Home Page > Article > What To Do With a Student Who Fidgets? LINK BETWEEN ADHD AND MOVEMENT

There is a connection between ADHD, movement and thinking. There is a small study in which students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder performed better on memory tasks when they were allowed to spin and move around in a swiveling chair. We discovered that more than 1,000 teachers requested something called a “Hokki Stool” — a backless seat that allows kids to sit and wiggle. Other teachers found creative ways to accommodate some students’ need to fidget without disrupting the whole class. Among them:

Bike Inner Tubes: Wrapped around the legs of a chair, they allow kids to bounce their legs during learning. There’s even a commercial version. Chewing gum: Unjustly banned? Coloring books: Stressed-out high school students love to color, several people reported. So do adults. Desk placement: “I put my moving kids on the outside edges of desk clusters, just because they can move and not distract sitters,” Donna Bernens-Kinkead, a fifth-grade teacher, posted on Facebook. “I also never keep them seated more than 15 minutes at a time.” Knitting: Many teachers wrote about the calming power of knitting, which is regularly taught in Waldorf schools. It can be done with fingers alone if needles are banned. Pencil sharpening: Some said their students with ADHD were given special permission to get up and walk around, perhaps to sharpen pencils. Stability balls: They’re also known as “yoga balls,” used as occasional or even continuous seating. Standup desks: Increasingly popular, sometimes sold with adjustable stools and a foot board that wiggles. Julie Bishop commented on our story, “I always let the kids in my after-school program who had ADHD stand at the end of the tables while they did their homework. They’d bounce and wiggle and toe-tap without bothering the other kids and they always got their work done.” Stress balls: Many “fidget toys” are sold for use by students, such as “squeeze balls,” “squeeze ducks” and Koosh balls. Sometimes their use is even written into an IEP, one teacher reported.

In my private practice, with my personal clients with ADHD, I have taught a few to do jumping jacks in the bathroom before going to the next class especially if teacher did not allow movement. I have also had teachers provide 2 desks so that a student could move every 20 minutes to another seat. I have also seen great results from my clients when I have them read while walking (better comprehension). Finally, allowing a child with ADHD to stand while writing or listening helps with task completion and comprehension.

Do you have a favorite solution for a fidgeting student? Let us know.

Please inform your teachers if they have never heard of the link between movement and ADHD, that children with ADHD pick up 80% of what is being said during a lecture when they move and are able to complete work at a higher rate when allowed to move. It is difficult for some teachers to allow movement if they want children to be perfectly still in their classrooms; however, we find the expectation of being “still” throughout class cruel to ADHD students.

If you would like to read more, go to Special Education Today and join the discussion.

Thank you,
Susie Bean Team