‘Coffee Mom’ Speaks Out on Giving Son Caffeine for ADHD (VIDEO)


child preparing to be on tvRowan getting wired with a microphone.My name as of the past few days has been changed to 'Coffee Mom and I don’t mean that I drink a lot of coffee. I do enjoy a cup or four, yes. But I also give my kid two half-cups a day. Not for fun, not because he asks, but because I'm fairly sure he's got attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or (ADHD).

My post about it got so much attention that over the weekend, I ended up going out to a motel (the house we just moved into is not in camera-ready shape yet!) with a crew from Good Morning America to film a segment they dubbed "Mom Gives 7-Year-Old Son Coffee Daily to Treat ADHD." Yup, that's me (though they spelled my name wrong!).

It was a fun experience, and the comments are nothing short of fascinating, but there are a few things edited out that I'd personally like to write back in ...

First off, if you haven't seen the video, check it out:


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Both in GMA's article and in a few comments, the focus was on the word 'undiagnosed.' What they implied is I'm some anti-establishment hippie who is running rogue with my natural fiber Rx pad that I only scribble "natural remedies" on in charcoal. Okay, not quite, but the truth is that my cousin, husband, and sister all are diagnosed, my mother is a nurse, and my husband and sister both were on medications -- and despised them. My husband refused to take his after awhile, and my sister outright asked my parents to please take her off of them. With a family history of the disorder, we're not exactly flying blind here. We also took a lot of steps before this, in changing his diet to be as healthy as possible (I've looked into the Feingold diet but find that difficult to follow), removed artificial dyes, we do discipline, and he spends about half of his time at home running around in the fenced yard we got specifically so he could do just that. No soda-drinking, candy-sucking TV zombie I want to sit down and shut up, here.

Also, Rowan's teacher thought he exhibited unusual behavior last year, but his doctor didn't. I wasn't sure. I mean, who WANTS to think your kid has a medical issue? No one. Since we moved in June after my husband got out of the Navy, we haven't set up new doctors yet, and I also was waiting on my son's new school district to do their reevaluations for his IEP forms (he already does speech). I asked for a full reevaluation, and have been looking not just at ADHD, but into a central auditory processing disorder as well. So a lack of diagnosis at this point is due to circumstance, though of course I do fear that a doctor's diagnosis is going to start an argument over using drugs that I don't want to use.

How do I know it's not just normal kid behavior? Only people who aren't familiar with ADHD children really would ask that. It interferes with his interactions with his peers, and even his teacher had commented on how he couldn't even SIT at his desk -- he felt the need to stand, so she let him work with his knee in his chair. It's not just kid behavior when it stands out from all their peers, and interferes significantly in daily life. In most kids, also, caffeine gets them very hyper. For Rowan, it doesn't. Some moms call that "the ultimate test" to see if it's really ADD/ADHD. This "coffee for hyperactivity" remedy is so common and has been around for decades that many people were wondering why ABC even thought it was news at all.

The best thing I saw in all comments was my own opinion, clear as day: every single risk ominously listed for coffee is also a risk of all of the approved drugs ... but their list continues on to much more serious things as well. The doctor implies we're looking to rush out and cure ADHD ... we're not. The goal here is management. Ritalin doesn't cure it either. I fully intend on looking into behavioral therapies, and better long term solutions as well. I by no means think that giving him 4 ounces of coffee, twice a day, is a lifelong solution, or is Game Over, job well done. We've still got lots to do.

kid looking at tv cameraBut don't get me wrong -- Clayton Sandell was incredibly nice, as was his whole team from GMA, and I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I went into this knowing that they would have medical professionals disagreeing with me, but then again, they have to. Can you imagine how much trouble they'd be in if they aired a segment basically telling people something that's not FDA-approved was a good idea? I'm just grateful they didn't include my mention of putting breast milk and garlic oil in the ear for an ear infection as a snippet to make me look crazy. Not that I need help, really. Ahem.

Especially now when we have moms jumping out to say, "Yeah, I've been giving Mountain Dew for this!" it's obvious why doctors don't want to just say, "Sure, caffeine might help." It's obvious without guidance, not everyone makes the best choices, and according to them, this includes me, of course. Not only are the dyes in Mountain Dew actually linked to hyperactivity (depending on who you ask), but the sugar or HFCS sure isn't helping either, so please, stop doing that. Black tea is great, but milk possibly kills some of the antioxidant value. Rowan likes coffee better, with less milk and sugar, but it has about the same caffeine in a 4-ounce cup of coffee as an 8-ounce cup of black tea too.

Would you try this treatment if needed? What did you think about their segment?

natural parenting, kids nutrition, kid health, in the news, food, behavior, alternative medicine, natural health


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sarap... sarapunkinpie88

I would definitely use coffee before actual drugs. Drugs are bad mkay.

Megan Grande

I haven't read the whole article because I'm in a rush, but the title, video, and first few paragraphs hit home. I've got ADHD, my brother, and both my parents have it. All double-diagnosed. I don't like the adult ADHD meds they have, my heart RACES and I forget to eat because its an appetite suppressant. Then my blood sugar gets low from not eating, and in addition to my already-jittery-ness, I start to shake. Its fine if you're trying to lose weight, I guess, but I didn't feel healthy. I drink a cup of coffe and it's odd because I feel more alert (normal caffeine response, I suppose), however I can concentrate, think before I spaztically blurt things out, and I can complete tasks without distraction. I 100% support your minimal use of caffeine, and, if it helps, what's better than an awesome little boy who listens and pays attention? You get more time to love him rather than to be frustrated with him.

Alynn74 Alynn74

I have heard of this before-hell my pediatrician even suggested it for my daughter 7yrs ago before we received her autism diagnosis.They aren't drinking enough to turn them into zombies and let's be real here-most kids drink more soda and get a higher dose of caffeine daily than those that are letting their kid have a cup of coffee everyday. I love how coffee is considered evil and harmful  and they would rather you give your child prescription drugs that have more of a harmfu llong term health risk.The logic or lack of it.....geez....

Gerri Robar Bresina

I work in an educational agency. A previous special education director once said Mountain Dew would help with ADHD. I believe in your method before resorting to medication.

Xakana Xakana

If needed, defintely. Of course, we homeschool, so the time that it might be "needed" will be very different from a parent dealing with schools trying to deal with disruptive behavior. As it is, I simply have no guilt that my daughter gets caffeinated coffee from time to time, because I know that she is simply calmer and happier after (my youngest gets decaf, because she reacts normally but loves the taste).

glori... gloriajoy

I didn't watch the video, I'm at work, but read the article, and I have to say I'm not crazy about the way they represented it. My younger brother had ADHD and spent his childhood on adderall which stunted his growth MAJORLY. I think around 16 my parents took him off of it, because he just COULD not gain weight and a year later he sprouted 9 inches and gained probably 70 lbs. Now, at 18, he is 6'1" and a healthy weight no thanks to Rx meds.  If there is something so simple, severely less harmful, why wouldn't you try it first? I absolutely would.

Bree0922 Bree0922

very interesting!
Honestly, I'd rather give my kids coffee instead of the drugs that are normally prescribed for ADD/ADHD. My brother and DH have ADD... and I have a strong suspicion that DS2 has it, as well. So, I might end up trying this and also get him evaluated by medical professionals.

Pua Smith

My husband has sever adult ADHD and detests the way the drugs make him. He doesn't eat all day, and by the time it wears off at night he is starving so he overeats, and wouldn't be near as active, along with several other side effects, so he stopped taking them about a year ago and started medicating with caffeine and things are golden, so long as he drinks the coffee. Now, I can hold a conversation with him, he can eat normal meals at normal times and still play with our kids and run them ragged. We're also very realistic about the possibilty of our children having ADHD, since he has it and I suffered with slight prenatal depression with our daughter and sever prenatal depression and stress with our son. If it comes down to it, we will probably medicate with coffee as well, unless it doesn't do "enough." People who judge others on this have never lived a life with someone, whether a chid or spouse, with uncontrolled ADHD. It's incredible stressful.

Sarah Plants

I think with small kids its sometimes hard to diagnose, and what is wrong with a little coffee?  Parents give their small kids soda all the time and soda is full of caffine and SUGAR. I would think that a little coffee is a far better choice.  And if it works and they can avoid drugs then good for them!!!! I would choose coffee too. Its funny that people would balk at giving a kid some coffee (that actually has some health benefits they say), but are ok with kids being on medications. Oh the irony.


I watched the segments, I know the risks, I get the detractors, BUT when something clearly works for your child without Rx drugs, you keep at it.

My dd doesn't exhibit ADHD, doesn't act like a crazy person when I ask "Can you make your bed?" or have a 2 year old meltdown over picking up toys on the floor.  A little caffeine goes a LONG way with ds, regardless of what the "experts" say... wait a week, they'll tell me broccoli isn't good for me too.

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