Kids With ADHD Could Be More Sensitive To Failure

For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, if at first they don’t succeed, do they try, and try again?

AsianScientist (Sep. 29, 2016) – For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), if a task is particular difficult, are they likely to give up more easily? According to a new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, they do.

Professor Gail Tripp, one of the authors of the paper and director of the Human Developmental Neurobiology Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan, said that there had not been a lot of experimental research on the topic when they began the study and their first attempts to study ADHD and punishment were not that successful.

This time around, the researchers developed a reward-based computer game that was engaging but still incorporated an element of punishment. They presented the game to 210 children living in Japan or New Zealand: 145 were diagnosed with ADHD and the rest were typically-developing children. The two groups of children then chose between playing two simultaneously available games, and could switch between playing the two games as often as they liked. Both games were presented at the same time on a computer screen, and looked the same.

“What we actually saw was that both typically developing children and children with ADHD developed a preference—what we call ‘bias’—for the less ‘punishing’ game,” Tripp said. “Both groups played the less punishing game more often. But over time, the children with ADHD found losing points, and the laughter, more punishing than typically-developing children.”

From their study, the researchers found that children with ADHD were more sensitive to repeated experiences of punishment or failure, choosing the less ‘punishing’ game more often. Here, the ‘punishment’ relates to the effort needed to do the task, which might be perceived as punishing by the child.

According to Tripp, the more effortful a task is, the more incentives a child is going to need to keep persisting. Simple but frequent rewards, such as smiles or words of encouragement, can help children with ADHD to stay on the task, she said.

The article can be found at: Furukawa et al. (2016) Evidence for Increased Behavioral Control by Punishment in Children with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Source: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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