The Effects of Background Music on the Ability to Focus and Behavior of Children with ADHD during Art Therapy Sessions

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Moyer, Laurie
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Anyone who works directly with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can understand the frustrations that arise from trying to complete a task with these particular children. The researcher has observed children with ADHD receiving mental health services through the means of art therapy. Some of the behaviors observed during these art therapy sessions include, but are not limited to, getting out of their seat, constantly interrupting the art therapist or each other, being disrespectful to the art therapist, group members or the art materials, not following directions or not completing the art task. Research suggests that auditory stimulation helps children with ADHD to focus on the art task by reducing boredom and reducing the impulse to seek out addition stimulation on their own, which often disrupts the art making process. This study explores whether children with ADHD respond differently to the art making process with the added stimulant of background music compared to that when no background music is provided. One group of nine children diagnosed with ADHD attended a one-hour art therapy session for six consecutive weeks. The first three weeks of the study the children attended the art therapy session and followed the art directive of the art therapist. In the second half of the study the children were given the art directive with the added stimulant of background music. The participant’s behaviors were observed and noted on a behavior checklist to document any changes in behavior with the background music. The participants completed an assessment drawing during this sixweek study to determine if any changes were made in their ability to stay focussed longer.