Children with attention deficient disorder (ADHD) often have trouble adapting to learning environments and are disciplined for disruptive behavior such as fidgeting. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can manifest itself in three various subtypes: hyperactive-impulsive, predominately inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive.
These various subtypes of ADHD all encompass behaviors like inattention, hyper activity, and impulsivity that interfere with learning. One of the predominant effects of ADHD is fidgeting that causes involuntary body movements of the hands, feet, and head. This effect of ADHD has often been attributed as key factor that contributes a disruptive learning environment. However, new research published in the Journal of Attention Disorders supports previous research results that fidgeting might actually help performance in children with ADHD.
Fidgeting Stimulates Physiological Arousal
During the research study, 25 children ages 8 to 12 with ADHD were given a serious of memory tasks to complete. Researchers in the study were particularly attentive to the reoccurrence of fidgeting experienced by each subject during the memory tasks. The design of the study had one group of children recall where a series of dots appeared on a digital screen, and had them mentally reorder the dots based on the color. Another component of the study also had children remembering a series of numbers and letters, and then reordering numerical components from smallest to biggest.
During the easy tasks, children knew exactly how many items needed to be recalled. More difficult tasks however, had a randomized amount of items that children had to recall during test. Researchers observed fidgeting during both easy and difficult tasks; however, a spike of 25% more fidgeting was observed during the more difficult randomized task.
The implications of this research study support previous findings that children with ADHD perform better during tasks when they fidgeted. Researchers noted that fidgeting in children with ADHD might increase physiological arousal similar to stimulant medications, however there is currently no clear evidence that suggests that effect. Researchers however are taking the results of these studies to plan future research that aims at finding evidence that links movement with arousal and task performance in children with ADHD. For more information about ADHD symptoms, treatments and medications, visit our ADHD Conditions Page.