The Magic of Martial Arts (and Other Individual Sports)

Not all sports are created equal. Kids with ADHD often excel at sports that offer one-on-one coach attention, non-stop action, and clear rules. Here are a few expert recommendations.

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Modifying Sports for Children with ADHD

Despite the pitfalls of team sports, many kids with ADHD are strongly motivated to join them for social reasons as well as athletic interest. Indeed, learning to be a part of a team is a thrilling and therapeutic experience for kids who are up to the task.

But whether they choose to pursue team or individual sports, an understanding professional coach or gym teacher who makes adjustments and modifications for ADHD kids can make or break a sports experience for your child.

Modifications in team sports should be designed to keep your child active and engaged in the sport with strategies that minimize downtime and boredom. In baseball, for example, modifications might include:

-- Changing drill patterns frequently to keep the child from becoming bored or desensitized.
-- Changing field positions as frequently as every five minutes to re-stimulate the child's attention to the game, particularly if the child is posted in the outfield.
-- Putting the ADHD child in an active field position as much as possible to keep him or her busily involved in the game.
-- Alternate between multiple practice stations to keep kids constantly engaged.
-- Giving the ADHD child a coach's assistant job while waiting his turn at bat. Keep the task simple but engaging so he'll stay out of trouble and build a sense of purpose and self worth along the way.

Even individual sports may require modifications. Mauro Hamza, a fencing coach in Houston, Texas, allows ADHD children frequent breaks in routine. The fencing club rents space from a rec center, which enables children to break for checkers, TV, snacks, or even an occasional ping pong game during the two hour fencing club practice.

Pick Age Appropriate Sports

Finally, keep in mind that ADHD children usually are about a third younger emotionally and socially than they are chronologically, which explains a lot of their troubled interactions with peers. If you can think of your eleven-year-old child as really being eight, it makes it easier to accept and understand his or her behavior.

The difference between the playing field and elsewhere, though, is that you can use the sports arena to your child's advantage by placing him or her with a younger age group, something you can't do realistically at school.

Quinn advocates holding your child back in sports by two or more years whenever possible. "Make the way smoother for them by putting them with younger children," Quinn suggests. "They'll have a chance to hang around with peers they can relate to, and to be in a position where they can shine."

Let the smiles begin.

Next: And the Winning Sports Are...

What sports have worked well for your ADHD childern? Share them with other parents in the Parents of ADHD Children support group on ADDConnect.

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TAGS: Sports for ADHD Children, Exercise and ADHD, Comorbid Conditions with ADD

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