Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioral diagnosis in childhood. It incurs high medical costs and can contribute to poor academic achievement, adult mental illness, substance abuse, and criminal behavior. Standard treatments, such as stimulant medications, primarily target symptoms and long-term follow-up studies of children treated for ADHD reveal that their outcomes remain significantly worse as compared to typically developing (TD) peers. Thus, there are tremendous potential public health benefits for behavioral training programs that could remediate the core features of ADHD. To this end, it is worth considering the long-standing observation that children with ADHD often demonstrate difficulties with motor control, including motor impersistence and failure to inhibit motor overflow, which correlate with difficulties with higher-order behavioral control.
Based on these findings, the CNIR initiated a feasibility trial of a movement-based intervention targeting improved behavioral control through engagement of the motor system. Data collection is nearing completion and initial findings are highly promising (see background for details). While slow progress is being made in the broader field, pediatric applications of mindful movement training remain under-utilized and under-investigated. Addressing this gap, we propose an opportunistic evaluation of existing community and school holistic, mindful-movement programs to provide a dimensional examination of the effects of mindfulness, movement, and other enrichment activities in an urban school setting. We will build upon prior research of community and school-based programs by local researchers, adding additional assessments to better understand effects on ADHD-related metrics, as well as other relevant clinical factors. Given the diverse population enrolled in these programs, we will employ assessments of core ADHD symptoms, including cognitive and motor system measures in addition to trauma and stress response scales that have been established as relevant markers in urban schools. This dimensional study will collect data from a diverse population of students to examine the effects of the program on features of ADHD in addition to relevant modulating clinical features.