Aug. 16, 2010 -- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and homework problems often go together. Now, a simple and structured approach to doing homework appears to cut homework problems by more than half, according to a new study.
''The drop in the problems related to homework were very dramatic," says researcher George Kapalka, PhD, associate professor and interim chair of the department of psychological counseling at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.
He presented his findings this week at the American Psychological Association annual meeting in San Diego.
Typically, children with ADHD have problems with self-control -- simply not wanting to do the homework -- or with forgetfulness -- forgetting to write down assignments and to take home everything they need to complete it, Kapalka tells WebMD.
His approach addresses both issues, he says.
ADHD and Homework: The Approach
Kapalka evaluated 39 children, ages 6 to 10, and enrolled the help of their 39 teachers. Teachers taught a mainstream or inclusion class that included at least one student with ADHD.
All students in the study had problems with homework.
All students in the study were boys, and all had "combined type" ADHD. The most common type, it includes symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsiveness.
More than half the students were on medications to treat their ADHD, Kapalka tells WebMD. If they weren't on medications at the start of the study, they didn't start them during the study. If they were on medications, they didn't change the dose during the study, so that the effect of the program could be evaluated more effectively.
The students were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a comparison group with no intervention.
Those in the treatment group:
- Showed their teacher their homework journal, in which everything was written down about assignments, before going home.
- Were required to start homework within an hour after school dismissal time and to work in a quiet setting.
- Were not allowed to watch television or play video games until homework was done.
- Were not allowed to watch TV or use the computer for a day if they didn't bring home the journal or forgot anything for the day's homework assignments.