Tag: Positive School

Accommodating Hyperactivity in Children with ADHD

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Accommodating Hyperactivity in Children with ADHD

ADHD which affects approximately 7.2% of children worldwide (Thomas, 2015) presents as either the hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive or combined subtype (Willcutt, 2012). It is often first suspected by classroom teachers who witness the symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. An interesting new study suggests that students with ADHD are more attentive when allowed to fidget.

While behaviour modification efforts, especially in the classroom setting, are often aimed at reducing both hyperactivity and inattention, new research published in Child Neuropsychology suggests that fidgeting may actually help children with ADHD increase focus and exercise better mental control, contributing directly to an increase in performance on cognitive tasks (Hartanto, 2015).

Professor Julie Schweitzer of the Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences department at the MIND Institute at the University of California, spearheaded the study of 26 children with confirmed diagnoses of ADHD, which saw the leg movements of each child recorded by ankle monitors that each child was wearing during a series of computerised activities testing both cognition and attention.  The results of the study confirmed that incidents of increased fidgeting directly correlated with a high level of accuracy in test performance.  Conversely, the more still the children were during the test the more poorly they performed on the tests of cognition and attention.  According to Schweitzer these results suggest that constant movement probably increases mental arousal for children with ADHD, much as stimulant drugs do.

The practical application of the study’s results seems clear to Schweitzer. Adults should encourage children with ADHD to fidget rather than correct them for it, especially during activities that require a high level of focus.

While Schweitzer’s research supports her conclusions, other scholars suggest that simply making accommodations for ADHD students to fidget misses the mark entirely, and that the real solution for children with ADHD when trying to focus in school is one that would support the student population as a whole (Tomporowski, 2011).  That is, all people benefit from the opportunity to move around regularly throughout the day, whether diagnosed with ADHD or not, and incorporating more physical activity into the school day might alleviate the need for fidget-friendly classrooms in the first place. Harvard-trained educator and McLean Hospital alumna Nina Fiore emphasises that, “Regular movement has been shown to increase focus and retention in children and adults of all ages…and diagnoses would be lessened if more movement was incorporated into every aspect of school.”

Schweitzer and Fiore are in agreement about one thing, and that is that all children can perform better when they are provided with an outlet for physical activity.  It may be that in the future more schools around the world will incorporate a degree of movement into the daily schedule high enough to alleviate the need for classroom-friendly fidget solutions.  In the interim, however, Schweitzer offers some practical solutions that are designed to avoid distracting other students in the classroom.  Her ideas include:

  • allowing children to stand and stretch as needed, attaching elastic bands beneath children’s desks so that they can pull and play with them in a way that shouldn’t bother other children, or using yoga balls as chairs, so the children can bounce.
  • The yoga ball seat approach in particular, has gained popularity among educators, as evidenced by three American elementary schools that have replaced classroom chairs with yoga balls entirely.  One such educator, Robbi Giuliano, who teaches 10-year-olds in West Chester, Pennsylvania, describes the switch as one of the best decisions she has ever made, saying, “I have more attentive children.  I’m able to get a lot done with them because they’re sitting on yoga balls.”

Many other opportunities exist for physical activities in the classroom, particularly ones that are neither disruptive nor stigmatising, and they can be used in school settings to help children perform cognitively demanding tasks.

To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us.  If you are considering an assessment for your child, please review our assessment pages.

Suggested resources

References

Hartanto, T. A., Krafft, C. E., Iosif, A. M., & Schweitzer, J. B. (2015). A trial-by-trial analysis reveals more intense physical activity is associated with better cognitive control performance in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Child Neuropsychology, (ahead-of-print), 1-9.

Thomas, R., Sanders, S., Doust, J., Beller, E., & Glasziou, P.  (2015). Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 135(4), 994-1001. 

Tomporowski, P. D., Lambourne, K., & Okumura, M. S. (2011). Physical activity interventions and children’s mental function: an introduction and overview. Preventive Medicine, 52, S3-S9.

Willcutt, E. G., Nigg, J. T., Pennington, B. F., Solanto, M. V., Rohde, L. A., Tannock, R., … Lahey, B. B. (2012). Validity of DSM-IV attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom dimensions and subtypes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(4), 991–1010. 

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Positive Schools & Educador conferences

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Posted on by Dr. Kimberley O'Brien

Quirky Kid enjoyed a few whirlwind trips in May for three exceptional conferences in the field of education. One in Sao Paulo, one in Fremantle and one in Melbourne and they were all excellent for different reasons.

Brazil Conference

‘Educador’ in Brazil with over 14000 people in attendance was a major event with a very social atmosphere. It was an exciting opportunity to meet other speakers and to experience using translators for the first time in the context of a seminar with 400 kindhearted participants.

I was overwhelmed to have a line up of lovely teachers asking for a photo together after my presentation. After months of preparation, it was one of most unique highlights of my life to be a part of this thriving education community! QK are thrilled to accept their invitation to return in 2013.

All images by Andreia Naomi e da Futuro Eventos

The local media and prestigious local magazine the Revista Veja, also spoken with Kimberley. Kimberley also discussed the conference topic with a post on Families-school relationship.

Positive Schools

Positive Schools in Fremantle was a great opportunity to talk with teachers working in Western Australia, many of whom are based in remote communities working with indigenous children with limited classroom support. I was pleased to hear the visual resources developed by QK have been well-received and there was particular interest in the new “Tickets” reward system to revamp old behaviour management patterns.

This conference was also an opportunity to connect with the lovely ACER representatives selling our resources and to provide more tips on how to apply them in diverse settings.

Melbourne

The Melbourne Positive Schools conference was held at the exquisite Melbourne Convention Centre and the auditorium was absolutely slick! Positive Schools was my chance to listen to Michael Carr-Gregg and Andrew Fuller, Bernadette Black and other similarly inspiring colleagues I rarely meet in person. I look forward to delivering more video footage of young people on the big screen next year. Overall, the May conferences were an adrenaline boost with an ample serving of special new contacts – Thank you!

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