Attention deficit Bernie relates how he has suffered all his days from this condition. Nevertheless he's had at 68 a wonderfully full tilt at life and shudders at the thought that now, at the whim of teacher, psychologist or doctor, he would certainly be treated with mind altering drugs.
It's no secret now that my alter ego, Bernard Preston, is my nom de plume. I started using the name to protect the identity of the very real people lurking between the pages of my books.
It's only fairly recently that I've realised that I too suffer from ADD. What is it, and are there other solutions than mind altering drugs for your child?
There's a loose association of three mental states that make up the diagnosis of ADHD; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They are, not surprisingly,
Each child with ADHD has a mix of these disorders; usually one predominates over the others.
Attention deficit Bernie expresses alarm that if he was a child today he would certainly be treated with mind altering Ritalin.
One of the physiological signs is that the brain of a child with ADHD uses less glucose than normal; and so if, because of a poor diet, the blood sugar is already low, and he is already predisposed, then one or more of these symptoms will begin to show.
If regularly the child is on a poor diet, then this behaviour becomes habituated, and soon he or she becomes labelled as disruptive, or of low intelligence, or some such.
My nickname at school was Dopey, and frankly it fitted. My mind was frequently in another world as it flitted from one subject to another; I was easily bored, and would move on rather than finishing the job in hand.
Inattentiveness was the main feature of attention deficit Bernie in those early days, and it's still a problem. For example, three seconds after being introduced to someone, I cannot recall their name.
However, hyperactivity is now a large part of the condition too. I am unable to stop, even for a moment. I have to be continuously busy with something, often moving from one job to another as soon as the first bores. Procrastination is a large feature of the problem; chores are finished at the last moment.
Interestingly, the first part of my schooling had little to report; I was average, or below par, despite coming from a highly academically successful family. I recall being told in grade X that my mathematics was so poor, having failed three years in a row, that they were going to push me through again to the next form; holding me back in their opinion would not achieve the desired result. There was no hope of me ever gaining a university entrance, at least in the sciences, and languages were in any case weak too.
Well, the rest is history. Something changed, and I for one have no idea what it was. I went on to achieve a university entrance, completed two years of mathematics, graduating in physics and chemistry.
Five years later I completed a bachelors in education, and then a doctorate in chiropractic. But I still had ADHD; somehow I learnt to cope with it, largely through a dramatic change in diet, I believe.
Apparently about four percent of children have attention deficit, or one of its many variants. Inattention is the major feature of my problem, and it remains so to this day. For example, when hunting for a book on a shelf, or a tool in my workshop, I have to deliberately slow my mind down, and concentrate on each item, one by one, until I find what I'm searching for.
So many times, to my great embarrassment, my brain has flitted from one item to the next, missing what I needed, only later to be told, that it was right there, staring at me in the face.
Mental illness in its many and varied forms is so common place, that it might even be said to be the norm. All the world's a bit queer, except for me and thee; and I'm not so sure about you.
Some of them are mild, such as that which afflicts me. Others are serious such as the manic depression that George Frideric Handel and Winston Churchill suffered from; both were geniuses, but the lows were very deep.
I totally reject out of hand that all of us, and particularly children, who suffer from some form of mental illness should be on drugs. If that were the case in former times there would have been no Hallelujah Chorus, to my mind probably the greatest piece of music ever written, and no leader to carry Britain through the second world war.
For myself, attention deficit Bernie has managed to control his disability, sometimes it's true with great difficulty. That hyperactivity has been satisfied with a deep and profound interest in many varied things.
Firstly there has been beekeeping, a hobby that has never ceased to amaze for my whole life; I still have seven colonies at the bottom of the garden. Then there has been an interest in all things to do with wood. Today I have two chainsaws that I use regularly and a well equipped carpentry shop.
I could add to that soaring amongst the clouds most Saturdays, a fascination with collecting solar energy and building a large collector on our roof that provides most of our electricity, and gathering and storing rainwater for our home and garden.
Add to that a fascination with organic gardening, worm farms and chicken tractors, hiking mountains and trout fishing, the great outdoors always beckons.
then lastly my books; six are published and the seventh is on its way.
Chiropractic Help is listed at one or two on Google's front page; it's
entirely my creation. The fact that few extreme Sudokus can beat me and I spend at least a quarter of hour every day enjoying internet chess at a tolerable high level, confirm that I'm not mentally challenged after all.
The intention is not to blow my own trumpet; it's simply to make the point that attention deficit Bernie has done it all without Ritalin; yes, I was a trial to my parents and teachers, I'm sure. But I'm convinced that if I had been put on mind altering drugs as a child, little of this would have transpired; I would today be hooked on medication.
Ritalin is highly addictive.
The chiropractic coalface continues to challenge and excite me. The inspiration for this page was a young lad of about ten with a problem with his gait; a notable sportsman he has been unable to run recently. Fortunately his problems were relatively minor, but what disturbed me greatly, is that he is already on Ritalin. Joint pain is one of the Ritalin side effects.
Behind his glassy stare, and drugged appearance, I identified with a lad who could have been me. A boy of many talents apparently, and highly intelligent, he became disruptive in class and his teacher insisted they consult a psychologist. I fear for him; I don't see the happy ending as attention deficit Bernie has experienced as I gaze into his crystal ball. A lifetime of medication lies ahead.
I take virtually no medication. Let your food be your medicine is our motto; that's not original. Thomas Edison, I believe.
Ritalin is a powerful drug; it's listed as a schedule II substance, along with cocaine and morphine. It is highly addictive and has a significant risk of serious and even life-threatening side effects. Attention deficit Bernie is so pleased that his child was long before this nasty new fad.
The most common Ritalin side effects include addiction, exactly what Henry Gadsen, chief executive of a large drug company would want, and anxiety. He told Fortune magazine that he wanted his company to be more like chewing gum manufacturer, Wrigley.
The list of Ritalin side effects make scary reading; for example it includes headache, nausea, insomnia, joint pain and slowed growth in children. Read them rather at a medical site such as Web MD.
Okay, so your child is not performing well at school, but you know he or she is bright. Worse, he may be disruptive and unruly in class; there may even be suggestions that you take him to another school.
What are the alternatives? Is there something else you can do for him or her, before getting them onto the path of mind altering drugs?
If I have one recollection of my diet at boarding school is that it was very high in starch. Whether it was highly refined and glycemic or not, I have no idea, but an excess of carbohydrate stresses the pancreas and plays havoc with blood sugar. Do you remember that one of main findings with ADHD children is that their brains have difficulty getting enough glucose?
Try everything, everything, everything before you agree to put your child on mind altering drugs. I am absolutely and totally convinced of the merit of these words. If attention deficit Bernie can make it through ADHD, then the chances are good that your child can too. Good luck!
Sixty percent of the brain is made up of fat. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured in the body and must be consumed in the diet; this is especially true of the omega 3 fatty acids. There are three of them, two are obtained from fatty fish, and one from vegetable sources such as freshly ground flax seed, free range eggs, walnuts and herbs such as purslane.
The amount of omega-3 in free range cage free eggs is three times higher; it's entirely determined by access to greens that are rich in these oils. This is the stuff that will allow your child to escape what attention deficit Bernie went through.