Thesis

Improving language and social skills in autism spectrum disorder using computer based training: a case study

There has been increasing incidence and awareness of autism spectrum disorders in recent years. Improved outcomes due to early intervention and continued assistance throughout the school years have created the need for ongoing support for adults on the autism spectrum. Recent advances in computer technology and understanding of the human brain offer the possibility that specific computer based training may provide a cost effective means to deliver this necessary support. The affinity of individuals with autism towards all things computer combined with the limited side effects and availability anywhere, anytime, are a winning combination. This case study examined to what extent, if any, training software produces improvements in the language and social skills of a bilingual, young adult who has autism. Primary focus was on working memory, sequencing, and facial recognition. This study involved pre and post testing, using real-world tasks, to measure the effects of using the Posit Science computer based training programs designed to improve language and social skills. Results suggest that computer based training was beneficial for the participant in these areas. Previous research conducted in this field has been encouraging, but limited in scope or generalized from individuals with related neurological conditions. More research is needed in this area and it is recommended that software designed specifically for individuals with autism be developed and used. Larger populations and longer time commitments are also necessary to determine if programs like this could be beneficial for other individuals on the autism spectrum.

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