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Camp Discovery, a learning app for children with autism

19th of February 2014, 0 comments, category: Innovation Stories

by Onclaude

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), headquartered in the U.S.A., has released an app called Camp Discovery which offers fun learning opportunities for children from 2 year olds. The app is available at no cost for iPad and is coming soon for iPhone, Android and Kindle devices.

CARD, which has 26 treatment centers around the globe, is a leader in the development of innovative applications of information technology to the treatment of autism and for the dissemination of applied behavior analysis (ABA). 

ABA is the only scientifically validated treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and research shows it is most effective when delivered early and at a high level of intensity. Camp Discovery incorporates the evidence-based behavior principles of ABA. The app, which has been entirely designed and released in-house, is the outcome of a team work which see designers and programmers collaborating with ASD experts and therapists.

With Camp Discovery, CARD aims at increasing access to treatment resources through technology. The app, which is voice narrated and requires little to no adult supervision, gives families the ability to supplement their child’s treatment program from home and also may be used by families waiting to start services. 

We've had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Camp Discovery Creative Director Christopher Miyake and he's given us some interesting details about the project's background and its current and future goals.

"We really wanted to expose children who did not have access to ASD services", he explains to us. "We wanted to provide them with an educational game which wouldn't necessarily replace therapy but could be used while they were waiting for services. Outside California, where we are based, it might be difficult to gain access to clinical support" he adds. 

They also wanted to offer therapists a way to maximise therapy sessions. "Studies on ASD has shown that the more intensive is the therapy, the better are the results, especially for 2-3 year old children" he says "so the more hours of treatment they have in the beginning, the better the outcomes". An ipad will never be a replacement for therapy, he clarifies, but if a child can sit down and play a game for 10-15 minutes a day he or she will certainly benefit from that activity.

The app's interface is user friendly, with all responses requiring only dragging and dropping or touching flashcards to be successful. "We've try to make the learning experience as easy as possible so that children do not feel frustrated or uncomfortable" points out Christopher. The app also offers mini games that serve as rewards for completing rounds and keep children motivated to learn.

CARD is currently collecting feedback in quite an informal way through their large targeted data base of therapists all around the world. They're also in the beginning stage of running a critical trial. "A research and development team is going to conduct a study with some children and see if the application can match or surpass the learning that goes on during the therapy session, with the same targets" explains Christopher. They're also going to run user testing sessions and add more features to the app in the following months.

The app can be downloaded for free on itunes.

Watch a video explaining how the app works:


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