Archives for posts with tag: ADHD

A Look at ADHD
Jason Clopton, O.D., F.C.O.V.D., A.B.O. & Heidi Clopton, OTR/L
Center of Vision Comprehensive Vision Care and Therapies
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies
1445 East 10th St. Cookeville, TN 38501
931-372-2020 &


“ADHD Does Not Exist” – Wow, now that’s a book title that will get your attention!

Dr. Richard Saul released this book a month ago and has been on many media circuits explaining his title. He is no newbie to the world of ADHD. Dr. Saul was a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatments of ADHD way back in the 1970’s. He explains this provocative title in the intro to the book. Dr. Saul states, “Attention related symptoms are all too real, with negative consequences for children, adults, and broader society; those affected face challenges in academic, professional, and social settings, often with lifelong repercussions.

But the medical establishment’s reliance on the ADHD diagnosis- and the medical community’s embrace of it- has also had several negative consequences: the failure to diagnose underlying conditions that explain attention symptoms in whole or part; the omission of much-needed treatment for those primary diagnosis; the health related, economic, and emotional costs of undiagnosed and hence untreated conditions.”

Diagnosis- The diagnosis for ADHD is a very subjective diagnosis, often a checklist of symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition was released in 2013 and lowered the number of symptoms needed and raised the age to 12 yrs from 7yrs which will result in more children qualifying for the diagnosis now. Dr. Saul raises the question to the medical, psychological, and educational community, “What if the symptoms of ADHD can be explained fully by other conditions? Once I treated what I saw as the primary diagnosis (the non-ADHD diagnosis) the ADHD symptoms usually disappeared…”.

Research is showing many co-morbid conditions that go along with ADHD that are often not the “focus” as the primary treatment due to 2/3rds of those with ADHD use medications as their only treatment. With 20% of high school aged boys and 7% of the total population with this diagnosis it is vital to find what could be an underlying condition that is mimicking ADHD symptoms. Are the short and long term side effects of stimulant medications worth it when the child may have another issue causing them to look inattentive, hyperactive, and/or impulsive?

Top Underlying Causes of Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsiveness:

1. Vision Problems- “Eyestrain can make classroom attention impossible” reads the subtitle of an online article published by the Children’s Vision Information Network. 20% of school children suffer vision problems that make it difficult for them to sustain focus on academic tasks or near focus tasks. Eye-teaming, meaning how the eyes coordinate with each other, is often not checked in routine vision exams. Children with Convergence Insufficiency (CI) have been researched to show the same symptoms as ADHD.

60% of students identified as “problem learners” have CI. 5-12% of the population have CI. Tennessee only requires a vision “screening” once they entire school yearly, but vision screenings reportedly only catch about 20% of visual issues. The other 80% of students are left feeling like they passed their vision test…when they actually desperately need a comprehensive vision exam from an eye doctor to determine their visual acuity, convergence, eye muscle control, visual perceptual skills, and many more visual skills needed to focus all day in a classroom or even an adult focusing on a computer screen!

The good news is that these conditions are easily treated and backed by research through a comprehensive vision exam, lenses and/or neuro-visual therapies.

2. Sleep Disorders- “Sleep Deprivation Creating a Nation of Walking Zombies” this ABC news article will get your attention too! We are not quite The Walking Dead yet…but if we continue our addictions to gaming, electronics, caffeine, lack of exercise, poor diets, and keep neglecting our basic need for good sleep it is quite scary to think of what a sleep deprived nation would look like! The National Institutes of Health notes: “Sleep deprivation can cause daytime hyperactivity and decreased focused attention. This can be mistaken for ADHD or other behavior disorders in children”. The Mayo Clinic states the following as the right amount of sleep for age groups: Infants 14-15 hrs, Toddlers 12-14 hrs, Schoolchildren 10-11 hrs, and Adults 7-9 hrs.

3. Hearing Problems- “It’s like hearing underwater!” This is a common explanation for how children with sinus issues, allergies, and ear infections hear their environment. No wonder it is so easy for them to “tune out” and not pay attention to the teacher! Hearing and auditory processing are vital parts of our social and educational lives. Over 80% of what a child does in a school day will rely on listening to verbal directions. Hearing problems can result from underdeveloped or damaged inner ear or auditory nerve, prevention of sound waves reaching the inner ear, and as simple as built up wax or multiple ear infections. Central Auditory Processing Disorder is also a newer diagnosis that is the cause of symptoms that look like ADHD.

4. Learning Disabilities- 5-15% of children suffer from a learning disability. Many of the issues that children with ADHD have are often a learning disability that has not been diagnosed. The DSM-V requires one of the following symptoms to be present for 6 months or more to diagnose a learning disability: inaccurate or slow reading, difficulty understanding the meaning of written text, spelling issues, difficulty with written expression, significant challenges with number sense, and/or problems with math reasoning. Getting a proper psychological evaluation that includes IQ testing and visual perceptual skills is vital if your child has symptoms of ADHD.

5. Sensory Processing Disorder- SPD can be diagnosed when an individual has symptoms in multiple areas that involve challenges integrating sensory information and responding to it appropriately. This can be either over or under responsiveness to sensory stimuli, craving of excessive movement, difficulty filtering out background sensory stimuli, or in-coordination that results in avoidance behaviors of writing or fine motor tasks. The potential to confuse SPD as ADHD is so great that a 2007 Time magazine article about SPD was titled, “The Next ADHD?” Sensory processing trained occupational therapists in medical based outpatient clinics are the primary evaluation and treatment source for SPD.

6. Other Conditions- Dr. Saul lists many other conditions in depth in his book that can mimic ADHD. These include but are not limited to: Seizures, Substance Abuse, Mood Disorders, Giftedness or high IQ, OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome (now included under Autism diagnosis), Neuro-chemical issues, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and biomedical issues. Food sensitivities, nutrient and vitamin deficiencies can often cause ADHD like symptoms.

Something as simple as low iron can cause symptoms of ADHD. A 2004 study in France found that 84% of children with ADHD had low serum iron. When given an iron supplement and vitamin C to help absorb the iron their symptoms improved drastically.

A Dutch study in 2011 used food elimination diets to research the effects of special diets for ADHD. This study showed decreased ADHD symptoms for 64% of the children to the point that they would no longer qualify for the ADHD label.

Several research studies have shown improved word reading, spelling, and attention benefits from DHA supplements. Since our American diet is lacking in enough clean and healthy fish, proteins, veggies and fruits it is no wonder that the rise in ADHD could be mistaken for a decline in the American diet.

Too much electronic time and not enough exercise, free play and movement time have also been shown in research to cause ADHD like symptoms.

The take away from this provocative book is that Dr. Saul wants our doctors, therapists, educators, psychologists, and most importantly our families in America to not conform to the “fast paced” diagnosis of ADHD. He urges us to take the time to listen to all of your child’s needs, explore all the possible underlying issues, and do not be hasty in giving out a diagnosis and treatment that may have long term effects on your child. Finding the appropriate diagnosis and treatment for ADHD like symptoms will be a much more accurate treatment plan with a lifetime benefit…and no side effects!

cute picture of hands with paintSensory Issues…when to worry, when to intervene, and when to relax.

We all have them… those little “quirks” that make you feel “wigged out” or “stressed out”. It may be the way your skin crawls at the sight of a centipede, walking barefoot in the grass, or wearing wool. You may need to cut out those irritating tags in your shirts. Maybe you get overwhelmed with all the kids talking (or screaming) in the car and can’t wait for the peace and quiet. You may crave a massage, neck or back rub to calm down. Your children have sensory preferences too. Some like to swing fast, some like to rock and be held, and some love to jump on a trampoline to feel calm and organized.

But when does a “sensory preference” become “Sensory Processing Disorder”?
Children and adults can suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life skills and their social interactions. These issues are far more interfering than that pesky shirt tag. When a sensory issue has crossed the line into interfering with daily life with how an individual acts or reacts to their environment, then it is considered a “disorder” not a “quirk”.

This is the child that cannot tolerate playing with other children at a party due to being overly sensitive to sounds, touch, or movement. Or it may be the infant that cannot be consoled by typical rocking, massage, or being held. It’s the child who doesn’t sit still, fidgets and squirms, and craves wrestling, jumping, running, and climbing in excess. Many adults suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life and limit them in the ability to socialize or even connect in personal relationships. When you are fighting daily over what your child needs to wear, eat, or their ability to tolerate normal grooming then it’s time to get some help.

Newest Research on SPD
Sensory Processing Disorder or “SPD” is a term used in the therapy community to describe a group of symptoms in which an individual’s nervous system over or under reacts or misinterprets sensations of touch, taste, smell, sounds, vision, movement, and muscles/joints. SPD is more prevalent in children than autism and as common as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, yet the condition receives far less attention partly because it’s never been recognized as a distinct disease. In a groundbreaking new study from UC San Francisco, researchers have found that children affected with SPD have quantifiable differences in brain structure, for the first time showing a biological basis for the disease that sets it apart from other neurodevelopmental disorders. One of the reasons SPD has been overlooked until now is that it often occurs in children who also have ADHD or autism, and the disorder has not been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists.
“Until now, SPD hasn’t had a known biological underpinning,” said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF. “Our findings point the way to establishing a biological basis for the disease that can be easily measured and used as a diagnostic tool,” Mukherjee said.
Therapy is available with sensory integration trained occupational therapists to help individual’s sensory systems get “organized” and learn how to make accommodations in their daily routines to help calm their sensory nerves. Many insurance companies cover these services if they are affecting daily life skills or causing developmental delays.

The following are some “red flags” for when a sensory processing therapy evaluation may be needed:
“Sensory Avoider” Reacts with fear, flight, or aggression to any typical sensations such as: unexpected touch, loud noises, textures or certain clothing on skin, screams at haircuts or hair brushing, upset by typical movement experiences such as swinging or climbing, avoids touching foods or gags at sight of new foods, cries excessively over a small bump or cut, or gets carsick easily.
“Sensory Craver” Craves excessive amounts of movement, loud voice volume, “on the go” constantly, difficulty with attention, uses too much force in touch, takes too many risks on the playground, or spins excessively. These children are constantly “on the go”!
“Clumsy” Sensory motor issues can show up as gross or fine motor skill delays such as being very accident prone, poor balance skills, low muscle tone, difficulty learning to ride a bike, catch a ball, hop on one foot, or fine motor skill delays learning to write, cut, or do fasteners.

Most children and adults with SPD are a mixture of both under and over sensitive, which explains why inconsistent behavior is a hallmark of the disorder” states Lindsey Biel, co-author of Raising a Sensory Smart Child. “It’s not an obvious diagnosis. The behavior of a child with SPD can be confused with that of a kid who may have overlapping behaviors and a different diagnosis, such as ADHD. A child who doesn’t get enough proprioception will seek ways to stimulate his muscles and joints-continuously moving, or chewing. What’s more roughly 40% of the time kids have both SPD and ADHD.” states Dr. Lucy Miller founder of the STAR Center, a SPD therapy and research center in Colorado.

Finding the right help to understand sensory issues and a therapist that knows therapeutic procedures and activities that re-wire the sensory nervous system can be the beginning of understanding your child, yourself, and helping both of you get through the sensory filled world calm and collected.
To learn more please visit: or

Heidi Clopton, Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies

Our “Not Cow’s Milk” Journey

I just ordered the book “Devil in the Milk” and can’t wait for it to get here! Many people think I am luny for being so excited to get a new book…but taking casein (cow’s milk protein) out of my daughter Leah’s diet was such a drastic change for her and our family that we will NEVER go back to consuming cow’s milk products.

Leah was born 17 months after our Ella Grace on Dec 26th, 2003. She was a calm baby initially and solely breast fed. We had already read on the harmful effects of cow’s milk for children and adults and never drank cow’s milk and ate little cheese at home. But…we were still eating a lot of casein (the protein in cow’s milk).

By the time Leah was 6 months old she began to eat more table foods…and her entire disposition changed. She went from our calm baby to a colicky baby. She was inconsolable many a day or night. I could not calm her. As a pediatric sensory trained OT I knew what to do to help her calm, I was an “EXPERT” in calming children with deep touch massage, linear swinging or rocking, and creating a calming environment…so I questioned myself…what could possibly be causing her to be so upset that even a Mother’s Touch could not calm her?

By age two I had accepted the idea that Leah had Autism. She didn’t make eye contact, she rarely laughed, she couldn’t stand to be hugged, she wiped away our kisses like they were toxic, she tantrumed over the smallest of things, she covered her ears to noises, and was fearful of social situations. I had tried every sensory calming tool in the box, and nothing seemed to help.

Then I realized that many of my clients had seen drastic results from a casein free diet…so why not try that before getting her labeled “Autistic”?

2 weeks after taking casein out of her diet COMPLETELY…she was becoming a different child. Less tantrums, more eye contact, and NO Eczema!
1 month after casein free she was accepting our hugs and kisses.
2 months later she was a different child…an angel…and blossoming into the beautiful little girl that we had longed for.
Now, I could do calming input, massage, brushing protocol, swinging input, and all the sensory treatments she needed to get her neurological system back in line…and healed.
We also started supplement therapies to heal her gut…Cod Liver Oil, DHA, Probiotics (milk free chewables at Good Shepard), and Magnesium. Her stools became normal by 2 months…going 2 times a day normal consistency.
No more allergies, sinus issues, no ear infections, and no eczema…and an angel child.
I thank God every day for the journey we went through and the wounds that it created…because he could HEAL those wounds with the knowledge and wisdom to be a CASEIN FREE FAMILY and now I can spread the word to so many others to help them.
6 years later…I am now doing inservices about once a month on casein free and healthy family eating and how food affects our brains, and we are what we eat…and I don’t want to be a cow! 🙂 ha!

To learn more check out the FB page:  Casein Free in Middle Tennessee

Every day I meet people who have been educated on the harmfull effects of cow’s milk and casein and they have seen drastic results in their child, themselves, and their lives are changed by this simple change.

My beautiful Leah Faith
If you have a story to tell…or questions on how to go casein free…please share on this page. I truly believe God called us to experience this with our precious Leah so that we could help others. Let us help you!

hugs and swinging...what could better?How to raise IQ, decrease ADHD, and help your child’s brain!

Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N. Neurologist Recommendations from the book, Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten and raise IQ by 30 points, how to treat ADHD, have a smarter more

focused child… Great book!

1. Diet and Nutrition rich in good proteins, DHA, purified water, organic fruits and veggies, and lean protein foods and little to no cow’s milk or gluten in diet for nursing Mom or children at any age. No artificial colors, preservatives, flavor enhancers, nitrates, etc. Nothing artificial or words you don’t understand should be in your foods. Limit fast food intake dramatically. Limit processed food intake. NO artificial sugars or dyes.

2. Limit TV, screen time, and video games to NONE before age 3 and limit to 30 minutes a day after that. Near focus time should be limited to educational needs on computer and at school, not for “fun”. Video games should be movement based and NEVER violent. Limit to 30 minutes as a privilege that is earned…not given freely.

3. Formal musical training before age 4 and classical music.

4. Low stress environment is vital to a child’s emotional, physical, and mental health and their IQ!

5. Don’t “drill” rote memory skills into a child’s brain. Create a “love for learning” environment where a child can learn, explore, have questions, and even make mistakes…but learn from their mistakes and have a love of learning. Let them learn it is okay to take intellectual risks…and learn from it. Children need to feel like they are succeeding…not failing all the time.

6. Feed the brain myelin for faster connections, more focus, and “prune” the excessive connections by repetition, DHA daily, purified water daily, and lots of calming touch inputs. Research shows that children who are raised in a loving environment full of loving touch with hugs, etc. have a higher IQ. Memory is enhanced by deep pressure touch (massage, vibration, hugs).

7. Decrease any “fight or flight” responses with sensory diet inputs.  For more info on a sensory diet check out my webpage

8. No lights or TV in room when sleeping- any light source at night, especially a TV decreases melotonin production in the brain…you need this neurotransmitter to have good sleep cycles!

9. Supplement as needed with DHA, good multivitamin, iron & iodine levels checked.

10. Goat milk based formulas best if you cannot breast feed.

11. Watch intake of sugars, especially high fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose or any –ose sugar. These contain excitotoxins that cross the blood brain barrier disrupting production of important neurotransmitters and promote free radical damage to brain cells.

12. Get the Better Brain Profile from Genova Diagnostics done asap if your child is having ADHD, Autism, Learning disorder, behavior issues, etc. to test blood and for food sensitivities go to: or call 828-210-7433. Includes testing for food sensitivities, level of brain fats including DHA, etc.

13. Research alternative vaccine schedules Dr. Mercola and Dr. Sears have good websites and books with examples of alternative schedules that are Thimerosal free and low Aluminum content and which ones are necessary.

14. Prevent and treat ADHD by: DHA, correct diet and nutrition (casein free, gluten free, additive free diet), no excitotoxins in their diet (i.e. artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and artificial sweeteners), limit screen time to only educational computer games and NO VIDEO GAMES, check for food sensitivities, intercellular vitamin analysis (, check vision regularly and get vision therapy if needed from a Board Certified Developmental Optometrist (COVD), and check auditory processing.

Supplement children with ADHD with DHA, Kids Brain Sustain (, whole food children’s multivitamin, play board games and PE like games often, sports are vital, music lessons, and listening therapies (

15. EXERCISE daily with high aerobic exercise at least 30-60 minutes a day!