Members response to Kids on Speed 1

Many of our readers were disappointed with the first episode of Kids on Speed, as was I. In the 3 weeks that the experts spent coming up with a diagnosis, they could have all done the diet to find out how many of their symptoms were food related. Research shows that 64% of kids diagnosed with ADHD react to food (reference below).

I'm guessing that at least some of them were. We saw some classic symptoms of food intolerance, such as "he has good days and bad days", making silly noises, hitting, biting, temper tantrums, anxiety and many more.

What do they eat? We didn't see much, but there were a few clues. "Why do you like Macca's?" one boy was asked. "Because it's yummy", he answered.  One of the fathers was drinking from a bottle of what looked like artificially coloured drink and eating what looked like a packet of highly processed snacks …

"We've tried everything," said one mother, but then went on to explain that  they had tried “wheat free and dairy free and it did nothing".  From our point of view, excluding wheat and dairy alone usually doesn’t help. Diet doesn’t work unless you avoid everything that may be causing problems at the same time, and for severe symptoms, that generally means a 3 week trial excluding additives, salicylates, amines and glutamates as well as dairy and gluten.

I was particularly disappointed that the experts seemed to think the answer for Oppositional Defiance Disorder was behaviour training for parents - obviously the pharmacist who features in our website quote knows more about it than they do:

The pharmacist refused to fill my son's script for Ritalin.  He said 'for oppositional defiance, you need to read Fed Up and look at food'.  It changed our lives.

Was I the only one surprised at what seemed like a bit of an old fashioned message that medication is “safe and effective" plus the idea that ADHD children will do worse in the long term if not on medication? What about the Raine study in Western Australia?  From 1989-2003 there was a massive increase in the prescription of ADHD medications in WA, largely due to a small group of Perth paediatricians. By 2002, WA prescription rates were amongst the highest in the world, even higher than the national average in the USA.  Against this background, a 2010 WA study of 131 ADHD children over 8 years questioned the efficacy of long-term stimulant medication to treat ADHD. It found that stimulant medication did not significantly improve a child's level of depression, self-perception or social functioning and suggested that long-term use of stimulant medication might affect a child's heart function, even after the medication was stopped (reference below).

I am not against medication for ADHD, but I am against medication being prescribed first without the offer - for those who want it - of an effective diet (the RPAH Elimination Diet) through a referral to a supportive dietitian who specialises in this diet.  

The rest of the series promises to be interesting.  I do agree that behavioural training for parents is an important component of intervention – and that some methods are much better than others.  When I did my bread preservative study, I offered the 1,2,3 Magic course to participating families. Not everyone needed it – some of the parents were already behaviour management experts -  but those who used it found it doubled the effect of the diet. A personalised course like Triple-P which specialises in positivity has been recommended by some of our readers  - who do point out, however, that it only works when the child in on the diet.

Excerpt from reader story

… I did a Triple P course and this has been immensely helpful in managing Jack. To put it simply, our approach to Jack's behaviour and other problems three-tiered one:

First comes diet and general good health including adequate sleep and food - this is essential as if his diet, in particular, is off then nothing else is really effective.

Second comes the behaviour modification. I believe a lot of poor behaviour in children is caused by not being able to understand their environment. It seems to me that all effective behaviour modification systems provide not only rewards and punishments but more importantly they organise and simplify the social environment for all players. This consistency enables children who have trouble reading those around them to understand what is happening and they are therefore able to comply.

And thirdly, medication is the icing on the cakeSee the whole story [036]

Further reading

Pelsser L et al, Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial, Lancet. 2011
The Raine Study