Welcome to the ACCTION Lab!
Advancing Community-Centered Interventions in the Chicagoland area!
Dr. Zoe R. Smith
Assistant Professor, Psychology
The ACCTION Lab at Loyola University Chicago focuses on community-based intervention development for youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT). We are developing an intervention that helps prevent the negative health outcomes associated with ADHD and SCT, including higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. We use technology and qualitative methods to increase engagement and understanding of treatment needs for youth that have been systemically oppressed (e.g., creating culturally responsive interventions for Asian, Black, and Latina/o/e youth by listening to needs of the community and allowing flexibility in the intervention development) from mental health treatment. We focus on working with Black and Brown youth and their families using a cultural responsiveness and healing-focused lens. This is particularly important for youth with ADHD, who often face discrimination in school, the medical system, and from peers. Dr. Z also has expertise in longitudinal data analyses and psychometrics (see consultation section if interested in statistical services).
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that starts in childhood (prior to age 12) and often continues into adulthood. People with ADHD can look very different and there are 3 presentations of ADHD. ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Presentation includes 6 or more symptoms of inattention and 5 or less symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity that is impairing/distressing in daily life. ADHD Combined Presentation includes 6 or more symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity that are impairing/distressing in daily life. Finally, ADHD Predominantly Hyperactivity/Impulsive Presentation (the least common, but still exists!) includes 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and 5 or less symptoms of inattention.
People with ADHD are wonderful, smart, creative, and fun! ADHD is usually a life long diagnosis and there are many treatments (e.g., therapy, academic skill building, medication) that can help increase healthy habits and decrease any impairments related to ADHD symptoms.
There are 3 presentations of ADHD:
ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
ADHD Combined Presentation
ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation
What is Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT)?
SCT is currently a set of behavioral symptoms including maladaptive daydreaming (i.e., being disengaged from your environment so often it has negative consequences), mental fogginess/confusion, and slowed behavior/thinking. It is a relatively newly studied area of mental health.
Symptoms can include:
Lost in a fog / mentally foggy
Stares blanking into space / stares a lot
Loses train of thought
Gets lost in own thoughts
Spaces or zones out
Seems to be in their own world
Forgets what they are going to say
Gets mixed up
Thinking is slow
Difficulty expressing thoughts
Behavior is slow / sluggish
Drowsy or sleepy during the day or a drowsy/sleep appearance
Low level of activity
Easily tired or fatigued
Underactive compared to others
What are "community-centered" interventions?
Another great question!
Community-centered means that we create interventions, treatments, and resources focused on what the communities we serve need (e.g., Chicago area, adolescents with ADHD and/or SCT, families of youth with ADHD and/or SCT). That means we listen to the lived experiences (i.e., listen to what life is like for you!) of the communities we serve and create help where it is needed.
Interventions in our lab mean that we create ways to help people in our community. We focus on increasing healing and wellbeing for youth and their families, which can look like many different things. One intervention we have created is focused on creating healing and trauma-informed assessments for Black and Latina/o/e adolescents with ADHD (see Project CRAFT).
Healing and Liberation
In this lab we acknowledge the oppressive systems that exist in Chicago and advocate toward liberation. This is being community-centered, meaning we will listen to and create interventions for the community needs. We work to dismantle oppressive systems, including current mental health systems that are not working for most people.