Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an uncertain disorder and its definition is still debated among doctors and scientists. A child examined in the United States is 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than he or she would be if examined in a European nation. Most European countries use a different set of criteria for their diagnosis meaning they have a very different definition of what is and is not ADHD.
ADHD individuals often have sensitivities to certain foods which disrupt their digestive systems and absorption of essential nutrients. Reactions to toxic additives in our processed food and hygiene products can contribute to hyperactivity and mood swings. Unstable home life has also been determined to be a major factor in ADHD diagnosis. Some ADHD individuals actually possess a gene variant that does not allow their brains to process dopamine in the same way as the rest of the population. Geneticists believe this gene once gave individuals distinct survival advantages in a time long before the modern classroom. If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you should at the very least ask yourself why?
With so many variables it can be difficult to get to the root of your own ADHD. Our mission is to create a path through the confusion and provide individuals with the tools they need to achieve their best naturally-functioning self. Our approach is science based and our tools include information, diet, supplemental nutrition and testing.
How did we get here? Well to start with, there was a lot of doodling in class. And I mean a lot. My parents were constantly being brought into special school meetings to listen to various teachers and guidance counselors complain about my academic habits.
"He draws in class, he doesn't turn in homework, he doesn't pay attention, he's always late," was pretty much the standard fare. My parents would typically in turn ask about my test scores to which the teachers would always reply that they were mostly quite high.
"So what's the problem," my parents would ask?
My mother and father tried their hardest to get me to turn in homework and arrive on time to class. Fortunately, they never gave up on me and continued to encourage my success. At one point the school even enrolled me in a special needs class called Speech which was for kids with learning disabilities. The parent-teacher conferences continued year after year. I faced numerous detentions for not paying attention in class, incomplete assignments and tardiness. I simply did not fit into classroom structure. The school labeled me as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and my parents became under increasing pressure to start me on medication. At that time the drug of choice was Ritalin. My parents flat out said, no.
That was pretty much the way things went for most of my school career, a struggle. I think it was actually more of a struggle for my teachers than it was for myself. My parents always built me up and never made me feel bad about my differences from the other kids. They always encouraged me to pursue activities that I was really good at like drawing, painting, music as well my favorite subjects like biology. My teachers were frustrated that they simply couldn't get me to behave and perform the way they wanted me to.
How did it all turn out? Well, remember that speech class for kids with developmental problems? After graduating high school, I went on to be accepted to several foreign studies programs and became fluent in four different foreign languages. I guess that "speech" class wasn't so appropriate for me after all. The doodling, drawing must have paid off because in 2000 I was accepted to art school at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a major in Filmmaking. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles to begin my career in film and television. Since, I've been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people such as director James Cameron. I have also won five Emmy Awards for my work in Entertainment and have filmed two Super Bowls for CBS.
I can't thank my parents enough for the positive approach that they took with me all those years ago. Instead of looking to medication to solve our problems they looked first to diet and positive reenforcement. Rather than simply listening to the school administration, they brought be to an outside learning specialist to help diagnose my strengths and needs. They had learned their lesson about the importance of diet years earlier with my older brother. He had been experiencing extreme behavioral problems with hyperactivity, depression, anxiety and random fits. They learned about the Feingold Association and how some children can have extreme reactions to the artificial/synthetic dyes, flavors and preservatives in common foods. My parents changed his diet and removed all of the artificial additives. It was like flipping a light switch. Suddenly my brother was just a happy normal kid with no fits of hyperactivity, depression, anger or anxiety. They were so impressed with the results that they soon put the whole family on the same diet. There were no Whole Foods or natural grocery stores in those days so they had to work incredibly hard at it. I'm sure that a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's would have been the answer to my mother's prayers back in the 80's. Today it seems to make sense to everyone that eating naturally is a good and healthy idea.
The final development in this story is that at fifty years old, my father had a professional change of heart and decided to go to medical school to become a doctor. He graduated in 2006 and has been practicing medicine ever since. Many of his patients are children diagnosed with ADHD or have similar struggles to the ones that I faced. As I have always had an interest in biology, together with my father we have developed the Focus Program. We have utilized scientific research to create this general protocol designed to shed light on the ADHD diagnosis.
I remember the ADHD labeled kids who weren't as fortunate as I was growing up. They were my friends, my classmates and I remember how they changed. I remember their lunch period trips to the nurse for medication, how they became more distant and alienated from everyone else. Some of their behavioral problems continued and worsened and some of these kids ultimately left school. It saddens me. My mother has been passionate about this subject since her first parent-teacher conference. Together with her passion, my father's experience and my creativity we have developed this site and program as resources to help both children and adults grow to reach their full potentials, to better understand "ADHD" and to avoid the negative stigmas associated with it.
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