Parents of ADHD Children
Alternative therapies for kids - A review.
From December issue of Clinical Psychological Review.
*A research team spent two years analyzing the data from 25 studies and
found that those programs are not producing significant or clinically
meaningful long-term improvements in children’s cognitive abilities,
academic performance or behavior. (Credit: © M.Rosenwirth / Fotolia)*
Nov. 25, 2013 — Many parents spend thousands of dollars on computer-based
training programs that claim to help children with ADHD succeed in the
classroom and in peer relationships while reducing hyperactivity and
inattentiveness. But a University of Central Florida researcher says
parents are better off saving their hard-earned cash.
Psychology professor Mark Rapport’s research team spent two years analyzing
the data from 25 studies and found that those programs are not producing
significant or clinically meaningful long-term improvements in children’s
cognitive abilities, academic performance or behavior.
“Parents are desperate for help,” said Rapport, who runs the Children’s
Learning Clinic IV at UCF. “If they can afford it, they are willing to
spend the money, and some parents even enroll their children in private
schools because they offer these cognitive training programs. But there is
no empirical evidence to show those investments are worthwhile.”
Rapport initiated the study because many parents of children who have been
evaluated at his clinic asked him whether they should invest in the
programs. The study is featured in the December issue of *Clinical
His team analyzed published studies sponsored by the companies themselves
as well as all independent published studies in the literature—and he
drew his conclusions based on analyzing “blinded” studies, meaning studies
in which researchers and independent raters used objective measures and did
not know which children were assigned to the cognitive training programs as
opposed to an inactive placebo condition.
Working memory represents one of the most important core deficits in
children with ADHD, and improvements in working memory are associated with
improved academic performance, behavior, peer relationships and other
intellectual abilities. Surprisingly, although a majority of the cognitive
training programs claimed to train this important aspect of brain
functioning, closer examination of their training exercises revealed that
they actually train short-term memory.
Short-term memory stores information in mind for a brief interval, whereas
working memory uses the stored information for accomplishing a wide range
of cognitive tasks, such as reading comprehension, mental math, and
Rapport said his conclusions do not mean that the computer-based programs
cannot become a helpful tool for children with ADHD. If programs can be
designed to focus on working memory, it is worth evaluating whether they
can help children’s cognitive abilities, academic performance and behavior,
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