Oct. 3, 2016

Leading American ADHD scholar joins forces with Alberta colleagues for research exchange

Team from Werklund School will collaborate with 2016 Fulbright Canada-Palix Foundation Visiting Research Chair

The statistics vary, but any way you look at it, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming increasingly prevalent in school-age children. In recent years, it has become one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in children. Some suggest that in a typical classroom of 30 students, anywhere from one to three will be diagnosed with ADHD.

A child with ADHD often faces stigma associated with the perception of how they might behave, what they are incapable of doing, and how their disorder might affect the people around them.

Lloyd “Chip” Taylor, a professor of psychology at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, has focused much of his work on the study of ADHD.

Four thousand kilometres to the northwest, at the University of Calgary, Emma Climie is also researching ADHD, as she works to discover what children diagnosed with the disorder can do well rather than focusing on their deficits.

Soon the two will be working together.

Exchange brings together experts from Canada, U.S.

Taylor has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Canada-Palix Distinguished Visiting Research Chair to come to UCalgary to work on a project that builds upon the ongoing research conducted by Climie and her team within the Werklund School. The goal — to more deeply understand the relationship between parent, teacher, and student knowledge of ADHD and resilience, particularly as it pertains to bullying and ostracism.

For Climie, an assistant professor in the Werklund School of Education, the chance to work with Taylor is the kind of opportunity that doesn’t come up very often.

“Chip and I share a mutual interest in supporting children with ADHD and bringing in his expertise to UCalgary is a nice compliment to the work my lab is doing on knowledge and stigma,” says Climie.

Shifting the focus from shortfalls to strengths

Rather than focusing on the risks, difficulties, and challenges that come with ADHD for many children, Climie and her team want to consider understanding the things that these children do well and what resources they might find in their own families and communities.

Taylor’s research runs parallel to this. He focuses on understanding the role of knowledge and resilience as protective factors of bullying and ostracism among children and adolescents with ADHD.

"This work is significant for numerous reasons,” said Taylor. “It provides an opportunity to understand risk and resilience factors for this specific group of children, and has the potential to help shape policy and enhance the clinical work of practitioners.”

Climie agrees and says, “We hope to build on our strengths-based approach to ADHD and bring awareness to some of the longstanding challenges faced by children with ADHD and their families.”

Fulbright Canada-Palix Foundation recognizes excellence in brain science and wellness

Taylor joins two other scholars awarded 2016 Fulbright Canada-Palix Foundation Distinguished Visiting Research Chairs. Patrick Carnes, of New Freedom Corporation will be a visiting expert at the University of Alberta, while John Ziker, professor and chair in the Department of Anthropology at Boise State University, will conduct research at the University of Lethbridge.

The Palix Foundation’s partnership with Fulbright Canada makes the Alberta Distinguished Chairs program possible. Unique in Canada, the program not only builds the strengths of the participating research institutions but also enables the Palix Foundation to address the Alberta Family Wellness Initiatives (AFWI), the goal of which is to mobilize and connect research about early brain and biological development, with the hope that the research will help in understanding and addressing a range of issues with respect to the mental health of young people.

“The Fulbright-Palix program continues a fantastic tradition of cross-border exchange between the brightest minds in Canada and the U.S.,” says John Reynolds, acting vice-president (research) at the University of Calgary. “We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Taylor to our campus to spend a semester collaborating with our scholars to create new knowledge in this targeted area of inquiry.”

Says Michael Hawes, CEO at Fulbright Canada, “This initiative is an excellent example of how partnerships — in this case between the Palix Foundation, Alberta’s three research universities and Fulbright Canada — can lead to measurable positive outcomes.”

Late last month at a special event on campus, Taylor was joined by Carnes and Ziker, as each expert provided an overview of their research and discussed how their experiences in Alberta will allow them to explore new directions and build new partnerships.

Taylor will return to UCalgary to begin working on this research collaboration in January 2017.