Meditation helps to calm hyperactive pupils in US

20th February 2009 at 00:00

Transcendental meditation can be a useful way to help children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder manage their condition, research suggests.

Children aged 11 to 14 with ADHD who practised the technique for 10 minutes twice a day at school appeared calmer and had improved concentration, a pilot study in the United States showed.

Sarina Grosswald, a cognitive learning specialist who led the study, said the impact after three months of transcendental meditation had been greater than she had expected.

"The children showed improvements in attention, working memory, organisation and behaviour regulation," she said. "Teachers reported they were able to teach more and students were able to learn more because they were less stressed and anxious."

There is research showing the effectiveness of the technique for reducing stress and anxiety, and improving cognitive functioning among the general population, Ms Grosswald said. "What's significant about these findings is that among children who have difficulty with focus and attention, we see the same results."

The study, published in the online journal Current Issues in Education, included 10 children attending a school for pupils with language-related learning disabilities. Most were on medication but were still experiencing difficulties.

As reported in The TES last week, the private Maharishi School in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the only specialist TM school in England, plans to sponsor two academies. All pupils would practise it twice a day.

Derek Cassells, the headteacher, said the technique created a "neurological balance" that could help pupils with learning difficulties, including ADHD and dyslexia, benefit more from specialist teaching.

Ms Grosswald has called for larger studies to be done to see if transcendental meditation can be used as an ADHD therapy, either by itself or with other treatment.

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