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Autism and computers

Computer-based intervention in autism spectrum disorders


Sven Bölte, Ph.D.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Deutschordenstr. 50, D-60528 Frankfurt/M., Germany

E-mail: Boelte@em.uni-frankfurt.de or Boelte@telia.com

Tel.: 0049.69.6301.5408 Fax: 0049.69.6301.5843

Individuals who suffer from autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are impaired in reciprocal social interaction and communicative interchange. ASD are chronically disabling conditions, for which to date no cure has been found, although some behaviour-based interventions have proven to result in major quantitative behavioural improvements. Computer technology promises to be of substantial value in autism intervention. The availability of evaluated computer programs to facilitate cognitive and social-communicative behaviour in autism spectrum disorders is still limited. In this article, a review regarding the development and evaluation of computer-based intervention in autism is given. Recent studies on computer-aided programs aiming to promote literacy skills, social cognition and emotion recognition are summarized. All studies show optimistic results, but the problem of limited generalization of accomplished effects is often discussed. It is concluded that computer-aided treatment of autism houses a large potential for helping affected individuals to acquire underdeveloped capacities, if certain key elements are taken into account.

Dr Sven Bölte
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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Dr Sven Bölte