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Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Discussed as Alternative to Medication for Children with ADHD

Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Discussed as Alternative to Medication for Children with ADHD

Children have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at increasing rates year after year for the past decade effecting 11 percent of all U.S. children in 2013; figuring out how to manage the behavioral issues that accompany the learning disorder has been a big talking point in the national conversation for some time.

For educators, managing the behavior of children with learning disorders is a difficult part of the job. ADHD is a learning disorder that has significant effects on a child’s presence in the classroom because it can cause children to struggle with concentrating and finishing tasks.

Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a guidance to the medical community urging doctors to offer alternatives to children other than medication. While ADHD as a learning disorder can cause many undesirable behaviors, ADHD medication has been known to come with harmful side effects like loss of appetite, inability to sleep, restlessness, and increased irritability.

Despite this, three-quarters of children diagnosed with the disorder are on some form of medication to placate symptoms.

Now, another researcher has published a paper that says alternatives to medication may significantly help children suffering from ADHD improve.

"Researcher Kathleen Holton, a behavioral neuroscientist at American University, suggests in a newly published study in the Journal of Attention Disorders that a 'healthy lifestyle’ may also make a difference,” said The Washington Post.

A healthy lifestyle is defined by Holton as increased physical activity, decreased “screen time” and normal sleeping patterns.

The Washington Post points out that several other studies as of late have found similar benefits in promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors in children with ADHD.

One study "showed that a simple 20-minute walk in a park was enough to help children increase their attention levels. 'Doses of nature' might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new item in the toolkit for managing ADHD symptoms, the researchers wrote.”

The studies combined with the CDC’s latest guidance represent a shift in how professionals and consequentially educators view handling the disorder.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

6/2/2016

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