ADHD

Updated 15 June 2015

Fidgeting may help children with ADHD learn

Moving around or fidgeting may play a crucial role in helping children with ADHD to remember more information and assist their learning.

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Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) need to squirm to learn, a small study suggests.

Constantly shifting in their desks, tapping their feet, swinging their legs and other fidgety behaviours play a crucial role in helping these children remember information and solve complex mental tasks, the researchers found.

The study included 29 boys aged 8 to 12 with ADHD who underwent tests of learning, comprehension and reasoning. They were compared to a control group of 23 boys without ADHD.

The more the boys with ADHD moved during the tests, the better they did. The more the boys in the control group moved during the tests, the worse they did, according to the study published online recently in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Read: Need for earlier recognition and treatment of ADHD

Children with ADHD "have to move to maintain alertness," study co-author Mark Rapport, head of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said in a university news release.

The findings suggest that current methods used by parents and teachers to deal with children with ADHD may be missing the mark.

"The typical interventions target reducing hyperactivity. It's exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD," Rapport said.

"The message isn't, 'Let them run around the room,' but you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities," he explained.

For example, many students with ADHD might get better marks if they could do classroom work, tests and homework while sitting on activity balls or exercise bikes, Rapport suggested.

Read more:

Does ADHD really affect 7% of children worldwide?

A better night's sleep may help children with ADHD

Kids with ADHD may gain more from family-centred care

Image: Elementary school students in classroom with teacher from Shutterstock

 

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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