MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dennis P. Wall, PhD
Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry (by courtesy) and Biomedical Data Science
MedicalResearch.com: What did we already know about the potential for apps and wearables to help kids with autism improve their social skills, and how do the current study findings add to our understanding? What’s new/surprising here and why does it matter for children and families?
Response: We have clinically tested apps/AI for diagnosis (e.g. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002705) in a number of studies.
This RCT is a third phase of a phased approach to establish feasibility and engagement through in-lab and at-home codesign with families with children with autism. This stepwise process is quite important to bring a wearable form of therapy running AI into the homes in a way that is clinically effective.
What’s new here, aside from being a first in the field, is the rigorous statistical approach we take with an intent-to-treat style of analysis. This approach ensures that the effect of the changes are adjusted to ensure that any significance observed is due to the treatment. Thus, with this, it is surprising and encouraging to see an effect on the VABS socialization sub-scale. This supports the hypothesis that the intervention has a true treatment effect and increases the social acuity of the child.
With it being a home format for intervention that can operate with or without a clinical practitioner, it increases options and can help bridge gaps in access to care, such as when on waiting lists or if the care process is inconsistent. Continue reading