I don’t know about you, but the word “cure” provokes an instantaneous reaction in me of pure revulsion. The left side of my lip starts to curl into a snarl as my eyes begin to roll back into my head. Okay, you get the gist. Over the decades I have had the opportunity to hear of cures from teachers, therapists, online forum folk, friends, relatives, and even well-meaning strangers on the street. As the parent of a child who has autism as well as all the symptoms of ADHD, I am constantly besieged with stories of miraculous recoveries. Although many suggestions fall into the realm of well-meaning advice, there are still snake oil salesmen out there ready to take your money and time.
It is rather heartbreaking for parents who have a child who has special challenges to be lured with myths of a cure. There are some parents who will lose their health, their finances, and more importantly, precious time with enjoy their child because they are addicted to spending all their time pursuing the latest cures. What I am about to say may not garnish hits or page views or get me a guest spot on Oprah, but there simply Is no cure for disorders like autism or ADHD. It is my opinion that your time would be much better spent in learning how to help your child to manage his or her symptoms. And of course acceptance goes a long way to help maintain your sanity and to help your child adjust to the realities of his or her challenges.
We are going to take a look at some of the cures out there for ADHD and see if they hold up to scrutiny.
When I first heard about special diets for autism and ADHD, I was extremely skeptical. My skepticism was especially provoked when I heard diet and “cure” mentioned in the same sentence. I was completely turned off to the idea of trying a special diet for my son due to all the cure propaganda associated with these diets. I had wished that someone would have just said, “Some individuals who have autism or ADHD have food allergies and intolerances. And if you take care of these food intolerances and/or allergies through diet then the child feels better and some of their symptoms may improve.” Okay that…I could logically understand and sure it is worth a try.
My philosophy is that between the extremes - “Diet cures ADHD” and “Diets don’t work at all to improve ADHD symptoms” - there is some middle ground where the truth exists. In our situation, my son Max is on the Gluten-free Casein-free diet. We had him tested for food allergies and he was found to have reactions to both wheat and dairy products.
Did his physical allergic responses diminish? Yes. His eczema and his gastrointestinal problems improved dramatically. Did this, in turn, help him to feel better and be able to concentrate and think more clearly? Of course. If you were feeling physically ill or in discomfort all the time, you would most likely feel irritable and your ability to focus and concentrate would be impaired. Thus, it is conceivable that diet can improve some of the symptoms of ADHD and autism.