Historically, children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have been treated with medications like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexadrine. But while these medications can be effective for some kids, they can also have significant adverse side effects. For many kids, occupational therapy can be an effective, holistic alternative, if not a complement, to the use of medications for kids with ADHD. (As always, it’s important to talk to your child’s doctors before making any decisions pertaining to medication.)
Specifically, research published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that kids with ADHD who were treated with alternative interventions such as a method known as “Cog-Fun” were effective in helping them to lead functional lives in school, home, and other environments of daily living.
What is ADHD?
If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware that ADHD is a condition diagnosed when there is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity interfering with function or development. It’s generally considered a neurological disorder, impacting a person’s executive functions (cognitive skills), emotions, and behavior – impeding developmental progress, academic success, and relationship building. People with ADHD struggle to remember, plan, and regulate their emotions.
It is often (but not always) diagnosed in childhood and lasts into adulthood. There’s no “cure,” but there are treatments – which will differ for children compared to adults
How is ADHD Treated With Occupational Therapy
Early intervention for kids with ADHD requires inter-disciplinary collaboration from parents and caregivers, teachers, and therapists. Cognitive behavioral interventions -treatment that involves efforts to change thinking patterns – is recommended, the earlier the better. That’s because children’s neuro pathways have yet to form and/or become rigid.
Children of all abilities all over the globe aren’t getting enough exercise. The problem is even greater for children with special needs, who by some research estimates get just 17 minutes of physical activity in school – a day. As Akron pediatric occupational therapy professionals, this is problematic not only from a position of physical health but also of cognitive development and academic success.
Brain Benefits of Physical Activity
It’s our goal during sessions to get kids moving as much as we can, but parents who want to see their children thrive cannot overlook this component. One study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports & Exercise found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is directly associated with better reading fluency and arithmetic skills.
As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.”