Attention deficit Bernie

Attention deficit Bernie relates how he has suffered all his days from this condition. Nevertheless he's had at 75 a wonderful, overflowing tilt at life; and shudders at the thought that now at the whim of a teacher, psychologist or doctor he would certainly have been treated with mind-altering drugs.

It is no secret now who my alter ego is. I started using the name Bernard Preston on the advice of my publisher to protect the identity of the very real people lurking between the pages of my books.

It is only fairly recently that I've realised that I too suffer from ADD. What is it and are there other solutions to mind-altering drugs for your child?

Attention deficit Bernie at the airport where he flies gliders.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 9th January, 2024.

There is a loose association of three mental states that make up the diagnosis of ADHD; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They are, not surprisingly the following.

  1. Inattentiveness
  2. Impulsive
  3. Hyperactivity

Each child with ADHD has a mix of these disorders; usually one predominates over the others.

Attention deficit Bernie

Attention deficit Bernie expresses alarm that if he was a child today he would certainly be treated with mind-altering Ritalin.

One of the physiological signs is that the brain of a child with ADHD uses less glucose than normal; and so because of poor food his cells are already insulin-resistant. He is predisposed and then one or more of these symptoms will begin to show.

If the child is regularly being fed fast-food that causes blood glucose to swing from high to low, then this behaviour becomes habituated. Soon he or she becomes labelled as disruptive; or of low intelligence.

My nickname at school was Dopey and frankly it fitted. My mind was frequently in another world as it flitted from one subject to another; I was easily bored and would move on rather than finishing the job in hand.

Inattentiveness was the main feature of Bernie in those early days and it is still a problem. For example, three seconds after being introduced to someone, I cannot recall their name.

However hyperactivity is now a large part of the condition too. I am unable to stop, even for a moment. I have to be continuously busy with something, often moving from one job to another as soon as the first bores. Procrastination is a prominent feature of the problem; chores are finished at the last moment.

Interestingly the first part of my schooling had little to report; I was average or below par, despite coming from a highly academic and successful family. I recall being told in grade 10 that my mathematics was so poor, having failed three years in a row that they were going to push me through again to the next form; holding me back in their opinion would not achieve the desired result.

There was no hope of me ever gaining a university entrance, at least in the sciences and languages were in any case equally weak.

Well the rest is history. Something changed and I for one have no idea what it was. I went on to achieve a university entrance, completed two years of mathematics and majored in physics and chemistry.

The big idea

These are the listed side-effects of Ritalin.

  1. Nervousness
  2. Sleep disorders
  3. Headaches
  4. Retarded growth
  5. Aggravation of other psychiatric conditions
  6. Violent and suicidal behaviour

When the treatment is worse than the disease, we need first to carefully consider the alternatives. First up is send your child off to school with a solid breakfast in his or her belly; one that is low in sugary-cereals.

Five years later I completed a bachelors in education and then a doctorate in manipulative care. But I still had ADHD; somehow I learnt to cope with it, largely through a dramatic change in diet, I believe.

Apparently about four percent of children have attention deficit or one of its many variants. Lack of concentration is the major feature of my problem and it remains so to this day. For example, when hunting for a book on a shelf or a tool in my workshop, I have to deliberately slow my mind down; and focus on each item, one at a time until I find what I am searching for.

So many times to my great embarrassment, my brain has flitted from one item to the next, missing what I was seeking, only later to be told that it was right there staring at me in the face.

Mental illness in its many and varied forms is so common place that it might even be said to be the norm. All the world's a bit queer, except for me and thee; and I am not so sure about you.

Some of them are mild, such as that which afflicts me. Others are serious such as the manic depression that George Friedrich Handel and Winston Churchill suffered from; both were geniuses but the lows were very deep.

I totally reject out of hand that all of us and particularly children, who suffer from some form of mental illness should be on drugs. If that were the case in former times there would have been no Hallelujah Chorus, to my mind probably the greatest piece of music ever written; and no leader to carry the United Kingdom through the Battle of Britain.

For myself attention deficit Bernie has managed to control his disability, sometimes it's true with great difficulty. That hyperactivity has been satisfied by a deep and profound interest in many varied things.

Firstly there has been beekeeping, a hobby that has never ceased to amaze for my whole life; I still have twelve colonies at the bottom of the garden. Then there has been an interest in all things to do with wood. Today I have two chainsaws that I use regularly and a well-equipped carpentry shop.

"Ritalin's short-term efficacy has been proven but it has not shown any benefit on the long-term risks of academic failure, delinquency and drug-addiction associated with ADHD.

In contrast its adverse effects are numerous. Cases of nervousness, sleep disorders and headaches are common; weight loss, risk for aggravation of psychiatric conditions and progression to violent or suicidal behavior have all been documented extensively too.

So have cases of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease been documented. Moreover, MPH is classified as a narcotic."

- Medscape[2]

Beehives in autumn are high on attention deficit Bernie's calendar.

I could add to that soaring amongst the clouds most Saturdays, a fascination with collecting solar energy and building a large collector on our roof that provides most of our electricity; and gathering and storing rainwater for our home and garden.

The addition of 2.5 kW of west facing solar panels has kept Bernie guessing.

Add to that a fascination with organic gardening, worm farms and hiking mountains; the great outdoors always beckons.

And then lastly there are my books; six are published and the seventh is on its way. My other website is listed at one or two on Google's front page; it is entirely my creation. The fact that very few extreme Sudokus can beat me and I spend at least a quarter of hour every day enjoying internet chess at a tolerable high level, confirm that I am not mentally challenged after all.

The intention is not to blow my own trumpet; it is simply to make the point that attention deficit Bernie has done it all without Ritalin; yes, I was a trial to my parents and teachers, I am sure. But I am convinced that if I had been put on mind-altering drugs as a child, little of this would have transpired; I would today be hooked on medication.

Ritalin is highly addictive.


The clinic continues to challenge me professionally in semi-retirement; and excite me. Attention deficit Bernie continues to be problematic but manageable; without Ritalin's side effects.

The inspiration for this page was a young lad of about ten with a problem with his gait; a notable sportsman he has been unable to run recently. Fortunately his problems were relatively minor but what disturbed me greatly was that he is already on Ritalin. Joint pain is one of the side effects. 

Behind his glassy stare and drugged appearance, I identified with a lad who could have been me. A boy of many talents apparently and highly intelligent, he became disruptive in class and his teacher insisted they consult a psychologist. I fear for him; I do not see the happy ending as attention deficit Bernie has experienced as I gaze into his crystal ball. A lifetime of medication lies ahead. 

I take virtually no medication. Let your food be your medicine is our motto. That is not original; Hippocrates, I believe. The sentiment is rephrased by Thomas Edison who stated that doctors of the future should cure and prevent diseases with nutrition, not drugs. 

Food as medicine is a relatively new buzzword; type-2 diabetes for example can be brought completely into remission with a change of lifestyle alone.

Ritalin side effects

Ritalin is a powerful drug; it is listed as a schedule II substance, along with cocaine and morphine. It is highly addictive and has a significant risk of serious and even life-threatening side effects. Attention deficit Bernie is so pleased that his childhood was long before this nasty new fad.

The most common Ritalin side effects include anxiety and addiction, exactly what Henry Gadsden would have wanted. The chief executive of a large drug company, he told Fortune magazine that he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum manufacturer, Wrigley.

The list of Ritalin side effects makes scary reading; for example it includes headache, nausea and insomnia; joint pain and slowed growth in children too. Read them rather at a medical site such as Web MD[1].

The alternatives


So your child is not performing well at school but you know he or she is bright. Worse, he may be disruptive and unruly in class; there may even be suggestions that you take him to another school.

What are the alternatives? Is there something else you can do for him or her, before getting them onto the path of mind altering drugs?

  • Become a healthnut; make sure your child is above all having a proper breakfast, with low glycemic index starches, fruit and protein. Absolutely none of the junk cereals or sweetened fruit juices to start the day.
  • It may sound crazy but consider starting with Eggs Florentine every morning. On a slice of low GI toast with butter it makes a wonderful breakfast.
  • Wholegrain grits with cream and fruit is now a regular for us.

If I have one recollection of my diet at boarding school is that it was very high in starch. Whether it was highly refined and glycemic or not, I have no idea, but chronic excessive carbohydrate stresses the pancreas and plays havoc with blood sugar. Do you remember that one of main findings with ADHD children is that their brains have difficulty getting enough glucose?

  • Consider home schooling. Children with ADHD are often highly intelligent but they find the classroom slow and boring; either their minds flit to more interesting subjects in the air, or the devil finds work for idle brains and hands.
  • Find or even create a school that has small classes where the children get plenty of individual attention.

Try everything before you agree to put your child on mind-altering drugs. I am absolutely and totally convinced of the merit of these words. If attention deficit Bernie made it through ADHD, then the chances are good that your child can too; good luck.


Sixty percent of the brain is made up of lard. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured in the body and must be consumed in our food.

This is especially true of the omega-3 fatty acids. If your child does not get them from his food, he will be like attention deficit Bernie.

There are three of these fatty acids. Two are obtained from cold-water fish, and one from vegetable sources such as freshly ground flax seed, free range eggs and walnuts; and herbs such as purslane.

The amount of omega-3 in free range eggs is three times higher; it is entirely determined by access to greens that are rich in these oils. This is the stuff that will allow your child to escape what attention deficit Bernie went through.


This is plenty of research showing that children suffering from a deficiency of folate, vitamin B9, perform poorly in school. Is your child getting enough greens in the diet?

High folate levels are vital for everyone of us from the elderly who will progress more slowly into frailty, the young woman of child-bearing age who could have an infant with a birth defect and for children at school.

I wonder if fed otherwise, attention deficit Bernie would have grown up to be a very different person. It was not until my postgraduate education where I learned about the importance of our food that I started to get on top of this problem with concentration. Read more on the subject at high folate levels and what you can do to prevent attention deficit.

"More dyslexia" is a kindred spirit to attention deficit. Use the Site Search button for more information.

There are no short cuts to wellness

Taking time to feed our kids right is the first important step in the management of ADHD. Short cuts to greater well-being are rarely successful.

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