When it’s time to go back to school, every parent is doing their best to make sure their children are prepared for success. As the parent of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I know too well the complex emotions that accompany the start of the school year for those one-in-five parents whose child had a learning disorder. My sweet child is so intelligent, but really struggles to find the focus and attention needed to pay attention in class and successfully complete homework every day. As we have walked through his educational journey, I've done hours of research and used plenty of trial-and-error in finding the keys to his academic success. Once we discovered this regimen, we shared it with family members who found similar success in helping their children with ADHD, Asperger's, and non-specific learning disorders achieve higher grade scores and even advances in their social skills. I have found this particular regimen to be beneficial to all of my children, with minor adjustments based on their particular needs.
First, lets start with the basics:
Building healthy sleep habits improves daytime function. Proper sleep habits make a world of difference in academic performance. A child who is too tired will not be fully able to participate in classroom activities, or find adequate brain power for focus and attention. Set a specific bed time and wake time for your child, and try not to deviate too much from that sleep habit even on weekends and non-school days.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! Lets talk about blood sugar. Healthy fats and protein in the morning helps balance blood sugar and prevent a sugar/carb crash later in the morning. Avoiding refined sugars, food dyes and processed foods in general makes a significant difference in a child's behaviors and brain function. If you child's body doesn't feel good because they are hungry or hypoglycemic then they can't pay good attention. Make sure you feed your child a healthy breakfast, and send protein-rich snacks such as nuts, seeds, cheese sticks, etc... to help them if they need a little boost in the afternoon. Dinner is also important! Bulk up on veggies and healthy proteins to ensure that your child's nutritional needs are met.
Media: TV, movies, phones, almost anything that has a screen works to grab our attention, but simultaneously limits our participation. Media revs us up, and works to keep us in that stimulated state. It does not teach us how to engage with the world, and many children are over-stimulated and have not had the opportunity to learn how to self-regulate their activity. Thoughtful exploration of the kinds and amount of media exposure is an integral part of successful brain development and focus. Also, limiting screen exposure for at least an hour before bed gives the brain time to go into a more relaxed state, promoting better sleep!
Supplemental support. In my journey of parenting a child on the autism spectrum, I have done hours of research and studying how the brain works and which essential elements feed and nourish the brain and nervous system. As a parent, I notice a significant difference in my child when he forgets to take his supplements, and he tells me that they "help his brain slow down so he can think more clearly", which is a huge win for us! Over the years, we have tried many different formulas, but I have found these in particular to be most effective at helping all of my children's brains and bodies work at peak performance. Most of these supplements are great for anyone who may need a little memory or energy boost.
- IMMUNE MULTI- Everyone in our family takes this formula daily. Not only does it provide a great source of nutrients for the body, it also contains amino acids and plenty of B vitamins that are excellent brain food. It's just an all-around excellent vitamin.
- SUPREME OMEGA- I don't think it's any secret that essential fatty acids (Omegas) are brain food. Omega fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for memory and behavioral function. This particular formula is an excellent source of omegas that leaves no fishy flavor in its wake.
- TYROSINE WITH B VITAMINS- L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is used to support energy & motivation, promote focus & mental clarity, and improve mood & stress response. When combined with bio-available B vitamins and other amino acids, such as in this formula, it can be a HUGE brain booster!
- BEHAVIOR BALANCE- This formula was created specifically for Autism and I have found it to be incredibly successful at helping my child with focus and clarity. It has been a lifesaver for us.
- VITAMIN D- Being indoors all day long doesn't give children much opportunity for sunshine, so I add Vitamin D to their daily regimen. Studies are showing more and more that Vitamin D is essential to so many bodily functions, including cognitive performance, but the main reason my kids take it is to keep their immune systems strong.
- BETA CAROTENE- In the body, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A. We need vitamin A for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucous membranes. This formula is in my children's daily regimen specifically to keep the germs they encounter at school from coming home with them!
- My toddler and third-grader get NORDIC BERRIES in place of Immune Multi, and THIS omega from Nordic Naturals instead of Supreme Omega, since they can't swallow capsules yet.
I hope that in sharing our successes, you are able to find what works best for your child(ren) or yourself as the new school year starts!