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5 avril 2013 5 05 /04 /avril /2013 07:19
Improving working memory in children and adolescents with ASD Short term memory, or working memory, is a system equivalent to a “Post It Memo”, that helps people keep information readily available to respond to a given situation. It enables individuals to encode, decode and manipulate information for a short amount of time (Baddeley, 1996). Research indicates that working memory is a good predictor of academic achievement, better in fact than IQ itself. Skills such as reading comprehension, writing and problem solving all require working memory capacity, and the better this capacity is, the more academically successful the student will be (Alloway et al. 2008). Evidence suggests that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have reduced working memory capacity compared to typically developing individuals. These difficulties add to the social, communication and motivational problems ASD individuals present with and can further impact negatively on their school performance as well as self-help and independent living skills (Alloway et al. 2008). Our project aims to identify simple and enjoyable ways to strengthen these working memory skills in children with autism by assessing the potential benefit of two main types of “games” activities, using a set of selected cognitive and psychometric evaluations. We propose two main interventions: (1) ‘Fast ForWord’ (FFW), a computer-based programme well known in the ASD field for its potentials in improving the processing of language (Scientific Learning, 2003, Strong, 2011), and (2) a range of pre-selected iPad applications, showing good promises in terms of their learning potentials for ASD individuals (Neely et al., 2013). Our aim is to compare the benefits of these two approaches. Each individual participating in the project will either be enrolled in a FFW programme, or received an iPad-based programme, over an 8 week period, for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. The child’s improvements will be monitored using a set of cognitive tests administered both before and after the intervention period. These tests include; word reading, reading comprehension, attention, working memory and a test of nonverbal intelligence. We aim to start the study at the end of May 2013, and are seeking 8 participants aged between 10 and 18 years, who have a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism/ Asperger Syndrome. The study will require participants to travel to Autism Treatment Trust in Edinburgh for evaluation both pre and post-test. The participants will be followed on a weekly basis by our lead researcher in order to evaluate and support individuals in their programme. The study is conducted with the support of Autism Treatment Trust and Edinburgh Napier University. Access to FFW programme and iPad interventions will be free to participants. For more information, please contact: Alessio Albanese (Napier University Student) alessioharp@yahoo.com Autism Treatment Trust, l.amet@autismtreatmentrust.org. REFERENCES: Alloway, P. Gathercole, E. Kirkwood, H. Elliott, J. Holmes, J. Hilton, K. (2008). Attentional and executive function behaviours in children with poor working memory. Learning and Individual Differences. 18 (3), 214-223. Baddeley, A. (1996). Exploring the central executive. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 49(A), 5-28. Neely, L., Rispoli, M., Camargo, S., Davis, H., Bales, M. (2013). The effect of instructional use of an iPad on challenging behaviour and academic engagement for two students with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 7, 509-516. Strong, G. Torgensen, C. Torgersen, D. Hulme, C.. (2011). A systematic meta-analytic review of evidence for the effectiveness of the “Fast ForWord” language intervention program. The journal of child psychology and psychiatry. 52 (3), 224-235. Scientific Learning Corporation. (2003). Scientifically based reading research and the Fast ForWord Products: Research implication for effective language and reading intervention. MAPS for learning: Research report, 7, 1-7. CONTACT US Autism Treatment Trust 29A Stafford Street Edinburgh, Scotland EH3 7BJ Edinburgh Autism Conference 12th & 13th of June Changing the Course of Autism: the Science and Intervention Autism Treatment Trust and Treating Autism are organising a conference on Autism, presenting an update on the current scientific understanding of the condition and intervention options. The conference will be held at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on the 12th and 13th of June 2013. 2 April 2013 London, UK –‘Medical Comorbidities in Autistic Spectrum Disorders’ a review prepared by British charities Treating Autism and Autism Treatment Trust, and officially launched on Autism Awareness Day, has been welcomed by medical and research professionals in UK, EU and USA. It details current research into health problems commonly experienced by people with autism, which are, however, routinely overlooked by the medical profession. It has far-reaching implications for the treatment of medical conditions existing simultaneously with autism (comorbidities).

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