New Way To Improve Academic Performance In Autistic Children

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‘Autistic children can benefit from attention training by improving their academic performance in schools.’

Lead researcher, Dr Carmel Mevorach, in the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health, and School of Psychology, says: “It’s only recently that we have started to focus on the way autistic people pay attention in addition to, for example, how they interact and socialise. Attention is a fundamental cognitive process and better controlling it can have an impact on other behaviors, as well as on learning ability” .

In this study, 26 participants with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the So Paolo ASD Reference Unit were involved as two groups to take part in 45-minute training sessions twice a week for 8 weeks.

The training sessions used a computer program called CPAT – Computerised Progressive Attentional Training, developed by the Birmingham team in partnership with researchers at Tel-Aviv University in Israel. This program includes training games targeting different types of attention, and at progressively more difficult levels.

The control group was given ordinary computer games to play. The trial is conducted in such a way that none of the children, their families, or the researchers assessing them do not know in which group they are in.

The CPAT group immediately after completing the training showed improvements in the number of isolated words they can identify and read in 10 minutes correctly. Their ability to copy the number of words is also increased.

The CPAT group also improved their maths scores by more than 50 per cent. All these improvements were maintained even after re-testing in three months after completing the program. In contrast, the control group participants showed no evidence of improvement in these areas.

The CPAT program is currently carried out as pilot projects in Greece, Spain, Israel and the UK schools to enable teachers involved in autism training to give feedback about how this training will work best for autistic children.

The next stage for the research is to carry out a larger clinical trial to establish the potential impact of the intervention.

Source: Medindia

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