Have you or your child been diagnosed with ADD? Have you been told to turn off the music while doing homework or to stop doodling in class? How about being told to sit still or stop trying to do two things at once?
Fidget to Focus
In their book Fidget to Focus Outwit Your Boredom: Sensory Strategies for Living with ADD (published by iUniverse, Inc. 2005), Roland Rotz and Sarah Wright explore the strategy of using simultaneous sensory experiences to help maintain focus for folks with ADD. I thought their ideas were fascinating and wanted to share a few with you.
Very simply, the underlying concept is that the ADD brain is basically underwhelmed, underactivated and underaroused, and seeks attractions, activation and arousal to run more efficiently. Most of us are endowed with 7 types of senses. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching are the ones that quickly come to mind, but our senses also include vestibular (our sense of gravity, balance, rhythm and motion) and proprioceptive (our sense of body positioning and how our muscles, tendons and joints are working). Rhythmic sensory stimulation, or what we commonly call fidgeting, is our way of activating our understimulated brains to facilitate focus.
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The authors suggest using a non-competing sense as support for the sense which is required but underactivated. For example, doodling (seeing/motor) or knitting (touch/motor) during a lecture (listening) is supportive while using your Ipod (listening) is competing. Behaviors ranging from pacing to chewing gum, using colorful sticky notes to reading aloud – can help. The challenge is figuring out what our strongest and weakest senses are and then finding supportive strategies which are useful for us without being annoying or distracting for those around us. (Did you ever sit next to a “pen clicker” while taking a test?)
So the next time you find yourself or your child fidgeting – explore the learning that fidgeting holds!