Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Thanks to a Tweet by Dana Jonson, I saw this Time article entitled Kids with ADHD May Learn Better by Fidgeting. In essence, the article highlights a small but thorough study done by Mark Rapport that demonstrates when kids with ADHD are fidgeting, their brains are stimulated in a similar way as with stimulant medications. It seems that if they are allowed to fidget (obviously not to the point of climbing walls) they may actually focus better (even if that seems backwards to a teacher whose brain doesn't work the same way).
I love coming across studies like this because they validate what I've always known about Gus. From the time he was born, two things were very evident: he was extremely alert and taking everything in, and he was never still. Before he could walk, his little legs were always going. I remember trying to teach him to count when he was about 18 months old. Whenever I would ask him something or tell him something, he'd always run to the opposite end of our apartment and then come back with a response. Clearly, this was his way of processing information. So, this day when I worked on counting with him, I took a bunch of apples to the living room and gave them to him, one at a time. Each time he would run and put the apple in the kitchen and we counted up as he returned for the next one. He learned many things doing laps around our apartment.
One of the things I appreciate about his current school program is that when he needs to fidget or move around, he can communicate that to his teacher and be allowed to do so. Before coming into class, he might hop through the hall like a kangaroo to his seat. Then he can start his morning assignment. The movement seems to help a lot.
ADHD is only part of Gus's trouble with focus, because he also has a bunch of sensory integration issues, but ADHD is also the one that we've been advised on occasion to try to medicate. Maybe this study will bring about a shift away from medication and toward giving ADHD kids a little more freedom so their minds can work the way they're wired to. And maybe 'Least Restrictive Environment' might take on a more literal meaning.
And maybe now I won't feel so bad when I don't stop Gus from running the length of the house. He's just stimulating his brain!
*image from cksinfo.com