For those of you in Australia, you may have been watching, or heard about the program on ABC at the moment called Kids on Speed (if you haven’t watched it then go to iView and you can catch up, it’s a 3 part series with the last part screening this coming Thursday night). It’s a documentary of a team of 3 specialists (pediatrician, behaviour specialist Professor and teacher) working with 4 families who have kids who may or may not have ADHD but regardless of the labels, need some serious help.
I’ve just caught up with it and it’s giving me chills. (And before I continue I’m not here to make any judgments on whether or not people should medicate their children. I haven’t walked in your shoes and I don’t pretend to know what you’re going through so please don’t bombard me with hate emails about my choices to use diet and supplements for my child .. that was my choice and you need to respect that as I will yours).
I got chills a few times watching this program. Firstly because it took me back to when I had a sad, out of control child who was tearing himself and our family apart. I was actually a bit numb watching some of the footage because I have been there and I know that had I not had the luck/fate of meeting some wonderful people who steered us to the path we’re on that we may not be in such a good place today. The emotion of being right back in the middle of that behaviour and chaos and hopelessness was very raw. All I can hope is that these kids I’m watching get the help they need and deserve.
Last night while watching Part 2 I actually had to stop the recording and go back to listen again to make sure I’d heard something right. One family had (reluctantly) put their two children on Ritalin (which was working for one and not the other). Both the kids had lost weight and the pediatrician said they should eat a few scoops of ice cream a few times a day and as many deep fried mars bars and chips as they could. As much as they could get into them to counteract the weight loss and appetite suppression that goes along with Ritalin. And the kids and parents were whooping and cheering with joy – how exciting to be able to eat this stuff and especially cos the specialist told us to.
Chills and more chills. That a mainstream pediatrician is advising this I shouldn’t be surprised … this is the sort of attitude that I’ve encountered for the past 9 years and been told I’m endangering my son’s life by not allowing him to have bread and milk (sigh). But it doesn’t stop the chills. What’s going to happen to these kids?? Do we wait for them to develop diabetes from the overload of sugar and then say that’s normal ? (And then have the diabetes educator advise them to eat lots of rice and pasta?). Do we up the dose of ritalin because the additives they are consuming are causing their behaviours to increase? Do we tick the box off that kids on the spectrum have gastrointestinal problems and it’s quite normal? The chills kept on coming because I realised how far we have to go. I’m probably preaching to the converted as I’m sure most of you reading this have already developed an interest in taking your health into your own hands and looking at the impact of food on behaviour and disease but there are thousands and thousands of kids like the ones we’re watching right now who may slip through the cracks and never be as healthy as they should be because of the outdated and frankly dangerous advice many “experts” are dishing out. And that makes me shiver.
Please, if you are using nutrition to improve yours or your child’s health, keep telling your story. Keep encouraging other parents to try it. Tell them you know that when you’re living in the midst of this chaos and just making it through the day is an achievement that even though changing foods seems like just too much that you did it and they can too. You don’t have to pretend it’s easy, but it’s worth it.
I’d love the next shivers I get to be watching these kids lead happy, healthy lives; they’re the kind of chills I like.