-- Controlled Research Study Uses Games – Not Medication – to Help Change Long-term Behavior --
FLUSHING, N.Y., January 02, 2012 – Queens College is now recruiting families of four- to five-year-old children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to take part in a free research study and treatment program to determine whether these preschoolers can learn to change their behavior by playing skill-based games. Funded by a $669,570 three-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) the program, called Non-pharmacological Interventions for Preschoolers with ADHD (NIPA), is designed to enhance brain development and function without the use of medications like Ritalin and Adderall.
NIMH approved the new grant based on the encouraging results of an initial two-year open trial at the college that NIMH had also funded. These positive results included high parent satisfaction and improved behavior by the preschool ADHD participants that lasted for at least three months after treatment ended. The more in-depth “double-blind” study beginning at the end of this month, which will include a control group of parents, should help validate these positive preliminary results. In addition to the control group, the psychologists and graduate students who will be running the parents’ groups are different from those who will evaluate the children before and after treatment – making it a double-blind study.
According to NIPA Project Director Jeffrey Halperin, a distinguished professor of psychology at Queens College who developed this program, currently available treatments that rely on medication and behavior modification provide short-term, symptomatic relief for ADHD, but limited, if any, long-term benefits.
“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,” says Prof. Halperin. “By starting this treatment early, we can help to prevent the emergence of such problems as aggression, depression, academic failure, social isolation and substance abuse from occurring later on.”
To be eligible for this program, children must exhibit such ADHD symptoms as inattention, impulsivity and overactivity; and they cannot be on medication or be receiving other treatment. Small groups of five children will meet at the college and play together once per week for five weeks in 90-minute sessions. The play groups will be exposed to cognitively
stimulating, interactive games that promote memory and motor control and increase in task complexity.
While their children are participating in the games, parents will receive ADHD education and support and discuss their children’s activities with psychologists and graduate students working with them. The parent group selected as the control will not be taught how to engage their children in these play activities at home.
Families interested in participating in this free program at the college should contact NIPA directly at: 718-997-4251 and ask for Dr. Anne-Claude Bedard or Jocelyn Curchack; or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Schedules will be as flexible as possible to accommodate parents.
In addition to his position at Queens College, Halperin is also a distinguished professor of psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and a full-time member of its neuropsychology doctoral faculty. In addition, he is a professional lecturer in the department of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a licensed psychologist in the State of New York. For the past three decades Halperin has been conducting cutting-edge neuroscientific research in the area of ADHD and child behavior disorders, earning his reputation as a leader in the field. He and his team have provided high-quality psychological services to hundreds of children throughout Queens and New York at no cost to families.
Based on his scientific accomplishments, quality research and publications, Halperin was appointed last July to the Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section at the NIH Center for Scientific Review. As part of this group, Halperin will be involved in reviewing and making recommendations on grant applications submitted to the NIH and surveying the status of science research resulting from these grants. The prestigious appointment runs through June 20, 2015 and will give Halperin the opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort.