When Dr Alex Richardson was asked what inspired her to write this book, she explained that it was during her earlier background in teaching that she first became aware of just how many children were affected by common difficulties in behaviour and learning such as not being able to concentrate for long periods of time, becoming easily bored, acting impulsively, tripping over things, trying to make sense of what is written or read, living in a world of their own, losing track of time, forgetting what has just been learnt, being single minded or extraordinarily talented. Perhaps some of these are traits we all have? Or traits we have seen in our children or friends? It is when these characteristics and traits become prominent that they turn into ‘learning difficulties’.
What followed has been a 20 year crusade to establish through research the nature and underlying causes of such difficulties.
Dr Richardson’s primary aim has always been to find better ways of identifying and helping those whose lives are affected. One important conclusion that she has reached is that a mixture of ignorance and denial as to how the human brain works is preventing most of these children from reaching their true potential and is therefore costing them dearly.
Dr Richardson now receives thousands of requests for advice, on a weekly basis, from those who want to help the children they care for. They want practical and effective solutions.
She was first asked to put her findings on paper for the benefit of such people in August 2003. The original delay was due to her decision to await the results of The Oxford-Durham Study: A randomized controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder, of which she was co-lead researcher with Dr Paul Montgomery. These results confirmed her long held belief that nutrition has a major impact on behaviour, mood and learning.
While many of these enquiries are from parents of children with specific ‘labels’ such as Dyslexia and ADHD, there is a growing desire from parents and carers everywhere to cut through the mass of misinformation, which is often peddled for commercial benefit, and to find out how all children can improve their concentration and learning ability through better nutrition.
At the very least, this book should give hope to everyone who takes on board Dr Richardson’s words, “There is always something you can do”, in otherwords, don’t be persuaded by those who would tell you otherwise.
Dr Alex Richardson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, and co-founder of the UK charity Food and Behaviour Research. She has become internationally known for her research into the effects of food and diet - and particularly omega-3 fatty acids - on behaviour, learning and mood. Her work has centred on developmental conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, but her research interests also extend into mental health and the biology of individual differences in perception and cognition. She is involved in several collaborative research programmes that include studies of genetics, brain imaging, biochemistry and nutrition as well as physiological and psychological functioning. Her current studies include controlled treatment trials of omega-3 supplementation in both children and adults.