Computer-based intervention for social attention in autism
This research study has developed a new iPad app  for children with autism, designed to help them learn and practice basic social and communication skills in a fun way.
The study, known as Click-East ("Computer-based Learning in Children: the Edinburgh Autism Social-attention Trial"), is divided into two main stages. The first stage involved developing the app, and the second stage tested whether it is a successful learning aid for children with autism.
In the first stage, the researchers collected feedback on the app from typically-developing children, parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, teachers and nursery nurses, speech and language therapists and young adults with an autism spectrum diagnosis. Their goal was to design an app which would be effective as a learning tool, enjoyable for children to play, and would fit in well to family life.
In the second stage, the researchers tested whether the app has a beneficial effect on children with autism. It is hoped that by learning and practicing basic social and communication skills in a safe and fun way, children will start to show these skills in real life too. Using a computer game as a learning tool plays to the strengths of children with autism, who often show a strong preference for technology and much ability in this area.
Data analysis is now underway but an accessible summary of the preliminary findings can be found in the September 2013 Click-East newsletter .