There has been an exponential proliferation of digital technologies supporting the autism community, with no specific mechanism by which autistic people or their caregivers can easily identify and use evidence to gauge whether such technologies are beneficial, or to assess possible harm. The current situation can be characterised as one in which commercially available digital technologies for autism rarely have evidence for effectiveness, whilst such technologies with evidence of effectiveness are rarely commercially available. Evidence-based practice (EBP) has been used extensively in psycho-behavioral interventions for autism. Nevertheless, digital technology raises new challenges, such as an immense potential to individualise interventions and an extremely rapid rate of development and innovation. In this project, we sought to co-develop with the autism community a framework to assess evidence supporting technology-based interventions. We hope that the tools developed in the context of this project will be beneficial not only for the autistic community and their families/care-givers but also for the research community, practitioners and software developers
We took a sample of scientific papers on digital products for autistic users and evaluated them from two aspects :
The rigour of the scientific underpinning and the level of knowledge about the end-users of the product.
An evidence-based practice scale which has been shown to be appropriate for reliably reviewing both group designs and single subject experimental designs for autistic children was applied to technology-based interventions.
In addition to that, a novel scale was developed and applied, called the User-Centered Design for Support (UCDS) scale, to assess:
i) How well the design of a piece of technology was informed by the scientific literature on autistic people
ii) To what extent the design was based on real-life information and end-user experience
iii) To what extent were end-users involved in the design
Secondly, a Delphi study was conducted, which is an online consensus-building technique, to extract recommendations from a panel of experts on digital technology supports for autism. Autistic adults, family members, practitioners/clinicians and researchers were consulted iteratively until a consensual list of guidelines was obtained.
Who we are
Building Evidence for Technology and Autism (BETA) is an international interdisciplinary
project led by the University of Bath and Sorbonne University
with collaborators from the University of Edinburgh, University of Valencia and Northeastern University.
• Mark Brosnan, PhD, University of Bath, UK - firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sue Fletcher-Watson, PhD, University of Edinburgh, UK - email@example.com
• Vanessa Zervogianni, MSc, University of Edinburgh, UK - firstname.lastname@example.org
• Matthew Goodwin, PhD, Northeastern University, USA - email@example.com
• Ouriel Grynszpan, PhD, Université Paris-Saclay, France - firstname.lastname@example.org
• Gerardo Herrera Gutiérrez, PhD, Universitat de València, España - email@example.com
• Patricia Pérez-Fuster, PhD, Universitat de València, España - firstname.lastname@example.org