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ADHD Children: How Music Can Treat And Prevent

Updated on May 29, 2012

About ADHD In America

You've heard about it everywhere on the internet, on television programs, and even from friends and family. There are over four million children in the U.S. diagnosed with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many people use the term ADD, but we are talking about the same problem which is officially called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Does Your Child Have ADHD?

I'm sure you probably know a parent whose child has been diagnosed with ADHD or perhaps your child has it. It has become so commonplace. The number of kids diagnosed with the disorder are escalating and doctors are prescribing more and more medication. But do all of these kids actually have ADHD?

Todd Elder, economist at Michigan State University, believes that many kids are misdiagnosed because of one basic reason: they are the youngest student in the class. Elder looked at 12,000 children, and measured the difference between the youngest and oldest children in a grade with an ADHD diagnosis. The entire study can be found through the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort, which is financed by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The study says that the youngest kindergartners were sixty percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder than the oldest students in the same class. Interestingly enough, a group of students in the fifth and eighth grades were also examined and found that the youngest kids were over 200% as likely to be prescribed stimulant medications.

The most shocking part of the study was its conclusion: 20% of the 4 million young people diagnosed with ADHD were probably misdiagnosed by doctors. This is staggering!

This means that we are coming to a diagnosis too quickly and without enough supportive evidence. Just because a child has some of the common symptoms doesn't mean he/she has the disorder.

Common ADHD Symptoms

  • difficulty paying attention

  • daydreaming a lot

  • doesn't seem to listen

  • easily distracted from schoolwork or play

  • forgets things

  • be in constant motion or unable to stay seated

  • squirming or fidgeting

  • talk too much

  • not be able to play quietly

  • act and speak without thinking

  • have trouble taking turns

  • interrupt others

I bet you're starting to think you might have ADHD after reading the list! You can see how easy it is to misdiagnose if your child has any one of these symptoms. In my opinion, some of these symptoms are really just misbehaviors that need to be dealt with. Since the study above demonstrated that the youngest kids in the class were more prone to exhibiting these symptoms, the cause is more likely immaturity in comparison to their older peers.

So there are 2 types of kids with ADHD: the diagnosed and the misdiagnosed. And both are part of the four million that we discussed. This trend will lead the U.S. to have a population of unfocused people that cannot achieve anything. How will the U.S. be able to compete in the future world economy? First, we must end the misdiagnoses and then focus on prevention. There are many ways we can go about this.

I am not a doctor of medicine. I'm a music education expert and I can tell you that taking music lessons can help BOTH groups of young people in preventing the common symptoms.

Benefits of Learning A Musical Instrument

(1) Concentration

Learning how to play a musical instrument can develop excellent concentration skills. Studying an instrument requires concentration over sometimes long periods of practice time. Consistent and regular practice time of an instrument will challenge your child's ability to concentrate. Concentration is required to learn any academic subject. The benefits include not just being able to play music, but also thrive in all aspects of life.

Concentration is necessary to succeed in life. We are worried about our diagnosed kids with ADHD because we don't know if they will be able to succeed in school, college, in a career. This certainly goes through a parent's mind with an ADHD child. Music teaches how to concentrate and it will bear fruit in other aspects of your child's life.

(2) Hands-On Learning

Playing a musical instrument is a “hands-on” type of learning. Students with concentration problems learn more effectively with hands-on learning. It's backed up by science that we learn better this way as opposed to reading because our hands remember better than anything else.

(3) Relaxation

A bi-product of learning a musical instrument is relaxation. Music is a natural remedy for hyperactivity. Even certain types of music have shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Styles such as classical music and jazz have an enormous influence towards relaxation. There is also a growing trend in music therapy to be used as treatment for children with ADHD.:

(4) Patience

It is difficult to learn a musical instrument. During the process of learning music your child will overcome bigger and bigger challenges. Patience plays a part in having the dedication required to meet those challenges. So patience is another benefit not just for learning music, but also meeting life's challenges that your child will certainly face.

Take This Final Thought With You

Since I can't give professional medical advice, I would ask you to think about getting your child started in learning a musical instrument like a guitar, violin, or piano. If you're skeptical of prescription drugs, music is an excellent alternative remedy that can't hurt your child in any way. Who knows, you may one day be relaxing at the sound of your child playing the music of Mozart on the flute, or violin, or guitar. How ironic would that be?

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