Additionally, findings suggest computer-assisted programs like TeachTown: Basics can increase children’s interest and motivation, language and social interaction, and provide treatment at a significantly reduced cost. In addition, it may be an excellent option for rural, low and middle-income families who do not have access to trained professionals or who cannot afford the services. For those children currently enrolled in services, computer-assisted programs can be utilized to supplement and reinforce skills.
Study findings include:
Significant changes were observed for children with autism and children with Down syndrome using the TeachTown: Basics software with a 53% increase from pre to post-tests.
Instead of paying less attention to others while on the computer, as most people would, children with autism showed the opposite profile
paying more attention to those in the room and showing more positive social behaviors
Children with autism demonstrated dramatic changes in language and social behaviors (105% increase) while using the TeachTown: Basics program compared to baseline play sessions with their parents
The children used more spontaneous comments (e.g., "Look Mom, a rocket ship!")
Children also looked at their parents more and showed more enjoyment (i.e., positive affect)
While appropriate language went up, inappropriate language decreased
Positive social behaviors went up, while inappropriate behaviors such as tantrums and avoidance went down
Inappropriate language and behaviors decreased by 61% for children with autism while using the TeachTown: Basics computer program compared to baseline play sessions with their parents.
Inappropriate behaviors and inappropriate language also decreased in the off-computer activities (44% decrease) compared to baseline play sessions
This paper is currently at press in the Journal of Speech and Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis; 2006. The complete study is available online at www.teachtown.com/research. [April 11, 2006]
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