Computerized cognitive training in children with autism and intellectual disabilities: Feasibility and satisfaction study

Songpoom Benyakorn, Catrina A. Calub, Steven J. Riley, Andrea Schneider, Ana-Maria Iosif, Marjorie Solomon Friedman, David R Hessl, Julie B Schweitzer

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Abstract

Background: Researchers are increasingly interested in testing and developing computerized cognitive training interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder due to the limited accessibility of treatments for this disorder. Understanding the feasibility of testing cognitive interventions for this population is critical, especially for individuals with ASD who have low to moderate intellectual ability. Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of computerized cognitive training as measured by attrition rate and a parent satisfaction survey. Methods: A total of 26 participants aged 8-17 years with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and significant intellectual impairment were enrolled (mean age 11.1 years). They were instructed to complete 25 sessions of Cogmed Working Memory Training in 5 to 6 weeks with coach assistance. Attrition rate and parent satisfaction surveys were measured after the completion of training. Results: Most participants (96%, 25/26) completed the training and indicated high satisfaction (>88%). However, among the participants who completed the training, 5 participants (19%) were unable to finish in 6 weeks, the recommended training period by Cogmed. Parents noted various positive (eg, voice-overs) and negative (eg, particular graphic and sounds associated with a stimulus) features of the game that they thought affected their child's response. Conclusions: Children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual impairments can successfully participate in computerized cognitive training interventions but may require additional weeks to complete the training beyond the time needed for children without intellectual impairments. The overall completion rate, with extended time to complete the training, was high. Developers of cognitive training programs for this population should take into account potential issues regarding the noise level of stimuli and characteristics of the visual graphics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere40
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Intellectual disability
  • Satisfaction
  • Training
  • Treatment adherence
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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