Current projects

Ongoing Recruiting Projects

1. Children's Social Behaviours Study

Children who have trouble with peer relationships during their childhood, especially those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are more likely to experience loneliness and sadness, and are at a higher risk for future problems such as disinterest in school, depression, anxiety, and behaviour problems. Unfortunately, the treatments that are currently known to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms are much less effective at improving peer relationship problems. Consequently, children with ADHD are at risk for developing various health problems. This conclusion highlights the importance of developing and evaluating new treatments that target the social difficulties of children with ADHD. The goal of this randomized, controlled, dual-site (Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau), and longitudinal study is to compare the effectiveness of two new intervention programs in helping parents better understand and manage the social difficulties experienced by their children with ADHD. We expect that these two intervention programs will help families who have children with ADHD, but our reason for conducting this study is to find out if they are useful in different ways or for different types of problems. We hope this information will help us to offer better adapted and more effective treatments in the future. The clinical trial has started in the fall 2013 and will go till summer 2018. It is funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded to Dr. Amori Mikami (Nominated Co-Principal Investigator, University of British Columbia), Dr. Sébastien Normand (Co-Principal Investigator, Université du Québec en Outaouais), and Dr. Victoria Savalei (Co-Applicant, University of British Columbia). 

Click here to learn more or to participate.

 

Other Ongoing Projects

2. Children’s Attention and the Challenges of Close Friendship

For children, having adequate relationships with their friends—and with the right friends—is very important, not only for children’s personal adjustment, but also for their success in school. Children without friends lose out on opportunities to develop their social skills. This also causes them to lose their interest in school. To make and keep friends, children must communicate well with their friends, pay attention to their friends’ needs and wishes, maintain their self-control when they are with their friends, and play according to the established rules. Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty establishing and maintaining such friendships. For this research project, which is funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), researchers are trying to analyze the communication patterns between between children with ADHD and their friends over six months in order to better understand the source of these interpersonal difficulties. Results were published in 2011 and 2013 in the highly-reputable Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (Click here for a general summary of the 2011 results or here for a general summary of the 2013 results. If you want more details, click here for the first complete results published in 2011 or here for the complete results published in September 2013). Researchers also recently presented these findings in June 2013 at the ISRCAP (International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology) meeting. Experts in children’s and adolescents’ mental health came from around the world to participate in this research conference held at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Results show that the tendency of children with ADHD to not follow the rules of games and to not pay attention to their friends’ preferences and needs partially explains why the quality of these children’s friendships deteriorates over time. Under the supervision of Dr. Normand, Marie Michèle Soucisse, Mylène Pitre, and Chloé Beaudin are currently coding the dyadic interactions of children with ADHD and their friends during free play. They are interested in the impact of ADHD on the quality of play between friends and on the evolution of friendship quality over time.

 

3. The Unique Role of ADHD in Children’s Friendship Development

In this observational study conducted in collaboration with the University of Virginia and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 1R21MH091486, Principal Investigator: Dr. Amori Mikami, University of Virginia), researchers are investigating the role of ADHD in predicting  whether or not school-age children are able to make friends. Is a child’s ADHD diagnosis related to having friends or not? How are mental health and behavioural problems related to having friends or not? Is the effect of mental health problems on the presence/absence of friendship worsened by the presence of an ADHD diagnosis? In addition, researchers are interested in understanding the predictors of the perceived and observed quality of children’s friendships. Researchers want to know how, besides the ADHD status and the mental health of a given child, the characteristics of the child’s friend are related to the quality of friendship in the dyad. Dyadic interactions between friends were coded, and statistical analyses are underway.

 

 

4. The Impact of Behavioural and Cognitive Inattention on Children's Academic Achievement 

For some researchers, finding out if a child is attentive means only observing the child’s behaviour. From a cognitive point of view, however, the definition of attention is more complex: attention involves the ability to maintain one’s attention (sustained attention), the ability to focus one’s attention on a given event and ignore other distracting elements present in the environment (selective attention), and the ability to shift one’s focus on demand (executive control). Collaborating with Dr. Kim M. Cornish (Monash University, Australia), Dr. John M. Wilding (University of London, England), and Dr. Rosemary Tannock (University of Toronto/Hospital for Sick Children), Dr. Sébastien Normand tries to better understand the relationship between the behavioural and cognitive aspects of attention and children’s academic achievement. This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC #410-2008-1052, Principal Investigators: Drs Rosemary Tannock and Kim M. Cornish).
 
 
 
 
 

5. Attention Problems in Cuban Children

In the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V; APA, 2013), ADHD is listed with three different current symptom presentations: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. However, given the heterogeneity of ADHD symptoms and the changes in symptoms throughout development, some researchers have questionned the current theoretical structure of ADHD. In order to better understand the structure of ADHD, we are using sophisticated statistical techniques to test new theoretical ADHD models in a sample of Cuban elementary schoolchildren. Collaborators include Dr Barry H. Schneider (University of Ottawa), Maria del Pilar Soteras del ToroYorkys Santana Gonzalez (Universidad de Oriente, Cuba), Dr. Maggie E. Toplak (York University), and Dr. Rosemary Tannock (University of Toronto/Hospital for Sick Children). This study is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC # 801-2006-0016, Principal Investigator: Dr Barry H. Schneider). Marie-Claire Losier is currently working on statistical analyses under the supervision of Professor Normand.

 

​6. Bifactor Models of ADHD in Puerto Rican Children 

In order to better understand ADHD, researchers are using sophisticated statistical techniques to test new theoretical ADHD models in a large sample of Puerto Rican children with and without ADHD. The researchers working on this study include Drs Jose J Bauermeister and Glorisa Canino (Universidad de Puerto Rico). This study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH # UO1-MH54827, Principal Investigator: Dr. Glorisa Canino). Statistical analysis is currently underway.
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