Thursday, November 13, 2008

Take Your Child with ADHD on a Walk!!

When a child has attention difficulties at school, one of the first ideas teachers, other professionals, and parents think about is that child has ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and is in need of medication. Partly because of this thinking, the use of medication for children with ADHD has risen dramatically over the past number of years. As reported in Pediatrics , the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, during the years 2002 to 2005 the number of children with ADHD who were prescribed medication increased a whopping 40.4%. Similar increases in the prevalence of medical intervention were seen for children with autism, depression, and diabetes. Concerns about this alarming trend have been voiced by experts in the field. For example, Stuart A. Seale, MD, board-certified family physician, has voiced concern that our medical establishment is treating pediatric chronic diseases with the same approach as that used with adults--primarily through the use of medications.

If you have a child with attention difficulties, there are many other more natural interventions to try before medication is utilized. Tara Parker-Hope has recently reported in the New York Times that researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that walking in nature was just as effective in helping children with ADHD concentrate as was a dose of medication. This is an exciting finding. We have all known intuitively that being in nature helps children with attention challenges and now we have the data. When your child has attention difficulties in school and/or elsewhere, I encourage you to take the child for a wonderful walk in nature. Try this and other natural remedies first, before any type of medication is used. Even if your child is already taking medication, get outside! It can't hurt!