ADHD Treatment Planning

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Successful Treatment Planning for Attention Deficit Disorder

What You Should Do If You or Your Child Is Diagnosed With Attention Deficit Disorder

Recommended Steps In ADHD Treatment

We have worked with over 1,000 children and teens with Attention Deficit Disorder, and the following suggestions are based on our "real life" experiences.

The suggestions below take into consideration a number of variables:

  • Your child or teen's diagnosis, such as:
  1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Inattentive Type
  2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Impulsive-Hyperactive Type
  3. With or without temper problems
  4. With or without some depression or anxiety, and so on
  • and also on the time of the year in which you are beginning treatment.
  • Best Season to Try Alternatives

    During the summer vacation and early in the school year is best to try the "alternative" interventions, such as "Attend," "Extress," essential fatty acids, the ADHD Diet, or EEG Biofeedback training.

    During the summer and early school year there is less pressure and more time to try these treatments and give them a chance to work. We believe that the "alternative treatments" like Attend, Extress, our ADHD Diet, and EEG Biofeedback, all work equally as well as medications. But the biggest problem with "alternative treatments for ADHD" is that they take longer to work (often 30 to 45 days) as opposed to medications that can work well in just 15 minutes.

    By taking the time to try these "alternative treatments for ADHD" when there is less pressure to perform in school often mild to moderate cases of Attention Deficit Disorder can be kept off of medication.

    When We Recommend Medication for ADHD

    Later in the school year, if the child is having lots of problems in school, we tend to recommend trials of medication right away for Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Here is our thinking.

    First we want to do what we can to “salvage” the school year if we only have a few weeks left. Since medications can begin to give benefits very quickly often the child will pass classes that he might have failed otherwise.

    Additionally, by having a “real world” trial of medication prior to the summer break, we can use the benefits received from the medication as a “bench mark” or "baseline" with which to measure the effectiveness of the “alternative” treatments that might be tried over the summer months.

    We know that we have the summer coming up to try alternatives that might be able to cut the dose of medication in half, or eliminate the need for medication altogether.

    Deep into the school year time is a big factor, and the interventions that work the soonest should be considered seriously as a temporary aid in getting through the school year.

    Physicians and Psychologists

    When discussing these suggestions with your physician or your psychologist remember that old saying, "If the only tool that you own is a hammer, then all the world looks like a nail."

    Professionals who are personally unfamiliar with treatment options such as "Attend" and "Extress" amino acids, our ADHD Diet, essential fatty acids, or the EEG Biofeedback training, will tend to discount them immediately out of their ignorance.

    I know, because I discounted alternatives myself for years. I only began researching alternative treatments for ADHD after some parents told me that "my ignorance on a subject" did not "make my opinion the truth."

    And with taking the time to research Attend, Extress, our ADHD diet recommendations, and EEG Biofeedback training, I found that they can work powerfully for most people with ADHD, and without the side-effects of medications.

    This is where you must decide for yourself how best to help your child or teen with Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Use your best judgment. Talk with your doctor about these suggestions.

    Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a skillful counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource. His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

    Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
    27400 Oakflat Dr.
    Tehachapi, CA 93561
    (661) 972-5953

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    Treatment Planning Tips for Parents of ADHD Children

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    During Summer, Fall, and Winter, Try this FIRST -- usually try the nutritional interventions first. Unless the child is a danger to himself or others, or unless he's really in a lot of trouble, then you will have to start with medications first.

    Try our Eating Program ADHD Diet and order the VAXA products "Attend" and "Memorin" for Inattentive Types; or "Attend" and "Extress" for Hyperactive-Impulsive Types. Use them for at least 60 days along with the Eating Program/Diet. It will take 30 to 45 days to really know whether or not this will be sufficient as an intervention. Give it time. If the combination of diet and VAXA products doesn't work after 60 days, then move on to the next level of treatment.

    During March, April, May, and June, try this first...

    If you are looking for help during the Spring months, then you are probably just trying to salvage the school year for your child/teen. You have probably seen your child's performance get worse and worse as each month has passed, and now you are near panic. OK, here's what we recommend that you consider if you are in this position...

    We recommend to most of our parents who are in this position that they go back to the physician and ask for a trial of medication.

    Bite the bullet and just do it.

    With a smart doctor, and at the right dosage, the medications can provide remarkable benefits in a very short period of time (15 to 20 minutes!). See our discussion on medications.

    Use the medications until the end of the school year. Then try the Eating Program/Diet and the Attend/Extress products, or other non-medication interventions, during the summer months and see if you can cut the necessary dosage of medication in half, or eliminate the need for medication completely.

    Once the situation is "stable" by either the use of the Eating Program/Diet and ATTEND, or by the use of medications, then it is time to consider other options for treatment. And, yes, there are options that work pretty well. To see how Attend compares in effectiveness with Ritalin and EEG Biofeedback training, visit

    Medication paired with counseling is the “medical model” approach to treatment. We do not recommend counseling as an intervention by itself. It can be beneficial if used as an adjunct to one of the "big 3" interventions: medication, Attend, or EEG Biofeedback training. See our discussion on counseling.

    Consider EEG Biofeedback Training...

    EEG Biofeedback training works well for the majority of kids with ADD/ADHD. Like the ATTEND/EXTRESS products, EEG Biofeedback or Neurofeedback training is another state-of-the-art alternative approach to treatment. Because it can take time to start working, we recommend that the situation be stable before beginning this treatment. Also, because it is the most expensive treatment option, at least in the short-term, we recommend that you try it only after you have tried the ATTEND and EXTRESS products. Both work well, so try the least expensive option first. For those who are in a hurry to begin EEG Biofeedback training, we would recommend that you consider using the "Attend" while you do the Biofeedback training. We believe that it can speed up the process, help you to achieve results faster, and reduce the overall cost of treatment.

    To see how EEG Biofeedback compares in effectiveness with Ritalin and Attend, visit

    Parent Support Groups...

    You, the parents, need to get into a good support group. CHADD is a good group. CHADD is very medical model oriented, and therefore resistant to alternative treatments. But they have many very good things to offer. You the parents also need to get into a good parent training class. Find one in your community, or order resources. Visit the Complete ADD ADHD Bookstore for 100 recommended books to select from.

    Evaluate your treatment progress.

    The mantra to repeat is simple, “If it works, don’t mess with it, and if it doesn’t work, do something else." Repeat this over and over again.

    Be ruthless in your evaluation of the treatment. You are paying “experts” to help your child. If they are not doing their job, find someone who can. It may not be their fault. Your kid might really be a difficult case. But I guarantee you that if you look hard enough you will find someone in your community who actually can help your child, difficult or not.

    I can't tell you how many times families have come to see me after they have spent about $5,000 on treatment with a therapist who did not know a thing about working with ADD/ADHD kids, and therefore received zero benefit. It’s your money and time, so spend it wisely.

    If a medication is tried, but does not work at all, try a different dose. If it still doesn’t work, try a different medication. If that doesn’t work, try a different approach to treatment, such as the Attend and Extress.

    If EEG Neurofeedback is tried, but by 25 sessions you don’t have a measurable change (retesting on TOVA test, etc.) then have a real “heart to heart” discussion with the therapist. Ask, “Is this going to work for my kid?” If you are not convinced that it will, try something else.

    If the counseling that you go to doesn’t seem to be helping your child by the 6th or 7th session, have the “heart to heart” with the therapist, and ask exactly what they are doing. Why waste money on therapy sessions with a counselor who doesn't have any idea what he/she needs to accomplish, but charges $75-100 per hour anyway? Don’t waste your money. If it’s not working, find a therapist who will help you.

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