Activities for Kids with ADHD

Instructor: Nathan Kilgore

Nathan has taught college Psychology, Sociology, English, and Communications and has a master's degree in education.

Children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tend to respond favorably to engaging in a specific type of activity. This lesson describes various activities and other ways to engage children with ADHD, offering an approach which compliments existing symptoms.

Characteristics of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can occur in children, adolescents, and adults. ADHD is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. ADHD is one of the most common disorders, and those who suffer with it can also struggle to maintain focus, follow directions, and be organized. There are three subtypes of ADHD: predominately (or mostly) hyperactive-impulsive, predominately inattentive, or both. ADHD subtypes are usually described as predominate because of the overlap of symptoms that often exist. ADHD can be treated successfully through the sole use or a combination of medication and psychotherapy. There are a variety of ways that ADHD can be managed with diet, exercise, and engagement in active learning.

Children with ADHD tend to respond most favorably to activities that are kinesthetic (physical) in nature. In fact, activities that engage the child in physical activity often compliment hyperactivity. For example, researchers have found that physical activity can improve motor skills, behavior, and information processing. This is most likely because when a person is engaging in physical activity, their brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters. Specifically, children with ADHD often benefit from the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is released during exercise.

Activities To Engage Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Motor Skills Indoor

Several games are available for indoor play which help to build motor skills and coordination. These games can get the child moving and are suitable for indoor environments. Bop It often works well for children with ADHD. Bop It is a game which calls out commands to complete and the player uses their fine motor skills to complete the tasks within a short time frame. Simon is another game that children with ADHD often enjoy. Simon displays various color patterns to be matched in a short time. Simon and other matching games engage memory skills and can be played with only one player. Twister has been popular for decades and can be a great way to get a child moving. Bop It and Simon are games that have a timing component which can help children with multi-tasking and concentration, two skills critical to develop in a child with ADHD. Crafts, play-dough, and games involving building and constructing offer open-ended play, giving a child the opportunity to develop skills without a time constraint.

Outdoor Activities

When the weather and opportunities permit, outside play can be highly beneficial for a child with ADHD. Children often enjoy going for nature walks or hikes, and this is an excellent way to engage them in an activity that involves no cost. Scavenger hunts can add an element of concentration and focus to any walk or hike. Even having kids with ADHD participate in yard work can prove beneficial. Painting a fence or raking leaves requires focusing on a single task and can offer a calming effect to children who have trouble switching from task to task.


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