Can this gadget help students with attention deficit improve their focus and ability to stay on task in the classroom and at home?
by Kay Marner
Over the summer my 9-year-old daughter, Natalie, and I tested a behavior change gadget for ADDitude magazine. When the editors sent the product, a MotivAider, for us to road test I thought it might take some explanation and a little cajoling to get Natalie to try it. But as usual, she was one step ahead of me.
“I know what that is!” she said, as she opened the package. Her friend Thomas (not his real name), who, like Natalie, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), owns one, she informed me. "It vibrates!”
“What does Thomas use it for?” I asked.
“To stay on task,” she replied, as if the answer was obvious.
While Nat's answer is true, here's a bit more information: Developed to help adults kick bad habits, such as nail biting, research suggests that the MotivAider is also effective in helping children with ADD/ADHD improve their classroom focus. Similar in size to a pager, when clipped to a waistband or pocket, the electronic device vibrates gently at either set or random intervals, providing the user with a desired reminder “as private as a thought" (so says the product's website).
When the usual tried-and-true strategies weren’t enough to help Thomas improve his focus, Natalie’s special education teacher, Vicki Carter, introduced him to the product. Each time the device vibrates, Thomas is reminded to pay attention to the assignment at hand. Based on Thomas’ positive response, Mrs. Carter now uses MotivAiders with several other students. Natalie immediately came up with a strategy to test her new MotivAider at home. “I’ll use it to remember to be safe on my bike and scooter!” she said. We talked through the message she’d give herself (“Stay aware of cars!”) and off she ran to try it.
Natalie and her tutor, Hannah, used MotivAider’s “helper method” during their summer study sessions. They wore synchronized units that vibrated together so that Hannah could facilitate Natalie’s use of the product. Mrs. Carter agreed that this strategy would benefit Natalie. “Students need a certain level of self-awareness to use it," she explained. "The helper method works well for younger ADD/ADHD kids and kids who are less aware of their behavior.”
The MotivAider, produced by Behavioral Dynamics, sells for $59.50 at habitchange.com. Discounted rates apply to bulk purchases. Free downloads of detailed guides to maximizing successful use by children or adults, in a variety of arenas, are available on the site.
You’ll find a concise version of our review of the MotivAider here.
Contest Rules: For a chance to win a MotivAider, leave a comment on this post telling us how your child (or someone you know) with ADD/ADHD would use this behavior-change gadget. One winner will be chosen at random from comments posted by 5:00 p.m. EDT on October 15, 2010. Note: To be considered, please log in to leave a comment using a valid e-mail address. Those who do not will not be including in the drawing.