International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Effectiveness of a Computer-Assisted Instructional Model for ASD

Effectiveness of a Computer-Assisted Instructional Model for ASD

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
C. Whalen , TeachTown, Seattle, WA
L. Liden , TeachTown, Seattle, WA
K. MacDonald , TeachTown, Seattle, WA
Background: Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) has increased substantially in popularity due to the increasing prevalence of ASD and shortages in available services. There is also a growing body of research in this area looking at the efficacy and potential of CAI. TeachTown Basics is a program that teaches language, social skills, life skills, academic and cognitive skills (4 domains) through an ABA-based computer program. The program includes computer learning for the child along with automatic data collection. A system for keeping session notes and communicating among the child’s team is also included, as well as over 100 off-computer generalization activities for working on skills in the natural environment.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to pilot the effectiveness, as well as common uses of the software, with 417 children.

Methods: Automatic data has been collected on more than 600 children using the TeachTown Basics software over the past 2 years. Children were selected who demonstrated at least 3 months of regular use (minimum of 1 hour/week on average over at least 3 months). Average scores on pre and post tests were analyzed, along with an analysis of the frequency of use, usage patterns (e.g. number and frequency of notes entered, average session length, etc.).

Results: Significant changes from pre to post tests were shown for all 4 learning domains, average session time was 15 minutes, average use was 6 times/week, children had average of 1.5 facilitators, average age of user was 6 years old (range 2-21 years), average notes use was 3 per week.

Conclusions: Initial results show promise for the use of this program to teach children with ASD and track their progress remotely. Future directions include a randomized clinical trial and development of a product for older children, supported by a recent Department of Education grant.

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