One mom wrote to me: “My son is hyperactive – constantly climbing things, running from one place to another, going in and out of the house multiple times within minutes.”
If your child has these behaviors, you’re not alone!
I hear again and again from parents who say their child cannot sit still. He is constantly moving, pacing, cannot sit to watch a video or show. Or won’t settle down to go to bed. Some kids actually get more wired as the night moves closer to bedtime!
This ‘wired and tired’ state is quite common. And, you can take actions to help your child feel and be calmer so you and the whole family feels less stress.
First, understand why.
If we understand why a child behaves a certain way, what the child is trying to “tell us” through his or her actions, we can help them to shift it. To something that creates more ease in their body or mind, and something a parent – or those in a social situation – can more easily accept.
It is rare any human does something for no reason at all.
What does hyperactivity as a behavior mean?
When the body is continually moving, it’s a sign of internal discomfort – a chemical or neurotransmitter imbalance, inflammation, digestive issues like constipation or underlying chronic infections. These reasons were reiterated by each of the five autism specialty doctors in my 2020 Autism Recovery Summit – for many different types of behaviors, not just hyperactivity.
Besides these types of internal imbalances, your child could be extra-sensitive to external stimuli – like sound, light, weather changes, vibrations and wave forms, like radio, electricity and electromagnetic waves. Again, though the stimulus appears from the outside, it is actually the brain misinterpreting signals.
I especially loved what Dr. Jerry Kartzinel said: “Autism is an abnormal response to every day stimuli.” That means the body goes into stress mode more frequently and more easily than someone who responds typically to noise, light, touch, taste, smell, vibration and more.
Breaking it down
Let’s break this down into what may be at cause and how to address each of these. Keep in mind it is typically a combination of things, not just one thing.
Remember that saying “You are what you eat?”
Would you want to become pesticides, toxic plastic (that your food came in), hormones and antibiotics from the chicken you ate, or plant molecules that help the cells of the body work better? I choose plants!
I know you may be saying right now: “But my kid only eats 5 things, including chicken nuggets, French fries, rice, mac and cheese and maybe one fruit. He’s just not interested in anything green!”
I’ve seen this change dramatically as elimination becomes regular, toxicity reduces in the body, chronic infections are eliminated and the gut is repaired and restored. It is not only possible, but almost a given that your child’s palate will change so they want to try new foods, including vegetables.
And it is a process, takes time and requires patience.
I remember what one parent told me about his son’s picky eating. He noted that starving children in third world countries are not picky eaters, so he figured his son didn’t have to be either. A child will eventually eat when hungry and it’s OK to skip a couple days of meals.
Let’s look at what to eliminate from the diet first. Keep in mind that gluten, dairy and soy are probably the worst foods for your child. And when children with autism go gluten and dairy free, 80% experience improved behaviors. Many also need to eliminate soy, corn, eggs, food colorings and flavorings and SUGAR from the diet.[2,3]
Did you know that gluten is toxic for the intestinal tract lining? Gluten causes the intestinal cells to split apart when they are not supposed to, leading to a leaky gut. Undigested food particles leak out of the gut creating food sensitivities, allergies and brain issues.[4,5]
What to do
If you do just one thing to help your child not just shift the autism behaviors, but also to feel better in their body, go gluten and dairy free. This helps all the therapies you’re doing work more effectively.
Chemical or neurotransmitter imbalance
Too little or too much of a neurotransmitter in the brain can be problematic. The brain chemical balance is weighed too heavily in one direction versus another.
For example, too much dopamine in the brain is correlated with poor impulse control, aggression, trouble sleeping.
Too much glutamate in the brain is stimulating, creating the inability to focus as well as brain fog and inability to sleep. We can have excess glutamate in the diet – think additives like monosodium glutamate, or MSG, and its many hidden forms. Or the excess can be created within the brain after a traumatic head injury, due to inflammation, toxicity, an imbalance of gut microflora, or through genetic or brain chemistry errors.[8,9]
What to do
Supplement formulations with certain amino acids or combinations of amino acids and herbs can help balance various neurotransmitters in the brain. Ideally, our brain and gut would produce the amounts we need. However, adding them from the outside with supplementation is helpful until the body is able to find its own balance.
While using supplements can be a game-changer for behaviors, this should be a short-term strategy. Changing the diet to a more nutritious one, including organic, whole foods and probiotic foods is critical for correcting the imbalances within the gut and brain.
Why use amino acids? They building blocks of the proteins that hold us together and the enzymes that do work inside our cells. They are also the necessary starting materials, for neurotransmitters.
Here are some recommended go-to formulas that can be ordered only through setting up an account in Fullscript. You’ll need to set up an account in order to view and order these recommended supplements.
Please note: While supplements can be much less expensive when ordered through Amazon, there is no control regarding stores, people imitating trusted brands, and the supplement actually containing what the label says is in there. I always recommend ordering through a trusted store like Fullscript, iHerb (great for those outside the US) or through your practitioner.
GABA (Gaba-aminobutyric acid), a calming neurotransmitter, will help to calm the neuro-circuitry of the brain, which calms behaviors. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) helps to increase serotonin so your child feels more happiness and ease.
Pharma GABA chewable should help calm the brain, especially great to use at night before bed.
Attention on the Double – is great for boosting dopamine, for kids with low motivation and low happiness/satisfaction.
Super Serotonin – A chewable tablet that helps increase serotonin, for those who are weepy/sad, rigid, high anxiety.
Power and Focus – helps with focus and attention by providing calming neurotransmitter support.
The right formula for your child will be different than another child’s perfect formula. You could do a trial and error test of many of these, or work with a qualified practitioner to determine which is best. And sometimes, as a parent you just have a feeling that one or another will work. If you use your mommy-gut (or daddy-gut) to choose, I think it’s a wise decision.
Most of our kids live in the fight/flight mode where the sympathetic nervous system is continually activated. This means they live in a state of the reptilian brain telling them “Be prepared to fight or flee, or maybe just freeze, to stay safe.” Even when the environment seems safe to you.
Let’s face it – most of us live in this state, due to demands of our society, as well as taking care of a special needs child who just needs so much more attention than a neuro-typically developing child.
The hormones that tend to be raised are adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, our stress hormones. Internal or external stressors may cause this, or a combination of both!
The behaviors associated with this imbalance can range from anger and aggression to late-developing speech.
What to do
Some of the same formulas listed above also help with hormonal control. The hormones and neurotransmitters are connected, since we are a holistic system, not composed of individual parts that are separate from one another.
Eliminating toxic build up of hormone-mimicking plastics, heavy metals, mold and pathogen toxins help all the biochemistry of the body work better. I highly recommend working with a qualified functional medicine doctor or nutritionist who can get to the root of the behaviors by identifying underlying toxins and biochemistry imbalances. If you’d like to talk about how I would work with you, feel free to schedule a complimentary Discovery Call where we can see if our working together would meet your goals for your child.
Infections are mainly seen in the digestive tract, but can be present all over the body. Microbes love our mucous membrane areas, so think about sinuses, tonsils, genitals, anus, bladder and also in lymph nodes.
Have you ever felt a lump in your child’s neck? That is an enlarged lymph node, which indicates the lymphatic and immune systems are working hard to eliminate pathogens and toxins.
When there is excess toxicity in the gut, the pathogenic microbes, or “the bad guys” flourish.
Pushing on the belly, foul smelling gas, diarrhea, alternating constipation and diarrhea, a bloated belly are all signs your child’s gut microbiome needs some help.
Allergies, rashes, red ears, cheeks and mouth after eating are also signs the gut needs some repair.
Parasites love a toxic gut environment! The “bad guys” and parasites (also bad guys!) are really there to help us mop up toxicity. But they create their own problems, like produce ammonia which constipates and disrupts brain function.
What to do
I recommend a holistic approach of opening up the drainage pathways in the body, cleaning up the gut and then deep detoxification. When done in the right order, the right way, you can see shifts in your child’s behavior, including hyperactivity, within two weeks, which is typical for my clients. This is what one parent saw as she began the protocol I use to help kids calm, communicate and connect.
If you feel ready to see shifts like greater attention and focus, improved connection with others, overall calmer behavior, check out the Autism Recovery Plan for your child.
You will get the most up-to-date protocol that begins to elicit changes in your child within 2 weeks. And the changes continue as you move through the year-long protocol.
This is only for parents who are committed, persistent and determined to see their child thrive, and want to see long-lasting changes that come with the attention and effort they apply.
Why does shifting behaviors take so long? Can my child just take a pill to change it?
We are trained in our culture to take a pill to fix something. It’s what our medical system and pharmaceutical companies want us to believe. But taking a pill is simply a band-aid that won’t resolve the underlying problem; it may help with symptoms for a while. Until more symptoms show up and we are told to take a new medication!
Cleaning up the body takes a long time because this is how we are made. If we were to expel all our toxins at once, it would probably make us so sick we would not survive the process.
The body lets go of toxins little by little in baby steps, like peeling the layers of an onion. The toxins that are easiest to access are let go of first. It’s only after this step, that the next layer can be revealed and eliminated. And so it goes, layer by layer.
Why many parents have not seen the shifts they want to in their child
Most doctors and practitioners don’t understand the body’s drainage system, lymphatic drainage, tissue drainage, cellular drainage – various systems and organs must be working properly BEFORE detoxification can proceed. It’s not their fault! Our medical system simply doesn’t teach this.
If done too quickly, in the wrong order, or when the drainage systems are not properly opened up, trying to detox will make a person sicker, increase behaviors, and cause one to be afraid and discouraged about the whole process.
It can be scary, trying something new. And with a guide who has helped many parents through this process, I assure you it can be easeful, successful and very gratifying to see who your child really is shine through, as the distracting behaviors fall away.
Interested in finding out more?
Want to work with Luminara?
Discover if the Autism Recovery Plan is a good fit for your child and family.
* In order to make the most of our time together, we ask for some info about your child before we start a call.
- Gluten-free and casein-free diets in the therapy of autism, Lange, et al, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Nov;18(6):572-5
- Gluten- and Casein-Free Diets, Dana Laake, RDH, MS, LDN for the Autism Research Institute
- Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder—A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial, Adams, et al, Arizona State University, School for Engineering of Matter, Transport & Energy, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
- Adverse effects of gluten ingestion and advantages of gluten withdrawal in nonceliac autoimmune disease, Lerner, et al, Nutr Rev. 2017 Dec 1;75(12):1046-1058
- Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa and intestinal cell lines, Drago, et al, Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr;41(4):408-19
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- 5 ways to know if you have a glutamate imbalance, Noots, et al, March 1, 2022
- The role of glutamate receptors in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: From physiology to disease, Huag, et al, Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2019 Jun;180(4):272-286, Epub 2019 Apr 5.
- Neuroinflammation as a risk factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Dunn, et al, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2019 Jul;182:22-34. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2019.05.005. Epub 2019 May 16.