I’m Sorry, Can You Repeat That?

 Studies have shown that both children and adults with ADHD have exhibited inconsistent working memories.  Working memory is the ability to hold onto information long enough to be able to accomplish a certain goal.  A recent study published in the journal Child Neuropsychology compared 25 children with ADHD to 24 of their peers without ADHD.  The children were given computer based arithmetic problems and asked to solve them without the use of a pencil and paper.  Then they were asked if a given sum was correct or not.  While the answers of the children with ADHD were just as accurate as the ones without ADHD, the response times were not as consistent.  Many of the children with ADHD took longer to respond.  According to Dr. Julie Schweitzer, associate professor of the M.I.N.D. Institute  and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California-Davis (the author of this study),  this study shows why “working memory may be fine at one moment and poor at another, just as one day a child with ADHD seems to be able to learn and focus in class and on another day seems distracted and not pay attention.”

 The study simply confirms what many parents and ADHD sufferers have experienced daily.  Struggling with your child to study for a test, or complete a homework assignment can be incredibly frustrating.  Fighting to hold down a job of your own can be depressing and often self defeating.   But there is help.  There are games for children and high tech tools for both kids and adults that can dramatically improve working memory and concentration skills for the ADHD population.

  1. I read about this game in an article by Dr, Robert Myers, a child psychologist.  He suggested you collect a pile of assorted coins and a cardboard sheet to cover them.  Next choose a sequence of five coins (2 dimes, 2 pennies, 1 nickel, for example) and set them up.  Ask your child to study the sequence and then cover them up with the cardboard.  Ask your child to use the coins in the pile to make the same pattern that he just saw.  Time him with a stop watch. When he is done remove the cardboard to see if he is correct.  If not, have him keep trying until he gets it right.  You can increase the difficulty of the sequences as you go along and watch your child’s memory and concentration improve.
  2. The computer offers a wide variety of memory games for kids.  The website Lumosity.com offers adolescents and adults a good brain workout.
  3. If you are looking for a high tech approach Play Attention http://www.playattention.com/ is a fantastic option.  Play Attention uses a helmet that reads your brain signals to indicate if you are focusing.  If you are not properly focusing, the game shuts off.  This teaches a child what it means to focus.  Ultimately the games trains your brain to concentrate better and helps to improve your memory skills. When you go to the website click on “ADHD” and listen to “Brody’s story”.  Brody’s mother describes Play Attention very well and she is someone with whom we can all relate.  Play Attention is meant for both children and adults as well.
  4. Cogmed Memory Training is another excellent option that has attained proven results.  It is a program that is down-loaded onto your home computer where your child plays video games that work to improve his memory.  The games grow increasingly more difficult as his memory improves and at the end of each week a trainer calls to speak to the parents, answer questions, and encourage the child.  The training lasts five weeks.  It has been shown to improve 75%-80% of the kids treated and MRIs that have been performed have shown changes in the pre-frontal and parietal regions of the brains of the children who underwent the program.  After six months and one year 80% of these children maintained their improved status.  Clearly this program works.  Cogmed is a program that is geared for people of all  ages. The costs range from $1500 to $2000.

Mom’s Take:

One of our favorite memory games is Simon.  Simon is like Monopoly and Life – it’s one of those games that will always be around.  I still remember playing it when I was a child.  Only now if you don’t own it, you can play it for free on your home computer.  Just go to http://www.netrover.com/~crose/memory/memory2.htm and start sharpening your own memory.  Challenge your child  to a few rounds.  Some games just never grow old.