Living with ADHD
Q. My eight-year-old son seems bright but cannot sit still, never listens to what he is told and finds it hard to concentrate. His doctor says he may have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and need drugs. Are there any other ways to help? A. ADHD is a combination of symptoms that present behavioural and learning challenges, according to Mark Mathews, founder of The Sunflower Trust (www.sunflowertrust.co.uk), which specialises in treating children with similar problems.
The number diagnosed with ADHD has soared in the past two decades to between two and five per cent of school-age children in the UK . Many experts believe the controversial drug Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant akin to amphetamines, is used excessively. According to national guidelines (www.nice.org.uk), ADHD should be treated with psychological, behavioural and educational help.
As a teenager Mathews overcame dyslexia, which had caused him to be expelled from school. He went on to gain a degree and later studied osteopathy, kinesiology, nutrition and neurolinguistic programming. In 1996, he set up the Sunflower Trust, which successfully uses these therapies to help children with problems similar to his own.
Mathews believes these difficulties are essentially a result of neurological confusion stemming from the environment we live in: ‘In these days of fast food, fast living and quick fixes, it’s little wonder many children struggle to cope with the demands of life, let alone school.’
He recommends you adopt these simple measures, which actually apply to every child:
● Give him natural unprocessed foods, with few sugary snacks and fizzy drinks, plus lots of water.
● Make sure he gets enough sleep, allowing wind-down time before bed.
● Set time limits on using digital media and keep it out of his room.
● Show him how to look into people’s eyes to pick up the subtleties of body language and facial expression.
● Encourage him to do sports and join him in outdoor hobbies.
● Play games that involve concentration, memory, strategic thinking, maths and dexterity, such as cards, chess and puzzles.
● If possible, organise for him to take up music, art, crafts or practical skills such as cooking.
● Encourage him to read and also read to him – choose stories with a positive message, such as A Dog Called Flow by Pippa Goodhart (Troika Books, £5.99*).
● Praise him for being the unique person he is with his own special qualities.
● Above all, give him your time.
GO BACK TO FLATS
Not only do high heels cramp your toes and distort the alignment of bones and muscles, but doctors warn that they may have caused a rise in cases of Morton’s neuroma, where fibrous tissue wraps around the nerve between the toes, causing agonising pain. Bunions, calluses and tendonitis are other hazards. Chiropractor Dominic Cheetham points out that 65 per cent of British women have experienced significant pain because of their heels. He advises sticking to heels of two inches or less and taking them off when at your desk. For painful feet, roll a tennis or golf ball under the sole, suggests Dominic.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.facingup2kidneycancer.org
Early-stage kidney cancer is curable, but farmer Jon Birchall, 54, was misdiagnosed in 2010 and his illness is now terminal. He is riding around Britain on his motorbike to raise money for the James Whale Fund. Give what you can and/or join him for a mile or three – his route is on the site.