Facebook is flooded with photos taken by doting parents of their adorable children headed back to the classroom. On the outside, the kiddos appear happy [in most cases], sporting their new back-to-school clothes, shoes, and backpacks. Scrolling friends can visually assess a child’s outward appearance, but it’s what’s happening on the inside that can dictate a child’s developmental and educational success.

For example, a child having been diagnosed by a medical practitioner with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, [ADHD], there is real reason for concern. Often times ADHD is misdiagnosed resulting in children being prescribed Ritalin, which causes numerous side effects and is highly addictive, having the same pharmacological effects as cocaine and amphetamines? The medical way to approach ADHD is always the same…invasive drugs or surgeries.

What is ADHD?

As many as 6.4 million children are diagnosed with ADHD each year, according to the A.D.D. Resource Center, who defines ADHD as a mental disorder. “It is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).”

However, Dr. Robert Melillo, DC, DABCN, has a multidisciplinary clinic that specializes in treatment of neurological disorders, disagrees. He categorizes ADHD as one in “a spectrum of neurological disorders with “no known physiological basis.”

Dr. Melillo says, “The spectrum goes from attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) through learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette’s syndrome, to pervasive developmental disorders and autism. The neurological mechanisms involved in all the disorders are very similar.”

After Dr. Melillo began conducting interviews of teachers to elementary, middle and high school teachers, they told him that all children exhibited more impulsive behaviors, shorter attention spans, and challenges with linguistics. Furthermore, they said children today “demand quick gratification.”

If ALL children demonstrate such behaviors, does this mean they all have ADHD or a similar disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) defines three types of ADHD disorders:

  • Inattentive only. This is formerly known as ADD. This is the most common form of ADHD in females.
  • Hyperactive/impulsive. This is the least common type of ADHD disorders, where young children are attentive, but they demonstrate hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.
  • Combined inattentive/hyperactive/impulsive. This is most commonly referred to as ADHD. With this disorder, children exhibit a combination of these behaviors.

“To classify for the disorder, behaviors have to be excessive, occur before the age of seven, last for at least six months, and cause a problem in a social environment-at school or home, at work or in the marriage, says Dr. Frederick Carrick, DC, PhD, DABCN, president of the ACA Council on Neurology.

Chiropractic Functional Neurology & ADHD

Chiropractic Neurologists take a much different approach to treating children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD than medical doctors.

Chiropractic Functional Neurology addresses the entire body and how it functions, with the primary focus on the central nervous system, beginning with the brain. By exploring the higher centers of the central nervous system, specifically the cortex and brainstem, chiropractic functional neurologists can use tests and techniques to determine if there are imbalances between the left and right hemispheres of the brain or if interference in the nervous system is causing dysfunction or dis-ease in the mind and body. Once the cause(s) of the problem is identified, individually-tailored, natural, non-invasive treatment plans are created to restore brain-body balance with specific stimulations and by removing interference.

Mark S. Smith, DC, DABCN, said, “Brains are not static entities. The brain grows-it has plasticity, which is the basis of the ability to learn. If you stimulate the brain, it will cause plastic changes.”

“Chiropractic neurologists are trained to identify the hypo-functioning part of the brain and apply correct treatment modalities to stimulate brain growth through plasticity,” says Dr. Smith. “As chiropractors, we identify subluxations and different sensory stimuli that specifically affect the deficient hemisphere and thus help normalize brain function.”

Thorough examinations can include optokinetic testing, infrared optic photography, reflex tests, visual and auditory tests, all of which provide exceptional information to help chiropractic neurologists identify interference and imbalances.  Chiropractic neurologists carefully examine the “individual functional difficulties their ADHD patients have,” Dr. Smith said. “Some children have a sequencing problem-problems with planning, organization, and coordination so they can benefit from timing therapies. They learn to clap or tap to the metronome-with the hand or foot that goes to the deficient hemisphere. Spinning and balancing exercises are very effective as well as adjustments. (Chiropractic Neurologists) may also use visual-motor exercises-targeting (such as throwing darts at a board, coordination exercises), and cognitive tasks (such as crossword puzzles or mazes).”

Functional Nutrition & ADHD

Proper nutrition for developing minds and bodies is crucial. Unfortunately, many children are forced to endure food insecurities or consume convenience, processed and fatty fast foods, because parents are busy working and juggling the day-to-day.

In as much as every human being is different, each person, young or old, has nutritional requirements as individual as they are, especially if they suffer from ADHD, Autism, gastrointestinal issues, or a chronic illness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.”

This broad statement is a traditional medical view pertaining to all children, with no comments about dietary considerations for special needs children, or children with chronic health concerns. Functional Nutrition for children and adults exists to uncover nutritional deficiencies and imbalances that perpetuate chronic illness and complicate ADHD and other disorders.

Most often, medical doctors do not even address nutrition and digestion when dealing with patients presenting with ADHD. Their primary concern is with a diagnosis and a cookie-cutter pharmaceutical protocol accepted by whatever insurance is covering the visit.

Chiropractic Functional Neurology, on the other hand, examines the body as a whole and most importantly, the central nervous system. Functional nutrition is not simply what we eat, but why, when, where and how we eat. Even when we think we have a pretty “healthy” diet, if we eat while stressed, angry, in front of a computer, very fast, etc., then we may not actual be digesting or absorbing these essential nutrients.

Proper nutrition consists of fueling your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs for all bodily systems to function at their optimum.

Food sensitivities can cause uncomfortable challenges, however, when it comes to food consumption and the ingestion of necessary vitamins and minerals. People of all ages with food allergies or sensitivities suffer repercussions from the slightest ingestion of soy, nuts, gluten, dairy, shellfish, and any number of elements that can result in painful – and even deadly – consequences.

Functional Medicine University reports the following have been linked to attention deficit disorders:

  • Food sensitivities
  • Heavy metal toxicity especially lead has been linked to attention deficit and learning problems. Dr. H.L. Needlemen of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School has conducted scores of studies over the last 20 years clearly establishing the link between lead levels in children and specific hyperactive and attention deficit behavior traits. Follow-up studies indicate that these effects often persist into adulthood.
  • Fatty acid deficiency
  • Amino acid imbalances
  • Methylation dysfunction
  • Intestinal dysbiosis
  • And more

The good news is Chiropractic Functional Neurology has been successful in treating children and adults with ADHD, by simply restoring balance in the brain and removing interference in the central nervous system, and addressing nutritional and dietary concerns.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADHD, contact Dr. Paul, certified Chiropractic Neurologist, today for a full neurological assessment, including diagnostic imaging if deemed necessary. Dr. Paul’s expertise treating patients with neurological imbalances, coupled with the latest technological and therapeutic advancements, ensures you’re working with a consummate professional who always has your total body wellness in mind.

Please call 303.665.5405 or email Dr. Paul at info@austinfunctionalwellness.com.

Dr. Paul, a Functional Neurologist at Austin Functional Wellness in Lafayette, CO, uses advanced technology and years of experience to help patients naturally overcome neurological imbalances.

Journal of the American Chiropractic Association
The A.D.D. Resource Center
Functional Medicine University