A recent exploratory study conducted at a private school reported in Current Issues in Education stated that the use of meditation can be beneficial to 11 to 14 year old students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. According to the researchers, “the technique has potential to improve attention, behavior regulation, and executive function by naturally reducing stress and anxiety and improving brain functioning.”
It is encouraging to see the growing interest in and availability of funding for research dedicated to the investigation of non-medication interventions for ADHD. Actually, relaxation training has been known for some time to provide benefits, and I have been using this technique along with others since the ’80s to help kids with ADHD. When combined with parent training, behavior modification and several other evidence-based techniques, I have found that children with mild to moderate symptoms can achieve significant improvement at home and at school without medication.
Published professional guidelines recommend that children with mild to moderate symptoms receive behavioral interventions, ie, some kind of behavioral help, training or modification, prior to moving on to medication. In the MTA study conducted by the NIMH, 30% of the children in the behavioral-only group normalized after 14 months, which means they were able to function on a normal level without medication. After 3 years, all of the children in the behavioral-only group demonstrated the same improvement in symptoms as those receiving medication and those receiving a combination of medication and behavioral intervention.
Unfortunately, even with this information, the rate of inclusion of behavioral intervention has been limited due to financial and time constraints. After years of working with kids with ADD and ADHD, I developed The Total Focus Program to help parents and families learn how to manage the behaviors that come along with the disorder. It can be used with or without medication as part of a total treatment program. Whether you try Total Focus or another program, I encourage you to seek out some kind of behavioral training program for your child with ADHD.