When he started kindergarten, he didn’t socialize much. He had speech therapy for stuttering, and he developed tics. A lot of them. In first grade the teacher was concerned about his writing, he reversed letters and numbers and his penmanship showed lack of fine motor control. He had multiple tics he cycled through. I asked teachers I was friends with what they thought. No one gave an opinion, but they all stressed that the problems were indeed there. Finally, at the start of third grade we requested a psycho-educational test from the school district. We met one morning in October with Andrew’s teacher and counselor to hear the results. The counselor informed us she didn’t observe any tics or other behaviors and said I should focus on Andrew’s abilities and not his weaknesses. I thought I was going to be sick. She basically said the problem was ME. When the counselor left the room Andrew’s teacher stressed the need for us to proceed with private testing. We did.
By the end of November that year our pediatrician had a stack of paperwork filled out by teachers and family members. An outside educational analyst reviewed everything and gave us a diagnosis of ADHD. She assured us it wasn’t in my head, and with medication, Andrew would be better able to function. Now the big decision was to medicate or not. That’s a BIG one. How do we decide whether it was safe or not to give mind-altering drugs to a 9 year old? We did research and prayed, read, prayed. We finally decided his school life was impaired enough to warrant trying Concerta for a few months.
He took Concerta for 7 months. By month two he stopped eating. We had to beg him and force him to eat anything Desperate, we would give him junk food just to add weight to his skinny frame. His tics worsened. By month four he had grown 2 inches but hadn’t gained any weight. The Dr. counted that as weight loss. We started having second thoughts and voiced our concerns to his pediatrician. Not only was he not eating, but he was having trouble sleeping. The Dr. gave us another prescription for a histamine syrup at night. Month 6 came and Andrew was skeletal. Every bone showed in his body and his clothes hung from him. One friend saw him without a shirt on and was shocked. He looked starved. School was almost over for the year and we decided that the medications had to go.
I started reading about diet as a way to counter-act ADHD. I researched food dyes and additives as well as organic options. One thing showed up everywhere I looked…. I decided to start Andrew on an organic diet that excluded all forms of corn syrup and artificial additives. Lunches everyday were organic whole grain breads and crackers with cheese, fresh organic fruit and milk. He resisted at first, he was used to eating junk food in bits and pieces. Meals at first were not fun. We all changed our eating habits,too. No more soda, packaged junk food or Mc Donald’s. Slowly his appetite came back and he embraced his new “special diet.” He even shared his food choices with his teachers at school the next year and explained why they were “necessary”!
started and we held our breath, hoping all of the tics etc. wouldn’t return. We had a conference with his new teachers to prepare them for any and all possibilities. We kept him off the medication and on the organic diet plus a daily vitamin. He struggled a bit. Transitioning was difficult, but he brought a small stuffed mouse in his pocket everyday and it helped. His tics returned, but not as strong as before, and he was able to pay attention well enough to earn a B- average with his 504 plan modifications. saw huge improvement. The tics were all gone and Andrew grew 3 inches and gained 12 pounds! He was “chatty” but his teachers were amazed at his grades…a solid B average and he made honor roll three times.
Today was our parent teacher conference for 7th grade. Andrew attended with us. We sat at our desks and listened as his teachers, one after the other, spoke. “Math-91average,” “Social Studies-95 average,” “English-98 average,” “Science-99 average!” They assured us he was focused, well behaved and a role model for the other kids. He’s organized and well-liked by others. He has grown to 5′ tall and we just bought him a third pair of sneakers…he’s outgrown two sizes already this school year! His weight is up to 78 lbs. and the other night he yelled, “Hey look! My stomach sticks out instead of in!” That was music to my ears!
What a difference an organic diet makes! How much do you know about food additives and origins? How nutritious is your food? Start asking questions, look for REAL ANSWERS, and make changes for a healthier life. An organic garden is a simple way to eat healthy for less money, and you’ll enjoy it. Don’t want to plant a garden? Support local CSA’s and growers that provide organic produce and look for the “Certified USDA Organic” when you shop. Change your life, organic works!