Study on Technology Interventions for Students with ADHD

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This review of literature exlores several technology interventions to promote academic and organizational success for students with Attention Deficet Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Interventions play an important role in promoting academic success. It is difficult to plan or design interventions for students with ADHD because of the nature of the disability. There are numerous non pharmaceutical, traditional and non traditional, interventions for students with ADHD in the classroom. Without some kind of intervention, academic failure is one of the main outcomes for students with ADHD, "ADHD frequently is associated with deficits in academic skills and performance" (DuPaul, 2007). Technology can be used an intervention. With today's society relying more on technology, educators should grasp the wealth of knowledge students have of technology and use it to be an effective tool for teaching and/or organization. With today's society relying more on technology, educators should grasp the wealth of knowledge students have of technology and use it to be an effective tool for teaching organization skills in order to increase academic achievement for students ADHD.

In an article by Epstein, Willis, Conners and Johnson's (2001), exploring technology interventions for students with ADHD, characterizes successful classroom modification as "interventions for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that have consistently proven to be efficacious are divided into two distinct domains: pharmacological and psychosocial (Richters et al., 1995). The most common form of treatment for students with ADHD is stimulant medication, but medicine may not be the best response, "The most effective treatments for reducing the symptomatic behaviors of ADHD are central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medications and behavior modification procedures. Although most children respond positively to medication, the combination of medication and behavioral interventions tends to yield the greatest improvement in their social skills and school performance" (DuPaul & Weyandt 2006). Research shows students will respond to medicine and interventions combined, "The standard practice of treating the ADHD symptoms with psychotropic medication often is not sufficient to promote success in school; School psychologists should continue to develop interventions that facilitate self-management skills, promoting organization and self control" (Gureasko-Moore, DuPaul & White, 2007). There are plenty of resources and interventions that are considered non pharmaceutical, traditional and non traditional, for students with ADHD in the classroom. Students with ADHD need some form of interventions to help them be successful in the classroom, "ADHD frequently is associated with deficits in academic skills and performance" (DuPaul, 2007). Without some intervention designed, students are in danger of not being successful in their academics. Interventions are a vital in their success.

Students are very familiar with different forms of technology. They are proficient in many forms as well as use it everyday of their lives. They carry cell phones, are members of various social networks and communicate mostly through these means. As comfortable with Technology today's student are; it can be used as a form of intervention. As Today's society relies more on technology, educators should grasp the wealth of knowledge students have of technology and use it as an effective tool for teaching or organizing students' daily lives especially as an intervention for students with ADHD.

According to Gardill, DuPaul, and Kyle (1996), students with ADHD in general are characterized by inattentiveness, impulsivity, and overactive behavior as well as a multitude of problems in the classroom. More diagnosis are leading to some type of learning disability which results in to classroom and academic frustration, "ADHD symptoms (i.e. inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) have been found to be significant predictors of concurrent and future academic difficulties (e.g., performance on achievement tests, report card grades, and teacher rating of educational functioning) (DePaul, 2007). Interventions come in many different forms. Technology interventions can be interactive and motivate students' success. It links students' world to their disability which can help students take ownership and buy in to the intervention.

Due to the characteristics of the disability, it is complicated to diagnose a one approach for all intervention as Gardill et al. (1996) describes the difficulties that effect academic performance students may experience is following directions, staying seated, and trouble working independently, but technology can offer a possible solution for many of the obstacles they face. If some type of intervention is not presented than academic failure is likely to occur; DuPaul(2007) states "as a result, students with ADHD are at a higher risk for grade retention, placement in special education classrooms, and dropping out of high school". There are several strategies teachers can use to help reach students with ADHD. By adding one intervention like technology, students will receive a tool to help build a successful classroom experience. In the article by Trout, Lieneman, Reid, and Epstein (2006) describes students with ADHD as, "a serious condition affecting a significant number of children in U.S. schools. It is generally accepted that between 3% and 7% of the U.S. school-age population (equivalent to approximately one child in every classroom) presents significant levels of inattentive and hyperactive behaviors that may benefit from targeted school-related academic and behavioral interventions and services" shows the significant role that interventions play in the success of the students with ADHD. Technology can be proposed as one form of intervention as described below. Technology is making the education much easier for the students. For example, the University of Duke gave all incoming freshman iPods in 2004. The iPods had the capabilities to download audio and text material as well as was preloaded with Duke related information like the academic calendar. Their hopes were to encourage the faculty and students to use innovative ways in the classroom and campus life (Roach 2004). This example shows effort higher education is taking to reach students of the information age.

Technology Interventions

An article in USA today, describes a new generation of students who are very different from the students of the past. These students' world revolve around technology and being connected describes Jayson (2010).,

To the psychologists, sociologists, and generational and media experts who study

them, their digital gear sets this new group (yet unnamed by any powers that be)

part, even from their tech-savvy Millennial elders. They want to be constantly

connected and available in a way even their older siblings don't quite get. These

differences may appear slight, but they signal an all-encompassing sensibility that

some say marks the dawning of a new generation

The article calls the new generation the "igeneration" because the want everything individualized explains Jayson (2010, "The technology is the easiest way to see it, but it's also a mind-set, and the mind-set goes with the little 'i,' which I'm taking to stand for individualized, " Rosen says. "Everything is customized and individualized to 'me". Teachers can provide students with ADHD with an intervention just for them and they can make it individualized.

Students in the classroom today are extremely comfortable and knowledgeable with technology. Students are extremely resourceful and efficient in using technology, "But students have already turned to handhelds for entertainment and are extremely comfortable with that technology (Staudt, 2000)" (Bauer & Ulrich, 2002). Their world is driven by iPods, cell phones, handheld video game systems etc…, so by adding some form of technology could prove to be very beneficial academically because of organizational benefits. Every where one looks, they can observe many people using handheld Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to help organize the work, home, or school. Cell phones continue to reach new advancement, so one can now receive emails, and even send a video message between phones. The students in today's classroom understand and use technology more comfortably than many adults.

As technology advances, our world relies more and more in staying organized with the use of technology. Technology such as palm pilots, PDA, and/or cell phones can receive email, calendar updates and serve as an assignment/task notebook with electronic alerts. These devices can be linked to a computer as well, so staying organized has become easier. Teachers have used this technology before as stated by Bauer et al (2002) "The use of personal digital assistants in the classroom is not new. Teachers have used handheld computer technology to record their observations (Kahng & Iwata, 1998; Saudargas & Bunn, 1989), and students have used them to take notes (Crippen & Brooks, 2000). Researchers have even proposed that these computers could replace student textbooks (Wishengrad, 1998).

According to Bauer's, et al. report, students' motivation towards writing down assignments and keeping up with work increased as well as the palm pilots helped the students motivation of writing down assignments. Parents that were surveyed were pleased with the motivation factor, but did not see an improvement in their academics. During the investigation, Parents were surveyed as apart of research. The research in Bauer's et al., (2002) investigation found "….50% of the parents felt that the handhelds were interesting and motivating, but that their children's achievement was about the same. Three of fourteen parents, however, indicated that the use of handhelds had a positive effect on their child's learning; and one parent indicated that the use of the handheld had a significantly positive effect on her child's learning. Although the study did not examine academic achievement; it did explore a key component in academic success: motivation.

Another form of technology intervention is an electronic prompt like the one examined in Epstein's et al. article, (2001), "This single-subject study examined the effects of a technological prompting device for assisting a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive type, to initiate and complete daily tasks. The subject, a fourth-grade male, and his family were provided with computer software and a paging device with word prompting capabilities". The electronic prompt enabled the parents to add prompts from home by computer. The computer then would page the student throughout the day giving him predetermined prompts during the school day, "Kevin, his parent, and his classroom teacher determined the reminder prompts. A maximum of ten prompts was sent throughout the day, both at home and at school. Examples of prompts that were sent to Kevin while he was at home were: (a) eat breakfast, (b) take medicine, (c) get dressed, and (d) go to the bus stop. Prompts that Kevin received most often while at school were: (a) take medicine, (b) get books ready, and (c) turn in homework" (Epstein, et al., 2001).


The research conducted used two search engines: EBSCO and Wilson Web through Liberty Online Library. Key search words include Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, interventions, academic achievement, motivation and technology.


Students with ADHD harness the ability to be successful with the right interventions. They also offer to a classroom traits and characteristics that a students without ADHD can bring. They have new insight towards a subject and have talents/abilities like no other child, "Having ADHD can be viewed either as a disorder defined by deficits or as an advantage defined by unique characteristics and strengths that, in appropriate contexts, are adaptive and advantageous (Hartman, 2003) (Sherman, et al. 2006).

ADHD is a crippling disorder. Students have a difficult time in the classroom and many interventions make them standout even more than their behavior. Technology is an approach that allows the intervention to enter their world. It allows the students to use something that is accepted by their peers. Many schools use agendas for assignment tracking. For a student with ADHD, this can be a potential problem. There is potential they will lose it. They may forget the agenda. The agenda requires a pen or pencil. So, if a student forgets their pencil, they will not be able to write down the assignment. Technology, like a PDA or Smartphone can solve many of these issues. One, no pen or pencil required. Also, it provides the student with something they enjoy, so the probability of losing may go down. Students with ADHD often struggle to remember what items they need to take home to study or complete homework. The most beneficial feature that an agenda cannot do is auditory remind the students what homework, materials and assignments need to be completed. It also can remind students of test and projects due. This is one example how technology intervention can change the students academic outcome and outlook. They may become more bought into their education and be more willing to use the intervention. Overall, technology is making its way into the everyday classroom. The educator that grasps the use of technology will be able to create a learning environment that will fit students of today and tomorrow. Technology will never be able to replace having the one on one help from a teacher, but it has the potential to give students a valuable tool to get the most out of their education.

Limitations of Study

Technology interventions can promote great success, but one major setback could be access. It would all depend on parents or school resources that are available for the student. Another setback or limitation would be the distraction factor. The technology could pose as a distraction in the classroom. Also, the device or technology could be stolen. In the long run, the pros of using technology as an intervention out weight the cons.


Today's classroom does not fit the needs of today's student. Schools require students to continue to work with a pencil and paper when the majority of students have become digitalized. They work with iPods, cell phones, and computers as if it was second nature. They are motivated by the latest technology that is on the market. They seek out interest and hobbies that hold their attention and look for instant affirmation. By adding the right mix of technology and education, students all over the world may change their view on school. Technology allows students to travel the world without leaving the school building as well as be an organization tool for assignments and/or information. In the case of the student with ADHD, the Palm Pilot proved to be a successfully means to increasing motivation, completing assignments and test scores. It helped the student become more organized as well as better prepared for class. Technology provides numerous if not infinite possibilities of how it can be use to help the student with ADHD have access the general curriculum in the least restrictive environment.

An article titled, Thinking Positively, explains what ADHD really is. It is written to help people understand the differences each student may hold. It also provides an understanding for educators. Sherman et al. describes how many children are affected by ADHD, "ADHD occurs in 3 to 5 percent of school-age children (MTA Cooperative Group 1999) making it the most common psychiatric disorder among children (Sciutto, Terjesen & Bender, Frank, 2000). (2006). Knowing this information is very important for educators. In many cases, educators will come in contact or teach more than one students with ADHD every school year. Being prepared and understanding how to design/develop interventions can help the teacher have a successful year in reaching the students with ADHD. Many students shut down and quit after the first incident. It is easier to quit instead of try and fail. With the proper supports and intervetions, the student with ADHD can thrive and excel in the classroom.