Self-regulation can be valuable tool for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Self-regulation can be a valuable intervention technique for some children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to research published in Exceptional Children. Self-regulation includes a number of methods used by students to manage, monitor, record, and/or assess their behavior or achievement.

About 3% to 7% of school-age children are affected by ADHD. The best-known approach for treating the disorder is the use of medication, but the recommended treatment is to combine the use of medication with behavior modification, accommodations and ancillary services such as counseling.

Conscious appraisal of past behavior

“One type of intervention that holds promise for children with ADHD is one that can help children self-regulate their behavior,” the researchers say. Recent theory work in ADHD views the disorder from the perspective of a deficit in self-regulation. “One important component of self-regulation is a conscious
appraisal of immediate past behavior.”

After conducting a meta-analysis of the literature on the use of four self-regulation interventions (self-monitoring, self-monitoring plus reinforcement, self-management, and self-reinforcement) in ADHD children, the authors conclude that these four interventions had moderate to large effects in a majority of the studies for on-task behavior, inappropriate behavior or academic accuracy and productivity.

The meta-analysis examined the effect of self-regulation interventions in 16 studies with a total of 51 participants. Participants tended to be elementary students, age 12 or younger (48) and male rather than female (48 males, 3 females).

To be included in the meta-analysis, the studies had to use one of the four self-regulation interventions:

  • self-monitoring in which the individual observes and records his or her behavior in response to a target response,
  • self-monitoring plus reinforcement in which the individual, in addition to the self-assessment and self-recording of target behavior, also receives reinforcement from an external agent such as the teacher or paraprofessional;
  • self-reinforcement in which the student self-awards reinforcement if they meet a target behavior or criterion; and
  • self-management in which the student’s self-evaluation is compared to the evaluation of an external observer.
  • SRF best for academic productivity Results suggest that interventions might have greater effect in some areas than others. “For example, SRF (self-reinforcement) was effective for academic accuracy and productivity, but did not appear to improve ontask or disruptive behavior,” the article states.
    Further research will be needed to study differential effects.Other future areas of research include examining the effectiveness of self-interventions in female students, which represent only a small minority of study subjects, and also on higher-level skills.“No studies examined the effects of self-regulation strategies on more advanced academic skills such as strategy usage, study skills, and test-taking behaviors or advanced behavioral expectations such as following rules,” the authors observe.Previous studies have indicated that selfregulation
    techniques were effective for students with disabilities. The current study extends those findings to students with ADHD, the authors say.

    “Self-Regulation Interventions for Children With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder” Exceptional Children, Summer 2005, Volume 71, Number 4

    Published in ERN January 2006 Volume 19 Number 1

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