Find 5 recent (last 6 months) research studies

Studies title: Virtual reality helps children on autism spectrum improve social skills

What Research question is being addressed: Can a virtual reality computer program improve social skills in autistic children?

Why is this question important: As stated in the article,  “[A]lthough most children with high-functioning autism have above average intellectual capabilities, they often experience social difficulties. Deficits in social communication and difficulty inhibiting thoughts and regulating emotions can lead to social isolation and low self-esteem.”

What is new about this study:  It shows that the new virtual reality training program, which is intended to create a safe space for children with autism to practice social skills without the fear of negative consequences. The significance of the findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior,  which states, “participants who completed the training demonstrated improved social cognition skills and reported better relationships. Neurocognitive testing showed significant gains in emotional recognition, understanding the perspective of others and the ability to solve problems.”

Limitations and future direction of the study: The study is recent and thus we do not know the long term effect that the virtual reality program can have on the participants.

Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-virtual-reality-children-autism-spectrum.html#jCp

Studies title: Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

What Research question is being addressed: Six years after parents were trained to better understand and interact with their preschool children, through only therapy and no drug treatment, has  behavior of children who had been severely autistic or unable to speak improved?

Why is this question important: While the question explored in this study did not lead to a cure for autism, it showed an improvement in the core symptoms of autism which were previously said to be impossible to change.

What is new about this study: The preschool autism communication trial (Pact), trained the parents to help their children. This differs from previous treatments which use drugs or intensive treatment on only the child.

Limitations and future direction of the study: There was no change in anxiety, behaviors when presented with a challenge or depression in the autistic children. Therefore, they  would still require support and guidance to help in these areas. This may be a result of the therapy taking place in homes and clinics. In the future they should try to preform the therapy in public to attempt to alleviate some of the anxiety.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/25/autisc-children-therapy-method-potential-breakthrough-care-preschool-autism-communication-trial

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/robots-apps-and-brain-scans-new-tools-to-help-the-autistic-child/

Studies title: Robots, Apps and Brain Scans: New Tools to Help the Autistic Child

What Research question is being addressed: How has technology of various types, such as socializing with robots help those with autism learn feel comfortable in social situations? .

Why is this question important: “Beyond apps, groundbreaking research into technology-based interventions for autism could boost the social skills of children with developmental conditions. Such technologies may help these children make friends once they sit down at the table.”

What is new about this study: It is being used as an essential tool for ensuring a lack of feeling excluded and encouraging understanding. Thus this  technology is helping  with creating an environment where all are able to fulfill their potential.

Limitations and future direction of the study: It is possible that the children become to reliant on the robot and do not learn because they are made to feel too comfortable.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011135519.htm

Studies title: Shakespeare play helps children with autism communicate

What Research question is being addressed: Can Shakespeare’s rhythmic language with physical gesture improve social and communication skills in autistic children?

Why is this question important: This is important because as the article states, “Children with ASD often have trouble understanding nonverbal behavior in social interactions and struggle to communicate. Many avoid eye contact and miss visual cues, making it difficult to maintain peer relationships and share enjoyment of mutual interests.”

What is new about this study: The results indicate that participants language skills and recognition of facial expressions improved in children with autism. As one of the researchers said, “(A)t the end of the study, which incorporated Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, children with autism showed significant improvement in their social skills and their ability to engage in social relationships.”

Limitations and future direction of the study: It may be interesting to preform this study on adults too.

http://uncw.edu/research/TeachingwithTechnology.html

Studies title:Teaching with Technology: Introducing Robots to Children with Autism

What Research question is being addressed: The research is to evaluate if the children, who use this technology, can appropriately and effectively interact with the robots and friends, follow directions and give directions.

Why is this question important: It is important because the given goal is that after the robot is removed from the classroom the children have learned these engagement and communicative behaviors and can use these skills during social situations.

What is new about this study: Researchers in this study introduced a”autonomous, programmable, humanoid robots” as a new tool in helping children with autism. The significance of the robot is that it is  “equipped with a digital camera, speech synthesis, gripping hands, 25 degrees of freedom, speech recognition and WiFi can speak, listen, express emotion, see and follow directions.”

Limitations and future direction of the study:

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