Thursday, April 1, 2010

ADHD and knitting

I've recently found out some interesting links between knitting and therapy for ADHD. Knitwear designer Erika Knight suggested I find the "Stitch links" project by Betsan Corkhill.

Also, I learned to knit a rally basic garter stich! I made a little phone holder.

It was interesting: the repetitive motion of knitting is quite calming.

Quotes from

"The release of a brain chemical
ties in with the many stories sent
to me. In them, knitters and
stitchers often describe a feeling of
instantaneous calm. Teachers who
deal with disruptive or violent
children and teenagers describe
the effect of knitting and stitching
as being of ‘overwhelming,
instantaneous calm’. When you
pick up your knitting and stitching
these rhythmic movements
immediately instill a feeling of
familiarity and this familiarity gives
you a great sense of comfort. It’s a
bit like a comfort blanket you can
take anywhere"

"Teachers are using knitting and
stitching in the classroom to calm
disruptive or violent behaviour and
deal with students with ADHD.
Even those suffering from asthma
are able to manage the panic
“The rhythmic movements immediately instill a
feeling of familiarity that gives you great comfort”
Stitchlinks Ltd
Copyright Stitchlinks Limited 2008 April 2008 3
associated with attacks and
thereby successfully cope with less
medication than they might
otherwise have needed.
Interestingly those suffering
from bipolar disorder (manic
depression) tell me that knitting
and stitching help to even out their
moods. Sufferers can learn to
recognise the onset of a manic
phase and use their knitting and
stitching to induce calm and slow
down their thought processes.
Similarly during episodes of low
mood or depression their crafts
help them to feel better.
I think the automatic nature of
the movements when knitting and
stitching is important, too. The
activity appears to occupy certain
areas of the brain at just the right
level, enabling others to stay free
and unencumbered."

"Better behaved!
Knitting and stitching also change
behaviour. Not only are they
calming in situations of anxiety
and panic, but they can calm
disruptive, violent behaviour in
children and teenagers. This effect
is increasingly being used by
teachers and youth workers and in
some prisons in the USA. Knitting
and stitching can also teach skills
such as planning and goal setting
and forgotten emotions such as
excitement and anticipation. All of
which can be lost in the mire of
long-term illness.
Perseverance and patience are
important skills in our modern
world of instant gratification and
these too are learnt through
knitting and stitching projects. You
also learn that it’s not the end of
the world to fail – you can simply
analyse your mistakes, unravel and
start again. Successful end results
are not only possible, but often
better if you’ve had a few failures
along the way! All these valuable
life skills can be transferred into
healthcare, education and work."

"Education and learning
Moving into the area of learning
and education, teachers in special
schools use knitting and stitching
to change violent behaviour – the
calming effect was described by
one head teacher as ‘instantaneous
and overwhelming’. I’ve heard
from teachers at two special in
the UK, who are successfully using
cross stitching to change the
violent behaviour of their pupils.
Knitting groups are being used
to raise self esteem and teach
communication skills to disruptive
teenagers here in the UK and in the
USA. Teachers report that these
previously aggressive teenagers
soon begin to communicate and
improvement in subjects such as
maths and English have been
noted. In addition self esteem is
raised in individuals who may
previously have lived with constant
criticism. A channel for
communication between student
and teacher is opened up.
Knitting is also being used to
occupy students who are
hyperactive, enabling teachers to
teach otherwise disruptive pupils
and kinaesthetic learners. One
teacher told me ‘It opens up a
window for education and appears
to facilitate learning’.
The bilateral movements
needed in knitting may help those
with dyslexia and dyspraxia to
improve their coordination.
Dyslexics report that knitting also
helps them to become more
organised by helping them to sort
out their thought processes.
Improved concentration and
skills of perseverance and patience
are assets in all areas of life as are
better communication skills and
confidence. In the workplace,
those who are fit and healthy
report not only using knitting and
stitching as stress management
tools, but also as tools for
development within their personal
and working lives. In fact these
versatile crafts can complement all
aspects of life."

Cross stitch sections: instant reward. Like colouring in?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I wish I had seen this article before I retired this year from 34 years of teaching special education students. It seems as though more and more kids were coming thru the schools with attention problems..interestingly enough, I found myself suffering from ADD symptoms since I am no longer teaching and just gravitated towards knitting as a way to calm my restlessness!