Has anyone with a child with ADHD put them in Taekwondo, gymnastics? It really helps their confidence and also gives them room to concentrate and learn disapline and wears them out where they are calmer.
This was my response to a similar issue and thought it might be helpful to some of you out there. All those movement activities are wonderful for all children but they provide, in addition to social opportunities, very real opportunities to change brain function and thus overall function. It is so much more than "wearing them out":
Have you had your son treated by an occupational therapist who has a background in sensory processing disorders? Many of the sensory strategies OTs use can have a tremendous effect on levels of alertness, focus, etc. Older kids can often learn some self-regulation techniques. Proprioception as provided by deep pressure, heavy work, weighted vests, heavy blankets for sleeping, etc can be tremendously calming. Also deep pressure as to the shoulders is often craved by kids while light touch experiences can be aversive. Swinging and rocking (as in a rocking chair) can have great effects too. Jumping on a trampoline (closely supervised) has amazing benefits for many children with issues like your son's. These techniques are fun and, if nothing else, can at least provide exercise and positive experiences.
Another possibility to look into is autism spectrum disorder(ASD) which can also benefit from sensory techniques as well as "Applied Behavioral Analysis". I only mention ASD since you mentioned odd behavior issues. Does he do repetitive movements? Dislike textures, tastes, etc.? While not every child diagnosed with ADHD, psychiatric disorders, etc. have sensory problems, many, many do and some simple things can really help everyone feel more comfortable in their own bodies. Think about how wonderful it feels to cuddle up in a blanket in a rocking chair in front of a fire. That's sensory! Some kids love to get rolled up tightly in blankets (heads sticking out!) or being squished between couch cushions. Now think about sitting on the floor in a hot loud gym and having other squiggling kids constantly bumping you but you are not supposed to move or stand up or make any noise... yuk! That's the kind of thing kids often have to do in school or walk in a straight line face forward and quiet. That's not normal... and if someone accidently bumps into you it might make you want to scream. As a school based occupational therapist my students are often seen jumping while walking down the hall, skipping, doing Brain Gym exercises, etc. Even chewing gum can help kids focus as well as having a small object to fidget with and sitting on therapy balls or movement cushions while seated at their desks and some places are providing "standing desks" that allow children to choose to stand or sit on a stool in class.
A program called Brain Gym or Educational Kinesiology has adults and children performing specific exercises that help integrate parts of the brain and improve attention, focus, learning, etc. Look these up on the internet. They were developed by the Dennisons (husband and wife team who, I believe are Reading Specialists with PhDs) and the work is based on neuropsychological research, yoga principals, studies of results, etc. There are executives, professional golfers, etc. who have learned and used Brain Gym to improve performance. My daughter who is in law school and has ADHD uses Brain Gym to help her prepare for writing papers, study for exams, do presentations, etc. and if she becomes a trial lawyer I can just picture her doing a few Brain Gym movements prior to closing arguments. I have taught kids how to do some of the movements very discreetly while sitting at their desks and some teachers have their whole classes doing Brain Gym daily. The book "Smart Moves" is a great resource to help laymen understand why "movement is essential to learning".
Please do a little searching on line about sensory integration, occupational therapy and brain gym. Also look up sensory questionnaires which may help you understand your child as well as sensory diets. There is so much information out there. Having a good occupational therapist work with and design a "sensory diet" may work wonders for your son's health, happiness, ability to focus, socialize, etc. The "sensory diet" is a list of activities to be done daily at home and/or in school to help with some of the inattention, behavioral issues, etc. associated with ADHD and other disorders that may interfere with normal functioning and a happy child.
RSM, MS, OTR/L
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