I have had a number of parents ask me this question and it would seem that it stems from the tremendous amount of conflicting information around the causes and treatments available.
ADHD is now the leading childhood disorder in the United States and throughout the world, affecting 10% of US children ( CDC numbers from 2007, no estimates for 2012 are available).
The good news is that over the last decade, a growing number of scientific studies have shown that ADHD and Learning Disabilities have a biological basis in the brain. The current breakthroughs in neuroscience have identified “weaker” or developmentally delayed brain areas, to be involved.
To illustrate how developmental delays play out, I use the analogy of a philharmonic orchestra. The brain is the conductor, the musicians with their instruments representing the different areas of the brain with their specific role, and the music, which corresponds to behavior, emotions and thoughts. The conductor moves back and forth to cue/activate the left or right side of the orchestra /brain. The musicians do not usually all play at the same time or same at the same volume. Each musician must not only play the right notes, but play them a precisely the right time. Timing is everything. If the a poorly trained conductor focuses more on the left side of the orchestra, the right side can become confused or slow down, the two sides become disharmonious, because one side has become dominant. Furthermore if five or seven musicians/areas of the brain are playing off key, the music becomes disharmonious. The conductor is unable to do anything about it. In either case additional training/rehabilitation is needed. The same goes for the brain.
Factors that can cause or contribute to the brain developmental delays that produce true ADHD, are as I understand them to be are: stressful pregnancy or birth, birth trauma, failure to crawl, rigid areas in the spine, poor posture with weak core muscles, sedentary lifestyle (not enough physical play), allergies and the inflammation they trigger, intestinal inflammation, chronic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic (body chemistry) imbalances such as blood sugar levels or neurotransmitter levels. Environmental toxins and psycho-social factors (IE bullying or abuse) are also part of the picture. Yes, there is a genetic involvement, but it does not determine a child’s fate, meaning that the activities of the genes can be modified. Indeed about 85% of all the genes in a human are dedicated to building and shaping the brain, the new science of Epigenetics and research in Neuroplasticity are showing that these brain-building genes are selectively turned on or off, during the developmental stages of the infant, child and throughout life. Epigenetics has demonstrated that it is a child’s environments and stimulation, for the most part, that flips the “on or off switches” of the brain-building genes. A dramatic example of this would be the failure to thrive of an infant that is neither touched nor loved, which can result in the infant actually dying.
Now when it comes to treatments, conventional Medicine’s approach to ADHD has not significantly changed in the last 40 years; it is all about managing the symptoms. Psychological treatments are also about better managing the symptoms and the complications that arise from them. The end result, which the MTA study (multimodal treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conducted by the US National Institute of Mental Health) illustrates that after 2 years of a combination of medication and psychotherapy 50% of children still have “full blown” ADHD symptoms, and that 50% have improved symptoms, as long as they are on medications and receive therapy. Clearly better results need to be achieved, and can be achieved.
Thanks to Neuroplasticity research and the new advances in diagnostic testing, showing us how the brain is actually functioning, such as Functional Laboratory Testing, some genetic testing, SPECT imaging and special EEGs, are now available diagnostic tools. Furthermore the breakthrough Functional Neurological physical examinations and brain rehabilitation treatments, developed by Dr. Frederick Carrick,D.C. are other advances. (Dr. Carrick is a Chiropractic neurologist, who is accomplishing a small revolution in the field of neurology, in the mid-1990s, he gained attention for bringing comatose patients out of their vegetative states using manual stimulation.)
For the most part traditional medical doctors are unaware of these recent developments; and while some of them are, they do not know what to do therapeutically with the information, at this point.
Aside from the medical route, there are some therapy programs that help with for instance visual processing, auditory processing, nutrition or academic skills, but they are all focused on a few particular problems and none of the offer a comprehensive brain based therapy.
A specialized branch of the Chiropractic profession does have a comprehensive and holistic approach to helping the areas of the ADHD brain, that have some catching-up to do.
I have received my post graduate training and specialization in integral brain based therapy.
In my office we provide specific individualized rhythmic exercises and sensory-motor stimulations to trigger the neuroplasticity of the brain, in target specific areas affected. Furthermore, normalizing the spine and postural muscles is key to jumpstarting the “weaker” brain areas. The brain also needs to be fed and inflammation prevented, this implies looking at the nutritional building blocks, allergies, blood sugar levels, digestion, absorption and much more, which we address.
You can visit my website to read more about my treatment approach at: vitaliaquiro.com (English section) or my Youtube channel: Vitalia Quiropractica. I regularly give presentations on the new neuro-scientific discoveries related to ADHD and Learning Disabilities, and the treatment solutions I offer. You can also contact my office at 34-93 414 22 49 or email at email@example.com