Can an app help make life easier for children with ADHD?

We have tended to associate welfare technology with support for the elderly. Now researchers are looking at whether technology such as digital calendars and smartwatches can also provide support for children with autism and ADHD.Being able to function well in the morning is a challenge for parents of children with cognitive problems. Small details such as putting their leggings on inside out, or an adult saying something ‘the wrong way’ can trigger a temper tantrum and ruin the entire day. Children can become unruly, and some even become aggressive when something prevents them from following their routines and habits.This is one of many insights that researchers from SINTEF have learned from interviews with mothers of children who have autism or ADHD. “Being able to function well on a day-to-day basis is a big problem for these children — and for their families,” say Lisbet Grut and ystein Dale of SINTEF.Technology that can helpPrevious studies have shown that ordinary aids such as mobile phones and MP3 players can help young people with Asberger’s and autism to plan time and activities. Smartwatches may be able to help remind sufferers about appointments and tasks, and various software on smartphones and tablets can help them visualise sequences and structures in activities. The researchers believe that by developing aids such as this, they could help provide support in everyday situations. Now they want to test out their theories.Find solutions and allocate responsibilityA survey has already been carried out, in which researchers interviewed staff from NAV, Centres for Assistive Technology, service providers to the municipalities, assistive technology suppliers and selected families.Lisbet Grut explains that the aim has been to find out where the problems lie, and what the essential factors are in finding a solution. “ADHD is a group that is easily neglected, and it is difficult to help sufferers, because their problems are varied and complex,” she says. “But we believe that the work we are doing now will help us to find some good solutions, and provide clearer distinctions between the roles and responsibilities of the various support service organisations.”Service mechanism for rule-governed behaviour?The interviews with the mothers and the support services revealed that assistive technology tends to be provided more on the basis of a diagnosis than on functional problems and needs. …

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