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ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER & T'AI CHI:
Excerpt from Tai Chi Benefits ADHD, by Massage Magazine
-- Source: Touch Research Institute. Authors: Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D.,
and Eric Thimas. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies,
April 2001, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 120-123
. . . During and after five weeks of tai chi lessons, adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) showed less anxiety, daydreaming, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity,
according to a study by the Touch Research Institute (TRI).
"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: benefits from Tai Chi" was conducted by Maria
Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and Eric Thimas.
ADHD, often treated by drugs such as Ritalin, is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and
hyperactivity. A 1998 TRI study showed that massage was effective in increasing focus, improving mood,
reducing fidgeting and lowering hyperactivity in adolescents with ADHD. This study examined whether
tai chi, the Chinese martial art of slow-moving, meditative exercise, would have similar effects . . .
For the complete article, go to Massage Magazine's article at:
ADD and ADHD. Research at the University of Miami School of Medicine has shown that adolescents with ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) displayed less anxiety, daydreaming behaviors, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity, and greater improved conduct, after a five week, two day per week class. T’ai Chi meets many of the criteria for mood management techniques recommended for ADD (see the “Treating Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD]” section earlier in this chapter).
[Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T.M., & Thimas, E. (2001). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: benefits from Tai Chi. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 5(2):120-3, 2001 Apr, 5(23 ref), 120-123.]
Treating Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
ADD is a growing problem not only with children, but adults as well. T’ai Chi may is a wonderful adjunct therapy for treating ADD because it augments many of the mood management techniques recommended for ADD sufferers. A University of Miami School of Medicine study shows T’ai Chi is a powerful therapy for ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). The children participating in the study saw a drop in ADD symptoms, and an enhanced ability to focus, concentrate, and perform tasks.
Check with your child’s therapist or physician before beginning T’ai Chi. Also, find an effective, understanding
T’ai Chi instructor who has experience teaching children.
Drs. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D., experts on the management of ADD wrote, “Exercise is positively one of the best treatments for ADD. It helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way, it allows for noise-reduction within the mind, it stimulates the hormonal and neurochemical systems in a most therapeutic way, and it soothes and calms the body.”
The slow mindful movements of T’ai Chi have much to offer people who suffer from ADD. The following table explains why T’ai Chi may be a perfect ADD therapy.
T'ai Chi and ADD
What Experts Suggest What T'ai Chi Offers Set aside time for recharging batteries,
something calm and restful, like meditation.
T’ai Chi is a mini-vacation.
Daily exercise that is readily available and
needs little preparation can help with the
blahs that occur and with overall outlook.
T’ai Chi is easy, requires no preparation,
and is a daily mood elevator.
Observe mood swings; learn to accept
them by realizing they will pass. Learn
strategies that might help bad moods
T’ai Chi is a tool for self-observation of
feelings and for letting those feelings go.
Use “time-outs” when you are upset or overstimulated; take
a time-out; go away, calm down.
T’ai Chi can be performed in the bathroom
at school or work, giving you a break from
Let go of the urgency to always finish things quickly by learning to enjoy the process. T’ai Chi’s slow flowing routine is about
letting go of outcome and learning to love
ADD usually includes a tendency to overfocusor hyperfocus at times, to obsess or ruminate over
some imagined problem without being able
to let it go.
T’ai Chi teaches the practice of letting
go on a mental, emotional, and physical
level with each exhale.
Sage Sifu Says
T'ai Chi teachers should realize that
T’ai Chi for kids with ADD will not look
like T’ai Chi for adults. It will be faster
The information provided is courtesy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and Qigong, now in fourth edition, with nearly 150 web video support videos to compliment the 300 illustrated instructions.
This overview of Tai Chi and Qigong has been heralded by Booklist Magazine, the nation's premiere library journal, by the United States Tai Chi Forms Grand Champion, Sifu Hong Yijao, and by Team USA Senior Coach, Dr. Michael Steward, Sr., who wrote that although he had studied and taught Tai Chi for over 30 years, he read this book 7 times, and found something new from it each time.
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