Director: Dr Alma Au
Co-director: Dr. Charles C. Chan
Prof. Daniel Shek
Project Associate: Ms Kammie Lai
Core Committee Members: Prof. YC Chan, Ms Eunice Choy, Dr. William Chu, Dr Daivid Ip, Prof. Cynthia Leung,
Dr Lu Huijing, Mrs. Helen Yu-Ku,
Adjunct specialist members: Dr Raymond Chan, Mr. Joseph Lau
The Department of Applied Social Sciences of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) set up The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Yan Oi Tong Au Suet Ming Child Development Centre for Giftedness (Child Development Centre) with the support of Yan Oi Tong, to provide all-round services including educational psychology, parent training, and child education for local organizations serving children and adolescents.
The purpose of the Child Development Centre is to promote child development. With a quality environment for learning and development, we hope that every child will have an opportunity for gifted development.
Both parents and teacher play an important role in child development. The Child Development Centre will focus on:
- Child education to teach children an effective emotional management and to enhance their attention
- Training for teachers to enhance their professional knowledge and skills, to equip them to promote child intellectual development and learning.
- Parenting education to equip parents with the knowledge, skills and techniques to promote child development in all domains including brain function development, social skill development, emotional and behavioural management.
In response to the rising demand for all-round child development, PolyU also launched the Master of Educational and Child Psychology (MECP) programme in 2009 and the Master of Applied Psychology (MAP) in 2012. These programmes aim at training a group of workers who wish to work in educational settings and organizations that are relevant to child-adolescent workforce development. The Child Development Centre will provide a platform for the training of MECP as well as MAP students.
Rigorous research is important to ensure that services to parents and children are effective. Towards this end, the Child Development Centre will:
- Engage in research to develop reliable and valid local instruments measuring child development, learning and behavior, as well as parenting.
- Collaborate with professionals in the evaluation of programmes and services for children and parents, to promote evidence-based practice.
1. Child Development Project (CDP)
In 2012, this project was implemented and aimed to promote holistic positive child development by enhancing teachers and parents to acquire relevant attitude, knowledge and skills in building a quality and nurturing environments (both in schools and homes) for learning. The ultimate goal was to provide children an opportunity for optimal development. Children reach their full potential when parents and teachers acknowledge the importance of child-centred education. Often development problems can be resolved with minimum conflict when adults react sensitively to the child’s uniqueness. It is critical that adults respond to the child’s strength, weakness, interest, personality, and learning style. Assessment to identify high potential children was based on the N.O.I.S.E model. Children are Nominated, Observed, Investigated, Selected and Endorsed for high cognitive abilities. Various established psychological assessment tools are used. The belief is we can recruit high-potential children through systematic evaluation of objective evidences to supplement initial subjective nominations by parents and teachers. Assessment was conducted by registered psychologist.
In this project, 500 children were nominated and assigned to small groups for assessment for non-verbal paper pencil tests. Among them, 75 children with high intellectual potential were further assessed using the WISC-IV (Hong Kong). Educational workshops on positive child development were also offered for parents and teachers. Parents were expected to have better understanding of their child’s strengths and weaknesses and be motivated to invest their time and efforts to nurturing and laying the early foundation for lifetime learning. They would be more competent to provide emotional support to their child. Parents were also expected to make a commitment to cooperate with school to promote their child’s positive self-concept, developmental and intellectual abilities including academic, creative, and leadership abilities. In the training workshops, both parents and teachers would acquire the right attitude, knowledge and skills in nurturing the children. Parents were expected to become change agents in cooperation with school to promote positive child development. Teachers could become peer mentors for further development of the project.
2. A Randomized Waitlist-Controlled Trial of an Enhanced Triple P – Positive Parenting Program for Chinese Children with ADHD in Hong Kong
Carried out in collaboration with the HKPU Educational Psychology Trainees This pilot study adopted the Triple P, namely Positive Parenting Program (Sanders, 1999), and examined its effectiveness for Chinese children with ADHD in Hong Kong. Cases had been referred to us from the United Christian Hospital. The Triple P, derived from social learning principles, aims to prevent and improve children’s behaviour problems by increasing parent’s knowledge, skills, and parenting confidence. One of the unique characteristics of the Triple P is that it adopts a mixed mode with face-to-face sessions in group and also telephone consultation sessions in individual. It includes homework with concrete content for the parents to do at home between the group sessions. The use of telephone consultations enhances access to service and treatment adherence as well as attention to individual needs.
At post-intervention, parents in the intervention group reported significantly lower intensity of child’s disruptive behaviour and indicated a significantly increase in perceived sense of efficacy competence in parenting than those in the waitlist-controlled group. The treatment gains still maintained after 3-month follow up. Last but not least, focus group was conducted to interview the parents in the intervention group to ask about their opinions in relation to how this program induced positive changes among themselves and their children. Parents revealed that a deeper understanding of what the child is going through had helped them to develop better empathy and resourcefulness to cope with the child on a daily basis. The qualitative results were informative for tailor-making future parenting intervention in ADHD in the Chinese contexts. A paper has been submitted to an international journal for consideration of publication.
3. Evaluation of Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) for Parents of Children with AD/HD in the Local Community Setting
Funded by the Social Welfare Department, this pilot study was in collaboration with the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association with its territory-wide network of centres in Hong Kong. The project aimed to examine the effectiveness of an 8-session behavioural parent training (BPT) in a local community setting (Hong Kong). The BPT is one of the most widely behavioral interventions used for parents of children with behavior problems (Pelham, Wheeler, & Chronis, 1998; Weisz & Jensen, 2001). It is based on a foundation of social learning principles that teach children more socially acceptable behaviors by training primary caregivers in contingency management strategies, emphasizing behavior modification, cues, consequences, reward systems, and discipline (Chronis, Chacko, Fabiano, Wymbs, & Pelham, 2004). It also assumes that appropriate and inappropriate behaviors of children are maintained by parents, who provide important cues and consequences for the child's behavior (Maughan, Christiansen, Jenson, Olympia, &Clark, 2005). In this pilot study, there were in total 162 participants. The child disruptive behaviors and the reported parental stress were measured to evaluate the effectiveness of the BPT program. In addition, the maintenance of the BPT program was evaluated two months after the intervention. Results suggested a strong effect size for reducing the disruptive behavior of the child. The report will be submitted to the Social Welfare Department over the summer.
4. A Randomized Controlled Trial Study of Computerized Cognitive Training (AttenGo) in Adolescents with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
In collaboration with several non-government agencies and parents’ associations serving children with attention problems, this pilot study aimed at investigating the effectiveness of a computerized cognitive training program, AttenGo, on a group of children and adolescents with ADHD in Hong Kong. Cognitive training is based on the concept of skill training in which the different components of cognition are considered as skills that can be improved by training. The training usually requires participants to involve in a series of repetitive exercises that provides them the chance to practice on tasks with increasing attentional demands. Repeated practice of certain cognitive processes is theorized to facilitate the adaptation of the underlying neuroanatomical network (Kern, Eso, & Thomson, 1999). AttenGo is an individualized online software designed for individuals aged 6 or above with ADHD. Improved parent-reported attention and hyperactivity symptoms were shown by a group of children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 after 6 month’s training (Gottfried, 2005). The outcomes were expected that the children in the intervention group would exhibit a significantly lower level of inattention and hyperactivity symptoms and parents in the intervention group would also report lower parenting stress. The study will be completed on August, 2013.
Planned projects to be started in September 2013:
Project One: Differential outcomes of social inhibition in development: Interaction between child temperament and maternal parenting
The present study aims to investigate the direct and interactive effects of child temperament and maternal parenting on preschool-aged children’s developmental outcomes in terms of their internalizing and externalizing behaviors and levels of social competence, academic competence and school readiness. It will recruit a community sample of about 500 mother-child dyads from 12 local kindergartens. Assessment of internalizing and externalizing behaviors will be conducted at multiple time points in a 16-month period. The present study will also test the efficacy of a selective, temperament-based parent intervention program in helping socially inhibited children in reducing negative development outcomes.
Project Two: Early assessment and intervention for enhancing attention and behavioral control in preschool children
Built on the existing track record on the previous studies at the centre, the project will develop and validate a seminal model specific to the needs of Hong Kong Chinese pre-school children. Carried out with major international centres of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, specific of the project are as follows:
- To develop an evidence-based early detection and intervention model for preschoolers with high levels of ADHD symptoms
- Identification of barriers to treatment success for high-risk families (including those living with low socio-economic status) through literature review and interviews with the parents
- Based on the data collected, tailor-making an enhanced ADHD parenting program for the high-risk and potentially difficult to treat children.
Project Three: Neurofeedback for Children with Diverse Learning Needs
Neurofeedback has been recently recommended as an important intervention for children with diverse learning needs by many international guidelines. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has, for instance, recommended this as almost essential for treatment for attention difficulties. The procedure involves a simple and safe procedure of monitoring and altering the child’s brainwaves to a focused yet relaxed state when playing computer games. Our pilot study at the Centre has identified substantial gains in objective tests of attention after ten sessions of treatment (Au et al. In press.). We have already formed a network with the major child centers of the Hospital Authority to refer cases to us. We have also formed a core team of assistants with recognized basic training. And the work will be carried out with the BrainClinic at Nijmegen, Netherlands, a leading international center in neurofeedback.
- 兒童培訓 – 教導兒童有效的情緒管理方法，訓練並提升專注力。
- 教師培訓 - 提昇教師的專業知識和技巧，促進兒童的智能發展和學習。
- 家長親職教育 - 裝備家長有關兒童發展的知識和相關的親職技巧，以促進兒童各方面的發展，包括腦功能發展、社交技巧、情緒以及行為管理。
二、香港過度活躍症兒童提升版3P正面家長教育課程 (Enhanced Positive Parenting Program)
這個研究計劃採用了3P (triple P) 理論，即正面家長教育(Sanders, 1999)，並檢驗其對患有過度活躍症的香港兒童的有效性。3P理論，來源於社會學習原則，旨在通過增加父母的相關知識，技能和為人父母信心，來防止和改善兒童的行為問題。3P理論的獨特特徵之一是它採用面對面的小組會談與個案電話諮詢相結合的混合模式。它包括在每兩次的小組會談間隔中，為父母們設計的有具體內容組之間的家庭功課。使用電話諮詢提升了我們對服務和治療相關事宜，以及個案的個性化需求的瞭解。
三、香港過度活躍症兒童的家長行為教養訓練評估 (Behavioural Parent Training)
這項試點性研究由社會福利署資助，與香港小童群益會在全港範圍內的中心網絡進行合作。該項目旨在檢驗在本地社區環境中為期8次的行為教養培訓（BPT）的有效性。BPT為外國最廣泛使用，為有行為問題兒童的家長設計的行為介入訓練之一 (Pelham, Wheeler, & Chronis, 1998; Weisz & Jensen, 2001)。該訓練基於一個基礎社會學習原理，通過訓練家長對突發事件的管理策略，教導家長一系列的改善兒童行為的方法（包括：行為改進、提示、獎賞計劃和注重紀律），藉以教授兒童在社交中較為人們接受的行為 (Chronis, Chacko, Fabiano, Wymbs, & Pelham, 2004)。這項試點研究共有162個參與者參加。研究的結果顯示行為教養培訓能有效地大大減少兒童的破壞性行為。此外，項目的訓練成果在訓練結束2個月後仍然得以維持。
這項試點性研究與一些非政府機構及服務於有專注力不足兒童的家長協會合作。該研究的目標是檢驗一個明名為AttenGo的電腦化認知訓練程式能否有效地提升本地患有過度活躍症兒童及青少年的專注力。AttenGo是一款為6歲或以上過度活躍症兒童提供個性化訓練的線上軟體。認知訓練基於技能訓練概念，當中提倡不同的認知元素可看成一種技能，可以通過訓練而有所提升。培訓通常要求參與者參與一系列的重複練習。在集中力需求不斷增加的任務的情況下，為他們提供了練習的機會。相關理論認為，對特定認知過程進行反覆實踐有助於相關神經網路的形成(Kern, Eso, & Thomson, 1999)。
我們在中心的試驗性研究已經通過客觀集中力測試，確定了經過十個療程治療後的參與者獲得了可觀的改善(Au et al. In press.)。我們已經與醫院管理局統轄的主要兒童中心形成了一個合作網絡，以獲取轉介的個案。我們還建立了由受過被認可的基礎訓練的工作助理組成的核心團隊，並將與位處荷蘭奈梅亨的一個國際領先的神經反饋中心BrainClinic開展工作。