Have children ever been able to sit still in school? Isn’t that the nature of young minds and bodies, to be active?
Not if the recent increases in ADHD are anything to go by. In recent years the percentage of young people diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD has been rising: 7.8% in 2003 to 11% in 2011.
We recently read an article by Angela Hanscom on the Timbernook blog recalling a conversation she had with a Mother whose school wanted to test her 6 year old for ADHD because he couldn’t sit still in class.
Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist thought “this sounds familiar”.
The article discusses how this behavior is being singled out more and more often, affecting the esteem of the children involved, all due to a behavior which in many cases is natural. What isn’t often discussed along with the growth of ADHD diagnosis is that children are being asked to sit for longer, recess times are being shortened, and societal fears limit after-school play.
Hanscom moves, in a well written article, to another incident where she observed a fifth grade class, fidgeting, balancing on tilted chairs, hitting themselves with water bottles! The desire for movement and the need is incredibly strong in all of us, but especially developing minds and bodies. However, by not moving and stimulating their bodies and vestibular system, they aren’t engaging their brain and it goes to “sleep” as Hanscom puts it. Which isn’t a good place to be in a classroom.
It is noted that only one child, in the fifth-grade classroom Hanscom visited, had normal core strength and balance after testing. This harks back to the limited movement patterns of their younger developmental years and has continued to fifth grade.
This lack of movement, of exercise, limits the development of the whole body – the vestibular system, the muscles, our sensory processing abilities, and our brains.
While ADHD is a recognized diagnosis and many children struggle with it everyday, we must stop resorting to medication for many of our children prior to trying to address the root cause of much of this “hyperactive” behavior.
Lets help teachers do their jobs and get children moving again, increasing play time and utilizing more action based learning techniques. This lack of movement goes beyond the obesity crisis our nation all ready faces and is affecting the very development of our future.