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Mindfulness training eases ADHD in children

Tai-Chi-based mindfulness training eases the major symptoms of ADHD in children, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 

The findings suggest that motor control could be targeted through mindfulness-based programs to improve behavior among children with ADHD.

Up to ten percent of school-age children are affected by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder that causes impulsive and hyperactive behavior. 

A team of experts found that mindfulness training significantly helped children regulate their inattentive and hyperactive behavior. 

Children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old participated in two 60-minute Tai-Chi-based mindfulness training classes each week for eight weeks. 

Parents rated ADHD symptoms before and after treatment using a highly validated scale, while motor control was assessed using an objective examination.

Following the mindfulness training, children demonstrated significant reductions in core ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. In addition, the children showed improvements in oppositional-defiant behavior and motor skills. 

The study revealed a strong link between motor skills and behavior, as children who made the most progress in motor control also exhibited the most improved behavior. 

The study is one of the first to explore the potential benefits of mindfulness training for kids with ADHD. The research provides critical evidence that mindful movement practices can ease ADHD symptoms and improve behavior among hyperactive children. 

Dr. Stewart H. Mostofsky is the director of the Center for Neurodevelopmental and Imaging Research at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

“The findings from this study provide support for a promising new avenue of behavioral intervention for children with ADHD and related difficulties, with mindful movement practice associated with improved ability to control attention and behavior,” said Dr. Mostofsky.

“Crucially, the findings also suggest that mindful movement intervention contributes to parallel improvements in motor control, such that motor examination might serve as a valuable biomarker, helping to monitor response to this promising intervention.”

The study is published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer


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