Adapted Physical Education

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A TT E N T I O N  D E F I C I T / H Y P E R A C T I V I T Y  D I S O R D E R


Major Concern


A lot is still not known about the effects of exercise and levels of arousal for children who have problems with impulsive behavior and/or staying on task. What we know is that kids who are physically active in a controlled and fun way benefit. A common myth is that children with attention deficit need to “burn off” energy any way possible so they can focus later. This is not true and may teach the wrong lesson if a child is allowed to run wildly on a play ground or in the back yard. Later when the child is expected to play cooperatively with other kids, then it is hard for him to play cooperatively if physical activity is viewed as “free time”. We know that it is important for kids to play and to have freedom to make decision.  




Physical activity with set boundaries and periods of stop and go help children understand that there is a time and place for movement. Letting kids move to burn off energy is part of playing at home; however, play time is also a good opportunity to help kids understand self-control. Setting limits starts by making sure that parents and siblings model appropriate play. Playing with kids and using cooperative games such as partner rope jumping and even small parachute games is recommended. Small parachutes can be purchased that require only two or three people to inflate. This teaches children that fun is had by cooperating since the parachute cannot be lifted without slow and coordinated movement by several people. Children are also hanging on to the chute which helps keep kids close while they are active. Fast movements and slow movements can also be incorporated as well as times of rest were one child lay under the chute while the remaining players make a cool breeze.


Other suggestions include games where the object is to lay still the longest rather than move the fastest etc. Any playground or home activities can be appropriate as long as parents realize that letting children run uncontrolled in a setting such as a playground teaches kids that this is a place where there are no rules and later when school recess time comes, the child may behave in a way that does not fit with school expectations. Teaching kids that movement is enjoyable and most fun when others also play is an important lesson that parents can start at home.