Analysing handwriting with DADiSP leads to diagnosis

In a study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Littleton Meeks of Meeks Associates, Inc. used a computer to analyse the handwriting of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These studies have looked at handwriting of children when they are unmedicated and medicated using Ritalin. Meeks is hoping to develop a test instrument to diagnose ADHD, as well as evaluate the effects of Ritalin on handwriting, perhaps providing an algorithm to allow a proper dosage level to be set for an individual child.

Advances in computer technology have made it possible to record and analyse handwriting. Meeks uses a WACOM digitiser interfaced to a personal computer to sample and record the position of the pen tip during the writing process. The digitiser has a sampling rate of 205 points/sec with a resolution of 0.01 mm. DADiSP was used to analyse the recorded x and y position of the pen, calculate pen speed, and measure pauses in pen motion. This system allows even small rapid handwriting to be recorded. The WACOM system also has the advantage of recording the axial force of the pen or the pen pressure against the paper.

It is a well-known fact that many children with ADHD have difficulty writing neatly and legibly. Furthermore, pediatricians and clinicians have noted that the handwriting of these children may improve markedly when they are medicated with Ritalin. Because of this, Meeks decided to study the handwriting of children with ADHD when they are unmedicated and after they have received their prescribed medication.

The goal of Meeks Associates in doing this study is to develop a method of assessment of ADHD based on the accurate measurement of the children’s handwriting. According to Meeks, “With DADiSP we can investigate the process of handwriting in detail: how pen speed and pen pressure change with time and where pauses occur.” It is hoped that this experiment will provide an objective test for the diagnosis of ADHD. The study may also be extended to evaluate the effect of Ritalin on handwriting and may be used in the future to verify the correct dosage of Ritalin used to properly medicate a child.

DADiSP is supplied and supported in the UK and Ireland by Adept Scientific plc, Amor Way, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 1ZA; telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810, fax +44 (0) 203 695 7819, email; or see Adept’s World Wide Web site Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

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