Many teachers and parents are familiar with the struggle to help children with ADHD sit still long enough to learn.
But a new study from researchers from the University of Central Florida say the situation should actually be handled the opposite way: these children should be allowed to squirm.
The study worked with 52 boys, aged 8 to 12, who were asked to perform cognitive tests.
More than half the group, 29 boys, had ADHD while 23 boys had no clinical disorders and showed normal development.
Researchers found that those boys with ADHD who were allowed to move, performed significantly better on memory tests than those who were asked to sit and focus.
They "have to move to maintain alertness” the study states in the latest issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.
Interestingly, those children without ADHD who moved during the exercise performed a lot worse than their still peers.
"It’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD,” writes one of the authors, Mark Rapport, head of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida, “the message isn’t 'Let them run around the room,' but you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities."
The study suggests it may be helpful to allow children with ADHD to work on exercise bikes or activity balls to help them concentrate, writing, "what we've found is that when they're moving the most, the majority of them perform better.”