How does sailing help children with ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a common mental disorder that’s found in children and adults alike. ADHD is more common amongst young boys, starting from their early school days. Those diagnosed with ADHD have a noticeable difference in their brain development and activity, which reflects on their ability to control themselves. As per a recent medical survey, it’s estimated that 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD. This medical condition causes children and teens to be hyperactive and highly impulsive in their behavior.

How to identify ADHD in children?

ADHD is highly dependent on the behavioral pattern in children like a high level of activity and short attention spans. There are three key factors to the symptoms of ADHD diagnoses amongst children, and they are, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Easy distraction and reduced attention span
  • Difficulty in following directions, listening, careless mistakes and finishing given tasks
  •  Has difficulty staying still and notice squirming, fidgeting or bouncing around
  •  Excessive talking interrupts other and blurts out answers
  • Has problems organizing tasks and work. Also, dislikes any tasks that require sustained mental effort

While the causes of ADHD are yet to be discovered, it’s proven that there is a noticeable contribution of genetics. This medical condition is often found in children who may have had a brain injury, has a mother who is addicted to smoking and alcohol, has taken extreme stress during pregnancy and have born prematurely. They often have trouble with speech, self-control, decision making, and muscle control.

What are the different types of ADHD?

Predominantly inattentive: Children affected with predominantly inattentive ADHD have difficulty focusing on tasks and finishing them based on the instructions given. Although these children don’t disrupt the classroom, their academic performance may be deeply impacted. This type of ADHD is commonly found in girls.
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: Children with this type of ADHD showcases hyperactive and impulsive behavior. You’ll notice them interrupting conversations, being restless and fidgeting. These children are unable to focus on the given tasks.
Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type: This type of ADHD is a combination of inattentive and hyperactive symptoms in children. Their attention span is extremely less, these children tend to be extremely impulsive and have high energy.

Sailing with students who have learning disabilities

When Sophie Lampard set off on a five-day sailing journey with students who had learning disabilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, she knew they would come back with learning and experiences for a lifetime. Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the sea, the smell of salt, the sound of waves, the students had no technological distraction on board. In those five days, the students did not just learn sailing, they became responsible for the chores, they started following a strict routine and learned to work together as a team.
When she first mentioned, there’s no ADHD on the boat, a young student who was a part of her sailing team was a little skeptical. In a traditional classroom setting, his main challenges were focus, determination and impulse control. But, with the experience, she knew a disability in the classroom was not an actual issue in real-world situations. Just as she had recognized, as days went by, she saw this student emerging as a winner on his own. Without his mobile phone to distract him, he started becoming more active with the physical tasks on the boat. He was fully engaged in all the activities and was collaborating with every team member. Overall, the group of students transpired into a bunch of self-confidence and adopted an active lifestyle during the five days on the boat.

As the students went back to their daily routine, they were back to being themselves. While on the sailing boat, there was no stigma of ADHD. It was all about changing their focus and being more productive and working with your body.

How can a sailing retreat positively impact children with ADHD?

Before we treat ADHD in children with sailing, it’s imperative to consult a doctor to assess the symptoms. After the child is evaluated, the doctor may recommend behavioral therapies, medication, and meditation. And, sailing retreats are a combination of behavioral therapy and meditation.
Children with ADHD have difficulty in focusing on a single task. For instance, children with ADHD are not interested in doing household chores, they consider it boring and monotonous. But, when it comes to sailing, they are a fun, exciting and stimulating task. For kids who have difficulty focusing and tend to procrastinate, sailing retreats are known to have had a positive impact. It’s highly recommended that children diagnosed with ADHD have a healthy, balanced diet with a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity. This is a part of mindfulness meditation that works well on improving attention span and the thought processes.

When you are on the water, the sound of waves, the beautiful sights, the smell, the sense of being in the now and the boundless energy keeps you fully engaged. Sailing is all about cooperating and working together as a team to achieve the overall group goal of reaching a destination. For people with ADHD, sailing helps boost their confidence and increases their desire to contribute. They start growing as a team player and as an integral part of the sailing crew, people with ADHD learn to focus more and use their enthusiasm.
Whether you have ADHD or not, being out and about in nature, working on your mental wellness, with a team of people while working towards the same goal is extremely motivating. Having a relaxed mindset is great to boost your mental health.

Sailing retreats are an interesting activity that promotes alertness. For people with ADHD, this task helps them become more adaptable and agile. Since sailing involves multitasking and coordinating with team members, it improves attentiveness.
While cruising through the sea, the relaxing sound of water splashing around you has a positive impact on your mood. It calms your mind and releases uneasiness. The salt in the air increases the oxygen intake into your body. As you ingest more oxygen, it gets to your brain which helps increase the production of serotonin to trigger happiness. This directly impacts your mental health.
When out on a sail in the deep blue waters, you’ll notice how ADHD vanishes. Sailors with ADHD will learn to quickly shift focus and concentration into the right aspects, utilize their energy effectively and positively influence their mental disabilities.

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