Designing pervasive technology for families tackling ADHD

‘In Situ Cues for ADHD Parenting Strategies Using Mobile Technology’ by Laura Pina, Kael Rowan, Asta Roseway, Paul Johns, Gillian R. Hayes, and Mary Czerwinski
Best Paper award at PervasiveHealth 2014, 8th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most diagnosed hyperkinetic psychiatric conditions in school-age children. Kids with this condition have trouble focusing, controlling their behavior, and they lose patience quickly. As a result, they have considerably more difficult time learning, but can in some cases even struggle to not fall off of a chair.
In spite of these difficulties, ADHD children can often become completely functional members of society, given that they have been treated appropriately. One of the most promising treatments is Parental Behavioral Therapy (PBT), which gives the parents knowledge and skills to manage their children and to help them focus. Strategies for PBT are very well researched and mapped, but execution is where this treatment often falls flat. Parents will often forget the right strategy, or will lose self-control when under duress. This is where the authors of PervasiveHealth 2014’s Best Paper have focused their attention – supporting and reinforcing habits and behaviors of the children’s parents.
The importance of right parenting when the child suffers from ADHD cannot be overstated. Parents are some of the most stressed out people you will ever meet, and having a child with ADHD can push that stress to another level. Authors report that parents of children with ADHD experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and stress, which can affect their ability to regularly practice PBT strategies. Not to mention that ADHD is hereditary, which means that parents themselves could be suffering from ADHD.
Pina et al. have developed a system that monitors stress levels in parents via Electrodermal Activity detection , and intervenes in situ in difficult situations, reinforcing behavior that is in accordance with PBT. Cues are delivered via a smartphone/tablet appParentGuardian, reminding parents about the right course of action with messages like: “Is my child pushing my buttons right now? How can I respond in a different way?” or “You are your child’s role model. What do you want to teach?”
The focus of this study was the refinement of the sophisticated stress detection strategy, as well as the correct intervention cue for different situations. If you’re curious about the details, you can download the full paper for free on EUDL.