Special Services Update

5/29/15

Study finds students with ADHD learn better when able to fidget and move

It has been controversial for many years- whether or not teachers should allow students with ADHD to fidget and move when in class, or whether or not these students should be required to sit still and focus.


A recent study that has been widely reported in the news finds that requiring students with ADHD to sit still in class prohibits their learning. "It's exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD" according to Mark Rapport, the lead researcher. In fact, the researchers found that movement is vital for students with ADHD to learn complex skills and tasks. Movement allows students with ADHD to maintain cognitive alertness. In fact, the more demanding the task on executive function, especially working memory, the more students with ADHD will move. In short, the more they are fidgeting the more they are learning!


Although affirming, in a sense this study had a common sense finding, During professional development days, or extremely long meetings- often adults will begin tapping pencils, bouncing knees or standing up to stretch in order to maintain focus and cognitive alertness. Interestingly, however, common wisdom holds true for students without ADHD- the same study found that fidgeting worsened performance on cognitive tests.


What does this mean for students with ADHD in school? The ability to move and fidget is a critical accommodation that IEP teams should consider and provide in order to ensure equal access to learning. Teams should be open to trying out different types of movement opportunities- I've seen classrooms where all of the students had the option of sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs. "What we've found is that when they're moving the most, the majority of them perform better. They have to move to maintain alertness" according to Rapport.


Read the article here: http://today.ucf.edu/kids-with-adhd-must-squirm-to-learn/


Jennifer Connolly

Director of Special Services