Participation in after-school activities decreases ADHD severity

Contemporary PEDS Journal, July 2021, Volume 38, Issue 7

A study examines the effect of after-school activity participation on a child's attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) severity.

An analysis of data from the National Survey of Children’s Health for about 4000 children revealed that in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), participation in after-school activities is associated with decreased ADHD severity and less school absenteeism. Investigators identified children aged 5 to 17 years with ADHD and surveyed their caretakers, along with examining data related to parent-rated ADHD severity and 2 measures of school functioning: number of missed school days and number of calls home from school. In assessing participation in after-school activities, investigators included any organized activities during the school week or on weekends, including sports teams, clubs, and music or other lessons. Participation in after-school activity was as follows: 71.9% in at least 1, 28.3% in 2, and 18.5% in 3 activities. Analysis showed that any after-school activity participation was associated with less likelihood of having moderate to severe ADHD and missing school days. Participation in after- school activities was not significantly associated with calls home from school.

Thoughts from Dr. Farber

This study does not prove that school activities help children with ADHD (those with mild ADHD may be more likely to participate in the first place), but it makes sense, and, if not disruptive to the family, such activities should be encouraged. With the pandemic fading, this can of course apply to all children, not just those with ADHD.


1. Lax Y, Brown SN, Silver M, Brown NM. Associations between participation in after-school activities, atten- tion-deficit/hyperactivity disorder severity, and school functioning. J Dev Behav Pediatr.2021;42(4):257-263. doi:10.1097/dbp.0000000000000901