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Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) - an Early Intervention Computerized Language Training Program for Children With ASD

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ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02708290
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : March 15, 2016
Results First Posted : December 20, 2019
Last Update Posted : November 27, 2020
Sponsor:
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
ImagiRation, LLC

Brief Summary:

Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) is a unique, early-intervention application for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The app includes bright, interactive puzzles designed to help children learn how to mentally integrate multiple features of an object, an ability that has proven to lead to vast improvements in general learning. Success with MITA puzzles could overtime result in significant improvements in a child's overall development, specifically in the realms of language, attention and visual skills.

SCIENCE BEHIND THE PROJECT:

MITA verbal activities start with simple vocabulary-building exercises and progress towards exercises aimed at higher forms of language, such as noun-adjective combinations, spatial prepositions, recursion, and syntax. For example, a child can be instructed to select the {small/large} {red/ blue/green/orange} ball or to put the cup {on/under/behind/in front of} the table. All exercises are deliberately limited to as few nouns as possible since the aim is not to expand a child's one-word vocabulary, but rather to teach him/her to integrate mental objects in novel ways using active imagination.

MITA nonverbal activities aim to provide the same active imagination training visually through implicit instructions. E.g., a child can be presented with two separate images of a train and a window pattern, and a choice of complete trains. The task is to find the correct complete train and place it into the empty square. This exercise requires not only attending to a variety of different features in both the train and its windows, but also combining two separate pieces into a single image (in other words, mentally integrating separate train parts into a single unified gestalt). As levels progress, the exercises increase in difficulty, requiring attention to more and more features and details. Upon attaining the most difficult levels, the child must attend to as many as eight features simultaneously. Previous results from our studies have demonstrated that children who cannot follow the explicit verbal instruction can often follow an equivalent command implicit in the visual set-up of the puzzle.

As a child progresses through MITA's systematic exercises, he or she is developing the ability to simultaneously attend to a greater number of features, reducing the propensity towards tunnel vision, and thus developing an essential component of language. The ability to mentally build an image based on a combination of multiple features is absolutely necessary for understanding syntax, spatial prepositions and verb tenses.

MITA is designed for early childhood and intended for long-term, daily use. It is designed to be engaging and educational, as well as adaptive and responsive to the individual abilities of each child.


Condition or disease Intervention/treatment
Autistic Disorder Autism ASD Other: MITA Prefrontal Synthesis exercises - each activity adapts to deliver the exercise that is at the exact level of difficulty appropriate for a child at any given point in time

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Study Type : Observational
Actual Enrollment : 6454 participants
Observational Model: Cohort
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) - an Early Intervention Computerized Language Training Program for Children With ASD
Study Start Date : September 2015
Actual Primary Completion Date : July 1, 2020
Actual Study Completion Date : July 1, 2020

Group/Cohort Intervention/treatment
Test arm
The test group included participants who completed more than one thousand exercises and made no more than one error per exercise.
Other: MITA Prefrontal Synthesis exercises - each activity adapts to deliver the exercise that is at the exact level of difficulty appropriate for a child at any given point in time

Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) is an early-intervention application for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). MITA app uses adaptive-learning technologies, with fun, educational exercises that adapt to a child's abilities, resulting in a highly-customized learning experience. The MITA application is available for free in the Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon App Store.

MITA verbal activities start with simple vocabulary-building exercises and progress toward exercises aimed at higher forms of language, such as noun-adjective combinations, spatial prepositions, recursion, and syntax. All exercises are deliberately limited to as few nouns as possible since the aim is not to expand a child's one-word vocabulary, but rather to teach him/her to integrate mental objects in novel ways by utilizing prefrontal synthesis (PFS). MITA activities outside of the verbal domain aim to provide the same PFS training visually through implicit instructions.


Control arm
The control group included the rest of participants. The test group participants were matched to the control group by age, gender, expressive language, receptive language, sociability, cognitive awareness, and health at the 1st evaluation.
Other: MITA Prefrontal Synthesis exercises - each activity adapts to deliver the exercise that is at the exact level of difficulty appropriate for a child at any given point in time

Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) is an early-intervention application for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). MITA app uses adaptive-learning technologies, with fun, educational exercises that adapt to a child's abilities, resulting in a highly-customized learning experience. The MITA application is available for free in the Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon App Store.

MITA verbal activities start with simple vocabulary-building exercises and progress toward exercises aimed at higher forms of language, such as noun-adjective combinations, spatial prepositions, recursion, and syntax. All exercises are deliberately limited to as few nouns as possible since the aim is not to expand a child's one-word vocabulary, but rather to teach him/her to integrate mental objects in novel ways by utilizing prefrontal synthesis (PFS). MITA activities outside of the verbal domain aim to provide the same PFS training visually through implicit instructions.





Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Improvement of Language as Measured by Autism Therapy Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) and Mental Synthesis Evaluation Checklist (MSEC). [ Time Frame: up to three years, assessed at 3 months intervals ]

    Parents complete children's evaluations every three-month. These regular assessments evaluate children over 5 orthogonal subscales. In all subscales a lower score indicates lower severity of ASD symptoms and a higher score indicates more severe symptoms of ASD:

    1. Receptive Language (range: 0 to 40 points; based on MSEC evaluation described in Braverman, J. et.al.)
    2. Expressive Language (range 0 to 28 points; based on ATEC evaluation subscale 1 described in Rimland, B. et al.)
    3. Sociability (range: 0 to 40 points; based on ATEC evaluation subscale 2)
    4. Cognitive Awareness (range: 0 to 36 points; based on ATEC evaluation subscale 3)
    5. Health (range: 0 to 75 points; based on ATEC evaluation subscale 4)



Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   2 Years to 12 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
Sampling Method:   Non-Probability Sample
Study Population
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Exclusion Criteria:

none


Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT02708290


Locations
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United States, Massachusetts
ImagiRation LLC
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02135
Sponsors and Collaborators
ImagiRation, LLC
Investigators
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Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrey Vyshedskiy, Ph.D. ImagiRation, LLC
  Study Documents (Full-Text)

Documents provided by ImagiRation, LLC:
Additional Information:
Publications:
Dunn & Vyshedskiy (2015). Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA)-an early intervention computerized brain training program for children with ASD. Autism Open Access; 5(3)
Rimland, B. & Edelson, S. Autism Research Institute. Autism Treat. Eval. Checkl. ATEC (1999)

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Responsible Party: ImagiRation, LLC
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02708290    
Other Study ID Numbers: MITA001
First Posted: March 15, 2016    Key Record Dates
Results First Posted: December 20, 2019
Last Update Posted: November 27, 2020
Last Verified: November 2020
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Autistic Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mental Disorders