Benefits of After-School Activities for Kids with ADHD

Results from a recent study found that children with ADHD who participated in after-school programs fared better than kids with ADHD who did not take part in extra-curricular activities.

According to an article in HealthDay, the findings are based on an analysis of records for more than 4,000 kids with ADHD, ages 5 to 17 years old:

The investigators found that nearly 72% took part in one or more after-school activities. And if they did, they missed fewer days of school and had less severe symptoms of the disorder…The analysis showed that children with ADHD who participated in after-school activities had nearly 40 percent lower odds of parents reporting them having a moderate or severe case. Additionally, after-school activity participation was also associated with 60 percent lower odds of missing seven or more school days in a year.

Experts agree that further studies are needed to better understand the positive impact of after-school activities on ADHD, but one of the study’s co-authors hypothesized a plausible explanation. Dr. Yonit Lax, a pediatrician at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, noted that “Prior research has established that increased physical activity and less screen time among these children are both linked to less severe cases,” she said. ‘Looking at those two factors, it really reinforces what we’re thinking—that those placed in a more structured environment, outside screen time, have lower odds of moderate or severe ADHD.’ ”

Regardless of the reasons behind these positive outcomes, this study points to one more tool that parents and clinical professionals should consider adding to their ADHD toolbox: Encouraging children to participate in extra-curricular activities can be included as part of a larger treatment strategy for kids with ADHD.

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