Inattentive ADD, Coordination and Sensory Processing

Inattentive ADD, Coordination and Sensory Processing
A study just posted in a Chinese medical journal and cited below confirms what I have observed in boys with Inattentive ADD.  Children with Inattentive ADHD are less likely to engage in sports, more likely to have problems with motor coordination and more likely to have visual processing issues.  These problems are bad enough but unfortunately, they also cause brain organization problems. 

I have posted in the past about the connection between Inattentive ADHD and Sensory Integration problems and I have also posted about Inattentive ADD and motor and coordination difficulties.
Coordination difficulties are problematic in sports but there is a growing body of evidence that suggest that children that are not coordinated also have problems with brain development.

Optometrist believe that the brain, through balance and coordination organizes itself.  As the body develops and practices tasks such as crawling and walking, a process called brain "lateralization" occurs.

Lateralization eventually leads the brain to establish a dominant side.  Developing a dominant side is important for brain organization and the importance goes WAY beyond the ideas first introduced by psychologist who wrote about right sided versus left sides brain dominance.

Through studies on brain mapping, we now know that the entire brain works together to accomplish both artistic and analytic tasks but that having a dominant side or lateralizing is important for writing, reading and math as well as for sports.

It is through physical activity , specifically activities that "cross the midline" or that use both the left side and right side of the body, that the two sides or hemispheres of the brain learn to work together. 

Coordinated children learn to use both sides of their bodies together to do things like crawling, pushing, pulling or walking. This coordinated body practice help the brains of these children become better organized for doing the tasks that will later be required at school and in life. Uncoordinated children get less practice at doing these things and are slower to develop a lateralized and well organized brain.

What the Chinese study confirms is that Inattentive boys (the study was performed on boys but likely applies to girls as well) are less coordinated that their non-inattentive peers and also less coordinated than their combined type peers.  So, are the brain organization problems in inattentive boys the result of the motor and sensory coordination problems or vice versa?  Well who knows. What we do know is that treating the coordination, motor and sensory problems with exercise and other modalities can help treat the brain organization issues that ultimately contribute to inattention.

Postural control and sensory information integration abilities of boys with two subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a case-control study.
Ren Y1Yu L2Yang L1Cheng J1Feng L3Wang Y4.

ADHD boys had a poorer static postural control ability and impaired function of processing visual and vestibular information compared with the normal control. Boys with ADHD-I showed particularly severe defect of static postural control and vestibular function integrating conflict information than normal boys. These deficits may be an important contributor to the clinical presentation of ADHD children and their cognitive deficits. Assessment and training of postural control function would be suggested during the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD children.

Could This be Inattentive ADD?

Could This be Inattentive ADD?

Recently I have received several questions from parents with young children with symptoms of:

  • Inattention
  • Disorganization
  • Procrastination
  • Plodding Work Pace
  • Lethargy

The parents of these kids want to know if these symptoms are Inattentive ADD symptoms and they want to know what to do.  They often are concerned about the “labeling” of their kids and this is a legitimate concern and they are concerned about not acting on these issues as they fear that the symptoms will only become more of an issue as their children age.

As an aside, I am always heartened by the fact that 95% of the parents who write me, describe their children as poor students but “delightful people”.  I always ask parents if their children are “good company” and they almost always say “yes”.  I mention this because, at the end of the day, a person who is “good company” has a lot more potential than a person who is not.  Excellent, A+ students, can be obnoxious, arrogant and “bad company” and I like to point this out to parents who are despairing about their children’s academic performance.

Anyway... back to the topic.  The above symptoms may or may not be Inattentive ADD symptoms. It does not really matter as these children need help.  In children who are ten and younger, the plan should be to help them establish life and academic skills that will support them in years to come.  These skills include:

  • Regular Exercise
  • Healthy Diet Habits
  • Healthy Sleep Habits
  • Good Parent/Teacher Communication
  • Organizational Aids such as wall charts, Big visible task calendars,
  • Appropriate Incentives

For older kids, the support plan should include all the above plus:

  • Having a spare set of school books (a whole extra set) at home to help eliminate the issues of not having the right books to do whatever assignment is due. 
  • Engaging the help of a high school student, paid minimum wage, to be your child’s "homework helper". Communicating teachers and asking that assignments be put online or available in such a way that you, the Homework Helper and the student know what it due, when it is due and what is required to complete the assignment.
  • In addition all the recommendations in this post talks about classroom changes that help all students and especially helps students with memory and organization problems.

To find more of my suggestions, you can use the search bar in the top right hand corner of my blog and search under the terms "teacher" and "classroom".  This will bring up posts with more recommendations.