ADD and Nature: The Benefits of the Great Outdoors in North Carolina

Parents of children with attention deficit problems are always looking for new strategies to help their children cope. An interesting new study suggests that spending time in nature may help.

A small study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at how the environment influenced a child’s concentration skills. The researchers evaluated 17 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, who all took part in three 20-minute walks in a park, a residential neighborhood and a downtown area.

After each walk, the children were given a standard test called Digit Span Backwards, in which a series of numbers are said aloud and the child recites them backwards. The test is a useful measure of attention and concentration because practice doesn’t improve the score. The order of the walks varied for all the children, and the tester wasn’t aware of which walk the child had just taken.

The study found that children were able to focus better after the “green” walks compared to walks in other settings. The researchers found that a “dose of nature” worked as well or better than a dose of medication on the child’s ability to concentrate.

Of course, this small study does not prove that nature is the remedy for all ADD problems. However, nature has been long known to be the best and most effective unlimited resource available. This study proves the already sneaking suspicion that nature is a remedy, though for no definite time frame.

We at Betsy Jeff Penn 4H strongly encourage these nature walks and experiences for all children, especially those diagnosed with attention deficit disorders. It’s worth a shot, after all a walk in the park never hurt anybody.

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