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Education

Does your child have ADHD? App created by Education University of Hong Kong professor will diagnose and help treat disorder with play exercises

Creator Dr Leung Chi-hung plans to launch app next year and says diagnosis is accurate nine out of 10 times

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 9:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 2:55pm

A professor at the Education University of Hong Kong has created an app teachers can use to assess children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and help them improve certain patterns of behaviour.

The app, to be launched in the middle of next year, will have 63 questions educators can use to evaluate children between the ages of six and 12, and eight training exercises to boost social skills.

These focus on better time management, organisation and self-monitoring, among other skills, as children with ADHD tend to have problems sitting still and lack self-control.

The app will be in English as well as traditional and simplified Chinese.

Its creator, Dr Leung Chi-hung, said he had tested prototypes on 260 children over eight weeks.

“They showed significant improvement, especially those between the ages of six and seven,” Leung said.

The app was accurate in diagnosis nine out of 10 times, he added.

Leung, a trained psychologist and associate professor at the department of special education and counselling, said early diagnosis of ADHD was important so children could get help as soon as possible.

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The exercises on the app will be play-based and done in groups of five children, who will tackle tasks together until they reach a certain level where they can move on to the next exercise.

The app will collect data on the youngsters, grouping them by age and ethnicity so researchers can better understand the extent of ADHD in the city.

According to Department of Health figures, there were 10,438 new cases of ADHD among children and adolescents last year, up from 8,773 in 2012.

But due to the growing needs of new patients and ongoing care for current ones, fresh cases have to wait over a year for treatment in the public sector. Last month, a University of Hong Kong study published in a psychiatry journal found there had been an increase in the use of ADHD medication in Hong Kong between 2001 and 2015 for both adults and children.

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Leung’s app is among 37 research projects at EdU that have received HK$21.46 million (US$2.74 million) in government funding for the current academic year.

Professor Lui Tai-lok, the university’s vice-president of research and development, said: “Researchers often walk a lonely road where no one understands them and their studies. But when you turn projects into products like this app, it helps others understand the purpose of their work.”