For children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school can be a struggle, but a new therapy may change that. The therapy, tested in a recent study, uses a computer game to help children with ADHD focus in school. The study found that, after playing the game, children with ADHD had improved social behavior and improved social interactions at school. The therapy could provide a way for children with ADHD to overcome the disorder and do better in school.
The researchers tested their therapy system in five case studies of elementary school students in China. The system involved gaming software that synchronized with a wireless headband that monitored the child’s brainwaves as they played the game. The game adjusted its level of difficulty and scoring system throughout the play session to train the child’s attention control, working memory, and impulse control. Before the study, the researchers surveyed parents about their children’s ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, inattention, and acceptance by peers and teachers. The parents were again surveyed at the end of the study.
At the outset of the study, the parents rated their children as having problems with ADHD symptoms. After the study, the parents rated their children’s behavior as normal. Four of five parents reported improvements in their child’s interactions at school with teachers and peers. There was also an increase in teacher acceptance—including public praise and greater inclusion in class activities—after the therapy. This, in turn, improved peer acceptance in the classroom.
Study authors Han Jiang and Stuart Johnstone explain the therapy’s effects, stating, “The present study implies that the neurocognitive training can result in broader and more socially meaningful outcomes than improvement of ADHD symptoms. Two reasons possibly explain the side effect. First, the increased attentive behavior in class and improved quality of schoolwork improved these children’s social status. Second, game-driven and task-directed features of the training increased the children’s confidence in doing tasks.”
The study suggests that a combination of positive support and technical aids can lead to major improvements in ADHD symptoms. The researchers are currently planning larger studies to test their treatment system.
This research is published in the journal Sage Open.
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