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Martial Arts offer an alternative to the pharmaceutical treatment approach for ADHD and ADD favored by many doctors. Currently when it comes to the treatment of ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and its close relative ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), the standard treatment is to medicate the person. Pharmaceuticals such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall are administered to help the child “mellow out”and “get focused”.

The practice of any martial art can have long lasting positive results without the risk of medications. In some cases the activity itself can be all the therapy a student needs. A great example of this came from the experience of Instructor Jay Ratcliff as he worked with a student who suffered from ADHD,

“I had a 10 yr old boy that had ADHD in class a few years back. His focus would drift at times during class. I could not talk to him to get is focus back on the class. I had heard about using physical activity to help him clear his mind so he could focus again. So, whenever I saw his lost focus, he and I would do about 5 jumping jacks together. It cleared his head and he would be right back in class.”

For some it as simple as engaging the body in exercise, others require longer term forms of structure and guidance to find relief from the effects of ADHD. When asked why some children and adults with ADHD and ADD issues seemed to thrive and grow in her program, Mrs. Tammy Parker of Indianapolis ATA Black Belt Academy said:

“Martial arts provide a consistent activity with a lot less down time and constant supervision and reinforcement. So, I think it provides these kids with something they CAN do, when maybe other sports have not worked out. I think consistency helps them. Structure, individualized instruction, and constant goal setting, helps these kids the most.”

When we dig deeper into why martial arts seem to be a force for healing for these students we start to understand the power of the mind-body link. All martial arts train both the mind and body in a linked fashion, developing a student’s ability to control all aspects of their person in a coordinated manner. The impact of teaching a student to utilize this mind-body link as a way to gain control of the urges and energy that characterize ADHD and ADD can be tremendous.

The process of teaching a martial art closely follows a pattern of kinetic linking, a process of associating movement and thought in a way that creates a controlled response. This is not a new idea; kinetic linking is the basis for all martial arts training, developed over many hundreds of years of study. The idea has recently been relabeled and utilized specifically for the treatment of ADHD and ADD. According to Dr. Paul E. Dennison, one of the developers of Brain Gym:

“Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K) is an innovative approach that uses movement as a means to enhance learning. In Edu-K, the mind and body are integrated through a variety of simple activities that expand the learner’s perceptual awareness while providing access to the innate abilities needed for information processing.”

It isn’t just Doctors and other Medical Staff that are seeing positive results using martial arts as therapy for ADHD and ADD. Martial arts instructors and parents across the country are reporting great improvements in their students. Mr. Deters, a martial arts Instructor and parent of a diagnosed ADHD child happily shared his success stories with me,

“My own son David was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in 3rd grade. He started in Taekwondo when he was in 5th grade and it helped him with learning to be more in control and patient. Taekwondo helped teach him how to cope. I also had a student who is now off all meds and on the honor roll at his high school.”

It is important to note that be involved in the martial arts does not work for every student with ADHD or ADD. In the more extreme cases the rigidity of practice can be an issue. According to Mrs. Parker,

“Each kid is different. For some, a martial arts program can be TOO structured…if their ADD/ADHD is severe. It has to be something they like to do. I’ve had some leave because it’s just too much ‘work’ and not enough fun, so more time is spent on the behavior than actually training.”

It is highly suggested that before anyone signs up their child for martial arts lessons with the hope that the activity will help with their ADHD/ADD they take action in researching the situation fully. Have the child participate in more than just one class, sit down and discuss the issues fully with the Instructor, ask about the Instructor’s experience with students who suffer from similar issues, and make sure the student is really interested in taking class. A little “due diligence” can save a lot of heart break and disappointment for both the parents and children involved.

These disorders can be a significant challenge in the lives of those they affect. In the next article the benefits of martial arts training for students suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorders will be discussed. Please “stay tuned”, there is more to come on this important topic!

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Martial Arts as treatment alternative for ADHD/ADD – National martial arts | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/martial-arts-in-national/martial-arts-as-treatment-alternative-for-adhd-add