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Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 191–210 | Cite as

Technology-enhanced ABA intervention in children with autism: a pilot study

  • Silvia Artoni
  • Luca Bastiani
  • Maria Claudia Buzzi
  • Marina Buzzi
  • Olivia Curzio
  • Susanna Pelagatti
  • Caterina Senette
Long Paper
  • 596 Downloads

Abstract

This study investigates whether ICT technology can enhance applied behavior analysis (ABA) rehabilitation therapy for children with autism. A technology-enhanced rehabilitation system to support the daily work of ABA tutors, parents and teachers was created, involving ABA experts and parents of autistic children in the entire design phase, in order to better understand the system’s functional requirements and enhance its usability. Thus, combining the ABA programs with a learning analytics tool, an open-source Web application , ABCD SW, was implemented for teaching and monitoring learning in low-functioning autistic children. In a small pilot study the system was tested on seven children with autism enrolled in an intensive intervention lasting 9 months. The children were assessed before and after the pilot test, using Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales to measure their personal and social skills. Test participants showed improved communication, especially in the expressive category (p < 0.05). Subjective feedback from the ABA team involved in the user test confirmed the children’s improvement in socialization, communication and behavior. ABCD SW expedites the intervention (thus increasing its efficiency) and makes it more pleasant for the children. Furthermore, ABCD SW enables caregivers to easily conduct and personalize the intervention, reducing its cost. The study seems to suggest that ABCD SW, and ICT technology in general, can enhance ABA rehabilitation therapy for children with autism, encouraging further investigation of this promising research field.

Keywords

Autism ABA Technology User interface Tablet Didactic software 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the children, families and the ABA teams who participated in the pilot tests, in particular Claudia Fenili, Simona Mencarini and Patrizio Batistini who evaluated participants. We thank the psychologists Valentina Cutrupi and Eugenia Romano for their support and valuable suggestions in writing this paper. We finally thank Regione Toscana, which funded this project within the framework of the “FAS 2007 2013 Delibera CIPE 166/2007 PAR FAS Regione Toscana Action Line 1.1.a.3” and the Registro.it for partially funding this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Clinical Physiology (IFC)CNRPisaItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Informatics and Telematics (IIT)CNRPisaItaly

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