ADHD study going well

Dione Healey
Dione Healey
A University of Otago researcher is seeking more participants for an innovative research programme after "encouraging" early results.

Clinical psychologist Dr Dione Healey and her staff are using structured play sessions to try and improve impulsive and antisocial behaviour in preschoolers showing early signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The first group of children has completed the five-week programme, which involved them meeting weekly to play body control games, mind-body co-ordination games and memory games.

They also played the same games at home with their parents and siblings for 30 minutes a day.

The aim was to teach the children to regulate their own emotional responses.

Their brain function and attention rating was measured using accepted academic methods, and parents were also asked to say whether they felt their children were calmer and better behaved.

Dr Healey said on Monday the results were "very encouraging and positive", and improvements had been noticed after only two or three weeks.

"It was what we were hoping for, but the play therapy worked faster and better than we were expecting."

Now more participants were needed, because at least 30 participants were required to make the research statistically valid.

Recruiting families had been "trickier" than she had imagined, she said, mainly because kindergarten teachers found it "awkward" to approach parents because parents might take offence.

She was hoping the positive results experienced by the families in the first group would make recruitment easier now.

"We're not saying these children have ADHD or will be diagnosed with ADHD when they are older.

"[But] I am pretty confident there are more than 30 children in Dunedin who . . . show very high levels of hyperactivity for their age group and would benefit from this programme."


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