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ADD/ADHD

ADHD improves with sensory intervention

Preliminary findings from a study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) show that sensory intervention-for example, deep pressure and strenuous exercise-can significantly improve problem behaviors such as restlessness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Of the children receiving occupational therapy, 95 percent improved. This is the first study of this size on sensory intervention for ADHD.

The Temple University researchers, Kristie Koenig,Ph.D.,OTR/L, and Moya Kinnealey,Ph.D.,OTR/L, wanted to determine whether ADHD problem behaviors would decrease if underlying sensory and neurological issues were addressed with occupational therapy.

Children with ADHD have difficulty paying attention and controlling their behavoir. Experts are uncertain about the exact cause of ADHD, but believe there are both genetic and biological components. Treatment typically consists of medication, behavior therapy or a combination of the two.

Many children with ADHD also suffer from sensory processing disorder, a neurological underpinning that contributes to their ability to pay attention or focus. They either withdraw from or seek out sensory stimulation like movement, sound,light, and touch. This translates into troublesome behaviors at school and home.

Normally, we process and adapt to sensory stimulation in our daily environment. But children with ADHD are unable to adjust, and instead might be so distracted and bothered by a sound or movement in the classroom, for instance, that they can't pay attention to the teacher.

Therapy techniques appeal to the three basic sensory systems: The tactile system controls the sense of touch, the vestibular system controls sensations of gravity and movement, and the proprioceptive system regulates the awaremess of the body in space. Therapy is tailored to each child's needs and can involve such techniques as lightly or deeply brushing the skin, moving on swings or working with an exercise ball.

The goal of ADHD treatment is to prevent failure in school, family problems and poor self-esteem. If not addressed early, the disorder can trouble sufferers into adulthood.

Related Topics:

Classroom Management Strategies for Children with Auditory Processing Disorders

Dr. Perlmutter's Recommendations

Exercise, Sensory Integration and Natural Tx for ADHD

ADHD or Something Else?

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