Is Pediatric Massage better than Ritalin for ADHD?

August 1, 2023

Living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often entails a reality of constant movement, impulsivity, and difficulty focusing, a reality that millions of children across the globe experience daily. Amidst the range of therapeutic interventions available, one has found significant favor among parents – pediatric massage, a form of touch therapy. This hands-on technique has effectively promoted calmness and enhanced concentration in children with ADHD.

“Since our son began pediatric massage therapy, he’s like a different child,” shares Maria Viajes*, mother of a 9-year-old with ADHD. “His restlessness has significantly diminished, and he can sit through an entire meal without getting up and running around.”

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with symptoms often starting in childhood and continuing into adulthood. Children with ADHD typically have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or are overly active. In this challenging context, pediatric massage therapy serves as a soothing and therapeutic intervention.

Amy Gonzalez, a parent of a 12-year-old girl diagnosed with ADHD, explains, “After we introduced pediatric massage therapy into her routine, we noticed a significant decrease in her impulsivity. Her teachers reported an improvement in her attention span, and she could participate in group activities more effectively.”

Pediatric massage therapy, like other forms of touch therapy, has been shown to decrease stress hormones, resulting in a more serene and less impulsive child. 

“Our son’s teacher sent us a note saying how much more attentive he has been in class,” said Jason Peterson*, father of an 11-year-old with ADHD. “He is more present and engaging during lessons, and it’s been a remarkable transformation.”

These parent experiences are backed by research. Published studies suggest that massage therapy could help children with ADHD focus better. Children who receive massage therapy reported feeling happier, and their teachers noticed improved behavior.

One such research meta-analysis** published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in Complementary Therapies has demonstrated that massage therapy produced more improvement in ADHD symptoms in terms of effective rate compared to Ritalin.

Pediatric massage therapy provides a sense of calm and security for the child. “The therapy sessions have become a safe space for our daughter,” explains Deborah Price*, mother to a 10-year-old with ADHD. “She looks forward to it as a time of relaxation and grounding.”

Parents are increasingly seeing the value of pediatric massage in ADHD treatment. Hannah Jefferson*, mother to an 8-year-old boy with ADHD, shares, “After my son’s massage therapy sessions, he seems less agitated and more focused. His sleep patterns have improved dramatically.”

It is crucial to note that while pediatric massage therapy has shown significant positive results, it’s not a standalone solution. It works best when used in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment plan that may include medication, dietary changes, behavioral therapy, and structured routines.

David Stein*, a father to a 7-year-old with ADHD, emphasizes, “I cannot stress enough how helpful pediatric massage has been for our family. However, it works best for us as part of a bigger picture. It’s one piece of the puzzle.”

Every child is different, and results may vary, but the transformative stories shared by parents highlight the potential effectiveness of pediatric massage therapy. These testimonies underscore the importance of touch and its fundamental role in health and human connection. For children with ADHD, pediatric massage therapy can provide a calming anchor in their turbulent world, offering a hopeful glimpse into a future characterized by greater tranquility, focus, and improved quality of life.

* parent’s names changed to protect privacy.

** (A meta-analysis is a type of research study that collects and analyzes multiple research studies on the same topic. It uses statistical techniques to combine and summarize the results from these individual studies.)