Adventure sports as effective treatment for ADHD.

Outside magazine published “ADHD Is Fuel for Adventure” on January 20, 2016. This interesting article is subtitled, “some of the best medicine for kids with tension-deficit disorders may be extreme sports and outdoor learning. That’s good news, because not only do they need exploration, but exploration desperately needs them.” This article describes a remarkable program that serves children with ADHD, and other behavioral disorders, and help them learn to channel their energy and develop better focus.

The article includes:

The school’s founders didn’t have any particular allegiance to adventure sports; they just found that climbing, backpacking, and canoeing were a magic fit for these kids, at these ages, when their neurons are exploding in a million directions. “When you’re on a rock ledge,” (the school’s founder) says, “there’s a sweet spot of arousal and stress that opens you up for adaptive learning. You find new ways of solving problems.”

The article notes that some of participants in the program were able to discontinue medication or reduce their dosage. The article also reviews interesting research about genetic variations which supports the theory that some humans evolved with genes that promoted risk-taking, thinking on their feet, curiosity, and other traits that may be related to ADHD.

The article also includes:

If you take a typical ADHD kid, layer on some experience and maturity, tamp down the impulsive bits, and add some goal aspirations and a keen ability to plan and dream, you end up with a high-adrenaline achiever like alpinist Conrad Anker or adventurer Sir Richard Branson, both of whom believe they have the condition.

And, “ …studies consistently show that aerobic activity targets the same attentional networks that ADHD medication does.”  The author asks, “If adventure sports are such a great fit for people with ADHD, why aren’t more doctors, schools, and families boosting participation?”

My take: this article may stimulate thinking about treatment options other than medication and school-based services for kids with ADHD. It may also be helpful to provide to parents who are interested in resources for their ADHD, or highly active, kids, in addition to, or perhaps in place of, education.

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