In fact, the number of American children with ADHD and autism has been steadily rising, and it's been rising quickly enough to have warranted further research funding by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Just recently, the NIMH awarded an additional three million dollars to a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in order to conduct further studies regarding treatment for autistic children who also have symptoms of ADHD.
As any psychiatrist or child psychologist will attest to, ADHD symptoms can be extremely similar to the symptoms of autism. Autistic children who also have ADHD are often only treated for one of these disorders. The problem with this type of approach is that kids who have both these disorders rarely respond well to regular ADHD stimulant drugs, and this is actually what often alerts a specialist in the first place, that a child might have both disorders.
In the study mentioned above, researchers recruited 144 children between the ages of five and thirteen in order to carry out a safety assessment of two types of treatment:
* Atomoxetine (non-stimulant norepinephrine uptake inhibitor)
* PMT (Parental Management Training)
The results of the study were quite promising, at least in terms of safety. Prior to 2002 when atomoxetine was first approved by the FDA (Food and Drug administration), stimulant drugs were the order of the day, and used almost exclusively for treating these types of disorders. Unfortunately however, the most commonly prescribed stimulant drug has been linked to several deaths; it's known to be highly addictive (the DEA has it in the same class as cocaine and morphine), and it has a mile long list of possible side effects, many of which are extremely serious, such as suicidal tendencies for example. The biggest downside to atomoxetine is the fact that it alters brainwave activity, as do stimulant drugs, and this is exactly the type of thing many parents are hoping to avoid.
Parental Management Training aims to teach parents how to intervene in undesirable behavior, but in a positive way, rather than in a disciplinary manner. While this is of course the best possible form of treatment, it's simply not suitable in all cases for a number of reasons. To begin, in many households, both parents work, and therefore they aren't able to invest the necessary amount of time. Also, many parents simply don't have the amount of patience this type of treatment calls for. In order to treat a child using this form of treatment, one quite literally needs to have the patience of a saint.
It seems, at least for the time being, that the natural homeopathic remedies are still one of the best choices parents have for treating ADHD and autism. This is especially true if, like millions of others, they don't want their kids taking powerful mind altering stimulant drugs.