IDeA – project ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. Affected children are inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive, which leads to manifold difficulties in school and social life. Furthermore, children and adolescents with ADHD show deficits in executive function – i.e. in inhibiting behaviors and reactions or in flexible switching between tasks. Thus, their ability to self-regulate is restricted.
The ADHD project focuses mainly on two questions (1) Which competencies and deficits do children and adolescents with ADHD have? and (2) Can self-regulatory strategies be helpful to improve these deficits?
Which competencies and deficits do children and adolescents with ADHD have?
Although it is known that children with ADHD show deficits in executive function the nature of these difficulties is still in question – Research questions are for example if children with ADHD show difficulties in all domains requiring executive functioning or if all ADHD children show the same deficits. To answer these questions we develop child-oriented computer tasks taping for example inhibition of response or delay of gratification (i.e., disclaim a small reward to get a larger reward later). These and other tasks are administered to children with and without ADHD to examine specific deficits and strengths of children with ADHD. In a longitudinal study we try to identify factors indicating a risk for ADHD. For this purpose, we follow a group of children during their transition from kindergarten to school and investigate how school enrolment comes to pass for children with problems in inhibition and self-regulation. We aim at identifying risk factors for an ADHD diagnosis early to provide affected children with treatment before school enrolment.
Can self-regulatory strategies be helpful?
Self-regulation enables an individual to control one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior and is related to the individual’s satisfaction regarding different life domains (e.g., physical health and emotional well-being). Moreover, self-regulation has positive effects on children’s social skills and school performance. However, some children and adolescents, especially those with ADHD, have difficulty controlling their behavior. These children and adolescents benefit particularly from self-regulatory strategies (e.g., if-then-plans that define when, where, and how an individual performs a specific behavior to attain a desired goal). We examine the effectiveness of if-then-plans not only experimentally, i.e., under laboratory conditions, but also applied, particularly at school. Regarding children with ADHD, we are interested in the question whether self-regulatory strategies help children with ADHD to enhance their academic progress. This study is financially supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation and will be conducted in close collaboration with the Private Gymnasium Esslingen. In another study, we examine the effectiveness of a newly developed self-regulation training with the aim of enhancing the physical activity particularly of children with developmental risks, and thus improving their psychological well-being, attention span and memory functions.
Further information on the IDeA – project ADHD