4 Symptoms That Look Like ADD/ADHD (but are often misdiagnosed!)
Written by: Heather DeGeorge
You (or your child) might have the attention span of a gnat, but that doesn’t always mean it’s ADD or ADHD. In my household, it was both my husband and my son. I knew within minutes of getting out of bed whether my husband had taken his ADD medication, or if my son was on the verge of a wild streak, leaving me depleted and frustrated for the day ahead. So when my clients come to me burdened with the guilt of medicating their children for ADD or ADHD, I fully understand the complexities and challenges of trying to deal with someone untreated for the condition.
But there is hope. It came as a great surprise to me to learn that there were other conditions that could produce symptoms that look just like ADD and ADHD. Resolving the other potential issues may help to incrementally decrease the symptoms to a manageable level, potentially removing the need for medication, or reducing the dosage. Doing so may even alleviate the symptoms altogether.
The following doesn’t cover all of the possibilities, but will help put you on the path to investigating further. When you know better, you can do better. And the health of you and your loved ones is worth the time and effort to do so.
Some people have eye problems related to “convergence”, which are problems with eye muscle coordination. The effort required for the body to try to balance those muscles can cause all kinds of issues. When we have headaches or trouble reading, we know to check our eyes. But when the problem isn’t severe enough to cause the obvious symptoms, it may go undetected as a vision problem and can manifest as a different problem altogether, including ADD or ADHD. Eye doctors can specifically test for convergence issues, so make sure to ask. Treatment ranges from prismatic eyeglasses to vision therapy (the most scientifically supported for success).
Auditory function, filtering and processing problems can present as attention problems. If someone is unable to filter sounds and appropriately decipher instructions, or what is said to them, it can appear as though they aren’t paying attention. Getting a full hearing screening that includes a full audiogram and auditory processing test will help to determine whether there is a hearing problem interfering.
Your brain sends signals to the rest of your body by way of your spine. Think of it as a roadway. If the roadway is buckled or has potholes, you won’t have a smooth ride. Although any misalignment along the spine can interrupt or distort the signals being sent up and down the spine, problems with the “Atlas”, or C1 vertebrae, are most often correlated to ADD/ADHD problems. Having a chiropractor x-ray and adjust the spine may correct this problem.
Some people are able to think and process things faster than others. Some of those people are able to do it so fast that they can anticipate three different endings to the sentence you’re speaking and have answers ready for all the possible endings before you’re done speaking. People like this, especially children, can look distracted when in fact, they’re not. In reality, they are simply ready to move on and are looking for something to do until everyone else is ready to move on as well. Psychological testing can determine if this is your (or your child’s) underlying issue, or possibly part of the problem.
These are by no means the only things that can be misdiagnosed for ADD or ADHD. Checking for and correcting these problems may not completely alleviate the symptoms, either. But if multiple non-ADD/ADHD problems exist, they can have a cumulative effect. Resolving these issues also has a cumulative effect that could lessen, or remove the need for medication. Nutritional and/or supplemental intervention can provide even more improvement.
Today, my husband is free of the decade-long struggle with medications that required him to have regular echocardiograms. And although my son is still mildly scattered, he is no longer worthy of considering medication. The more important thing is that we are dealing with the root cause of their issues, which are different, despite their shared biology and similar symptoms.
Start today. Take a deep breath. Take a baby step. Find support in friends, family and professionals to walk in your journey with you. Just remember, there is hope! And you’re never alone.
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and FirstLine Therapy Certified Lifestyle Educator
at Heather DeGeorge
Heather DeGeorge is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and FirstLine Therapy Certified Lifestyle Educator. In addition to general health and weight loss, she specializes in dietary intervention for behavior and development problems of children. She also helps her clients to adjust to specialized or restricted diets based on medical diagnoses, like diabetes or gluten intolerance, with an end-goal of healing the body and moving towards a less restrictive diet.
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