Using Tablet Applications for Children With Autism to Increase Their Cognitive and Social Skills

Using Tablet Applications for Children With Autism to Increase Their Cognitive and Social Skills

Table of Contents


Several researchers along with technicians have been developing software and hardware to support and/or replace the standard method of teaching for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and/or other developmental disabilities. Moreover, computer-based intervention and electronic tablets have shown benefits for people with special needs increasing their independence, academic and cognitive skills, social communication, and leisure time. Therefore, the aim of the current study is to evaluate the effectiveness of three tablet applications created to enhance specific abilities of children with ASD (attention, vocabulary, and imitation), who followed applied behavior analysis treatment (ABA) compared with the internal control group (CG). Training lasted 4 weeks for 15 children selected in a randomized way, while the CG followed only the behavioral therapy. To sum up, we want to respond to three questions: (1) whether the experimental group (EG) using the applications obtains greater progress within standard therapy in comparison to the CG, (2) whether the real skills of children examined at baseline have an impact on the application scores, and (3) whether the graphic features of the applications influence the motivation of children during training. At the postintervention assessment, the EG showed higher progress within standard therapy than the internal CG even though these differences didn’t overreach the significance level. However, the probability of making progress in mastered targets at post-intervention assessment was higher for EG than the CG. To conclude, the current study demonstrates the capability of tablet applications to reproduce effective educational training for children with autism.


autism, exceptionality, applied behavior analysis, methodologies, APPS, technology perspectives, tablets/iPad, group design


People with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by social communication deficits and a tendency to engage in a pattern of restricted and repetitive behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Moreover, children with ASDs can present impairments in a large variety of developmental abilities, from social–cognitive to fine motor skills. Although cases of autism have been increasing, currently effective educational interventions for these children are widely diffused, and progress has been demonstrated in intellectual, language, and adaptive skills (Warren et al., 2011). At the same time, several researchers, along with technicians, have been developing software and hardware to support and/or replace the standard method of teaching, including computer-based intervention, electronic tablets, robots, and virtual reality in order to boost the learning skills of people with autism. Essentially, traditional technology (desktop computers, laptops, videotape, etc.) and handheld electronic devices (smartphones, electronic tablets, and personal digital assistance) created for children, adolescents, and adults with ASDs and/or intellectual disabilities (ID) have already shown benefits, increasing their independence, academic, and cognitive skills, and improving social communication and leisure time (Grynszpan, Weiss, PerezDiaz, & Gal, 2014; Kagohara et al., 2013; Odom et al., 2015; Stephenson & Limbrick, 2015; Wass & PorayskaPomsta, 2014).


Considering the diversity of phenotypes in ASDs, clinicians, and technicians will be increasingly requested to form partnerships with the academic and industrial world to assemble experience and competencies in order to create efficient products for children and adults with special needs. In addition, professionals will be required to acquire funds from private and public financial institutes to support research and interventions (McCleery, 2015). To date, modern technology has been shown to be a useful learning tool because essentially it offers students fun animated presentations, use of large screens, repetition of specific learning tasks, application of techniques, demonstrated efficacy such as video modeling, visual prompting, audio coaching, performance feedback, reinforcement, and self-management.

The current study shows the capability of tablet applications to reproduce effective educational training for children with ASDs through the presentation of repetitive trials, presented with behavioral teaching strategies. At the same time, the children in our study increased their game scores in just a few sessions, displaying a spontaneous, immediate approach to virtual games. Future goals will comprise improving our technological products, evaluating their utility with related benefits for children with developmental disorders. To conclude, we suggest that the selection of a specific electronic device for children with special needs should be essentially personalized by clinical staff in order to achieve the perfect combination between virtual learning and standard teaching methods.

About KSRA

The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.

KSRA research association, as a non-profit research firm, is committed to providing research services in the field of knowledge. The main beneficiaries of this association are public or private knowledge-based companies, students, researchers, researchers, professors, universities, and industrial and semi-industrial centers around the world.

Our main services Based on Education for all Spectrum people in the world. We want to make an integration between researches and educations. We believe education is the main right of Human beings. So our services should be concentrated on inclusive education.

The KSRA team partners with local under-served communities around the world to improve the access to and quality of knowledge based on education, amplify and augment learning programs where they exist, and create new opportunities for e-learning where traditional education systems are lacking or non-existent.

FULL Paper PDF file:

Using Tablet Applications for Children With Autism to Increase Their Cognitive and Social Skills




Marco Esposito1Janette Sloan2Andrea Tancredi3Giovanna Gerardi1Paola Postiglione1Francesca Fotia1Eleonora Napoli4Luigi Mazzone4Giovanni Valeri4Stefano Vicari4

1Autism Research and Treatment Centre “Una Breccia nel muro”, Rome, Italy
2The Cambridge School, Salerno, Italy
3Memotef Department, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy
4Neuroscience Department, Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù, Rome, Italy




Using Tablet Applications for Children With Autism to Increase Their Cognitive and Social Skills

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Journal of Special Education Technology


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Nasim Gazerani was born in 1983 in Arak. She holds a Master's degree in Software Engineering from UM University of Malaysia.

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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.

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Somayeh Nosrati was born in 1982 in Tehran. She holds a Master's degree in artificial intelligence from Khatam University of Tehran.