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Questions and Answers about ADHD and the Transcendental Meditation® Program

What is ADHD, and what behavior might we see in a child with ADHD?

ADHD is the most common psycho-social disorder in children, affecting almost 4.5 million children. It causes impaired executive functions of the brain, creating difficulty in controlling attention and behavior. The symptoms commonly associated with ADHD are impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention.

That sounds like a lot of kids I know. How would I know if my child has ADHD?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clinical test for ADHD.

Research on children with ADHD shows that practicing the TM technique for just a few minutes twice a day:

  • Improves attention
  • Improves impulse control
  • Improves problem solving
  • Improves organizational skills
  • Improves academic performance
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and anger

There isn’t any test? Then how is the diagnosis made?

Though a doctor makes the diagnosis, it is based on subjective information gathered from parents, teachers, and the child. Because the diagnosis is based on subjective information rather than an objective diagnostic measurement, a definitive diagnosis can be difficult to make.

Then can ADHD be mis-diagnosed?

Yes. Children change rapidly. At young ages it is common for children to express signs of impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. What might naturally be immaturity can be mistakenly diagnosed as ADHD.

What causes ADHD?

The brain is made up of millions of cells that continually talk to each other by sending signals across the gap between the cells. The messengers that carry these signals are called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin regulate thinking, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness, memory, emotions, and depression, to name a few. An imbalance of these chemicals can cause the impairment in brain functioning that we see in symptoms of ADHD.

So the ADHD medications work on these brain chemicals?

Yes. The active ingredients in the common ADHD medications are amphetamines. The amphetamines artificially increase the amount of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, speeding up the brain (thus the term “speed” for amphetamines). This makes the frontal area more active, at least while the drug is acting.

So that means the drug isn’t actually curing the problem, it’s just a temporary fix. Do the drugs have any other effect on the brain?

This is a great concern. The drugs flood the brain with the neurotransmitters, so it doesn’t think it needs any more. This can potentially cause the brain to suppress the natural growth and development of the brain cells that create the neural networks. The young brain isn’t given the chance to develop on its own and mature in its own functioning.

What has research shown about how Transcendental Meditation technique can help children with ADHD?

There have been exciting results with the Transcendental Meditation technique for children with ADHD and related disorders such as Asberger’s and mood disorders. Unlike drugs, the Transcendental Meditation technique doesn’t just treat the symptoms, it influences the cause of the disorder. Which means it doesn’t just create a temporary effect, but can improve the condition permanently.

How does it work? Are there any noticeable changes in the children’s behavior?

Children practice the TM technique for a few minutes twice each day. In several schools around the country children diagnosed with ADHD meditate together in school. They just sit comfortably, close their eyes, and meditate along with teachers who also practice the TM technique.

The teachers report that the children are less stressed and more open to learning than they were before learning TM. There are also fewer episodes of anger, less fights, and fewer tantrums.

The children themselves say they are able to focus better, and able to work more independently on tasks like doing their homework.

Are there improvements in executive functioning in children practicing the TM technique?

There definitely are. Standard instruments commonly used to assess executive functions show improved organization and planning, improved problem-solving, improved task execution, improved attention, and improved memory.

Can you describe the Transcendental Meditation technique?

The TM technique is a specific, unique form of meditation. It is a simple, natural process that allows the mind to settle down to a state of restful alertness. As the mind settles down, the body becomes deeply relaxed. As thinking settles down, the mind transcends the busy mental activity, and experiences deep silence.

This creates a mental quietness that an ADHD child so rarely gets to experience. It also creates physiological and neuropsychological changes resulting in integration and coherence of brain functioning.

What exactly is integration and coherence of brain functioning?

The restful alertness that is experienced during the TM technique creates more connectedness in the frontal areas of the brain, the areas that control impulsive actions, judgment, and social cues. That means more parts of the brain are working together. This integrated functioning, in turn, strengthens the circuits, creating better communication of one part of the brain with another, so it’s more coherent.

Is it hard for children with ADHD to learn to meditate?

The TM technique is so simple and effortless that it is easy even for a child, or adult, with ADHD. It doesn’t involve any concentration or control of the mind, or any philosophy, religion, or change of lifestyle.

Just the fact that these children are able to sit quietly for ten minutes is a big change for them. And the children don’t have to try to sit quietly — they just settle down easily and naturally.

What else do you see in the children doing the TM technique?

A major change is significant reductions in stress. Stress almost always accompanies ADHD. These children often say they know what stress is and feel stressed.

How does stress affect children?

Children under stress tend to suffer silently. They don’t tell anyone they’re feeling stressed, and adults rarely ask a child. But we see it in their behavior. They may become withdrawn or difficult, or they may not be able to control their anger. Stress interferes with thinking and the ability to learn.

Study results show a 50% or more reduction in stress in children with ADHD. The children describe how much more relaxed they feel, less stressed, and most importantly, how much happier they are.

How can someone learn the TM technique or find out more about it?

The TM technique is taught only by specially trained, certified teachers. It is taught in a 7-Step course, with most steps taking about 1.5 hours each.

It’s very easy to learn, and the practice is so simple and natural, yet it’s a very effective technique. When a whole family meditates, it has a great effect on everyone.

To find a teacher in your area, click here

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