I'm so glad to see this thread revived. I have a bunch of thoughts so read on if you're interested. Sorry this is so freakin' long. It's all based on the reading I've done over the last two years. Please don't think I'm preaching at you.
As I mentioned before, it's fantastic that you're all intervening now rather than in your kids' teen years or not at all. There's tons of evidence to show that people with undiagnosed ADHD are more likely to smoke, use stimulant drugs, etc -- they're unknowingly self-medicating. They also have many other emotional issues such as depression because they've been called lazy, bad kids, trouble makers, stupid... My son wasn't diagnosed until he was 14 and is now experiencing a lot of self-esteem issues -- more than the typical 16 year old -- because we were so critical for so many years, and still are sometimes.
Parenting -- I have to admit that I was one of the people who thought many kids who were showing signs of ADHD were the result of bad parenting, poor diet or lack of exercise. Then my son was diagnosed...Anyone for "judge not lest ye be judged?" Based on the tons of research I've done since, ADHD is not
caused by bad parenting. Yes, there are kids who misbehave because of bad parenting, but I don't think that's the case for any of you. Of course there's always more you could do, but it's a physiological, neurochemical cause. So, please forgive yourself if you feel that you're to blame. That being said, there are things parents can do to help the kids manage their ADHD such as helping them develop routines and providing strong boundaries.
Hunter vs. Farmer -- Thom Hartmann
says that people with ADHD are really just hunters living in a farmer society. For example, hunters are aware of everything that's going on around them while farmers are focused on the task at hand. Sound familiar? So, what many people consider weaknesses, could also be considered strengths. It's commonly believed that Ben Franklin, Tomas Edison and Mozart had ADHD and they obviously contributed a lot to the world. If you can help your kids see their strengths, it'll make a world of difference to their self-esteem.
Diet-- There's substantial evidence that Omega-3's help a lot. Apparently there are the three components of omega-3: EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA are the ones that have the strongest impact on ADHD (and depression too) and can be found in oily fish such as salmon, albacore tuna (canned albacore tuna in water is great), and swordfish. The ALA type is a precursor to the EPA/DHA kind and it's harder for the body to use, but definitely helps. That's where flax seeds and oil, and walnuts come in to play. So, if you get an omega 3 supplement, it seems like you want one that's high in EPA. I just learned about all of this a couple weeks ago and have been trying to get more omegas into the kid, so I don't have any personal proof yet. Actually, I guess we all need it for heart health and kids also need it for their growing brains.
Zinc has also been shown to help decrease impulsivity. Other minerals that may be linked are potassium and magnesium.
Exercise - I just read a really interesting book called Spark
by John Ratey that shows how exercise helps manage ADHD (and anxiety, depression, PMS). It's got a ton of scientific stuff in it, but the bottom line for ADHD is that kids with ADHD who are involved in athletics that are aerobic, highly structured and require a lot of focus show remarkable improvements in behavior and school. He gives the examples such as martial arts, gymnastics, and figure skating.
Medication -- obviously a hot topic. We decided to medicate our son and it's been very effective. We've messed around with different ones because the stimulants were suppressing his appetite. We're not trying Strattera, which seems pretty good, but there are still focus issues. I know there are potential physical ramifications, but w/o the meds, there are guaranteed low grades, behavioral problems and continued low self-esteem, to say nothing about the stress that it causes us as parents to see our highly intelligent son doing poorly in school. Maybe if we'd caught it earlier, we'd be in a different place but it's working for us right now.
Ok, enough of my novel. If you can believe it, I edited this down a lot.