An Awesome Alternative to Drugs: Martial Arts Practice As Treatment For Children With AD/HD

By: Dr. Abida Ripley

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This paper examines the potential benefits that regular, sustained martial arts activity may have for children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (AD/HD). The author suggests that martial arts training, under certain conditions, can help children and their caregivers deal with AD/HD issues without resort to aggressive and possibly harmful drug therapies, which are currently the predominant treatment approach to the disorder.

Between three and five percent of American children are now diagnosed with AD/HD, generally defined as a “neurological syndrome whose classic, defining triad of symptoms includes impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity or excess energy” (Thompson, 1996). Entering popular discourse in the mid-20th century, the relatively new diagnosis of AD/HD has been tied to a host of issues, such as reductions in educational funding, classroom discipline policies, decreases cultural tolerance for differences in children’s behavior, desperate parents searching for a medical label for their children’s behavioral problems, the rise of the new fields of special education and educational psychology, and aggressive pharmaceutical marketing strategies 


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