I have to admit that there’s some discomfort in starting a business in body doubling when there’s currently no definitive answer for why it’s so successful. Time and time again, I’ve read articles and blogs written by adults with ADHD who swear by the positive effect that body doubling has on their productivity. And I’ve certainly seen it firsthand with the students whom I’ve coached. However, I want to be able to provide more than just anecdotal evidence to parents or students who are interested. Linda Anderson offers mirror neurons and balancing the qi as potential reasons, both of which are fascinating. I have a different hypothesis based on Jessie Ginsburg’s recent online Sensory Processing Intensive course. She’s absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend exploring her content if you work with Autistic children.

I’ve mainly heard two viewpoints for why people with ADHD find body doubling beneficial: for some the body double provides a slight but manageable increase in pressure and accountability, while for others the body double offers a calm and focused presence. These seem to be contrary, one creating an environment with added stress while the other diminishes it. But this might make sense when we think about the different types of ADHD – inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. 

In Ginsburg’s course, she talks about how important it is for Speech-Language Pathologists and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants to be able to assess a child’s overall state of sensory arousal the moment that they walk in the door for a session. If a child is in a hyperactive state, then it’s important to promote calmness. If a child is in a hypoactive state, then it’s important to bring elevated levels of energy. Being in a regulated state is crucial for overall engagement and understanding, so it must be addressed before even beginning the speech session. One way to do this is through changing the environment with various stimuli. 

But how can the same environment – being in the presence of a body double – bring about the same effect for those with different ADHD types? My hypothesis is that those who have the inattentive type tend to hold the view that there is a slight but manageable increase in pressure with a body double, while those who have the hyperactive-impulsive type find the body double to be a calm and focused presence. I’m not entirely sure where those with combined type fit. Perhaps they hold both seemingly contradictory views simultaneously or alternate between them depending on their state of arousal at a given time. I want to explore whether there is any correlation with ADHD type and the role of the body double.

Of course, nothing is this clear-cut and I want to leave room for nuance, but I’m interested in receiving feedback from adults who have ADHD. If you or someone you know is comfortable sharing, please complete this anonymous 2-3 question survey: Body Doubling Survey for Adults with ADHD. Below are the questions so you have an idea of what you’ll be answering:

  1. Do you have inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or combined ADHD?
  2. Have you intentionally or unintentionally used body doubling as a tool for productivity?
  3. If so, how do you perceive the body double? Do they provide a slight increase in pressure, a calming presence, or something else?

If you know a family who may be interested in body doubling services, please send them to: https://takestwobodydoubling.com/. I’m offering parents free 15 minute phone consultations to discuss their student’s needs and assess whether they would benefit from body doubling.