A computer game that enables children to apply their knowledge to real-life situations could benefit those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other social needs.
The game, developed by University of Canterbury PhD student Atefeh Ahmadi Olounabadi, significantly improved social skills in children with ADHD or difficulties with social skills.
“The results of the study show that our computer game improved the social skills of the participants significantly more than the psychologist-led group intervention” she says.
“That means ADHD children can learn much better working with educational computer games than traditional approaches.”
Olounabadi is currently finalising her computer science and software engineering PhD thesis, working under the supervision of professors Tanja Mitrovic and Julia Rucklidge.
She says she developed the educational game to teach students what they struggle to learn in the classroom.
“Among all the subjects an ADHD child needs to learn, social skills have a high priority, so we chose to teach them about social problem-solving skills,” she says.
“In my project we integrated different methods to develop an approach for teaching social problem-solving skills to children as well as applying their knowledge to real-life situations.
“Our system presents a set of social situations to the learner, and requires them to make a decision in terms of an action to take.”
The study involved 60 children in Iran who had difficulties with social skills. Of these, one group of 20 children did not have ADHD, while the remainder had previously been diagnosed with ADHD. Groups comprised 20 children with ADHD treated by a psychologist in a group environment, 20 children who interacted with the computer game, and 20 children without ADHD who also interacted with the game.