisons and anecdotal evidence to make recommendations. In an understudied field, it’s the best an author can do.
The diet and lifestyle changes Stevens recommends are arduous, all-encompassing, and life-changing. A month-long elimination diet can result in your child’s rebelling. Removing all fragrances from your house is almost impossible, as is convincing kids to drink three tablespoons of flaxseed oil a day. However, as someone who’s done a strict elimination diet and buys fragrance-free products, and who bans gluten, milk, peanuts, and artificial food dye from her house, I know these changes can be made. It’s possible, and I hope that parents won’t be too daunted to try.
For the average ADHD parent, this is worth a read. For the parent who’s willing to do anything to get her kid off stimulant medication, this book may help. But you must be motivated, involved, and determined to make these solutions work. Stevens pulled together the research. It’s up to parents to apply it.