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Movement-Based Tai Chi Training for Children with ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioral diagnosis in childhood.  It can contribute to difficulties in school and can lead to mental illness. Standard treatments with stimulant medications primarily target the symptoms themselves and do not address the core features. There are tremendous potential benefits of movement-based mindfulness training, such as Tai Chi, for remediating the core features of ADHD. Addressing this, we are investigating the impact of an 8-week Tai Chi training program for children with ADHD.

Children with ADHD demonstrate difficulties with motor control, which are associated with difficulties in cognitive and behavioral control (e.g. decision-making and risk-taking behavior).  Additionally, neuroimaging techniques and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) studies have suggested that lack of motor control in children with ADHD is strongly correlated with the parents’ ratings of the severity of ADHD symptoms in their child.

Our study is hoping to use the promising approach of movement-based interventions to improve behavioral control through engagement of the motor system.  Improvements in cognitive and behavioral control have already been observed in adults practicing mindful-movement training (e.g. Tai Chi, dance, meditation).  Children’s brains have a greater ability to adapt based on training and environment, yet mindful-movement training has been under-utilized and under-investigated in children thus far. 

This study will implement movement-based Tai Chi training for children with ADHD. We will track the effect that this training has on specific motor, behavioral, and physiological indicators, as well as the effect that the training has on the core symptoms of ADHD.

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