ASD children or with autismif stimulated to the training to the attention they can obtain great benefits. To declare it are the researchers of theUniversity of Birmingham in the UK together with the institutions of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who developed and then tested a computer program designed for train basic attention skills in a group of ASD children aged between eight and 14 years.
There Research was published in the scientific journal Autism Research.
How do ASD children react to attention training?
During the experimentation of the program, the children who participated demonstrated significant improvements in math, reading, writing and general attention both immediately after training and during a three-month follow-up assessmentDr. Carmel Mevorach, head of research at the Center for Human Brain Health and the University of Birmingham School of Psychology, he has declared: “Only recently have we begun to focus on how people with autism pay attention as well as, for example, how they interact and socialize. Attention is a fundamental cognitive process and controlling it better can have an impact on other behaviors, as well as on the ability to learn ”.
During study, the team involved 26 participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the ASD reference unit of São Paulo, a specialized treatment unit for children. The children took part in 45-minute training sessions twice a week for eight weeks.
Half of the group that took part used a computer program called CPAT – Computerized Progressive Attentional Training, created in a previous project by the Birmingham team in collaboration with researchers from theTel-Aviv University in Israel. The CPAT program includes training games aimed at different types of attention and progressively more difficult levels.
The second half of the group was a control group and they were given i classic computer games to play. The experimentation was carried out so that none of the children, their families or the researchers who evaluated them knew which group they belonged to and each of them was simply told that they would play games that could help them in school.
Immediately after completing the training, the CPAT group showed improvements in the number of isolated words they could identify and read correctly in 10 minutes (an increase from about 44 to about 53). They were also able to increase the number of words they could copy from about 18 to about 25. In math, the CPAT group improved their scores by more than 50 percent. All of these improvements were maintained when the children were re-examined three months after completing the program.
In contrast, participants in the control group showed no signs of improvement in any of the three areas.
The CPAT program is currently included in the Erasmus + Teacher Training in Attention in Autism (TTAA) project who has partner in Greece, Spain, Israel is UK. The team is also running local pilot projects with schools in each of the countries to allow teachers to integrate it into their environment in the way they see fit.
Dr. Mevorach specified: “We have found that by giving teachers the freedom to experiment with CPAT we are discovering much more about its potential benefits. Autism is highly individual, so developing an intervention that can be tuned to a particular individual or environment is really the key to success. “
The next stage of research will consist in carrying out a larger clinical trial to establish the potential impact of the intervention. The research was funded in the UK by the Economic and Social Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, and by the Erasmus Program of the European Union.