Hanging Out with CoolCraig: Self-Regulation for Youth with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Engaging and Empowering Patients


Using Digital Healthcare Tools in Chronic Disease Self-Management

A wearable digital healthcare intervention to promote selfregulation among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their parents is a promising method to support adherence to treatment.

Treatment support between clinic visits

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric conditions among adolescents and requires treatment continuity to support lifelong gains. Traditionally, treatment for ADHD includes behavioral intervention and, often, daily medication. While effective, long-term adherence with this model can be challenging for both the child and the parent, related to limited support outside the clinical setting. Dr. Kimberley Lakes and Dr. Gillian Hayes, a psychologist and computer scientist, respectively, paired their expertise to design technology that would address this gap in care by maintaining treatment for youth with ADHD outside of visits to the doctor’s office.

A solution on your wrist

The research team developed and piloted CoolCraig, a system consisting of a smartwatch, mobile phone application, and web portal to deliver self-regulating interventions to both the youth wearing the device and their parents. Dr. Lakes and Dr. Hayes and their team designed the technology with the input of users, hosting design workshops with youth, parents, teachers, and clinicians. With the overall goal to improve ADHD treatment adherence, the team made sure that adolescents had their voices heard and incorporated features to support behavioral change. The team evaluated the usability and feasibility of this intervention in a 20-participant pilot study, observing participant’s self-regulation and parent’s coregulation techniques acquired from wearing the technology.

“This can be a really meaningful way to help support yourself, and to build the self-efficacy and the independent agency in being able to know what you need to manage yourself and to regulate emotions and behavior on a day-to-day basis.”
- Dr. Kimberley Lakes

A feasible approach

This research illustrated the value of both co- and self-regulation for children with ADHD, and the role digital healthcare interventions can have in this model. During the COVID-19 pandemic with school provided by distance learning, CoolCraig provided structured support during challenging times. Drs. Lakes and Hayes gained a better understanding of designing technological interventions to enhance the support of CoolCraig users and plan to expand the prototype for promising future research.