Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychological disorders in children. According to the CDC, 11% of all children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, accounting for 6.4 million kids. These children are often in perpetual motion, fidgeting constantly even when they think they are “sitting still”. This combination of inattentiveness and impulsivity often leads to difficulty in school, which tends to reward children for sitting attentively and punish those who are constantly moving.
The Link Between ADHD & The Senses
What many parents don’t realize is that children with ADHD also have a higher likelihood of having some form sensory processing disorder. One study tested children with ADHD and children without for sensory processing issues. It then asked parents to report on what they were seeing in their children. What resulted was the conclusion that compared with typical children, kids with ADHD had higher abnormalities in what the study called “sensory modulation”. Meaning, kids with ADHD are more likely to experience touch very differently than children without.
My Clothes are Hurting Me!
If your child with ADHD experiences touch differently than a typical child, think about the things that touch them over the course of a day. Underwear, clothes, socks, shoes, coats, gloves, scarves… the possibilities are endless for distracting tags, elastic, waistbands and textures. How often does your child complain about their socks “hurting” them? Do they ever fidget with the tags in their shirt? What about refusing to wear anything but elastic-waist pants because jeans are too “scratchy”? Suddenly, the fact that they spend their day fidgeting in their chair makes perfect sense. The answer may be something as simple as examining their clothing for things that would cause a different sensory experience. Perhaps it is as simple as buying tagless shirts or sticking to warm-up pants instead of jeans. However, sometimes the solution may not be as simple as purchasing a tagless product.
A Simple Solution
Begin with your child’s underwear. They are likely tagless, but is the quality of the construction causing them to fidget more? Is the consistency of the fabric next to their skin causing them discomfort? The solution to reducing their fidgety tendencies may be something as simple as changing out the type of underwear they are wearing. If they are comfortable with what they are sitting in, they are more likely to sit.