A new study suggests that we should be encouraging children with ADHD to move more rather than less. When asked to do a cognitive task while seated in a swivel chair, the study revealed that boys with ADHD who moved and spun in their chairs were found to perform better. For boys without ADHD the opposite was true. The proposed theory behind this is that slight movements help to “wake-up” the nervous system and increase alertness for those with ADHD. For those without ADHD, excess movement may just cause distractions for an already alert brain.
Dr. Dustin Sarver reposts that past research demonstrates that when children with ADHD are asked to perform tasks that place demands on their working memory their hyperactivity increases. But, when these demands were not placed on their working memory their activity levels reduced to normal levels. This led the team to wonder whether these movements helped or hurt working memory in those with ADHD.
Dr. Sarver’s research has shown that movement in children with ADHD has a positive purpose and we should be facilitating it for students in classrooms as long as they are not disruptive to others. Dr. Sarver also states that by asking children with ADHD who are hyperactive to sit still and not move we are actually hampering their ability to function, as all of their mental energy goes into sitting still rather than getting the task at hand completed.
Media release by University of Mississippi Medical Center. https://www.umc.edu/News_and_Publications/Press_Release/2015-04-27-00_Researcher__Hyperactive_movements_help_ADHD_kids_learn.aspx