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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Which children with ADHD are likely to respond to treatment?

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  • 2


    Joan is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who has specialised in diet investigation of suspected food chemical intolerance. Tolerating Troublesome Foods is her latest book. Joan … View Profile

    There are a particular group of children who have a history of symptoms
    that include ADHD, often with other symptoms, that include eczema, diarrhoea,
    rashes, headaches, tummy aches, and settling or sleep problems. They are in families with many allergy symptoms, and another group of symptoms that include, irritable bowel disorder , mouth ulcers, car sickness, and autism spectrum disorder . In their infancy, food sensitive ADHD children often had symptoms such as  colic, reflux, poor sleep, irritability, and were very restlessness. Where these symptoms occur a positive response to diet investigation is more likely. Another idea that is important is that many food-sensitive ADHD children are very fussy, and quite often the foods they don't want to eat are in fact foods that would make their symptoms worse, or else it's the other way, and they're quite keen on, or crave highly flavoured foods. They may also be super-sensitive to strong tastes, textures, or temperatures, or their family members are. Many are very sensitive to smells in particular.

  • Dr Tim Edwards-Hart

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Tim Edwards-Hart is a clinical psychologist working with adults, young adults and adolescents (age 15+). He has expertise assessing and managing ADHD, anxiety, and … View Profile

    Depending on what is meant by “treatment”, most children with ADHD will respond positively. While a single treatment (such as medication, change of diet or behavioural treatments) may be sufficient for some children, it is more common for multiple approaches to be required. It is also important to continually review ADHD management strategies as a child ages: what works for a 6 year old is unlikely to still be effective for a teenager.

    If a child does not appear to respond to treatment, it is worth raising these concerns with the treating clinician as it is possible that other factors could be contributing to the symptoms that have not responded.

    The good news is that there is now solid evidence, recorded over many years, that children who receive treatment for ADHD do better than those who do not. It is not always easy, and getting the right combination of treatments can sometimes be time consuming and frustrating, but it is worth persevering.

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