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Dance Therapy for ADHD

You're probably aware that sports and exercise can do wonders for a child with ADHD, but have you ever considered using dance as an outlet for your child's hyperactive behavior? Researchers from Sweden came out with an exciting pilot study that investigated how dance can help manage the symptoms of ADHD in depressed teenage girls and young boys.  The study lasted four years and was completed at the Clinic for Child and Youth Psychiatry together with the University College of Dance in Stockholm.

Dance and boys with ADHD

Dance is an extracurricular activity typically reserved for girls, but the Swedish researchers found out that unruly, hyperactive boys have a lot to learn from this discipline.  The type of dance therapy used in the study was a little different from typical dance classes in that the children weren't taught to follow the choreography of the teacher.  Rather, the dance session began with children moving about as fast as they could. Afterwards, the instructor asked children to play roles to music, mimic certain actions, or perform some motions as slow as they possibly could.  The results were astounding – the boys' parents reported calmer behavior at home, and teachers observed that they were more effective at accomplishing schoolwork.  Teachers also noted that students who were unable to sit still for more than ten minutes could now go through a whole lesson without leaving their seats. Another desirable behavior observed is that the children got into fewer fights than they did before the dance treatments.

Dance and depressed teenager girls

It might sound strange to prescribe dance to a depressed teenager, but there are many instances when conventional talk therapy won't work for teens.  Getting them to engage with and open up to an adult is tricky because they tend to approach therapy with reservations and mistrust. As it turns out, the researchers discovered that dance was an excellent way to revive the joy of living in these girls. When they continued the classes, dance eventually became a source of self-esteem and pride.

The study on dance and depression involved teenage girls aged 13-17.  After four years of dance therapy, the girls were found to exhibit less self-destructive behavior and fewer depressive symptoms.

Finding a dance class for your child

The hyperactive symptoms of your child can be turned into something positive as long as he or she has an outlet. Try to get your child interested in taking up dance by showing music videos or movies about the discipline. Once your child's interest has been captured, you can check out the dance studios in your city if they have classes for children. Although no one has developed a dance specifically for ADHD like the one used in the study, try speaking with the instructor and letting him or her know about your child's ADHD. Dance instructors will be more than happy to make special accommodations and use dance to help control your child's behavior.