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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: exercise and physical activity to fight children hyperactivity

The society in which we live is increasingly attentive to the demands and needs of our children, who are often satisfied in a very comprehensive and sometimes anticipatory way.  Within the pediatric, neuropsychiatric and psychological fields such attention has been focused upon developing research and a definition with respect to developmental disorders in children. About behavioral disorders, research has looked at developing any potential treatments and how they can be implemented to help treat these developmental disorders.
Girl trains with personal trainer
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about hyperactivity: as soon as a child is more lively, it is immediately defined as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - ADHD, and the risk faced by many educators and specialists is a hasty diagnosis as a result of confusion and superficiality.

What is hyperactivity in children?

In the United States, more than six million children between the ages of 4 and 17 suffer from ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, the situation in Italy is slightly different, although somewhat the same. A study completed in 2012 estimated a prevalence of children with neuropsychic disorders struggle to maintain concentration for long periods of time, as well as controlling impulses and the degree of activity - equal to 1.2%. The debate on these data has been constant in recent years.
Girls playing football: team sport helps to fight ADHD
The discomfort of the youngest seems to be the exasperated representation of something that condenses the causes and effects of the discomfort of civilization, where everything is super and children are hyper.

Nowadays, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder seem to be the lancets of the time of our time, almost as if they never manage to stop.

Children play in the park

ADHD or simply lively child?

When can we say that a child is suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and when is it just a child who is lively, disobedient or simply rude?

The line of differentiating the two is not always well defined. When the difficulties of a lack of attention and/or hyperactivity are related only to emotional temperament and character, clinics often correlate them as reactive consequences to family contexts. These are susceptible to changes due to the growth of the child (e.g. parents who are not able to meet the satisfaction of a need, nor are not very tolerant to behavior not appropriate to the context, etc..) or school situations (eg. teachers too strict or rigid in the demands).

Hyperactive children seem to be the lancets of the time of our time, almost as if they never manage to stop.

On the other hand, the terms most used to identify those children whose behaviour is exceptionally hyperactive are Hyperkinetic Syndrome or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or DDAI). There is still a certain difficulty in making such a diagnosis in the clinical setting. There are many children with the characteristics of the syndrome in the absence of other personality problems and/or pervasive developmental disorders, who are poorly studied and untreated from a therapeutic point of view.
Kid plays football
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder usually have adequate cognitive and emotional resources. They can understand their state when they fail to control themselves. Examples of typical behaviour states include playing in a noisy way, talking too much with little control of the tone of the voice, interrupting people who talk, or are doing activities without being able to wait their turn.  Typically, subjects with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder express the additional traits such as a lack of ability to follow instructions given, and are careless in the performance of their activities. They also have difficulties in maintaining concentration, while getting distracted easily and have the tendency to switch from one activity to another sometimes without completing them.
ADHD means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder solvable with age?

In recent years the literature has reported data that underline the need not to neglect these difficulties and to activate in time enough effort to change the issues highlighted by schools and the family.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects about 4% of the pediatric population. It is mostly present among males, with a ratio of 3 to 9 males per each female depending on the research. About 30-50% of people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children continue to present symptoms in adolescence and adulthood; 2-5% of adults present this condition.

Allenare la forza aiuta a combattere l'iperattività infantile
The manifestations of hyperactivity and impulsivity seem to be attributable to difficulties in inhibiting inappropriate behaviour.  Barkley (1997) defines inappropriate behaviour as behavioural disinhibition and which these children express with agitation, difficulty in remaining still, seated or compounded on request. In addition, such research has shown that difficulties of behavioural inhibition emerge between 3 and 4 years of age, while those related to inattention appear between 5 and 7 years of age.

Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

The treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder involves a multimodal approachable to combine the 3 types of interventions that are usually applied:

  • behavioural interventions
  • cognitive-behavioural training
  • pharmacological therapy (if, after specific evaluations and analyses, the multidisciplinary team deems it necessary).

In addition to this, considering not only the difficulties but also the strengths that each of us has, the role and importance that motor activity can play is useful.

Unfortunately, subjects with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other problems related to behavior, also show other secondary symptoms, more precisely in interpersonal relations, as it is assumed that they result from the interaction between the characteristics of the disorder with the social and educational environment.

So, starting from the assumption that every child needs to be guided gradually to autonomy, what can help them better than sport and physical activity?!

This can be summed up in a few words:

The more structured and regulated the days, the less unstable the child's behaviour will be.

Sport to fight attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Sport  helps children to develop self-esteem and create social links. It is therefore an excellent way of social interaction and offers undoubted advantages from the point of view of physical fitness and health.

A general rule, valid regardless of the presence of the disorder and the degree of impairment of the child, is to start from what he is motivated by, then his preferences.

Athletics track race for young people
One idea to fight attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be to select those sports, individual or group, where the rules are very simple, the space is well defined, the game patterns are not continuously modified on the basis of the agreement between the players, and finally the success is not measured primarily by the skills of social interaction.

Choosing the best sport to fight attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

It may be useful to focus on disciplines that involve constant movement, such as football or rugby.

Avoid sports that are very chaotic or where it is difficult to decode the surrounding context to implement the expected behaviour and where moments of inactivity, perhaps associated with concentration, such as baseball, are necessary. Individual sports, such as swimming or gymnasium, are also a good choice, as the child must keep his or her attention exclusively on himself or herself without concentrating on memorising strategic schemes.

Underwater photos of children with parent
Another possibility to fight attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is martial arts, a sport that is chosen by many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Are they dangerous for these children? Obviously not.  The spread of martial arts (which ones?) is often hindered by the fear that and they can induce aggressive dangerous behavior, therefore not suitable for these children, or however for children defined more "lively". On the contrary, teachers and practitioners of these disciplines show that they have been able to constantly search for themselves until they create a perfect psycho-physical balance.
Baby basketball shot
Another sport useful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is basketball, a group activity that allows you to let off steam and at the same time to move according to a rational scheme.

It can therefore be concluded that sport for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a very positive choice.

Therefore, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder must be welcomed and managed by parents with enthusiasm and awareness of the fact that, associated with rehabilitation treatment, can be a factor for improvement, precisely because social inclusion helps the child to integrate and better manage its difficulties by focusing on its strengths both at the motor and cognitive level.

One possibility is the martial arts, a sport that is chosen by many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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