Hyperactivity affects thousands of babies, children and adults in varying degrees.
It is symptomatic of a wide range of disorders that affect behaviour, learning processes and communication. A child is often affected before birth and measures have to be taken to prevent the problem deteriorating or serious disabilities may occur which threaten the child’s future development.
Children whose mothers suffered from poor nutrition, severe stress, allergy or illness during pregnancy, are particularly predisposed to hyperactivity, and it is common to find mothers of hyperactive children suffering from migraine, hayfever, rhinitis, arthritis, asthma and eczema.
The symptoms of hyperactivity in infancy are:
• Crying, screaming, restless, some need very little sleep
• Colic, very difficult to feed, whether breast or bottle
• Cannot be pacified or cuddled
• Excessive dribbling, may be very thirsty
• Head banging, cot rocking, fits and tantrums
The symptoms in hyperactivity older children are:
• Clumsy, impulsive, often accident prone
• Erratic disruptive behaviour
• Compulsive ‘touching’, constant motion
• Disturbs other children, may be aggressive
• Lacks concentration and may be withdrawn
• Normal or high IQ but fails at school
• Poor appetite
• Poor hand and eye co-ordination
• Uncooperative, defiant, disobedient
• Self abusive
• Continued problems with sleep
Hyperactivity is more likely to affect boys than girl in a ratio of 3:1.
The condition is believed to be triggered by a sensitivity to certain foods: mainly those containing artificial colours, flavourings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The colouring tartrazine (E102) has been found to trigger problems in sensitive children and, while it is recognised that this is contained in some orange squash, it is also found in some fish fingers and shop-bought breadcrumbs. Benzoates (E210-219) preservatives, widely used in processed foods have also been found to cause problems. A number of artificial colours interfered with the enzymes needed for digestion.
Diets, which are designed to eliminate certain synthetic chemical additives, have been found to help large numbers of hyperactive children, who have become much calmer, more attentive and less disruptive as a result.
Research has also shown, however, that some basic foods come high on the list of offending items: cow’s milk, orange, wheat, and chocolate.
Dealing with a child who cannot get enough attention, and who is easily bored is very difficult for a parent or carer. It is a mistake, however, to try to sedate them or force them to sit still. Rather, challenge them and give them more activity: mental and physical. Hyperactive children are characteristically quick minded, eager to learn, love to figure things out and have to keep moving. They need encouragement, acknowledgement and praise. Many of them are good at maths and numbers: ask them to count coins, stack them up, divide his cars by size, categorise the felt tips, count them, divide them and make it a game to challenge thinking.
It may also be worth treating your child for ADD (Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and / or hyperactivity with homeopathy. This will require a visit to a naturopathic physician or a homeopathic practitioner and it will be necessary to document all the particulars of your child’s behaviour in some detail to determine which remedy would be most helpful.
Ritalin is a prescribed medicine that can also help. However many doctors regard it as a last resort because the causes of hyperactivity are so multifaceted.