Computer technology designed to assist children with developmental disabilities, has been chosen as a finalist in the annual The Australian Innovation Challenge awards, to be announced on 28 November.

The world first tablet technology – designed to assist children with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome, stay focused is aimed at facilitating learning and inclusion within the school environment. The technology, called the TALI Attention Training Program, is a finalist in the Educations and Community Services category of the awards

Professor Kim Cornish, Director of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, said that the awards recognised how technologies can revolutionise the ways all children are taught. “TALI is a real game changer as it assists children with developmental disabilities who often get left behind in traditional education settings,” she said.

The gaming technology – developed with DreamWorks contractor Torus Games and Australian Technology Commercialisation firm, Grey Innovation – has been tested in a randomised control trial aimed at determining whether using the games for 20 minutes five days a week over a five-week period led to improved attention and focus.

It is estimated that around three per cent of Australian children have a developmental disability, where there is a reduction in their ability to: concentrate and stay focused on a task; switch attention between tasks, inhibit impulsive responding and mentally hold and use information. Disruption to these processes can lead to difficulties in learning and academic performance, as well as difficulties developing social skills.

Dr Hannah Kirk, who designed the training program and evaluated its efficacy during her PhD, said there are currently very few interventions that aim to improve core attention skills in children with developmental disabilities.

“Although there is a deeper understanding of the vital role attention plays in shaping the broader cognitive landscape, rarely is this new knowledge applied to enhance problems in attention and learning.  The current program does just that, by taking a striking deficit namely inattention and attempting to reduce these difficulties via scientifically driven training activities,”she said.

735369-shell-new-header

Read more about this on the Monash University News & Events page