Benefits of Music for ADHD: Helping Kids Concentrate
March 17, 2015
“Music is magical for helping children focus.”
Benefits of Music for ADHD
Parents of children with ADHD should know that there are methods beyond medication and counseling to treat ADHD. One of them is music. Confirmed by multiple research studies to play a significant role in cognitive development, music can be used to help children organize their thoughts. Continue reading to learn more in this guest blog, written by Australian based writer, Nicole Davies. If you are concerned your child might have ADHD, you can have him or her screened for free.
Music stimulates the brain
‘Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music’. So says Oliver Sacks, a doctor and researcher at Columbia University, who has used music as a complementary treatment for many of his patients.
Research backs up his claim. Pleasurable music is known to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for regulating motivation, working memory and attention, which is often found in lower levels in people with ADHD.
This is one of the main reasons why there are benefits of music for ADHD kids to train their brains and achieve higher levels of self-control and focus – both at home and in the classroom.
Music provides organization
Children with ADHD may struggle to focus and regulate their thoughts and behaviors to maintain a linear path. Music has a defined structure and can help regain a sense of organization. It can also guide them – many kids with attention issues have trouble following directions, and music can help them to stay attentive and interpret the rhythm and melody as direction.
Music therapist, Kirsten Hutchison, claims that the structure of music has a positive impact on kids’ ability to structure their activities in a timeline, as well as strategize their responses to the things around them. ‘The structure helps an ADHD child plan, anticipate and react,’ she says.
Music has the power to change our moods and influence our emotions. That’s why it’s only natural that certain types of music, mostly slow and tranquil, present a great opportunity for reducing the impulsiveness and restlessness that children with attention issues often suffer from.
But that’s not all. Music can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Music is social
Writing, practicing and performing music are all social activities. That’s why music therapists are eager to use these forms of social practice in order to help children with ADD to learn appropriate behaviors in social situations.
Children can learn how to listen to others with attention, recognize how to anticipate changes, get to know the social rules of taking turns in performance and generally follow cues that might not be as effective when generated outside a music therapy session.
Music therapy means many things – it can be listening to music, creating it or playing together with recorded music. It can even be composing music or writing song lyrics. All of this helps children to communicate their moods and feelings, while simultaneously reducing their level of anxiety and restlessness. Music therapy is versatile and readily available – a great option for complementing traditional treatments of ADD in children.
MINDPRINT LEARNING SPECIALIST ADDS:
I have worked with a wide variety of students in general education and special education classrooms, and I can say that music is the common tool that motivates all students. Using music in my classroom has helped me reach students when all else failed. When using music, barriers came down – genuine smiles and laughter came out and students participated without the reserve they might have shown elsewhere. Music diffuses anger and stress, and helps build confidence.
Music has also given my students with language challenges a way to communicate and express themselves freely when other means of communication caused frustration. Music is magical for helping children focus. Put instructions or academic content to music and it is unbelievable how the students respond. Music can also help with memorization. Put a jingle to those vocab terms or history events. Music binds classrooms and school communities – children learn to collaborate, communicate and enjoy a shared experience through group singing and playing.
Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. Main areas of her interest are music and the use of new technologies in everyday life.
This blog was edited by Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff