New research by Pr Andrew Whitehouse and colleagues suggests that autistic children can benefit from combined technology-based and traditional interventions. The team assessed the efficacy of a technology-based early intervention programme, TOBY (Therapy Outcomes By You).
TOBY is an app-based learning curriculum designed for children and parents as a complement to early behavioural intervention. Its aim is to empower parents to get started with treatment at home to maximise their child’s development.
A Randomised Control Trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment that measures and compares outcomes of two or more clinical interventions. One of the interventions is regarded as a standard of comparison (control) and the group of participants who receive it is called the control group. RCT’s key feature is random allocation to the groups, which are followed up at specific times to assess the experimental intervention.
The trial involved 80 children within 12 months of an autism diagnosis, who were assigned their usual therapist-led treatment or their usual therapy plus TOBY. Significant improvements were identified at 6-months follow up for secondary outcomes (visual reception, fine motor skills, and single-word comprehension) but not for primary outcomes (ATEC: Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist).
Whitehouse, A. J., Granich, J., Alvares, G., Busacca, M., Cooper, M. N., Dass, A., … & Rodwell, T. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of an iP ad‐based application to complement early behavioural intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(9), 1042-1052.
TOBY app review