Category: ADHD - Child

PS3- #A22 - Effects of the "Feel Electric!" iPad Application on Facial Recognition of Emotions in Children With ADHD

Friday, Nov 17
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: ADHD - Child / Adolescent | Treatment-CBT | Technology / Mobile Health

     In addition to the externalizing behaviors displayed by children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it has been found that children with ADHD have deficits in social and emotional competence, which is equally important to their daily functioning.  Specifically, children with ADHD have been found to lack the skills necessary to make the connection between nonverbal means of communication, namely recognizing facial expressions of affect, and the emotions of others.  Given the enduring negative consequences of these difficulties, many children with ADHD are in need of interventions to teach emotion recognition skills to facilitate more adaptive behaviors and socially acceptable interactions.  Currently, there is minimal support for individualized evidence-based protocols for children with ADHD due to their inadequate engagement and failure to generalize skills outside of therapy.  According to the Optimal Stimulation Theory, children with ADHD have a greater need for stimulation in comparison to their typically-developing peers, often causing less concentration and participation in tasks.  This study assessed the value in using interactive technology to teach emotion recognition skills of facial affect to children with ADHD.


     Twenty-one child participants diagnosed with ADHD, ages six to ten, were used in a 2 (treatment) x 2 (time) mixed factorial repeated measures design.  The children were randomly assigned to receive either an iPad application intervention, or a comparably created paperback workbook, to teach facial recognition of emotions.  The two dependent variables in the study were participants’ emotion recognition skills and levels of engagement in the interventions.  Emotion recognition was assessed using the Assessment of Children’s Emotion Skills (ACES) as a pre- and post-intervention measure.  The second dependent variable of task engagement was measured using the calculated percentage of eye gaze directed at the intervention stimuli.  Because interactive media stimulates multiple sensory modalities, it was hypothesized that children with ADHD would have greater pre-post differences in scores on the ACES and greater task engagement when administered the iPad intervention. 


     Results were analyzed using ANOVAs, ANCOVAs, T-tests and correlational analyses.  Overall, although children with ADHD demonstrated significantly more engagement in the iPad intervention, as compared to the workbook intervention, these children did not exhibit greater changes in pre-post ACES scores.  Overall, there was increased task engagement and within- group pre-post changes for emotion recognition using the iPad application intervention. However, the implications are limited because between-group pre-post changes were not significant suggesting the iPad application intervention was not significantly more beneficial than the workbook intervention in teaching emotion recognition skills. 

Lindsay Brand

Post Doctoral Fellow
Child Mind Institute

Colleen Cook

Graduate Student
Hofstra University

Renee Smucker

Hofstra University

Stephanie N. Rohrig

Doctoral Student
Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York

Michael Accardo

Hofstra University

Phyllis Ohr

Associate Professor
Hofstra University