What else can you do to help your ADHD focus better and get some of the fidgety energy out? This post in the ADHD Tips for Parents series focuses on how and why playful rough housing and energetic activities is so helpful for kids with ADHD. Occupational Therapy calls this “heavy work”.
What is Deep Pressure and Heavy Work?
A motherhood website offers this definition of proprioception: The proprioceptive system receives input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space. In other words, this system helps the brain make sense of where the body is in space. This strategy is particularly helpful for clumsy children with ADHD, as it helps them be more aware of where their body is in space.
Occupational Therapists have long known that strategies involving some kind of movement are very helpful for focusing. If you think about your child, how often do they tap their feet, crack their knuckles, chew on pens, pencils, or fingernails? I would call these fidgeting strategies.
Heavy work is another type of movement strategy that can have lasting effects throughout the day. It involves some kind of pushing, pulling, or lifting movement that requires a great deal of a child’s strength. I don’t mean exhausting work, but work that requires physical exertion.
What Kinds of Play involve Deep Pressure and Heavy Work?
- Playful rough housing is great for this type of input; however, you want to make sure that no one gets hurt or upset. Kids of ADHD can be notorious for irritating their siblings and the family pet by trying to rough house with someone who is not interested.
- Jumping on a trampoline is a great way to provide deep pressure and expending excess energy. Jumping jacks, push ups, climbing on a jungle gym or a climbing wall provide similar types of proprioceptive input.
- Pushing or Pulling something heavy. A younger child can push a box of books along a floor with carpet. An older child can push a wheelbarrow or pull younger children in a wagon.
- Tumbling, Gymnastics, or Martial Arts classes can work wonders for to increase coordination and focus, not to mention the sense of accomplishment and self-esteem benefits.