By Megan Allison
September 16, 2014
Diagnoses of Attention Hyperactivity Disorder are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated that by 2011, 11 percent of children had been diagnosed with ADHD, and 6.1 percent of all US children were taking an ADHD medication.
But could a solution be as simple as exercise? A study published this month in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that aerobic activity sessions before school helped children with ADHD with their moods and attention spans.
|West Newton, Burr Elementary School, physical education sessions|
for kindergarten class with instructor Jodi Michna. Credit: Boston Globe
The study involved a group of just over 200 students in kindergarten through second grade at schools in Indiana and Vermont. For 12 weeks, the students did 31 minutes of physical activity. The control group participated in classroom activities during this time.
Although the results showed that all students showed improvement, authors noted that the exercise especially helped kids with ADHD.
“It benefits all the kids, but I definitely see where it helps the kids with ADHD a lot,” said Jill Fritz, a fourth-grade teacher in Jacksonville, Fla. in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “It really helps them get back on track and get focused.”
In the Boston area, Dr. Sarah Sparrow Benes, Program Director of Physical and Health Education Programs at Boston University, teaches elementary and special educators how to use movement as a strategy in their classroom for learning. She finds that all students can benefit from exercise.
“Moving can help learning – fitness levels have been linked with positive outcomes in the classroom,” said Dr. Sparrow Benes in an interview with Boston.com.
“Physical education can support the physical, social and emotional development of children and provide students with positive learning and growth experiences.”
Additionally, Dr. Sparrow Benes has examined neurological studies showing the benefits of exercise for those diagnosed with ADHD. She agrees with other researchers in the field who say exercise tempers ADHD by increasing the neurotransmitters that regulate the attention system.
Despite the work of specialists in this area, schools are cutting back on time devoted to recess and physical education. Instead, systems are encouraging students to participate in physical activity before or after school.
Dr. Sparrow Benes said she is extremely disappointed in this development.
“Schools should be supporting the whole child, including their physical development through movement opportunities.”
There is no doubt that more periods of activity are beneficial for any child. Now the question is: Will schools take notice?
Upcoming Special Events
Upcoming Special Events
- October 2 (Thursday) 1:00pm Eastern: "Between the Synapse" internet radio broadcast on educating students with emotional or behavioral challenges, featuring special guests Jessica Minahan, M.Ed., BCBA, director of behavioral services at NESCA, and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. Free app required to listen. Details HERE.
- October 7 (Tuesday) 7:00 - 9:00pm: Stressed-Out Students: How Boarding Schools Can Help. Panel discussion with admissions officers from five schools at the Wellesley College Club. Co-sponsored by NESCA and Hunnewell Education Group. FREE and open to the public; advance registration required. Details HERE.
- October 16 (Thursday) 7:00 - 9:00pm: Book talk at NESCA with Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, authors of "Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work." Introduction by noted Special Education Attorney Robert K. Crabtree. FREE and open to the public. Registration required. Call 617-658-9800.
- October 25 (Saturday) 8:30am - 5:00pm: "Practical Perspectives, Positives Lives" - Annual Asperger's Syndrome Connection conference sponsored by AANE at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA. Keynote Speakers: Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D.; Winnie Dunn, Ph.D., OTR, FAOTA; Michael Forbes Wilcox. Info, registration HERE.