Some parents who start their children in martial arts are concerned with their children's ability to concentrate. Some of the students have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). These disorders are characterized by a child's inability to focus or concentrate for a normal amount of time.
The following information is adapted from an article in the September/October 1990 edition of Your Patient & Fitness magazine (Use sports in treating hyperactive children, by Jeffery L. Alexander, MD) in which Taekwondo is mentioned as a known aid to children with ADD/ADHD. Although the two are not precisely the same, in this article, the terms "attention deficit disorder" and "hyperactivity” are used interchangeably for convenience.
Most of us can remember having been the 'goat' in a childhood ball game because a grounder scooted between our legs or we struck out in a crucial game. For hyperactive children, such early experiences in organized sports happen too often and, as a result, they quickly learn to dislike sports and games.
This is unfortunate, because sports and recreation can and should be one of the cornerstones of treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. I cannot cite a stack of articles to back this assertion, because the role of sports and recreation in hyperactive children's lives has received little formal study. However, my experience has convinced me that helping a child to succeed in sports and recreation programs can make an important contribution to therapy. Carefully chosen activities, perhaps combined with the use of appropriate medications, can help enhance the child's confidence, self-esteem, fitness, and social adjustment.
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