ACRES: An Autism Cognitive Rehabilitation Programme for Executive Functioning Skills​

Project IDRRG1/16002
PartnerInstitute of Mental Health
Precision Rehabilitation
Clinical PI
Dr Goh Tze Jui​
Principal Clinical Psychologist, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Institute of Mental Health
Technical PI
A/Prof Cai Yiyu
Associate Professor, School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Deputy Director, Centre for Augmented and Virtual Reality
Nanyang Technological University​

The proposed solution

This study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a computerised cognitive rehabilitation programme (CRP) that focuses on improving executive functioning (i.e., planning, mental flexibility and inhibitory control) among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Tasks within the programme will closely mimic daily living demands to help them apply skills learnt to the real-life environment.

Phase 1 of this study is to develop the CRP using a serious game concept. This includes a feasibility trial that will garner feedback to inform refinements to the CRP.

Phase 2 will involve children with ASD aged between 7 to 12 years old being randomised into either the intervention arm or the waitlist-control arm. Both groups will complete a four-week CRP, with the waitlist-control arm receiving the CRP after the study completion. Child participants will complete a neuropsychological assessment, while parents and clinicians will complete questionnaires at two time points in the study.

With the development of the proposed CRP, we hope to improve accessibility to ASD-specific intervention programmes. Through this app, rehabilitating executive functioning can be achieved more cost-effectively and individuals may be able to generalise these skills to daily life. As such, manpower and therapy hours needed in the clinic could be reduced.