5 iOS and Android Apps for ADHD

There are many misconceptions present throughout current society regarding childhood disorders. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is the most frequently diagnosed psychiatric condition among children; it is predominantly diagnosed between ages six and twelve, affecting more than 1 in 10 children in the United States. Diagnosing individuals with the disorder is complex despite the prevalence of it. There have been many studies conducted on ADHD, but the exact causes are still unknown, though it is noted to be highly heritable (van der Oord & Bogels, 2011). There is no known cure, though symptoms may slightly improve over time for some individuals. There are treatments such as medication and behavioral therapy to help aid the symptoms of ADHD, but inevitably the symptoms can substantially impact affected children in academic, social, and emotional areas of development. ADHD affects millions of children today and has done so for centuries. It is necessary for educators, clinicians, and parents surrounding each affected child’s life to have a thorough understanding of the disorder and its impact on his or her development.

Overview

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and ADHD are relatively new terms for a disorder that have been studied for well over a century. In the early 1900s, many clinicians believed symptoms of ADHD to be the direct results of brain damage. In the 1960s, investigators focused on the hyperactivity and reduced impulse control, designating the behavior as “‘hyperkinetic impulse disorder,’ caused by overstimulation resulting from inappropriate filtering of incoming messages.” It was not until the 1980s that the disorder was named ADD, combined with and without hyperactivity (Baird, Stevenson & Williams, 2000).

Children with ADHD demonstrate a plethora of symptoms that can impact their daily lives. They tend to be impulsive, physically active, easily bored, and prone to shift activities frequently. The diagnostic tool for recognizing the disorder in children requires that behaviors such as inattention, poor impulse control, and hyperactivity appear habitually before they can be considered symptoms of ADHD. The symptoms of inattention involve (but are not limited to) disorganization, forgetfulness, distractibility, and poor task completion. Only 7 to 23 percent of normal boys and only 4 to 19 percent of normal girls exhibit any of these symptoms regularly. A fact that is universally unacknowledged is that an individual must identify with at least six of these symptoms to be diagnosed with the disorder.   A pattern must also exist, generally beginning in childhood (before age 12), and it must show up in more than one context that has led to impairment in a significant aspect of an individual’s life (Baird, Stevenson & Williams, 2000).

Academics

ADHD can greatly impact a child’s academic functioning, as well as his or her emotional and social development. Regarding children’s academics, a relationship between ADHD and learning disabilities has been proposed and investigated but is yet to be well defined. It has not yet been determined whether school failure in children with ADHD is related to attention or hyperactivity, cognitive deficits (learning disabilities), or a simultaneous existence. However, it should be noted that a considerable amount of children with learning disabilities do not demonstrate attention deficits or hyperactivity in response to academic frustration. Another important fact is that several children with ADHD do not have learning disabilities. One of many hypotheses suggests, “learning disabilities and ADHD are separate entities that may co-occur. It has not yet been established whether this co-occurrence is the result of differences in underlying neurological functioning or underlying cognitive deficits per se or, more likely, differences in underlying neurological functioning that result in common cognitive deficits” (Riccio, Gonzalez & Hynd, 1994).

Emotional and Social Development

Regarding emotional and social development among children with ADHD, in a community sample provided in an article, it was concluded that “it is six times more likely that children with a history of ADHD will have more emotional and behavioral problems and more conflicts with classmates than children without ADHD. Furthermore, they are nine times more likely to experience difficulties in their daily lives (e.g. family life, friendships, learning, spare time” (Miranda, Soriano, Fernandez & Melia, 2008). Additionally, authority figures in a diagnosed child’s life such as educators, clinicians, and parents, play a vital role helping structure the child’s life.

Treatments

Students with ADHD have difficulties with maintaining attention over long periods of time. They also have difficulty holding onto their goals and plans for their future. ADHD is noted to be greatly inherited, so it is likely that parents who have children with the disorder also have the disorder. There are two treatments for this disorder that are evidence-based: medication, which is mostly stimulants, and behavioral treatments. Both of these supported treatments have their limitations. For instance, the downside to the medication is that it works only short-term; it is often taken daily and its helpful effects can wear off mid-day. Also, children who use this medicine often exhibit side effects from the stimulant medications (e.g. nausea, moodiness, loss of appetite, etc.)

The behavioral treatment that is most commonly used in treating ADHD is behavioral-parent training. In families with children with this disorder, the relationship between the parents and the child is severely disturbed. The parents of children with this disorder “can become less patient, pay more attention to disruptive behavior, and act more impulsively. This is called, ‘parental overreactivity,’ which is predictive of externalizing behavior of the child.” Since this disorder is inherited, the parents show similar signs of ADHD. Finally, these “parents respond in an automatic way to their children’s disruptive behavior based on their own upbringing experiences, and from their judgment of their child’s misbehavior.” Stress for the parent is elevated when his or her child has ADHD. Furthermore, the parent may become “more rejecting, controlling, and reactive to their child. The summary of these findings mentioned is that, “children’s ADHD behavior, parents’ ADHD behavior, and parents’ own upbringing, judgments and parenting stress all contribute to parenting problems, which in turn influence the ADHD behavior of the child. Therefore, a treatment focusing on both the child and the parent is likely to be beneficial. Furthermore, generalized ability of cognitive behavioral treatments focusing on the child is noticeably low in treatments for ADHD, but also including parents in the treatment, this may be enhanced” (van der Oord, Bogels & Peijnenburg, 2011).


 Apps to help individuals with ADHD

1. Due

iPhone—$4.99

A majority of us struggle balancing dozens of tasks every day.  Some of us may get in the groove knocking tasks out one by one, but others tend to get sidetracked and fail to remember important tasks; the latter holds especially true for individuals with ADHD.  The app, Due, is available for iOS devices and helps keep users alert and on track.  The simple app allows you to set reminders in a matter of seconds, and offers alerts for one-time tasks and regular notifications for repeated tasks.  It features 12 distinct alert noises so you know exactly what task is needed to be done immediately without having to look at your device.

2. EpicWin

iPhone—$2.99

Are you getting burned out by performing daily routines?  There is always so much to do and the redundancy is becoming monotonous!  There are projects and presentations for work, and chores around the house needing done…  How can these everyday tasks become less tedious?  EpicWin is an app that transforms boring chores into an exciting game!  Here’s how it works:

  1. Enter your to-do list into the simple interface and choose your avatar.
  2. Upon completion of each task, you’ll “destroy” a chore in animated battles and be awarded points.
  3. Points increase your character’s stats and help you level up.

Projects and housework will never be the same again!

3. Task Hammer

Android—Free

This app is comparable to EpicWin offering the task list function with exciting game features!  Task Hammer lets you complete your daily tasks or quests and rewards you.  You have the options of being a barbarian, a rouge or a sorceress, and you can level up by marking chores off your list!

4. HomeRoutines

iPhone—$4.99

House chores tend to be extremely mundane for most individuals.  For individuals with ADHD, the dullness makes it even harder to focus and complete chores.  It may also be a struggle to stay focused in particular areas.  As a result, several individuals start a task in one room (i.e. bedroom) and end up starting another in a completely different room, ultimately resulting in a whole list of undone tasks and a feeling of being wholly overwhelmed.  HomeRoutines makes these tasks more “fun” by organizing them into room-by-room sections, so you never feel overwhelmed!  For each job you complete, you are awarded a gold star–who doesn’t love getting gold stars!?

5. iReward Chart

iPhone—Free

Android—$3.99

Convincing most children to complete tasks such as homework, making the bed, doing the dishes, etc., can be quite the challenge.  iReward Chart turns these boring chores into a motivating game.  Rewarding children for good behavior and actions is a great motivator.  The app works as follows:

  1. Enter child’s name
  2. Select a few tasks
  3. Reward accomplishments with a single tap in the weekly chart

After stars have been earned, each child can pick from suggested rewards, or adults can setup custom rewards (i.e. “$2 pocket money” or “1 hour of TV.”