How to focus children and young people with ADHD
Focus is key to treating ADHD, according to a new study that offers tips for adults who struggle to keep their children focused on tasks.
The results suggest that people who struggle with ADHD tend to focus on other activities when children are distracted, like shopping, taking a shower, or playing with toys, according a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The authors found that children who were told that they could focus on one activity were more likely to focus in that activity when they were distracted, compared with children who said they could choose to focus, the study found.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that in people who struggled with ADHD, it was easier for them to get distracted when they thought about other activities, like playing with their friends.
When they were told the task could be divided into a focus task and an attention task, people who had trouble focusing tended to focus more.
They also had more difficulty keeping their attention on tasks when they tried to keep track of their tasks, like taking a bath, the researchers said.
The findings suggest that focusing on a task could have beneficial effects on ADHD.
For example, the authors said the study suggests that if people who were already having difficulty focusing on other tasks were given the task as an easy task, they would be more likely than those who were not to be distracted.
Other studies have found that focusing can be a good strategy for children and teens who struggle.
A 2015 study of 4,000 children with ADHD found that those who tried to focus their attention more often were less likely to fall behind in school, have higher self-esteem, and had more self-motivated behavior.
The new study is the first to look at children and adults who have difficulty keeping tasks focused.
Researchers say they hope that their findings will help them better understand ADHD and how it might help treat it.
In addition to researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, the lead author of the study is David R. Schacter, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UNC and an assistant director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Schacter and the other researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents who had attended a primary care pediatric practice from 2002 to 2010.
Participants completed questionnaires on their ADHD symptoms and other factors that might affect their attention and learning abilities.