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.
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.
We all have relationships – with our partners, children, parents, friends, colleagues and many others. According to a new book being launched in Sydney, the quality of these relationships is critically important for our overall wellbeing.
Gleeb books have agreed to discount the price to $50 – a significant reduction from the original. Quirky Kid Shoppe will also stock the title and will be made available soon.
More information and reviews on http://amzn.to/Y8Ew58 (scroll to the bottom of the page).Several people involved with Wellbeing Australia have contributed to this volume which has 17 chapters on different aspects of relationships.
Adjunct Associate Professor Sue Roffey, from the University of Western Sydney and Director of Wellbeing Australia, is the editor of Positive Relationships: Evidence Based Practice across the World.
The book brings together the views of a range of international experts, to explore the ways that we can “promote the positive” in various aspects of our lives – including in our roles as a leader, professional, mentor, teacher or parent.
“Our relationships all have a significant impact on our daily lives, including the way we perceive ourselves and others and the feelings we experience,” says Dr Roffey.
“A positive relationship can enrich our lives while a negative one can be the cause of deep distress. Unfortunately, much of the time we only give attention to relationships when things go wrong. That is why it is so important to understand in some depth how relationships might be enhanced in all areas of our lives.”
Dr Roffey, from the UWS School of Education and Centre for Positive Psychology and Education (CPPE), says Positive Relationships is firmly grounded in the science of positive psychology and has been written to appeal to a wide audience.
“Positive psychology has much to offer to enhance everyday living”, says Dr Roffey. “Healthy relationships can offer real meaning and sustainable fulfilment in our lives. Knowing what promotes the positive is the first step to authentic wellbeing.”
Professor Felicia Huppert, Director of the Well-Being Institute at the University of Cambridge says in the Foreword of Positive Relationships that this “seminal book moves beyond a focus on the individual, putting relationships at the heart of life going well.”
The chapters are authored by academics and practitioners from a range of disciplines and from across the world, each addressing positive relationships in the contexts of family, work, school and community.
The authors, and their respective chapters, include:
Professor Ann Brewer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Sydney – Positive Mentoring Relationships: Nurturing potential.
Associate Professor Stephanie Jones and Dr Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA – Learning about Relationships.
Professor Margaret Vickers and Associate Professor Florence McCarthy at the School of Education, University of Western Sydney – Positive Community Relations.
Adjunct Professor Toni Noble, at Australian Catholic University (ACU), and Adjunct Professor Helen McGrath, at RMIT University – Wellbeing and Resilience in Young People and the Role of Positive Relationships.
Adjunct Associate Professor Sue Roffey at the University of Western Sydney – Introduction and Developing Positive Relationships in Schools.
Associate Professor Vagdevi Meunier, St Edwards University, Austin, Texas, USA and Wayne Baker, professional counsellor – Positive Couple Relationships: The evidence for long lasting relationship satisfaction and happiness.
Dr Karen Majors, educational psychologist and professional tutor at the Institute of Education, London University – Friendships: the Power of Positive Alliance.
Kimberly O’Brien, child psychologist and Director of the Quirky Kid Clinic, and Jane Mosco, educational psychologist – Positive Parent-child Relationships.
Emilia Dowling, previously Head of Child Psychology at the Tavistock Clinic and visiting professor at Birkbeck College, London, and Di Elliot, systemic psychotherapist – Promoting Positive Outcomes for Children Experiencing Change in Family Relationships.
Sue Langley, CEO of Emotional intelligence Worldwide – Positive Relationships at Work.
Elizabeth Gillies, educational psychologist and previously Vice-President of International Mental Health Professionals in Japan – Positive Professional Relationships.
Dr Hilary Armstrong, Director of Education at the Institute of Executive Coaching, Sydney – Spirited Leadership: Growing leaders for the future.
Zalman Kastel, Director of the Together for Humanity Foundation – Positive Relations between Members of Groups with Divergent Beliefs and Cultures.
Associate Professor Lois Edmund, Centre for Conflict Resolution Studies at the University of Winnipeg, Canada – Conflict and Confrontation.
Peta Blood, Co-founder of Restorative Practices International – The repair and restoration of relationships.
Robyn Hromek, Educational psychologist and Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney and Angela Walsh, Director of the Love Bites educational program for NAPCAN (National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) – Peaceful and compassionate futures: positive relationships as an antidote to violence.
“Each chapter of this book provides evidence on how healthy relationships enable both individuals and communities to flourish, what we can do to ensure these are the best they can be and what to do when difficulties arise,” says Dr Roffey.
“The evidence sometimes challenges current beliefs, for example what constitutes good leadership and how emotionally intelligent relationships make all the difference to effective work environments.
“The book predominately focuses on our shared humanity – what we all have in common, rather than what divides us. The overarching themes are fostering positive communication practices, treating each other with respect and building social capital.”
Positive Relationships: Evidence Based Practice across the World, published by Springer, is now available for purchase with five star reviews on Amazon.
Professor Ann Brewer will speak at the Official Launch, to be held at Gleebooks in Sydney.
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.
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.
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.
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!