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FOX Medical Team

Living with ADHD

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What do you do after the doctor says your child has ADHD? The FOX Medical Team's Beth Galvin looks at how one family found some help.

Reuben Davis was in the first grade when his teacher first noticed the signs he was struggling,

"In Reuben, it was impulsiveness, you know, he would speak out of turn, he would move in times he wasn't supposed to move," said Silvia Davis, Reuben's mother.

Sylvia took Reuben, who is now 12, to a psychologist for testing. That's when they got the diagnosis an increasing number of parents are hearing: ADHD.

"The first thing I went through was just denial. You know, he's just a boy. All boys are active. Everyone wants to diagnose every kid with ADHD," said Silvia Davis.

WebMD and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatrician Dr. Hansa Bhargava says it's pretty common for children to show signs of ADHD: difficulty focusing, impulsivity, hyperactivity.

"But we have to be careful in terms of what symptoms are truly ADHD and what symptoms may be looking like ADHD, but aren't," said Bhargava. "For example, lack of focus in the classroom may be because the child may be frustrated, he can't see the blackboard, he can't hear properly, he might have a learning disability or there might be other things going on."

Initially, the Davises wanted to help Ruben without medication, so they tried natural supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids,

"But really just didn't see any difference at all," Sylvia Davis said.

"Studies have shown that omega-3s, such as fish oil, does help, but generally helps much, much better if it's in conjunction with ADHD medications," said Bhargava.

The Davises also got tougher about bedtimes, making sure that Reuben got enough sleep, and they started revamping their diet to eat healthier.

The lifestyle changes helped, but gradually, they decided to try medication.

"We had to go through a long period of trying out different medicines and different dosages, some of which made his symptoms worse," said Sylvia Davis. "That was really hard; it took probably a year to get it right."

Something else that can help: structure, both at school and home.

"For example, have a chart at home that says, ‘This is when you do homework. This is the place to do it.' Have backpacks in a certain place," Bhargava said.

Reuben now works with a therapist who is helping him find ways to cope with some of his challenges.  He's come a long way.

"Part of it is the fact that Ruben has worked really hard, and he has figured out some techniques that he uses for self-regulation, and he's gotten older," said Sylvia Davis. "I personally think people don't outgrow ADHD, I think they just learn how to cope with it."

Dr. Bhargava says getting a good night's sleep is really critical for kids who struggle with attention deficit disorders, but it's also a big challenge because they often struggle with sleep.

The Davises take bedtime seriously. Reuben says it's not always fun, but he does feel better if can get eight hours of sleep.


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