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ADHD and Sensory Strategies

ADHD is motivated by interest, so we know how hard it is to stay focused on tasks that are unrewarding and unstimulating. It is often hard to sit still and maintain attention even if we know what is expected.

It may be possible to work through this issue by leveraging alternative strategies such as the use of non-invasive sensory activities. These may help meet the need for sensory input by creating ongoing stimulation. By giving our body something else to dissipate our energy on, it may allow us to manage our minds and calm our nervous system enough to maintain better focus and improve our output.

It is important to choose the right sensory activities for you as the ADHD brain can have sensory processing difficulties of its own, including hypersensitivity to sound, movement, or textures. The correct sensory activity is one that will not cause sensory overload or compete with the environmental inputs you are seeking to focus on. The activity is required to burn off some restless energy and enable your brain to process the information you need it to.

Simple strategies that could be used are bouncing your feet on an elastic attached to the chair, sitting on a chair ball, sitting with a weighted cushion in your lap, chewing gum or eating something crunchy, sucking a thick drink through a small straw, breathing activities, using fidget toys, listening to predictable music (without words as words tie up processing power even if you think you aren’t listening), and allowing for frequent movement breaks that involve stretching, resistance, or heavy movement.

The sensory strategies that work for you during the day can also be used as part of your night-time ritual to help you calm down, lower your heart rate and give your nervous system a break, this could make falling asleep somewhat easier.

It may take some time to establish the best tools for you and keeping a journal will help to remember what worked and what didn’t.

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