Eighteen children with an ADHD diagnosis (aged 9 to 17 years), all on medication, spent 12 days at one such camp, which included social skills training conducted in a playful manner, attention training and sports. Crucially, the camp also incorporated “response cost token-based behaviour training” – that is, the children earned or lost tokens according to whether they followed or broke the camp rules. They were encouraged to compare their token totals each evening and a winner was declared for each day following an “Olympics style” format. At the end of the camp, the tokens could be exchanged for prizes.
A control group of 19 age-matched children with ADHD, also on medication, didn’t go to camp, but their parents received a one-and-a-half hour-long psycho-educational session in which they were taught, amongst other things, about using a token strategy in the home.
Six months later, the children from both groups were tested on a range of neuropsychological measures and their outcomes compared with their pre-intervention test performance.
The key finding is that only the Summer Camp kids showed a reduction in the variability of their reaction times.