Edinburgh Research Explorer

Click-East: a randomised controlled trial of a new iPad-based social attention intervention for toddlers and pre-schoolers with autism

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental medicine and child neurology
Issue numbers2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Computer-based learning suits the preferences and abilities of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Modern touchscreen technologies are accessible to very young children and/or those with limited abilities. A key intervention target for this population is social attention, including attention to people and following social cues. We ask whether an iPad app can effectively support learning of these real-world abilities.

54 children with confirmed (by ADOS) diagnoses of core autism, aged under 6 years old, were randomly assigned to immediate or delayed treatment arms. Treatment consisted of two months at home with a specially-designed therapeutic iPad app, which rewarded in-game social attention skills. Children were assessed before, immediately after intervention and at six-month follow-up from baseline.

Baseline sample characteristics show that the two intervention groups are well-matched on autism severity, general ability (Mullen Scales of Early Learning), language and demographic characteristics. Post-intervention data indicate a high level of satisfaction with the approach and anecdotal parent reports of new language and pointing skills. The RCT completes in July 2013. This submission will be the first presentation of our primary outcome measure: total ADOS-Change score, a rating of observed parent-child interaction. In addition, we will report any change in ADOS severity scores and vocabulary.

This study is the first RCT of touchscreen technology with this young population. Results are likely to impact on the use of touchscreen technologies in schools and the home to support learning and therapy for children with ASD.

ID: 19765569