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Unique New Program For Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Uses Games To Help Change Behavior

 --Families With AD/HD Pre-Schoolers Sought to Participate in Free Queens College Study--


FLUSHING, N.Y., September 9, 2009 – A novel study underway at Queens College seeks to determine whether four-to-five-year olds with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) can learn to change their behavior by playing skill-based games.  Called Training Executive, Attention and Motor Skills (TEAMS), this AD/HD treatment program is designed to enhance brain development and function without the use of medications like Ritalin and Adderall.


The National Institute of Mental Health has provided a two-year grant of $425,000 to test the TEAMS approach.  If preliminary results prove promising, the college will receive an additional three years of funding for more advanced study.

 

“AD/HD is a chronic disorder caused by delayed brain development that typically emerges during the preschool years and can persist through adolescence into early adulthood,” says TEAMS Project Director Jeffrey Halperin, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Queens College.  Prof. Halperin developed this program with Dr. Dione Healey, a psychologist now conducting the same program in New Zealand.  He notes that a large percentage of children with AD/HD go on to have other problems later in life including depression, substance abuse and relationship issues. 


“Currently available treatments provide short-term, symptomatic relief for AD/HD, but limited, if any, long-term benefits,” continues Prof. Halperin. “We are hopeful that the TEAMS treatment, which relies on games, an enriched environment and physical exercises, will yield lasting cognitive and behavioral improvements.”


“Because the brain is more ‘plastic’ or malleable in response to stimuli during childhood, it has the ability to strengthen and rewire itself,” he explains. “With the right kind of activities – those that are fun and don’t rely on adult praise or reward – we believe these youngsters can retrain their brains and regulate their own behavior.  By using a social setting instead of a computer-based program, preschoolers also can learn skills such as taking turns and sharing that most AD/HD children find difficult.”  In brief, Prof. Halperin and his group expect this short-term treatment to have lasting effects.

           

Right now the TEAMS staff of the college’s Developmental Neuropsychology Laboratory is recruiting four- and five-year-olds who exhibit such AD/HD symptoms as inattention, impulsivity and overactivity, and who are not on medication or receiving other treatment.  Small groups of five children will meet at the college and play together weekly or twice-weekly in two-hour sessions over a five-to-eight-week period.  The play groups will be exposed to cognitively stimulating, interactive games that promote memory and motor control and increase in task complexity.  These include variations on often-played games such as Simon Says, bean bag toss and egg and spoon races. 

While their children are participating in the games, parents will receive AD/HD education and support.  Parents will be urged to play the games daily with their children at home.


Families who are interested in participating in this free program at the college should contact TEAMS directly at:  718-997-4251 and ask for Dr. Anne-Claude Bedard or Jocelyn Curchack; or via Email: 
teams@qc.cuny.edu.  Schedules will be as flexible as possible to accommodate parents.

Halperin is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), and is a full-time member of the Neuropsychology Doctoral faculty.  In addition, he is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a licensed psychologist in the State of New York.  He has been an active clinical researcher in the area of AD/HD and child behavior disorders for over two decades and has received several prior federal and non-federal grants to support his ongoing research programs


 
 

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