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ParentGuardian helps parents of ADHD kids keep their stress in check


June 4, 2014

The ParentGuardian system combines a stress-monitoring sensor and an app that delivers real-time prompts

The ParentGuardian system combines a stress-monitoring sensor and an app that delivers real-time prompts

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It can be hard enough for parents to maintain a cool head when dealing with an angry child at the best of times, but things can get much more difficult when that child has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). That's why scientists at Microsoft Research and the University of California, San Diego have created ParentGuardian. It combines a wrist-worn sensor and an app, to monitor parents' stress levels and deliver real-time coping strategies.

Developed by UCSD PhD computer science student Laura Pina, ParentGuardian utilizes the Parenting Behavioral Therapy approach. This is designed specifically to improve self-control and self-awareness in ADHD children, and to help their parents manage their own stress.

The sensor measures changes in the parent's galvanic skin response – the electrical conductivity of their skin, as determined by subtle sweat secretions that accompany strong emotions. Parents start by "training" the system, letting it know what conductivity levels correspond to what states of mind.

When they're subsequently involved in a disagreement with their child, the sensor transmits its data to a cloud-based server. By processing the data, the server detects when their stress levels are starting to get too high. It then responds by alerting the parent via an app on their smartphone and/or tablet. That app provides Parenting Behavioral Therapy-based prompts such as "Fill your lungs with air: Take three full, deep breaths" or "You are your child’s role model. What do you want to teach?".

The system was tested on a group of parents with ADHD children over a course of three months, with the participants giving it an average rating of 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 7. It is currently still in development.

Source: USCD Jacobs School of Engineering

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
1 Comment

sounds like a good idea. I've known people who could use it that don't even have kids.

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