SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — From the time Stella Schwartz entered kindergarten, life at school and occasionally at home could be a challenge.
Mother Marianna Schwartz said, “I was getting a lot of reports from her teachers that she couldn’t sit still and couldn’t pay attention and was being disruptive in the classroom.”
Doctors diagnosed her with Sensory Processing Dysfunction.
Think of it like sensory overload, where taste, touch, sight or sound can overwhelm the child’s brain.
Over the next decade, Stella and her parents tried dozens of therapies with modest success, until she became a part of a pioneering study at UCSF which encouraged her to play a video game they designed.
UCSF neurology professor Joaquin Anguera said, “We’re making a more palatable way of training the game. That’s our goal. It’s not entertainment per se. It’s trying to have the kids exercise their brain in a very specific and prescribed fashion.”
The researchers have asked us not to show the video game, which can be played on a phone or tablet because it’s currently part of a nationwide, clinical study to test if it’s effective in treating Attention Deficit Disorder and Sensory Processing Dysfunction.
Marianna Schwartz says the change in her daughter after the initial six-week study was remarkable.
“She’d never come down, dressed and ready for school once in her entire life. And maybe you could say, ‘well, after seven or eight years, maybe she just figured it out.’ but I’d never seen that happen before,” Marianna Schwartz said.
Researchers are encouraged as well. They say a third of children with attention deficits saw their symptoms virtually disappear after playing the game for as little at 30 minutes a day.
They experienced significant improvement in their attention.