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Eye tracking in children with ADHD: exploring new diagnostic measures and reading training procedures

The overall aim of this research was to explore new diagnostic measures and reading training procedures for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Specifically, it was hypothesised that the participants with ADHD would have different eye movement behaviours when reading aloud and silently compared to matched controls. It was also hypothesised that there would be a relationship between their eye movement behaviours and their leg and arm movements, with the administration of methylphenidate producing noticeable changes. The participants consisted of three male children with ADHD, aged between 7-8 years, and two reading level and age matched controls. The research consisted of two experiments during which the participants read short stories, while ignoring two visual distracters. The eye tracker recorded their eye lines of gaze, including their the number of fixations and the angles of saccades. During the training procedure, visual reminders prompted the participants to focus their attention on the reading task. As additional help, the computer-generated words were highlighted on the desired reading position. A calibration procedure that accommodated the hyperactivity of the participants with ADHD was successfully designed and outlined. Preliminary results indicate that the eye movements of the participants with ADHD differed from that of their matched controls and were characterised by rapidly changing lines of gaze and shorter fixation periods, which tended to be more pronounced when reading silently. :MPH reduced the amount of arm and leg movements but did not reduce the rapidly changing eye movements of one participant with ADHD, compared to matched controls with and without ADHD. The visual prompts in the training procedure had little social validity, but highlighting the text resulted in an increased consistency in the eye movement variables and reading performance when reading aloud and silently for both the participants with and without ADHD.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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