Exploring the use of Sidekicks! For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Clinicians and educators are increasingly using technology within the context of existing therapies and teaching methodologies. The growing use of mobile clinical tools is particularly exciting for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as technologically based interventions have been shown to be both efficacious (to target academics, adaptive behavior, disruptive behavior, etc.) and accepted in this population (Odom et al., 2015). In addition, these tools have the potential to address two significant impediments in ASD intervention, the anxiety and/or skill deficits often associated with face-to-face interactions and skill generalization outside of the therapy office (Wieckowski & White, 2017). In other words, the use of technology may serve as an important preliminary or prerequisite step for face-to-face therapeutic progress. The purpose of this paper is to present a new, interactive clinical app that explicitly utilizes an individual’s restricted interests to teach skills and improve communication. The paper will briefly review the ways in which individuals with ASD may be good candidates for technological-based interventions, explore the current role of technology in existing evidence-based therapies, and discuss the use of a new technology, Sidekicks!, that has been developed for this population. A case example will then illustrate the use of Sidekicks! and its anticipated functionality across several public service settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and school systems, thereby coordinating the intervention efforts of various professionals involved in the treatment of children with ASD. Finally, limitations of the app (and of technology more generally) and the need for future research will be discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)