Each Week OT expert, Sarit Tresser will be giving an in-depth insightful analysis into the various ways Health Games aid children with disabilities. Stay connected to receive first-hand input from a professional the field of child development
In my last post I discussed the positive and negative consequences of using a computer in the context of working with children with ADHD. Today I will try to answer the question of how we can use the computer as a tool for positive treatment, make the most of working with children with ADHD, and use it to improve attention functions.
First, as I wrote last week, Timocco’s computer game environment was built in such a way that the amount of time using it is limited to short periods of time. This design was created in order to avoid a situation in which the child is “confined” to the screen and detached from reality.
Timocco’s game environment enables the child to work on different components of attention as well as encourage working with the body. From the actual movement that the activity requires, the child is active, alert, and focused. During the active game, the child not only develops awareness of the space in which he is active and the limits of his body, but he also learns how to control his movements, regulate them, and how to be precise in his movements. The learning is done on the body through game experience that is meaningful to him, and is more clear and tangible so that the transfer of learning additional functions will be easier at a later stage.
The activity requires the child to cope with the different components of attention. For example, in the Bubble Bath game the child is required to respond to the green bubbles and avoid the red ones (i.e., not to blow them up) and in fact this task requires him to filter out distractions, and inhibit and restrain impulsive responses. Another activity requires the child to respond to the color of an object according to the color of the ball shaped gloves on the hands; this is an example of increasing body awareness and movement. The game environment also includes games that require perception, such as to drag and position objects in a certain place on the screen on demand. Such a task challenges the ability of regulation and motor precision by controlling the arm movements and at the same time reducing other ineffective mobilities.
For older children, a new Timocco game was recently launched called Tim-Focus; a package of games which works on attention and function skills (ages 7-15). These games include more advanced content, such as space, cars and target shooting, which challenges the child’s attention in several ways. While Aliens in Space, for example, has a fast pace with an objective to improve attention split, shifting between a change in mind between the demands of the activity, and regrouping for the task. During the activity, other games are set at a slower pace and work on longer attention skills and perseverance of movement and motor control.
Once we have achieved a measure of regulation, organization, motor control, conscious of the limits of the body, curbing impulsivity and other skills as described above, we will apply the skills acquired in the virtual environment in other contexts (see previous post on the subject: functional transfer).