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About six million children aged 3 to 17 years have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a national survey published in 2022(1).
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder usually diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Those with ADHD find it challenging to control their impulsive behaviors, pay attention, or suppress being overly active.
In some cases, individuals with ADHD may exhibit symptoms similar to other diseases or mental health conditions. For example, some symptoms and stages of mesothelioma may correlate with specific conditions like ADHD.
Parents and caretakers of children with ADHD have likely sought professional services to help manage this condition, like getting their children into the arts or music. Read on to know how these services may help with such conditions among children.
What benefits does music therapy provide for children with ADHD? Does art therapy help manage ADHD symptoms? How important is it to consult a doctor about ADHD?
This article discusses the benefits of music and art on children diagnosed with ADHD and the importance of getting professional advice regarding this condition.
The Benefits of Music on Children With ADHD
One of the most significant challenges that students with ADHD face is the ability to focus across various settings(2). Music helps increase a student’s comprehension and engagement in the classroom and supports a child’s cognitive function when specific genres, like classical music, are played during silent reading.
Researchers in one study conducted an experiment on 27 children with and without musical training(3).
The researchers noted that those with musical training had better verbal fluency, processing speed, and task-switching efficiency. The authors also suggested that musical training can help develop and maintain executive functioning skills.
Another study observed 147 children for their verbal intelligence and executive functions concerning musical education(4). Results showed that children in music groups scored higher in planning, inhibition, and verbal intelligence than in visual or no-arts groups.
Furthermore, learning an instrument can provide numerous positive benefits for neurotypical students. One study on an eight-year-old boy with ADHD and other learning disorders showed that one year of musical instruction might help improve fluid intelligence (ability to think abstractly and solve problems) and motor skills(5).
Singing in a group is also beneficial to individuals with ADHD. In one study observing a jazz ensemble, researchers noted that group singing helped decrease the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and increase oxytocin(6).
ACTH, produced by the pituitary gland, stimulates the production and release of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) from the cortex of the adrenal gland(7).
Meanwhile, oxytocin acts as a chemical messenger and plays a vital role in various human behaviors(8).
The results of that study suggested that group singing can help reduce stress. Individuals, whether they’re a child with ADHD or a parent experiencing stress due to their child’s condition, may consider group singing as a way to cope with stress.
Researchers also suggested that music education may impact preschool children’s mathematical performance(9). One study mentioned that students with music education might have higher scores than the control group who didn’t receive musical instruction.
Music therapy sessions can become more successful when therapists create individual lesson plans specific to the student’s needs and situation(10). Therapists can also provide some room for flexibility in their lesson plans and adjust them based on their student’s immediate needs.
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The Benefits of Art Therapy on Children With ADHD
Art therapy combines mental health and human services to help improve the lives of individuals and families in the community(11). This therapy uses creative processes, art-making, psychological theory application, and human experience within the psychotherapeutic relationship.
Mental health professionals have accepted art therapy as a well-written and respected modality in diagnosing and treating different psychiatric disorders(12).
Studies have considered art therapy an effective procedure over a long period and with various populations like children, men, and women of all ages and educational and socioeconomic levels(13).
One study analyzed the performance of children with ADHD with and without medication(14). The results showed that unmedicated children with ADHD perform better in open-ended creativity assessments than typically developing children and medicated children with ADHD.
These results suggest that open-ended art, wherein children focus more on the process than the product, can be more effective than medication for children with ADHD.
Although such results seem promising for art therapy, there’s still a need to conduct more studies to get more conclusive outcomes.
A 2021 study suggested that children diagnosed with ADHD could attend an art therapy program consisting of two sessions every week, with each session lasting 50 minutes(15).
During the first session, the therapist allows the child to draw freely. This way, the expert can understand the child’s artistic developmental level and mental maturity.
For the next sessions, the therapist can use art therapy and behavioral techniques on the child.
The art therapy process involves using positive reinforcement as a fundamental component. Such reinforcement includes verbal appreciation, clapping, nonverbal gestures, and cues that can help encourage the child to continue making art.
The therapist can also introduce art materials and mediums like crayons or clay and use interventions like modeling and prompting to help the child develop interest and involvement in the art-making process.
Schools can also utilize group art therapy for students to help improve the child’s psychosocial functioning(16).
Art therapy may help children diagnosed with ADHD. An art therapist’s understanding of this disorder can help provide alternative creative therapeutic solutions to benefit the student’s growth and understanding.
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Consulting a Doctor Regarding ADHD
Finding out whether your child has ADHD is a multi-stepped process performed by experienced healthcare professionals. Hence, you must consult a pediatrician or psychologist if your child has this condition.
Additionally, children with ADHD are often a complex population to handle. In order to see the changes in them, you and your therapist must have patience, energy, creativity, and knowledge of the disorder and its diagnosis(17).
There’s no single test to diagnose ADHD. Other conditions like anxiety, sleep problems, depression, and other learning disabilities can have similar symptoms.
One step of the diagnostic process involves having your child undergo a medical exam, including vision and hearing tests, to rule out other conditions with symptoms similar to ADHD.
Aside from filling out a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms, the doctor also takes your child’s medical history when diagnosing the condition.
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1. Data and Statistics About ADHD
2-3. Identifying Music Interventions to Support Students with ADHD in the Classroom
4. Longitudinal Analysis of Music Education on Executive Functions in Primary School Children
5. Identifying Music Interventions to Support Students with ADHD in the Classroom
6. The neurochemistry and social flow of singing: bonding and oxytocin
7. Adrenocorticotropic hormone
9. Identifying Music Interventions to Support Students with ADHD in the Classroom
10. Identifying Music Interventions to Support Students with ADHD in the Classroom
11-13. Effectiveness of Art Therapy with Children with Both Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity and Autism
14. Creativity in children with ADHD: Effects of medication and comparisons with normal peers
15-17. Effectiveness of Art Therapy with Children with Both Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity and Autism