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My Son’s Journey with ADD – another update!

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It has been 4 months since my last update.  I'll admit, I was stalling a bit on writing this post.  As you may remember, after taking our son off of his medication and removing gluten from his diet, he improved drastically.  He was a new kid.  Well, he wasn't new.  He was back to his old self.


During the past 4 months we have maintained a gluten-free diet while also being very clear and consistent about the behaviors that are expected of him both at school and at home.  We have seen a major change in his mood.  He is happier.  He is willing and eager to try new things.  We recently enrolled him in Tae kwon do and he is thriving!  He looks forward to his classes and it is really exciting to see him care about something!


In the classroom, he has been struggling.  Notes from the teacher started to come home more frequently.  He was avoiding work.  He was having difficulty attending and focusing on the task at hand.  His grades have suffered.  My heart really sank.  I thought what we were doing was helping him at school.  I felt lost and confused.  And sad.  I was sad because I felt totally helpless and had no idea how to help my son.

Desperate for something I could do, I tried something that I have known about for a while.  Could it work?  Could half a cup of coffee before school possibly be enough?  I have read about how caffeine can be useful and The Mood Cure helped me understand it more.  I thought, what the heck!  Why not?  But the thought of a 10 year old drinking coffee seemed odd to me.  I kept picturing the little girl on Airplane who “likes her coffee black…like her men.”

A week after I started offering coffee to my son in the mornings before school, his teacher reached out to me.  “Whatever you have been doing this week is working!  He has been able to do his work and is staying on task.  He is more social and is participating more!”  YAY!

As of this week things still seem to be going well for him in the classroom.  I am doing what I am calling a gluten trial to see how (or if at all) gluten affects his behavior both at home and at school this week.  I will have an update on that as well.  Sooner than 4 months, I promise.  I am eager to find out what helps my son and if it can help another child, then I can't wait to share it!

Have you used caffeine to help your child with ADD symptoms?  Or is there something else that you do that you think other parents should know about?  Please share your experience with us!

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journey with ADD - ohlardy.com



  1. I have been tempted to use coffee with my son too, but it would in the end completely destroy his thyroid, which is probably the most common underlying condition of ADD and ADHD. Caffeine destroys the adrenals, which also work in relation to the thyroid gland. The thyroid controls the pancreas in large part, causing people to become hypoglycemic, which is what most kids diagnosed with ADD really are suffering from. Instead of giving my son caffeine, I have started giving him thyroid- and brain-supporting herbs in a herbal tea, in conjunction with changing his diet and supplementing him with J.Crow’s Lugol Solution (iodine + iodide) (woke him up out of his stupor!), Mercola arctic krill oil (actually worked to control behavior better than Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil, although we do both sometimes), a very strong probiotic, a good multi-vitamin w/Selenium (Mercola adult formula, 1/2 dosage), acetyl L-carnitine, niacin, B-2, vitamin C, and alpha-lipoic acid. It sounds like a lot, but we actually both take a few capsules at each meal, since we both have thyroid issues. Usually kids with ADD or ADHD have moms who had low thyroid or were iodine deficient during pregnancy. All of these things really support the thyroid, and detox from bromide and heavy metal poisoning. I must also mention that the iodine and krill were immediate- as in 1 hr. to 1 day night and day differences in my son, respectively. After one year of those two things, he became very tired again, and realized we needed the other supplements because his body may be negatively reacting to the iodine detoxing his body from bromide and metals, which then circulate throughout his body and re-poison the body. The extra nutrients get them out of the body. Also, salt-loading (not sure if this is the correct term) flushes out the toxins quickly, although we have yet to do this.

  2. Oh, one more thing that we’re working on- removing all flouride out of our water, toothpaste, etc. Causes brain to be slow and causes people to not be able to metabolize carbs. The first sign of flouride poisoning is gut problems: IBS, crohn’s, leaky gut, etc. Here’s a good start on the flouride issue: http://www.fluorideandfluorosis.com/Affidavit/Print.html

    It was a real eye-opener for me!

  3. Kelly,
    I have traveled the very same path as you, for the past 10 years or so. My son is now 17 and we take it day by day. I suspect my thyroid issues (as my father’s and grandmother’s thyroid issues) have caused many of our problems. My son was a natural birth, breast fed for 2+ years, fed only organic foods without additives, and he still had ADD symptoms. (for that matter, I eat a very clean autoimmune protocol paleo diet, and I too still have ADD) I never found the gluten free diet (or casein) to make that much difference, though I do believe it helps some, and do think it’s just better for overall health. We then tried both stimulant and non stimulant meds, all with bad side affects, -that is, until after a couple of extremely stressful unmedicated high school years, we tried a low does of Vyvanse, – and it has worked, as though a miracle. Is it the best case? No. But failing out of school, low self esteem, and being punished constantly wasn’t leading anywhere positive. Since our son is now more aware of his actions, it is our hope that he will learn appropriate behavior and coping skills to deal with attention issues, and eventually stop taking the med. He only takes it for school, as he is fine on other days. Coffee alone never really seemed to make that much difference, and because of that along with health concerns, he only consumes very small amounts of coffee. Gut health is of prime importance, as it Vit D, – and Vit A & K, – so a REAL foods diet is paramount.
    I wish you well and best of luck. Those of us who have traveled this path understand as no one else can.

  4. Coffee worked for my daughter, but it was just a crutch. It was the GAPS Diet that cured her ADHD. It only took a few months and we were able to skip the Intro. I made sure she had plenty of the carbs allowed: honey, fruits, squashes, cultured dairy, etc. This maintains proper adrenal and thyroid function.
    She had broth with most meals and no cheating.
    We also got a Berkey filter to filter out fluoride bc it interferes with magnesium absorption and sprayed her with homemade magnesium oil made from Ancient Minerals magnesium flakes.
    It totally changed her brain chemistry. She is healed and now stimulents actually make her hyper.

  5. Make sure he gets plenty of Omega 3s & 6s along with AHA and DHA. Dairy can cause problems with some. Try almond or soy milk. Gluten can definitely cause problems. To prevent missing breads, etc., Google “Jules Gluten Free” to find the best recipes and a lot of help. Limit processed sweets as much as possible and push proteins. See if you can give protein-filled snacks during the day. A diet where the glucose levels are kept as stable as possible is best, so 3 meals and 3 snacks each day on a regular schedule. Even if he wants to start other sports, keep up with the martial arts. He’ll learn self-discipline the absolutely best that way. Sit down and write out a schedule and stick to it no matter what. Routine can’t be stressed enough. In the mornings, cut the TV off and fill the house and car with Mozart or other composers like Debussy. It really does calm the brain if you stick to something like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Playing it in the mornings sets his brain for the rest of the day. And on days when he has nothing after school, take him outside for an hour right after he eats his snack to just be a kid.

  6. Hi Kelly,

    I’m brand new to your blogosphere, and I was compelled to write to you after reading this post. My heart goes out to you on this issue. While I do not have children (yet!!), I would like to share my personal story. I am in my 20s and have struggled with ADHD for many years. My dad has it, and my half-brother and half-sister have it too (we share a father). I had been prescribed a very low dose of amphetamine salts (generic Adderall)-NOT the extended release tablets, and noticed that they would give me a “hang-over” feeling the next day. I recently switched to a drug called Strattera, which is a norepeniphrine reuptake inhibitor, and I have noticed a HUGE difference. BUT, I am also working with my Naturopathic Doctor to slowly wean myself off of Strattera, for many reasons. Mainly, I want to be as natural as possible! And I also would like my body to be in tip-top shape before trying to conceive. Giving your son a bit of coffee in the morning before school activates/excites the neurotransmitters in his frontal lobe and allows those neurons to start firing, at least for a little while. This is in essence how Adderall works as well. I completely weaned myself off of ALL caffeine and have noticed a great difference: I am much more clear headed on a daily basis. I also have made huge dietary, exercise, and supplement changes. I no longer eat refined sugar. In fact the only sweeteners that I consume are raw honey and high grade maple syrup (and these are used sparingly). I cut out dairy and gluten (mostly), but notice that if I accidentally eat some gluten I am SOO sluggish and my brain stops working-I sit and stare blankly at the TV. Adding physical activity into my routine has also made a large difference. I recently was finishing up the last piece of school work for my Master’s degree, which consisted of sitting at my laptop and writing many….MANY…papers. Before attempting to tackle each paper, I would go out and play with my dog, or jog, or bike just to get my heart rate up and stimulate those neurons before sitting down to my task. I am also taking 3tsp of high quality cod liver oil each morning, along with L-Glutamine. I make sure that my breakfast food always consists of a high level of protein as well. Sorry for my super-long post. I remember being school aged and how horrible and difficult it was for me to follow their system, how irritating it was to have to sit in class and learn long division when I was much happier day-dreaming awesome things inside my head! I noticed a change once I got to college because I could make my own schedule, and I would try not to schedule classes back-to-back, which really seemed to help. Plus, in college you get to study FAR more interesting things :). I would really encourage you to reach out to a Naturopathic Doctor, if you haven’t already. Psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals largely try to pigeon-hole their patients, which is one of my frustrations. I wish I had know how the role of diet/exercise/supplements interact with my brain years ago. I wish you the best of long along this journey! Please let me know if you have any questions for me.

  7. I am a from a Cuban family. Since I was very young I have had coffee in some form. We drank cafe con leche as children before school. It is basically espresso with lots of milk and sugar to taste. I have never suffered any issues and my adrenals are fine. I think you know your child best and if this helps him then do it. The amount of caffeine in a half cup of American coffee is not much. If it makes everyone feel better you could allow him a half dark chocolate bar in the morning. You could also try the homeopathic remedy -I think it is called coffee cruda or something like that. Every person is different and it’s great that you are trying other ways to help your son.

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