During Attention Tutoring students learn the importance of a calm body in order to focus. Research shows that a relaxed body prepares the brain to pay attention.
In addition, children, adolescents and adults with ADHD are often anxious. They tend to worry a lot, for instance about getting their work done on time, remembering to give it in, meeting deadlines, or that they might forget something important – as they have done in the past. Of course learning to develop and follow a schedule helps decrease the worry of meeting long-term assignments. However, learning to relax increases comfort and quality of life.
The great news is that relaxation techniques can be learned and mastered. Easily. Attention Tutoring students learn relaxation techniques such as calm breathing and biofeedback.
The relaxation response
During Attention Tutoring lessons, students practice short relaxation either through relaxation breathing techniques or biofeedback. Both of these methods successfully slow down the breathing within a couple of minutes. This leads to a well-researched physiological reaction called the “relaxation response”, where the sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight) decreases and the parasympathetic nervous system activity (rest and digest) increases, leading to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. The body becomes calmer, more comfortable, and ready to focus.
At each lesson, tutors work with students using biofeedback. The biofeedback apparatus measures and shows the student’s heart rate on a screen. When a person breathes, his or her heart rate naturally increases when breathing in, and decreases when breathing out. The biofeedback device tracks the difference in heart rate between breathing in and breathing out. This is also called heart rate variability (HRV), which is depicted on the screen by a curve. Essentially, the curve shows the students respirations, and prompts them to deepen and slow respirations. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system activity slows down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. This makes you feel relaxed.
A relaxed body prepares the brain to switch on and think. Students find that being comfortable is an immediate relief and also gives them a sense of control.
The goal at Attention Tutoring is to teach skills and increase awareness in students. As students recognize the benefits of relaxation, they are encouraged to practice their learned skills throughout the day, during challenging transitions, at home or at school.