Many parents are hesitant to put their child on ADHD medications like Ritalin which can have both positive and negative side effects. The authors of Overcoming ADHD Without Medication have been working on a book for almost 10 years to address this issue. The Association for Youth, Children and Natural Psychology (AYCNP) is a non-profit corporation out of New Jersey dedicated, in part, to mental health education and non-pharmaceutical treatment. The book offers ideas in hopes that parents and teachers can take children who would normally be classified with ADHD and move them out of the range.

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Chapter 1 answers the question “What is ADHD?” The authors discuss symptoms which include poor concentration, anger, hyperactive behavior and excessive talking. Most of the symptoms occur in academic, work or social arenas. The authors also address who is affected by the disorder, ADHD in the school and the process of labeling psychiatric disorders. Additionally, they include discussions about disorders similar to ADHD (i.e. bipolar disorder) and write about the over-diagnosis of ADHD in children.

“ADHD is a battle that can be won…without the need for medication.”

Chapter 2 is about the way media plays a part in ADHD. The authors provide solutions and suggestions about coping with ADHD in this media savy, video game playing, television watching society. As in all other parts of the book, the authors use input from mental health and education professionals including special education teachers, school and clinical psychologists, professors and researchers (to name a few).

Chapter 3 questions whether medication is the solution to treat ADHD. Parents are concerned about side effects associated with such medications which can be decreased appetite, headache, shifting moods, insomnia and worse. In a question and answer format, the authors tackle questions such as whether clinical studies support not using meds to treat ADHD and whether those same studies support the proposal that meds for ADHD improve grades. Footnotes expand on their answers and suggest other resources.

Chapter 4 hits the heart of the matter and provides other solutions to ADHD. According to the authors and the professionals they rely on, the ultimate goal is lifestyle change. Non-medicinal ways of doing this include getting kids involved in art therapy, increasing exercise, informing children about diet and nutrition and getting them outside to enjoy nature (which is referred to as green therapy). Hypotheticals continue to be used throughout this section to provide models of real life changes people have made. Many resources, particularly having to do with art, are included at the end of the section. Finally the authors stress the importance of providing a loving environment for kids diagnosed with ADHD and keeping a positive attitude. The authors give examples to help parents and teachers do this.

Chapter 5 again searches for non-medical treatment ideas but the focus is on school. This chapter may be the most helpful because working with teachers when your child has a mental disorder can be intimidating. Just as changes at home are important, changes at school must happen to be successful. The authors and professionals suggest one-on-one attention, Big Brother mentoring programs, tutoring and reading coaches. This chapter provides a detailed list of ideas to help children with ADHD be successful. For example, “breaking larger assignments into smaller tasks” helps kids with problems focusing. A small thing such as being aware of seating charts is another wonderful idea. Putting kids with ADHD close to the teacher’s desk has been found to be very helpful. 18 more positive educational ideas are listed and expanded upon in this section.

Chapter 6 provides resources, references and recommended reading. Case studies are fleshed out and there is even a small section about adjusting to ADHD in adulthood. Charts and graphs are used to show how watching certain television programs can add to regression and difficulty developing personal relationships. And finally, the Bibliography provides not only the book’s citation information but also many other sources that readers can check out. Source materials include online articles and newspaper articles, journals, case studies and FDA alerts.

Overall, this book makes a compelling argument against medication use in ADHD treatment. The authors back up their claims with a wide variety of sources and professional opinions. And the writing is very accessible to all audiences. The information is presented in a clear way so concerned parents and teachers can use this guidebook effectively. Any caregiver of a child diagnosed with ADHD should read this book and consider non-medical treatment. Perhaps it will be the answer for some. And even if medication is used in treatment, there are plenty of great ideas included that will help caregivers make life easier for children living with ADHD.

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