Mountain Biking: A Non-Medicated Approach to Helping Kids with ADHD | Medical | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Mountain Biking: A Non-Medicated Approach to Helping Kids with ADHD


Last Updated: 04/01/2019 10:46 am

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Regis notes that while medications can be very helpful (though she cannot prescribe them herself, because she is not an MD), she likes to try alternatives such as mindfulness meditation, counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). "With CBT, we're talking about reprogramming the brain," she explains. "For example, an ADHD kid who has gotten in trouble for blurting out something in class can feel very bad about it afterwards. I'll ask the student, what are you saying in your head? They might say, 'I'm a loser,' 'I get in trouble all the time,' 'My life sucks.' Then we'll go back over the situation. I try to help them find their own words and think about it differently: 'It was just a mistake,' 'I'm only human,' or 'Next time I'll try this instead.' There are things we can do to help them with their struggles."

Interventions like the Storm King School's mountain biking program can also be part of the toolkit. This year, the program will interweave the vigorous cycling sessions with a few more academic strategies, such as how to do research and orchestrate writing a paper. In a typical school setting, a teacher might give kids two weeks to write a paper, but a kid with ADHD or ADD will not know how to manage their time or might forget about the assignment altogether. "The teacher will come back and say, 'OK, don't forget that your papers are due tomorrow,' and this kid will be like, 'What paper?'—because there was no plan in place for them to follow through," says Mendlewski. "We teach them how to use a plan and what that plan should include."

It all goes back to keeping your eyes on the horizon, critical for any mountain biker looking to tackle the road ahead. "One of the things I stress with my students is, yes, this stuff works, but you have to put the effort and energy into it," says Mendlewski. "I can teach all the strategies in the world, but they're not going to do anything for you unless you truly engage with them and use them to your advantage." With grit and determination, the trail's hard-won rewards are that much sweeter.

Registration is open for "Focused Riding: Mountain Biking and Personal Development," July 22–August 2, at the Storm King School. Boarding and day options available.

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