Project information

Improving learning skills in children with autism

Our research aims to identify simple and enjoyable ways to strengthen working memory skills in children with autism and evaluate their potential benefit on a set of selected cognitive tests.For this research, the children will be exposed to two activities; iPad applications and Fast ForWord.

July 2012 - June 2013

Charity information: Autism Treatment Trust

Autism Treatment Trust logo
  • Need


    Working memory is a system that helps people keep information readily available to respond to a given situation or problem. This system enables individuals to encode, decode and manipulate information for a short amount of time,working memory has been shown to be a good predictor of academic achievement,skills such as reading comprehension, writing and problem solving all require an efficient use of working memory individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have low working memory capacity


    Our research aims to identify simple and enjoyable ways to strengthen these working memory skills in children with autism and evaluate their potential benefit on a set of selected cognitive tests.For this research, the children will be exposed to two main activities; the first, ‘Fast ForWord’, is a computer game-based language processing programme and a range of pre-selected iPad applications.the researchers hypothesize that both interventions will result in working memory improvements.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    evaluate the effectiveness of the two programmes in improving working memory in autistic individuals


    » participants will be exposed to two main activities; ‘Fast ForWord’, a computer game-based language processing programme, and iPad applications

    What success will look like

    Success will be monitored using a battery of tests, including word reading, reading comprehension, attention, working memory and a test of nonverbal intelligence.

  • Impact


    The study would initially comprise 30 individuals aged between 6 and 16, diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, our aim is to involve a much larger number of individuals at a later stage.The successful outcome of the study would improve the efficacy of teaching of language and augment both the communicative and academic skills of people with autism,and therefore help these individuals become successful learners. the findings will be disseminated in scientific,written form.


    Unfortunately, we are so limited in the number of iPads that we have that the project will be tortuously slow and lengthy. In addition, the purchase of additional iPads will enable more children to be recruited into the study. In addition,a very small number of participants would not allow for inferences on the effectiveness of our proposed interventions. As a consequence,this project heavily relies on donations.


    Donors will be contacted via e-mail on request, and also constant updates regarding this project will be available on our website,

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £3,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £3,000 Autism Research Purchase of 10 Fast ForWord licenses and 6 iPads
  • Background


    In the heart of Edinburgh,Autism Treatment Trust (ATT) was established in 2006 by a group of parents and grandparents of children with autismwho were frustrated by the lack of adequate diagnostic and support services for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ATT is dedicated to helping children with autism reach optimum health and learning by providing them and their families access to the medical and educational provisions they need.


    To date, ATT has seen over 500 children, and it is apparent that as well as presenting with autism, these children in the majority, have unaddressed health issues affecting particularly their digestive and immune systems. The children also tend to have very limited diets, which impacts further on their development, wellbeing and behaviour. ATT assists in meeting these needs,and following the evaluations, a comprehensive individual treatment protocol is implemented to meet the needs identified.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Our approach to the management to autism provides autistic individuals the best start in life with early diagnosis and effective medical and educational support. It supports the Scottish government’s outcome in delivering a public service which is responsive to the needs of these individuals. It encourages and supports the outcome that young people become successful learners.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr. Lorene Amet

    Dr. Lorene Amet is the Principal Scientist at the Autism Treatment Trust. Her knowledge will be key in delivering our aims.

    Dr Geraldine Jones

    Dr. Geraldine Jones is a Chartered Developmental Psychologist at Edinburgh Napier University publishing a number of scientific articles on this topic.

    Alessio Albanese

    Alessio Albanese is an undergraduate student at Edinburgh Napier University, he will contribute to the project as a volunteer.


One child can use Fast Forword for two months