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A trial of an iPad™ intervention targeting social communication skills in children with autism

OPEN Autism : the international journal of research and practice | 28 Oct 2015

S Fletcher-Watson, A Petrou, J Scott-Barrett, P Dicks, C Graham, A O'Hare, H Pain and H McConachie
Abstract
This study evaluated a technology-based early intervention for social communication skills in pre-schoolers in a randomised controlled trial. Participants were 54 children aged under 6 years with a diagnosis of autism, assigned to either intervention or control conditions. The app engaged children, who played consistently, regardless of developmental level, and was rated highly by parents. There were no significant group differences in parent-report measures post-intervention, nor in a measure of parent-child play at follow-up. Therefore, this intervention did not have an observable impact on real-world social communication skills and caution is recommended about the potential usefulness of iPad(™) apps for amelioration of difficulties in interaction. However, positive attitudes among participants, lack of harms and the potential of apps to deliver therapeutic content at low economic cost suggest this approach is worth pursuing further, perhaps targeting other skill domains.
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Concepts
Learning, Skills, Economics, Randomized controlled trial, Communication
MeSH headings
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