In September, The Atlantic Magazine posted an article about dealing with children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As someone who married into a family with about five generations that we are pretty sure of with ADHD or ADD, I was very interested in the article. I have learned from my personal experience that ADD or ADHD is different in girls than boys, and I have also learned that in some cases, ADD or ADHD can be dealt with without the use of prescription drugs. My husband controls his ADD with coffee. A few cups in the morning will slow him down enough so that he can concentrate. One of my daughters controls her ADD and her son’s ADHD with physical activity. The article in The Atlantic reinforces the idea that physical activity can be used to control ADHD. Before I quote the article, I would like to mention that ADD and ADHD exploded as a problem about the time recess was taken out of the lower grades in many of our public schools. We need to rethink that.
The article in The Atlantic reports:
Last year a very similar study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that just 26 minutes of daily physical activity for eight weeks significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids. The modest conclusion of the study was that “physical activity shows promise for addressing ADHD symptoms in young children.” The researchers went on to write that this finding should be “carefully explored with further studies.”
“If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …” Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism. But, you know, once there is more research, it may potentially be advisable to consider possibly implementing more exercise opportunities for kids.
Rather than create a generation of children hooked on drugs that treat ADHD, let’s bring back recess. It may not solve all of the problems, but I’ll bet that some children could stop their drugs and others could go on lower doses of drugs if we brought back recess.