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Study Finds ADHD Improves With Sensory Intervention
Temple University Health Sciences Center
|Preliminary findings from a study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show that sensory intervention -- for example, deep pressure and strenuous exercise -- can significantly improve problem behaviors such as restlessness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Of the children receiving occupational therapy, 95 percent improved. This is the first study of this size on sensory intervention for ADHD. |
The Temple University researchers, Kristie Koenig, Ph.D., OTR/L, and Moya Kinnealey, Ph.D., OTR/L, wanted to determine whether ADHD problem behaviors would decrease if underlying sensory and neurological issues were addressed with occupational therapy. Their study, "Comparative Outcomes of Children with ADHD: Treatment Versus Delayed Treatment Control Condition," will be presented Friday, May 13, at the American Occupational Therapy Association meeting in Long Beach, Calif.
Children with ADHD have difficulty paying attention and controlling their behavior. Experts are uncertain about the exact cause of ADHD, but believe there are both genetic and biological components. Treatment typically consists of medication, behavior therapy or a combination of the two.
"Many children with ADHD also suffer from sensory processing disorder, a neurological underpinning that contributes to their ability to pay attention or focus," explained Koenig. "They either withdraw from or seek out sensory stimulation like movement, sound, light and touch. This translates into troublesome behaviors at school and home."
Normally, we process and adapt to sensory stimulation in our daily environment. But children with ADHD are unable to adjust, and instead might be so distracted and bothered by a sound or movement in the classroom, for instance, that they cannot pay attention to the teacher.
All of the 88 study participants, who are clients at the OT4Kids occupational therapy center in Crystal River, Fla., were taking medication for ADHD. Of the 88, 63 children each underwent 40 one-hour sensory intervention therapy sessions, while 25 did not.
Therapy techniques appeal to the three basic sensory systems: The tactile system controls the sense of touch, the vestibular system controls sensations of gravity and movement, and the proprioceptive system regulates the awareness of the body in space. Therapy is tailored to each child's needs and can involve such techniques as lightly or deeply brushing the skin, moving on swings or working with an exercise ball.
"We found significant improvement in sensory avoiding behaviors, tactile sensitivity, and visual auditory sensitivity in the group that received treatment," said Koenig.
"The children were more at ease. They could better attend to a lesson in a noisy classroom, or more comfortably participate in family activities," said Kinnealey. "The behavior associated with ADHD was significantly reduced following the intervention."
The research team, which included Gail Huecker, the director of OT4Kids, believes that sensory intervention affects the plasticity, or adaptability, of the brain to sensory stimulation. In this study, changes were seen within six months.
Parents can learn how to continue the techniques at home. Koenig also observed that through this study, parents learned to view the disorder and the behaviors through a different lens.
"It's easy for parents to look at ADHD and blame themselves or the child for the bad behavior," said Koenig.
The goal of ADHD treatment is to prevent failure in school, family problems and poor self-esteem. If not addressed early, the disorder can trouble sufferers into adulthood.
In its current study, the group is working with a total of 135 children who have ADHD. Children who did not receive occupational therapy during the study have been scheduled to receive it afterward.
Temple University Health Sciences Center. "Study Finds ADHD Improves With Sensory Intervention." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050513103548.htm (accessed March 13, 2014).
Irish Cottage Pie | Shepherd's Pie
For the topping:
6 small to medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, to taste
For the filling:
1 pound organic ground meat or free-range turkey
2 large leeks, cleaned, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, trimmed, sliced
1 cup baby peas- frozen, thawed, is fine
1 14-oz can Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the potatoes in a pot of fresh salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until under fork tender.
Saute the ground meat or turkey in a large hot skillet till lightly browned; pour off the fat if there is any; return the skillet to the stove. Add a dash of olive oil. Toss in the leeks and garlic; stir and cook until the leeks are soft.
Add in the carrots; stir and cook for a couple of minutes till tender-crisp. Add in the baby peas and tomatoes. Stir in the red wine, balsamic vinegar, sugar, herbs and cinnamon. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Back to the potatoes:
Drain the potatoes. Season with sea salt, ground pepper. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and stir to soften the edges a bit.
Layer the filling in a casserole or baking dish.
Top with the potatoes.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven until bubbling and hot- about 25 to 30 minutes.
From Gluten-Free Goddess
Proper sleep a key contributor to health, well-being
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Getting a good night's sleep means more than you probably think.
"I would say the importance of sleep is definitely underestimated by the general public," said Dr. Sandhya Kumar, assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and medical director of its Sleep Center. "Some people may say all they need is five hours of sleep and if they're getting that they're good to go, but what they're not realizing is that they're probably not functioning at their fullest potential."
Sleep is much more than simple rest. The brain and body don't shut down during sleep; rather, they perform important tasks that promote both mental and physical health, such as producing hormones that help repair cells and fight off illness. Proper sleep contributes significantly to feeling better and functioning better when awake.
And "beauty sleep" is no mere myth: A 2011 Swedish study found that "sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive and more tired compared with when they are well rested."
Conversely, according to volumes of research, inadequate sleep can cause people to be irritable, have slower response times, make unwise decisions, have trouble with relationships, perform poorly at work or school and become depressed more easily, not to mention increasing the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive difficulties and other medical problems.
In fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and the incidence of disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.
The amount of sleep a person needs depends on his or her age. Generally, newborns require 16 to 18 hours nightly, preschoolers 11 to 12 hours, school-age children and teenagers at least 10 hours and adults (including seniors) between seven and eight hours.
"There are some individuals, whom we call 'short sleepers,' who probably will do OK with maybe only six hours, and at the other extreme there are 'long sleepers,' who require nine or 10 hours, but the percentage of these extremes are very small," Kumar said. "Most of us, after adolescence, really need seven or eight hours of sleep, and on a regular basis." But it's not just the amount of time spent sleeping that counts. There's a quality factor, too.
"There are people who, for example, say that they can drink coffee and don't have trouble sleeping, but that's not true," Kumar said. "They may not have trouble falling asleep but the quality of their sleep is not what they need. They don't have the deep sleep that is the most restful, or they have trouble waking up."
The same is true with alcohol, Kumar said. "Having a drink before going to bed may help you fall asleep but the quality of sleep isn't good, so you're probably not going to feel rested at all the next day," she said.
The first thing anyone who has, or thinks they may have, a sleeping problem should do, Kumar said, is examine their habits to see if they're following proper sleep hygiene. The easiest way to do this is on the Internet, where a number of authoritative sites -- Kumar recommends www.yoursleep.aasmnet.org, an American Academy of Sleep Medicine site -- offer advice on ways to get a good night's rest.
But what if following the tips -- allowing sufficient time for sleep, going to bed and waking up the same time every day, removing distractions from the bedroom -- doesn't help? The next step, Kumar said, should be to see a doctor, either a primary care physician or a sleep specialist, because many sleeping problems are caused by other health or medical issues. Insomnia, for example, can be a reaction to a prescription drug, while restless leg syndrome is linked to iron deficiency.
"In most cases a primary care physician should be able to evaluate the symptoms and determine what is causing the sleeping problem and then prescribe a treatment," she said. But that treatment shouldn't necessarily include sleeping pills, Kumar noted.
"Prescription sleep aids can be helpful in the short term; they can help with initiating and maintaining sleep," she said. "But taking a sleep aid and not doing anything else doesn't help over the long term. It's important to find the cause of the problem, not rely on a sleep aid alone."
Sleep specialists are equipped to deal with both ordinary, relatively minor problems and less common, more serious cases because of their specific training, familiarity with the various disorders and access to advanced diagnostic techniques, including sleep studies -- overnight sessions during which a person's brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, air flow and other markers are recorded for analysis.
Regardless of its nature, any sleeping problem that lasts more than a few nights shouldn't be ignored, Kumar advised.
"Even a relatively short-term difficulty with sleeping can develop into a chronic problem if not addressed, and not sleeping properly can have many other health consequences," she said. "If you think about it, we spend about a third of our lives doing it, so sleeping is extremely important."
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Proper sleep a key contributor to health, well-being." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122153606.htm (accessed March 13, 2014).
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Upcoming Session Dates
Sensory Learning Program:
Monday, March 31
Friday, April 11
Monday, April 14
Friday, April 25
SIRRI offers these services
for both children & adults:
- Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
- QEEG / Brain Mapping
- Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
- Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
- Auditory & Visual Processing
- Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
- Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
- Stress & Anxiety Management
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